Lean and Arsenal of Venice – earliest example of production excellence

I have started this blog when i was having lot of time. of late, I am getting busy day by day. But i have decided that i will re organize my calendar and spend some time on this blog. suddenly i read about lean and Arsenal of Venice which was earliest known example of production excellence.
While talking about re organization, I looked at some value addition in what I am doing. Some of the things which I looked in this reminded me of Lean and Lean tools.
What is “Lean”?
Lean is way to determine value sought by customers, offer value through an end to end process, value stream, by engaging everyone touching the value stream to reduce waste, variations and overburden throughout the value stream.
There are some early examples in the history of production excellence using lean techniques (Mass production). One such instance which will really surprise is on the Venetian Arsenal, which is ship building facility in the city of Venice. Comparing the facts on the efficiency of this great production facility, to some of today’s companies will be a great surprise and a question arises on are we really moving forward.
Enough of awe, now about the facility. (All these facts are in the range of 1100 – 1700 AD)
The Venetian Arsenal, which was the largest industrial complex in the northern part of Italy. It has about 110 ha area, occupying almost 15% of the area of the City of Venice. This facility is responsible for producing bulk of the Naval and Merchant power of the Venetian Rulers in the Mediterranean ares.
Initially the facility worked only to maintain the privately owned ships. this changed by 1320 when the Arsenal Nuovo was built. This facility is equipped to both construct and maintain the state-owned naval ships and the merchant ships.
Here are some facts of this great facility.
Number of workers – 16000
Rate of production – One ship Per Day
Number work in Progress – 100 galleys .
New thinking – from the main hull first technique to frame first technique
consultant – Galileo Galilei

The Arsenal Nuovo used the Mass production and assembly techniques divided into 3 main processes. Framing, Planking and Cabins and Final Assembly. All these production systems are used in early 1500s and these are not seen till the industrial revolution in the late 1700s.
This seems to be the first thought of Lean and Mass production, Assembly lines, Process identification, employee specialization, continuous production etc. many thoughts were in fact used, which were the buzzwords of the Lean today.
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Originally posted 2012-08-15 17:41:00.