- Submitted by Dave Cresswell, Master Blackbelt candidate
Friday, June 19, 2015 - Florence and Bologna, Italy
Today was filled with subtleties. After 5 days in
Germany touring various examples of precision manufacturing, we arrived in
Florence, Italy. Now it may seem cliche, but what is so abundantly
apparent in Germany as precision, accuracy and attention to detail, is on the
surface replaced by a more casual, warm, easiness and appreciation for
aesthetic beauty and grace.
I say "on the surface" for a few reasons. First and foremost,
it is foolhardy to try and typify an entire country or culture by a few, albeit
well intentioned nouns and adjectives. But secondly, because while their
appears to be a slower pace, with a greater appreciation for enjoying fine
things that please the senses; food, wine, fashion, and conversation, the
attention to detail and application of methodical production design and
operation belie this casual 'amore della vita' (love of life).
Now, given we have just settled into the geographic
cradle of the Renaissance - where artistic masters flourished and spread their
influence across Italy, and eventually the world, it is not surprising at all
that the appreciation of "form" often seems to take precedence over
"function". And "passion" trumps
"procedures" almost every time. It is a sensory cornucopia. At
every corner; the sights, sounds, fragrances, all contributing to a complete
experience of being in a land of appreciation.
this was clearly the case at our first stop of the day - the Lamborghini Family
Museum with our personal host, Fabio Lamborghini. Signore Lamborghini was
immediately charming, gracious, and filled with family pride and passion.
The way he explained the history of the family business, starting with
his Uncle Ferruccio - born to a grape farming family in the Emilia-Romagna
region of Italy. His intense interest in farming machinery, as opposed to
farming itself, led to his first real passion, designing and building tractors.
His nephew explained that whenever Ferruccio came upon a challenge, he had a
need to find a solution. Whether is was narrow width tractor frames to
allow running between the rows of vines, to creating a system for the tractors
to use less gasoline when it was in short supply and expensive. He was a
"mechanical genius" Fabio told us.
He went on to explain that in a strange way, it was
Enzo Ferrari that started the Lamborghini high performance sports car.
Actually, it was when Ferruccio Lamborghini bought a Ferrari in 1962 and
thought something wasn't quite working right, and made a modification to
improve it that the whole thing started. Feruccio went to Enzo Ferrari
just to show him what he found and how he made it better. Enzo was a
proud man, and insisted there was nothing wrong with the car, it was the
driver!! It was at that point that Ferruccio made a decision, and told Enzo he
would never buy another one of his cars, he would build his own and it would be
better!!! And that set Ferruccio Lamborghini on the path to creating some of
the most beautiful, exquisite high performance automobiles to come out of
Fabio Lamborghini finished out tour with very
gracious offers for individual pictures, and autographing some books for us
all. Another testament to the warmth and passion of this part of the world.
the Lamborghini Family Museum, we moved on to the Lamborghini production
factory. While the Lamborghini brand is typically thought of as an extremely
expensive luxury sports car, the company has had its share of financial
challenges. Founded in
1963 to compete with other established top performance luxury sports cars like
Ferrari. The company gained wide acclaim in 1966 for the
Miura sports coupe, which established rear mid-engine, rear
wheel drive as the standard layout for high-performance cars of the era.
grew rapidly during its first decade, but sales plunged in the wake of the 1973
worldwide financial turndown and the oil crisis. The firm's
ownership changed three times after 1973, including a bankruptcy in 1978.
Chrysler Corporation took control of Lamborghini in 1987 and sold it to a
Malaysian and Indonesian group V'Power Corporation in 1994. In 1998, V'Power
sold Lamborghini to the Volkswagen Group where it was placed under the
control of the group's Audi division.
high performance, luxury automobile, with absolutely top quality materials and
craftsmanship, a challenge that Lamborghini had to overcome was both the rate
at which they could produce quality automobiles, and the profitability of that
production. When Audi/Volkswagen acquired Lamborghini, they produced 2
cars a day. All hand made. One of the things that the new parent
company began to introduce were a number of the production system improvements
based on Lean that they have been using at many of their other brands, such as
Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, etc. Today, the Lamborghini factory is
producing approximately 19 cars a day. Most of their production still has
the attention to detail and hand made quality that they have been known for.
But they have added process and production improvements, and just enough
automation support to help reduce cycle time and increase profitability.
there, we moved on to the Ducati Motorcycle plant and museum, a subsidiary of
Lamborghini, and therefore an Audi/Volkswagen group company since 2012.
Ducati was established in 1926 and originally began by producing vacuum
tubes and radio parts, and moved on to manufacturing radios, cameras, and other
consumer products like electric razors. During the second world war,
Ducati developed a small gasoline engine that could be mounted on a bicycle,
and began selling them in 1944, and so began the Ducati Motorcycle company.
Ducati sells motorcycles worldwide, with the USA as their largest market, with
Europe (and specifically Italy) as their second largest market. Ducati is
producing approximately 40,000 bikes world wide.
touring through the Ducati Factory, evidence of early adoption of Lean methods
and production techniques were evident such as kanban systems and some kitting.
But there was still a large amount of batching and inventory in place.
Relative to other Lean production facilities, it is still early for
Ducati. It will be interesting to follow their progress over the next 3 or 4
years to see how much more is possible.
while the appreciation of the style, lines, and engineering of German automobiles
is well deserved and shared by so many, the sense you get with Italian luxury
motorcars is one of smooth curves, fast shapes, and passion for life.