About the author

Michel Baudin

My Journey to Manufacturing

Since 1981, I have been working to understand the human and technical dynamics of manufacturing, and to contribute to their improvement. Why did I choose this field? It was not the direction I had started in.

In 1980, I was a researcher in probability theory, working out results that were later published in 81, 83, 84 an 86. This theoretical work was intended for earthquake prediction, which had led me to Japan in 1977. By 1980, I had understood that this pursuit was futile and the task impossible with the available technology. It still is.

As a French draftee with knowledge of Japan, in late 1979, I was assigned to the scientific service of the embassy in Tokyo, where part of my job was organizing and leading factory tours for visiting industrialists. Their reactions made me realize that there was something special to these factories, and it piqued my curiosity.

One of my colleagues, Francis Lecroisey, told me that Toyota had developed a remarkable production system and that I could find at least two books about it in any neighborhood bookstore in Tokyo. It was true, as I checked down the street from my apartment. To this day, when I visit Japan, I still hit the larger bookstores for the latest about manufacturing, and find hundreds of titles on topics ranging from cell design to quality and company-specific approaches. This literature, unique to Japan, is targeted at practitioners and full of concrete, actionable ideas, clearly and graphically explained.

What I have done since

This exposure to manufacturing made me realize that it offered a greater opportunity to be useful than earthquake prediction. But first, I had to learn manufacturing from scratch, which kept me busy for the following decade, working first as a production engineer, then as a developer/implementer of manufacturing software, and finally as a junior partner to Japanese consultant Kei Abe. I later started my own group, which morphed into the Takt Times Group in 2008, involving partners in France, Russia, Spain, and China.

As a fresh transplant from R&D to production, I felt like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, bemoaning his “20 years of academy training, wasted.” Once over the culture shock, however, I began to appreciate the relentless pragmatism of manufacturing, the camaraderie of factory people, and their ingenuity. There was no going back to academia, except as an external advisor to the industril engineering program at Ohio University or as an instructor in continuing education courses as at UC Berkeley extension. My work is focused on consulting, teaching short courses, and writing.

Where I come from

I agree with the French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, who wrote that people should view themselves as having origins rather than roots. Origins are where you came from, and don’t restrict you, while roots hold you in one place like a tree. I have lived 36 years in the United States, 23 in France, 4 in Japan and 1 in Germany. And I have visited other countries on consulting assignments. I am from France but have immersed myself in other cultures from an early age. This is why and how I have learned English, German and Japanese well enough to function professionally in these languages.

The future

I am just getting started.

Dates, places, accomplishments

My resume is in my full LinkedIn profile, going back to 1973. You can also follow me on Twitter. Here is the short version:

Michel Baudin
Takt Times Group
San Francisco Bay Area | Management Consulting

Fascinated with the art of making things, I am working to improve it. Trained in engineering, applied math, and data science. I got my feet wet in production in the early 1980s, and later apprenticed under master Japanese consultant Kei Abe for eight years, starting my own group in 1996.

My speciality is supplementing direct observation on the shop floor and stakeholder interviews with data mining on the clients information systems, often rapidly identifying previously unknown patterns in product demand or manufacturing performance. My recommendations, both in technical content and in implementation management, are specific to the business, technology, and human resources of each client

I have been consulting since 1987 on lean manufacturing implementation in industries ranging from automotive and aerospace to electronics and frozen foods. Instructor with UC Berkeley extension, the University of Dayton and the Hong Kong Productivity Council. Author of four technical books entitled Manufacturing Systems Analysis (1990), Lean Assembly (2002), Lean Logistics (2005), and Working with Machines (2007), and four refereed papers in applied probability.

I intend to keep working with like-minded partners in the Takt Times Group and contributing improvements in the management and technology of manufacturing as a consultant, trainer, and author.

Specialties: Manufacturing technology, lean manufacturing, lean logistics, autonomation, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing information technology, data mining/data science

Owner (2009 - Present)
Takt Times Group
Self Owned, 2-10, Management Consulting

Worldwide network of Lean consultants. Successor to MMTI in the US.

Co-founder (2013 - Present)
Grokcity, Inc.

Real Estate Intelligence


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