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.

Research in Applied Probability

In 1980, I was a researcher in probability theory, and published my results 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.

Pivot to Manufacturing

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

Discovering Toyota

One of my embassy colleagues, Francis Lecroisey, told me that Toyota had developed a remarkable production system. He also told me 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. One of these books was Taiichi Ohno’s “Toyota Production System.”

The Japanese Literature on Manufacturing

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. Much of it is manga, and accessible to people who read manga on commuter trains.

What I have done since

Through this exposure to manufacturing, I realized that it offered a greater opportunity to be useful than earthquake prediction. But first, I had to learn manufacturing from scratch. This kept me busy for the following decade, working first as a production engineer, then as a developer/implementer of software to support manufacturing, and finally as a junior partner to Japanese consultant Kei Abe. After 8 years with Kei Abe, I 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 “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.

After this transition, there was no going back to academia, except as an external advisor to the industrial engineering program at Ohio University or as an instructor in continuing education courses as at UC Berkeley extension. I focus on consulting, teaching short courses, and writing.

Where I come from

As French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf wrote, people have origins, not roots. Origins are where you came from, and don’t restrict you, while roots hold you in one place like a tree.

While I am from France, I have immersed myself in other cultures from an early age. By now, I have lived 38 years in the United States, 23 in France, 4 in Japan, 1 in Germany,  and have visited many other countries on consulting gigs. 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 starting.

Dates, places, accomplishments

My resume is in my full LinkedIn profile, going back to 1973 and 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 specialty is supplementing direct observation on the shop floor and stakeholder interviews with data mining on 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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