The Assembly Line: History of the Automobile

“An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which parts are added as the semi-finished assembly moves from workstation to workstation where the parts are added in sequence until the final assembly is produced. By mechanically moving the parts to the assembly work and moving the semi-finished assembly from work station to work station, a finished product can be assembled faster and with less labor than by having workers carry parts to a stationary piece for assembly” (Wikipedia, 1.) The concept of the assembly line was created by Ransom E Olds. On December 1st 1913, Henry Ford introduced the assembly line to begin mass production of the automobile.

 

The assembly line was a significant manufacturing innovation for crafting the early automobile. Normal production time would take up to 12 hours for Henry Ford’s first model of the car, but with the introduction of the assembly line it brought down production time to 2 hours and 33 minutes. The idea of cutting down production time on the Model T Ford was to allow more cars to be built to open up the opportunity for more people to buy.  Ford’s thoughts were that if he was able to reduce production time then he could make the automobile much more affordable for the regular working man.

 

The assembly line concept became more efficient over time.  Ford replaced certain parts of the manufacturing process with machinery that could finish the word at a faster pace than the human worker could do. He also brought in experts like Frederick Winslow Taylor to create a more streamline process in his assembly line. “Frederick Winslow Taylor was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He was one of the first management consultants. Taylor was one of the intellectual leaders of the Efficiency Movement and his ideas, broadly conceived, were highly influential in the Progressive Era” (Wikipedia, 1).

 

The assembly line Ford created for the automobile was inspired from various other industries that used the same concept for different lines of production.  He studied the continuous-flow production methods of flour mills, breweries, canneries, industrial bakeries, and also meat-packing plants in the Chicago area. The techniques used within these production processes gave birth to the automobile assembly process. Ford broke down the manufacturing process of the automobile into parts, and then assigned different workers to those smaller processes in the production, which sped up the creation of his Model T Ford. Over time creating more efficiency and automation to the assembly line was what brought Henry Ford to his goal of creating a car that the average consumer could afford.

 

On June 4th, 1924, the 10-millionth Model T Ford was created.  Although, by this time the Model T Ford was decreasing in popularity because consumers demanded a vehicle that had all the perks of a modern car at the price of the Model T Ford. What came from the introduction of the assembly line was an opportunity for American Civilization to give birth to a more progressive future.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assembly_line
SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Winslow_Taylor
SOURCE: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fords-assembly-line-starts-rolling
SOURCE: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/moving-assembly-line-at-ford

Written by GT Service Center