Henry Ford and The Assembly Line

Henry Ford was most commonly known as the creator of the Ford Motor Company, the 5th largest auto-maker in the world. Ford is also well-known for another thing. That other thing is his perfection of the vehicle assembly line. Ford created a way to build a Model T in just 93 minutes. This allowed for production for the masses. The assembly also allowed for cheaper production of the automobile, placing it in the $575 price range, which was just about 4 months pay for the average worker. This meant millions of people could now afford their very own automobile and caused mass expansion in the auto industry.

The first assembly line implemented by Ford was at the Highland Park Plant, where a central winch pulled the chassis of the car down a 150ft assembly line where 140 individual workers assembled parts onto the vehicle. This process took approximately 5 hours and 50 minutes.The next implementation to this line was a continuos conveyor which shortened the production time even further, to 93 minutes.

The new cheaper automobiles provided by ford also allowed for populations to branch out, away from the cities into what we call suburbs because they now had a reliable and cost effective way of getting to work. These cars started the whole new lifestyle of american families having automobiles and they were so easy to drive that nearly everyone knew how to drive one.

Henry Ford, Circa 1919.

Henry Ford, Circa 1919.

The assembly line was originally implemented for automobiles by Ransom E. Olds, a Lansing native. Olds patented the assembly line he used to mass produce his Oldsmobile automobiles. Henry Ford then took that assembly line and made the addition of driven conveyor belts, which made a full Model T produceable in 93 minutes flat.

An Experimental Attempt by Ford to automate the process of adding the body to the frame.

An Experimental Attempt by Ford to automate the process of adding the body to the frame.

The assembly line also allowed for a better work environment, workers did not have to do any heavy lifting. This also allowed for more people to be able to do these jobs, as working an assembly line did not take any special skills or training.

Without Fords innovation, the auto industry would not have had nearly as large of a boom as it did. Everybody wanted an automobile now that they were affordable. This also made the business extremely profitable, which is where his major competitor General Motors came into play.

Regardless, Henry Ford knew what he wanted to do and exactly how to do it. He even went as as far as to pay his workers enough to actually afford their own Model T’s a practice hardly carried out even these days.

With his implementation of moving conveyor belts and today’s invention of automobile producing robots Ford is able to produce a new car every 10 seconds. Even today, ford has two of the top producing automobile plants in the US. These plants are the Dearborn MI Truck Plant and the Ford Factory in Kansas City, which produced 460,000 cars in 2011.

Sources:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/henryford/

http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/the-15-top-producing-american-car-plants-151801/#__federated=1

http://corporate.ford.com/our-company/heritage/historic-sites-news-detail/663-highland-park

Images:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assembly_line