Moving towards mass production

Some people who work on an assembly line may be responsible for one part or action and never truly understand the whole process of the manufacturing of the complete object. The assembly line has been thought of as one of the greatest innovations of the last century and businesses that didn’t adopt the practice, soon fell by the way. The concept was recorded as early as 12th century Venice where ships were built by moving them down a canal where they were fitted with new parts at each stop. Using this method they could complete one ship in a day.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, machines began to take the place of humans and factories replaced small workshops. Goods had been made by hand with an individual worker having a specific area of expertise in one part of a product.

The idea of using interchangeable parts took off in the United States. Whereas things before had been made using unique parts that made every object slightly different, the idea of using uniform parts opened up a whole new prospect of using large unskilled workforces and standardized equipment to produce large numbers of identical products at a reduced price in a short period of time.

Ransom Olds patented the idea of the assembly line in 1901 and when it was used by his car manufacturing company, their output grew by 500% in just one year! This gave the company the ability to produce many vehicles at a lower price, a model that Henry Ford adopted for his own production.

Henry Ford was able to improve on the Olds Assembly line with the use of conveyor belts. This enabled Ford to produce one Model T every 90 minutes and he became known as the father  of automotive mass production. The first moving assembly line started rolling on 1st December 1913. Ford had been trying to improve productivity for many years. Ford broke down the assembly process into 84 steps and trained each of his workers to do just one step. He also hired a motion study expert to make those steps more efficient.  In February 1914, he added a mechanized belt that moved at a speed of six feet per minute and production just got quicker and quicker. For Gates timing belts, visit

Moving towards mass production

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So it seems that the humble conveyor belt led to a revolution in production and was the first time the idea of ‘moving the car to the worker instead of the worker to the car’ was put into practice. Conveyors are definitely the best solution to reduce distribution and logistics costs. They reduce manual labour expense and improve accuracy levels. Automated conveyor systems are able to cope with year-round workflow and so practically eliminate the need to take on extra staff at peak holiday times.

The concept of using an assembly line process and the introduction of moving conveyor belts really did revolutionize the way manufacturing took place. Goods could be made more efficiently, at a fraction of the cost and so benefiting the consumer with a wide variety of affordable products.

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