Ford introduces the assembly line, December 1, 1913

-December 01, 2017

Henry Ford had a vision that one day just about everyone would be driving one of his cars, but to get there he needed to make the production process more efficient. In 1908, he introduced the Model T, a simple, inexpensive car that he hoped to make less expensive.

The Model T cost about $825 in 1909 and would go as low as $265 in the 1920s.

The idea for the assembly is often credited to Ransom Olds, who was building the first mass-produced automobiles in his Michigan factory in the early 1900s, but Ford aimed to perfect it.

Influenced by the methods used in a Chicago slaughterhouse, where carcasses moved along a conveyer to workers who each had one task, Ford worked with many advisers to create a system for the Ford Motor Company.

Ford's idea for the perfect assembly line included placing the tools and workers in order so each part traveled the least possible distance, allowing the workers to drop every completed part in the same convenient place when it's done, and using a moving assembly line to deliver the parts conveniently to the workers.

Workers on the first moving assembly line produced the flywheel/magneto for the Ford Motor Company in 1913.

At first, Ford broke down the assembly into a series of steps and would train workers to do one step each, and built machines to efficiently produce the parts. He then had workers build motors and transmissions using a rope and pulley system before installing the moving-chassis assembly line in 1913.

One year later in 1914, a mechanized belt was added that would move at six feet per minute. With the new system, the time to build the Model T went from 12 hours to 93 minutes. Ford continued to improve the production and by 1924 Ford had produced 10 million Model Ts.

The moving assembly line not only put Ford on the map, but changed the automotive industry and overall manufacturing processes.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog.
EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us. Thanks to reader Claude McFarlane for his caption correction.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on December 1, 2014 and edited on December 1, 2017.

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