Henry Ford created the concept of assembly line manufacturing. The original components arrived onto a single line platform to make a complete car at the end of the line. This was a revolutionary way of manufacturing introduced to increase productivity on an unprecedented scale. However, the monotonous nature of the job took a toll on the workers. Henry Ford compensated for it by increasing the wages, setting a standard for America giving $5 an hour and introducing 8 hours a day. Eventually, the workers at his factory were richer than average Americans where they could actually afford the cars they assembled. Here are some highlights:
- One car was produced every 10 seconds.
- It took only 4 days to assemble a car from raw materials to the finished product.
- Henry Ford became the first “self made” billionaire of the mankind.
- Most other industries quickly adopted his assembly line manufacturing.
- During his time, USA produced 40% of manufactured output in the world.
- During WWII, the 32 million car American industry shifted to making war equipment.
- The assembly line production allowed women and African-Americans to enter jobs spurring hate crimes.
- During WWII, USA produced 90,000 bombers, quarter million tanks and jeeps- faster and cheaper than any other country in the world.
- At the end of WWII, USA productivity was 8 times that of Japan.
- However, Ford’s assembly line manufacturing had some deficiencies. Switching from Model T to Model A required one-quarter billion US dollars. Meanwhile, GM was able to make changes faster because they had smaller assembly lines.
Assembly Line work takes a toll at Ford
- There was emphasis on Quantity over Quality.
- Extreme fatigue for Workers.
- Mechanization went too far, human element was missing.
- Toyota introduced lean production. Eventually, Japan made more cars than USA.
Embraced by Toyota
- 1950, EG Toyota spent 3 months at Rouge Complex (Detroit). Henry Ford shared his assembly line technique with everyone. At that time, Toyota was doing 1000 cars a month. Ford was making 1000 cars a day.
- Toyota created lean manufacturing allowing workers to define their job giving scope for creativity. Every worker became an inspector. Productivity actually increased.
- Toyota expected its workers to be motivated, skilled and innovative – they developed their unique style called Kai Zan.