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Mass Production

Mass Production Begins At Ford

The various threads of mass production came together at the Ford Motor Co. in Highland Park, Michigan, from 1908 to 1915. Cars were a relatively new invention and were still too expensive for the average person. Many were too heavy or low powered to be practical. Henry Ford set out to produce a light, strong car for a reasonable price. His Model T, released in 1908, was designed to meet these goals. Ford's top engineers and mechanics had backgrounds in the uniformity system, making sewing machines and farm equipment. From the beginning, they adopted interchangeability of parts as a core idea.

After studying how to make cars in the most logical, simple way possible, Ford built a Model T factory between 1908 and 1910 that favored the sequential assembly of parts. Machine tools, which made the parts of the car, were designed to perform one specialized operation. One machine tool did nothing but drill 45 holes into the side of an engine block. The machine tools were placed at the point in the assembly sequence where they were used; previous manufacturers usually had grouped machine tools together by category.

By 1913, a finished Model T rolled out of the factory every 40 seconds. Production went from 14,000 in 1909 to 189,000 in 1913, while the price of a Model T dropped from $950 to $550. Contemporary observers were amazed by this level of productivity, but a final innovation was coming.


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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMass Production - Predecessors To Mass Production, Mass Production Begins At Ford, The Assembly Line, The Spread And Limits Of Mass Production