Talk:Assembly line

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Interchangeable parts[edit]

Assembly lines and interchangeable parts are different concepts. An assembly line is a way of making things in which the operations are arranged sequentially and each operation in the line does part of the work. This allows each operation to specialize. See "division of labor" and Adam Smith. Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line. He invented the *moving* assembly line in which conveyors brought the work to the operators. Interchangeable parts are parts that are sufficiently alike that any one picked from a bin, for example, can be used essentially as is. It can be put in the assembly quickly and easily and it will work. The operator does not have to try different ones until a suitable one is found, and the part does not have to be modified in order to make it work. It is not necessary that parts be interchangeable in order that the assembly process be divided into a series of separate sequential operations. Before it was possible to make parts accurately enough that they were interchangeable, expert operators called "fitters" made the necessary adjustments before assembling them. Henry Ford realized that mass production was impossible if every part had to be adjusted manually by experts because a) there were not enough experts, and b) it took too long to do the adjustments. Similarly, it is not necessary that operations with interchangeable parts be arranged in a sequential line. One person can assemble them all. This was the way Volvo made cars in several factories in the 1970s and 80s and the way Ford did it before he developed the moving assembly line. A good book on this subject is Hounshell, D. (1985): "From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The development of manufacturing technology in the United States." Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

I second the comments above. Hounshell is excellent, and assembly line and interchangeable parts are different concepts. I only wish the earlier commenter had signed his comment (ahem!) Ehusman 03:58, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Matthew Boulton[edit]

It is mentioned in the Soho Manufactory article that there was an assembly line there, which would surely have been before Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In fact this article seems to be very sketchy indeed on the long history of the assembly line prior to Ford.

That's because Wikipedia, in general, is sketchy and biased towards the USA. One of the many reasons Wikipedia is not citable.85.8.78.184 (talk) 14:34, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia of course is a work in progress, so if you can describe Bloulton's "assembly line" and provide a citation then it would be most welcome. However, I doubt that it would qualify as an "assembly line" because that would involve some kind of mechanization, such as a conveyor, or gravity slides, to move the parts and work being assembled to the work stations.Phmoreno (talk) 21:47, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

A good day's pay[edit]

The assembly line allegedly caused so much turnover, Ford had to double wages (to $5/day in 1914) to retain workers, as well as cut the workday (10hr to 8); coincidentally, the pay increase (says Georgano) also boosted sales... By 1925, companies had to have assembly lines or risk going broke. Trekphiler 04:13, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Olds patent on assembly line[edit]

After a great deal of searching, I was unable to obtain any evidence of an Olds patent on the assembly line. While Olds and Olds Motor Works held a number of automobile related patents, it appears that an assembly line patent may not be among them (although many sources mention Olds use/invention of the assembly line to produce the Curved Dash Olds, which is still well in advance of Ford's adoption in 1913). It would be very helpful if an expert could weigh in with evidence around this topic. 99.233.75.228 (talk) 15:55, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Cleaned up recent addition re Chicago meatpacking[edit]

The recent addition re Chicago meatpacking was correct in its idea but inaccurate in its scholarship. It presented a quote within quote marks and attributed it (without page number) to Ford's 1922 memoir My Life and Work. You can search the text of that book using the search box at Google Book Search and not find that quote or anything worded similarly to it. The closest quote I find (closest in concept, not words) is a very different quote at page 81, which is already cited in this article in the section on FMC, as is Charles Sorensen's substantial critique of it. I deleted the misattributed quote and referred the reader to the FMC section using an anchor link. — ¾-10 23:07, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Sequestering excess content[edit]

The recent removal of these quotes was on target—they are highly relevant, but too voluminous and repetitive of the simple theme that they are illustrating, which is that Henry Ford as one man should not be conflated with the entire group of people at Ford Motor Company that were engaged in what we would later call industrial engineering. They are sequestered below. (show/hide) — ¾-10 17:41, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Additional Sorensen 1956 quotes
  • "Years later in My Life and Work, a book which was written for him, Mr. Ford said that the conveyor-assembly idea occurred to him after watching the reverse process in packing houses where hogs and steers were triced up by hind legs on an overhead conveyor and disassembled. This is a rationalization long after the event. Mr. Ford had nothing to do with originating, planning, and carrying out the assembly line. He encouraged the work, his vision to try unorthodox methods was an example to us; and in that there is glory enough for all."<ref>{{Harvnb|Sorensen|1956|p=129}}.</ref>
  • "Henry Ford had no ideas on mass production. He wanted to build a lot of autos. He was determined but, like everyone else at that time, he didn’t know how. In later years he was glorified as the originator of the mass production idea. Far from it; he just grew into it, like the rest of us. The essential tools and the final assembly line with its many integrated feeders resulted from an organization which was continually experimenting and improvising to get better production."<ref>{{Harvnb|Sorensen|1956|p=128}}.</ref>
  • "Today historians describe the part the Ford car played in the development of that era and in transforming American life. We see that now. But we didn’t see it then; we weren’t as smart as we have been credited with being. All that we were trying to do was to develop the Ford car. The achievement came first. Then came logical expression of its principles and philosophy."<ref>{{Harvnb|Sorensen|1956|p=131}}.</ref>

William Klann[edit]

As a source for the influence of William Klann, I suggest Vincent Curcio Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius p.205 ISBN 978-0195147056 see page 205 via Google Books Muijz (talk) 19:31, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Klann (and Swift slaughterhouse dis-assembly line) is shown in the Discovery "How we invented the world" Cars episode as the link to Ford T economization. Not a source, but an encouragement. TGCP (talk) 18:56, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Eli Whitney[edit]

According to Hounsell's book From the American System to Mass Production, Whitney did not produce guns with interchangeable parts. Hounsell verified this by direct examination of surviving pieces. Whitney produced an interchangeable sub-assembly, the gun lock, which could be interchanged with locks of other guns, but the components of each lock were hand fitted.

At the least, the beginning of the article needs a complete rewrite by someone with better knowledge.Saintonge235 (talk) 12:23, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, this article is one that I had to give up actively watchlisting because of lack of time and periodic barrages of many edits that were too time-consuming to monitor. The lede has degenerated into misplaced emphasis (a la "assembly lines are all about Eli Whitney!" / "Person X was 'The First'" / etc) and, as you point out, factual error. I'm going to go delete that portion. If someone wants to restore it they will need to cite some refs. — ¾-10 01:06, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

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