Motoring History: Henry Ford – Maker of Men (Part Two)

Ford1919Henry Ford and his car company hit a home run with the Model T – and he knew it  (see Part One of this series).  On January 1, 1910 he opened his new factory in Highland Park with the intention of producing one thousand Model T’s a day.  His whole business model centered around making an inexpensive, affordable product for the masses.  Machine parts could be made quickly but assembling cars was another story.  Again, Henry Ford began to tinker.

One member of his team proposed an idea based on a conveyor system used in meat-packing plants.  As the animal carcass moved along the conveyor throughout the plant, meat cutters cut pieces from the animal.  They thought a sort of reverse conveyor process would work – put the machine on a conveyor and move it past people to place things on it.  To test the theory his team tried it out in the flywheel magneto department.  Instead of one person building one coil at a time, individual tasks were broken down – each person along the conveyor had a specific task to perform.  Previously it had taken twenty minutes to assemble and with the new system it would drop to just over thirteen minutes.

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