The Moving Assembly Line Turns 100 Years Old

The Moving Assembly Line Turns 100 Years Old

It’s hard to believe, but the moving assembly line as we know it today in automotive manufacturing is celebrating its 100th birthday.

When Ford developed its Model T in 1908, it was supposed to be “a car for the masses,” which meant the vehicle had to be mass produced, but at the same time maintain a level of high quality. On October 7 1913, the team at Ford rigged up a crude final assembly line at the Highland Park Assembly plant.

That day, 140 assemblers were stationed along a 150-foot line. Those assemblers installed parts onto a chassis as it was dragged across the floor by a winch. As a result, final assembly time dropped from an average of 12 hours to under three hours. The success of the assembly line saw Ford replacing the rope with an endless chain in January 1914.

And that was the advent of mass automotive production as we know it today. In 1912, Ford produced 82,388 Model Ts while in 1916, the American automaker was able to make 585,388 units. The result was not just more vehicles, but more vehicles at a cheaper price.

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