1923-Ford-Highland-Park-Plant-body-drop

One hundred years ago Ford Motor Company launched the world’s first moving assembly line, the manufacturing method that enabled cars and trucks to be made economically enough to be afforded by the general public. It created nothing short of a manufacturing revolution.

Here’s a clip from Ford’s press release on the subject.

It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.

The new process revolutionized production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to about 90 minutes.

By reducing the money, time and manpower needed to build cars as he refined the assembly line over the years, Ford was able to drop the price of the Model T from $850 to less than $300. For the first time in history, quality vehicles were affordable to the masses. Eventually, Ford built a Model T every 24 seconds and sold more than 15 million worldwide by 1927, accounting for half of all automobiles then sold.

“Ford’s new approach spread rapidly, not only to other automakers but also to manufacturers of phonographs, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and other consumer goods,” said Bob Casey, former curator of transportation at The Henry Ford.

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