Industrial manufacturing has seen some incredible developments over the last hundred years, with new technologies revolutionizing production and changing the way the assembly line functions.
1801 – 1803: First example of linear and continuous assembly process used at the Portsmouth Bock Mills.
1901: Olds Motor Vehicle Company patents the first assembly line.
1913: Ford Motor Company introduces the modern assembly line for their Model T.
According to Henry Ford
According to Henry Ford the assembly line created these sociological and economic improvements:
- Workers do no heavy lifting
- No stooping or bending over
- No special training required
- Jobs are accessible to anyone
- Provided employment to immigrants
- Drastically reduced the rate of injury
- The man-hours needed per car dropped from 12.5 to 1 hr 33 mins
- The price of a Model T dripped from $825 to $300
1961: Unimation installs first industrial robot at General Motors. It works on the assembly line making door and windows handles, gearshift knobs and other automotive fixtures.
1967: Industrial robots reach Europe.
1969: Victor Scheinman invents the Stanford Arm, used for more sophisticated tasks of the assembly line, such as welding.
1969: Norway offers the first robots capable of performing painting tasks.
1970: Japan develops a robot that can assemble parts based off of a visual assembly plan.
1972: Europe installs full robotic production lines.
1974: Sweden uses robots that can grind and polish pipe bends.
1974: Hitachi develops the first precision insertion control robot, which can insert parts within a clearance of 10 micron.
1980’s: Japanese manufacturers use robots extensively for repetitive jobs.
Lean and Green Industrial Manufacturing
1990: The term “lean manufacturing” is introduced, creating emphasis on increased customer value with minimal waste.
1994: Boeing launches a 777, the first airliner to be assembled entirely by computers.
2000: American manufacturers start using lean production techniques.
2007: Manufacturers begin taking on “green” initiatives to improve sustainability at the plant level.
Future of Industrial Manufacturing
2020: Industrial manufacturing will become increasingly global, with estimates as high as 80% of manufacturers having a multi-country operation.
The technology used on assembly lines continues to grow more and more sophisticated, making automation far easier to implement.
- The global economy is experiencing prolonged growth, in part thanks to automation in the workforce.
- In 1950 the global world product was $4 trillion. In 2008, it was $61 trillion. This fifteen-fold increase is largely attributed to productivity in factories.
- Manufacturers will continue taking action on sustainability issues in hopes of diminishing emissions.
- The continued increase in population and thus consumers will subsequent increase the need for innovative manufacturing.
Since the introduction of automation, the manufacturing industry has progressed in leaps and bounds, with each new year bringing some amazing new development.
Who can really say where another hundred years will take us?