Report: Slave and Expert Systems

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  1913: Henry Ford and the Assembly Line

Realizing that he'd need to lower costs Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company) was inspired to create a more efficient way to produce his cars. Looking at other industries he and his team found four principles, which furthered their goal: interchangeable parts, continuous flow, division of labor, and reducing wasted effort.

The use of interchangeable parts meant making the individual pieces of the car the same every time. Therefore the machines had to be improved, but once they were adjusted, they could be operated by a low-skilled laborer. To reduce the time workers spent moving around Ford refined the flow of work in the manner that as one task was finished another began, with minimum time spent in set-up. Furthermore he divided the labor by breaking the assembly of the legendary Model T in 84 distinct steps. Frederick Taylor, the creator of "scientific management" was consulted to do time and motion studies to determine the exact speed at which the work should proceed and the exact motions workers should use to accomplish their tasks.

Putting all those findings together in 1913 Ford installed the first moving assembly line that was ever used for large-scale manufacturing. His cars could then be produced at a record-breaking rate, which meant that he could lower the price, but still make a good profit by selling more cars. For the first time work processes were largely automated by machinery.

browse Report:
Slave and Expert Systems
    Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Early Tools
-3   The 18th Century: Powered Machines and the Industrial Revolution
-2   The 19th Century: Machine-Assisted Manufacturing
-1   The 19th Century: First Programmable Computing Devices
0   1913: Henry Ford and the Assembly Line
+1   1940s - Early 1950s: First Generation Computers
+2   1950: The Turing Test
+3   1940s - 1950s: The Development of Early Robotics Technology
1980s: Artificial Intelligence (AI) - From Lab to Life
Assembly line
An assembly line is an industrial arrangement of machines, equipment, and workers for continuous flow of workpieces in mass production operations. An assembly line is designed by determining the sequences of operations for manufacture of each product component as well as the final product. Each movement of material is made as simple and short as possible with no cross flow or backtracking. Work assignments, numbers of machines, and production rates are programmed so that all operations performed along the line are compatible.