Essay on Henry Ford: An American Icon

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Ford is a prestigious motor company with a successful production history spanning more than a century and involving several influential automobiles, most notably the iconic Model T. Indeed, the Model T was a supreme mechanical innovation, a remarkable marriage of “technical design and social context” (Boyer & Dubofsky 275). Although simple in design, and relatively inexpensive, the vehicle performed very well against competitors’ models, surviving the primitive roads and almost nonexistent repair facilities thanks to a very robust frame, high wheel clearance and an easy-to-fix motor and suspension (Boyer & Dubofsky 275). The popularity of the vehicle was the impetus for Henry Ford to look at innovative production techniques in order …show more content…
After touring Swift & Company, Klann observed that “if they can kill pigs and cows that way, we can build cars that way and build motors that way” (in Curcio 205). An additional influence of Ford’s was the canning industry (Curcio 205). These models served to inspire Klann and Henry Ford, helping them envision their own production line.
The first assembly line began production in 1913 – the production of magnetos. One operation was performed per employee on the line, pushing the work down the line to the next man, and so on until the machine – in this case, a magneto – was completed (Curcio 205). This resulted in a reduction in assembly time of a shocking fifty percent (Curcio 205). By elevating the bench, back pain was eliminated, and the introduction of a moving chain to propel the work regulated the pace of work. This resulted in speeding up slow workers, and retarding speedy ones. This helped reduce mistakes, while also speeding up production. It also resulted in reducing the amount of workers on the line from 29 to five, while assembly time dropped from 20 minutes of bench time to five (Curcio 205).
These initial results on magnetos were so impressive that the system was implemented “wherever possible in the plant” (Curcio 205). This resulted in a mass of obsolete, expensive equipment being discarded. Klann built a final engine assembly line from “several subassemblies” by November of 1913 (Curcio 205). This resulted in the diminution of engine assembly

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