Free Henry Ford's Mass Production Of The Automobile Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Vehicles, Production, Ford Motor, Business, Assembly, Factory, Model, Products

Pages: 9

Words: 2475

Published: 2020/12/15

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As the twentieth century commenced, the United States saw an evolution of its transport system at the dawning age of the automobiles. Prior that period, transportation within the country entailed horse-drawn carriages or walking on foot. Later, the bicycle invention saw Americans readily accept it as the new mode of transportation that supported personal and natural mobility. The same enthusiasm met automobiles that were faster and more convenient for its users albeit being more expensive than the bicycle. Eventually, cars within the American societies represented leisure for those lucky enough to own them and at the same time provided a distinction amid the social classes. From their intricate design to the time and skills needed for production, it was evident that automobile manufacturing cost a lot of money and was time-consuming. By extension, the car industry suffered as the input directly affected prices of the cars and in turn, limited profits because few people could afford the luxury. Henry Ford’s construction of the assembly line in 1913 remedied all the shortcomings of car manufacturing by reducing production time per car. His idea disrupted traditional automobile businesses and revolutionized the concept of production across all industries within and outside the United States. Thus said, this paper seeks to present the development of mass production through Henry Ford’s assembly line, after which it will determine its impact on the manufacturing processes and economy.
Henry Ford was prominent in the field of automobile creations prior the introduction of the Model T to the American markets in 1908. For instance, he invented a gasoline-fueled car in 1896 dubbed the "Quadricycle", a contraption that could also run on "kerosene or even grain coal” (Skrabec 42). Because the fuels were readily available to the people of the twentieth century United States, the invention qualified as a respite from the need to use horses or one’s energy with the bicycle. In addition, the Quadricycle evidenced Ford’s ability to utilize readily available raw materials for his creations and the considerations he put on whether or not the people could operate his products. Accordingly, the opening of the Ford Motor Company in 1903 saw his inventive mind consider the production of better cars that suit the life and needs of all Americans. Henry Ford’s ninth creation dubbed the “Model T” was the answer, as it later turned out to be the most famous automobile of the century. With the ideal car in mind, the next goal was to ensure it served all of America’s populace, regardless of their social class and levels of income. For this reason, while focusing on the Model T, Ford based the manufacturing of the car on availability, sustainability, and affordability as its desirable qualities. In other words, the vehicle was to be cheap but made of durable material and precise formulas so that, the people could afford and enjoy the Model T in longevity. Thus, all Model T cars were black in color, made of durable steel, and of similar components to avoid preferences among the target customers. The ingenious plan was in motion, for the Model T car had five seats making it perfect for the families. The car was also readily available to the people; however, at eight hundred and fifty dollars it was too expensive (Skrabec 73). Henry Ford sought to make his creation accessible to all Americans without harming the company profits or his employees, and the assembly line was the answer to such endeavors.
Foremost, Henry Ford opened a plant in Michigan’s Highland Park as he sought a method to reduce manufacturing time while maximizing total production. The new facility was not an ordinary factory because of Henry Ford’s renovations. According to Paxton, Ford’s company adopted the concept of a “rationalizing the plant” where engineers design the machinery before housing them under a building (85). In other words, rather than buying the building then fit the production tools into the available space, Ford did the opposite and, as a result, allowed room for possible renovations in the future. The fact that Highland Park factory was to manufacture one product allowed the method of “rationalizing the plant” as engineers only worked with one machine design. The ideas of an automobile assembly line originated from food production industries that utilized different forms of machinery for fast and clean produce, qualities that human workers could not uphold. Paxton concurs with food industries playing a role in Ford’s invention of the assembly line. According to the author, “both grain mills and, later, the textile mills of New England” inspired Ford’s creativity and the resulting machinery the world knows as the assembling line (Paxton 83). Subsequently, Frederick Taylor’s scientific management polished off the idea by narrowing down on what the machines ought to do for maximum profit. Apparently, Taylor was of the opinion that workers were “so stupid” and incapable of altering their habits to suit the purposes of corporations (Brennan 121). Consequently, while collaborating with Henry Ford, the two came up with the means to “minimize the conflict between labor and equipment” and maximize prosperity for the employer and employee (Brennan 122). The assembly line fit perfectly with the descriptions by ensuring that the cars met the target qualities, and workers remained stationary while assembling the car.
Once complete, the assembly line encompassed an intricate web of chains and links between different sections of the assembling process to allow the smooth movement of car parts around the factory, regardless of the mass. As mentioned above, Ford made the Model T cars identical in all aspects to prevent buyers from claiming a different size or color and at the same time encourage sales. That principle also proved beneficial in the assembly lines where the auto parts used for production were compatible with all the cars. Hence, in concurrence with Taylor’s thoughts on scientific management, Henry Ford implemented standardization as a means to eliminate wastage (Brennan 122). After all, as long as the needed parts are identical, there is little to no risk of assembled automobiles having the wrong components. In addition, the sizes and forms of ordered auto parts remain constant leaving no room for suppliers and assemblers alike to make mistakes. Thus, everything that the Model T required for proper operation was usable throughout the manufacturing process as long as the desired output was the car. Once car parts were available, trained workers at different operational stations took what the car frame needed at their positions on the assembly line and waited. As Paxton points out, Ford’s Highland Park plant had two significant advantages that aided in his invention of the assembly line, “the first was electrification and the second was reinforced concrete” (84). Electricity allowed shift work that permitted twenty-four hours of production while concrete could withstand the weight of the system. Thus, rate of production increased, factories remained safe, and more people gained employment. According to Paxton, a chain conveyor would pull the car’s structure down an assembly line, and workers stationed along the line put whichever part they are charge of to complete the car. Paxton insists that the “line-shaft, belt-drive” appreciably reduced time needed to assemble the vehicles and by extension, increased the company profits tremendously. Such was the immediate effects of the assembly line in production and manufacturing, prompt and quality production with minimum energy.
There are two premises through which one can look at the impact of Henry Ford’s creations on the industries, through the changes it rendered on production methods, and the economy of the United States. Expectedly, the two impacts interchange because prosperous production reduces chances of wastage and improves the economy at different levels. Wastage within the production businesses can occur at any point. However, the assembly line ensures precise addition of materials and the quality of completed products. Economically, for a near perfect assembling process, it takes the correlation of multiple persons and organizations to maintain the flow. For instance, the Model T required people at different stations, but at the same time, other industries supplied the needed components.
About production, the immediate effect was on the rate at which Ford's invention created finished cars for the buyers. As mentioned above, the use of interchangeable auto parts on the assembly line and competent workers at each point of the construction process lowered wastage and improved the quality of the merchandise. Expectedly, the assembly line yielded an estimated fifteen million cars between October 1908 and May 1927 (Alizon, Shooter, and Simpson 590). Such production rates were a first in American History and surpassed every other automobile plant in the United States. Concurrently, in 1924, Ford reduced the car price to two hundred and sixty dollars after his company’s massive profits. Even after the cost reductions, Ford managed to keep his company afloat, thus proving mass production can be beneficial for all involved parties. Consequently, with time, other companies adopted Ford’s methods, and they were not just those in car manufacturing. The techniques still worked immensely well because they were applicable to other trades and could decrease the amount of labor while recording significant increases in total yield. Most notable qualities were the concepts of standardization and interchangeability that ease the progress of mass production by supporting the flow of the assembly line (Alizon, Shooter, and Simpson 597). Standardization involved a limitation to the features of a product to avoid variations that have the potential to increase faults during the manufacturing process. In other words, when a company aims to produce large quantities of a product, it is best to concentrate on one design of the same and avoid differentiations on one assembly line. By that, said company reduces the possibility of wastage because when a single model is in the creation process, there are no differences in the inputs. Alizon, Shooter, and Simpson concur as they reckon that Ford realized integrating customization into “the manufacturing process would have reduced the production rate because products would not have been standard anymore” (598). Consequently, mass production requires a uniformity of the wares. With the consistency comes experience and better quality of final products, since the machine produces more of the same product, the quality increases progressively with each attempt. Concurrently, interchangeability encompasses the application of different elements of raw materials that support the creation of multiple products. For instance, in the Model T production, the same type of a gas tank was in every completed car and the same applied to every other vehicle segment. To mention a few examples, cars can be diverse based on number plates but are of the same model while food products may have different weight packages but still contain the same nutrients. When standardization and interchangeability are present, the course within an assembling mechanism is easy to achieve because factory hands only perform small tasks for completion. Expectedly, when the obligations of workers revolve around a given station for an extended period, they become specialists at what they do and with time manage to fulfill their responsibilities within lesser time.
Since Henry Ford’s discovery, enterprises have come to understand and utilize the process of mass production in different sectors. Because of the creation of new forms of technology the principle of mass production develops as companies implement different assembly lines to cater for a variety of merchandise albeit separately. Hence, producers manage to keep pace with the demands of the consumers and still maintain the qualities of their creations. Nonetheless, there are some identified problems with mass production within the industries and outside once target populations purchase their products. When Ford created the Model T, there was no alternative for his customers because all the cars were of the same color and with similar elements (Alizon, Shooter, and Simpson 589). The same case is apparent in all fields of mass production where because consumers require more of a commodity, manufacturers provide them in large portions courtesy of the assembly line. When one considers the fact that particular people have to work on the assembly line at specific points to avoid mishaps and that multiple versions of the same product exist, Ford’s idea has a defect. Within the workplace, there emerges monotony where the hired workers cannot expand their expertise to other areas within the production process and so, have limited knowledge about the same. For buyers, the uniformity of products can prove to be unfavorable as there are no diversities between the targeted users. In the case of vehicles and other expensive and complicated products, similarities are acceptable, in terms of clothing and other small basic needs it can be problematic and lead to accelerated disinterest. Hence, one can safely argue that the effects of the assembly line aids producers in the immediate production of goods but limit the capacities of workers. On the other hand, the processes of mass production lead to an accelerated disinterest in company stocks because of the lack of autonomy among its customers.
Even in present-day factories, there are the maintenance people who make sure the systems are in working order and those that participate in actual production. Within a production process, there are possible testers to confirm the quality and in some instances, those who pack and bar total yield for the quantity. That, of course, is vital for the smooth flow that determines the total amount of produce and their acceptability to the target consumers. Aside from monotony, the lack of variety can also be problematic for the impoverished when they cannot afford quality products because of fixed prices. In other words, standardization limits diversity of products by a given company. Hence, those that cannot afford the price of the products will have to remain without them. Ford’s whole basis of producing multiple Model Ts at a fast rate was to ensure that all Americans could afford to buy one. However, even with the reduced prices there were those that could still not afford to purchase the car, a fact that set them in a different social class from those that had the car. Again, the same phenomenon is observable in present day industries because of mass production merchandise set at either high or low prices. Production correlates with the economy.
Mass production affected the economy at different levels, depending on the involvement of people and organizations to ensure its success. The cheap price of the Model T boosted its sales among the American populace, and in turn, the money generated from the business advanced the country’s economy. As mentioned above, Henry Ford realized massive profits within a decade after designing the assembly line. His first mode of action was to increase the wages of factory employees to five dollars as a means to "retain the best workers" (Jensen 562). Otherwise termed as the 'Fordism theory of prosperity", factories took to replicating Henry Ford's methods of production and by extension, management of the industries (Jensen 559). Consequently, wages for factory workers increased with most manufacturers striving to match the payments at Ford's Company lest they lose the best of their employees. Next, by targeting average American citizens with his product, Henry Ford’s invention gradually became part of the American dream where every household owned an automobile (Paxton 83). Among the richest homes, families owned multiple Model Ts while a big percentage of the average adult Americans were able to purchase at least one of the cars. Hence, car ownership defined the economy of the United States because businesses owners came to depend on the new form of transportation for their dealings.
Industries adopted Ford’s method of standardization and interchangeability, a fact that continually upheld company transactions as they compete with customer demands. A good illustration is evident within housing companies where proprietors already have model house frames available for the consumers. Once a customer chooses a particular model, all that remains is making a bigger model of the structure on desired ground and filling it out with the walls for a complete home. In addition, Ford encouraged work specialization among his employees where once a person excelled in a particular task they remained in that station within the industry. Specialization continues to dictate the economy as people study specific areas to gain the necessary expertise that will aid them acquire work. Specialization within and outside the production factories encourage productivity that also supports the economy. In a similar way, workers in Ford’s company limited their energies and knowledge to particular fields and produced multiple Model Ts in an hour. The same is applicable in many countries where diversity and variations in gained knowledge support the general productivity of all people.
Conclusively, although Henry Ford took years and much exertion to establish a workable assembly line, the efforts proved worthwhile from the beginning. Factories immediately saw the benefits of mass production to ensure a good yield with profitable returns without risking wastage at any points of production. Hence, because of Ford’s ideologies, productivity improved and with it, the economy because of more work opportunities from the existing and emerging factories. Hence, there already existed a relationship between productivity and the economy.

Work Cited

Brennan, Linda L. "The Scientific Management of Information Overload." Journal of Business and Management 17.1 (2011): 121-134. Print.
Alizon Fabrice, Shooter Steven B., and Simpson Timothy W. "Henry Ford and the Model T: Lessons for Product Platforming and Mass Customization." Design Studies 30.5 (2009): 588-605. Print.
Jensen, Richard J. "The Causes and Cures of Unemployment in the Great Depression." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 19.4 (1989): 553-583. Print.
Paxton, John. "Mr. Taylor, Mr. Ford, and the Advent of High-Volume Mass Production: 1900-1912." Economics & Business Journal: Inquiries & Perspectives 4 .1 (2012): 74-90. Print.
Skrabec, Quentin R. The Green Vision of Henry Ford and George Washington Carver: Two Collaborators in the Cause of Clean Industry. North Carolina: McFarland, 2013. Print.

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