Whether it’s run by humans or by robots, it can be said without argument that the assembly line method is by far the most widely used in manufacturing. The assembly line, created and patented by Ransom Olds in 1901, is an arrangement of machines, tools, and workers in which a product is assembled by having each perform a specific, successive operation on an incomplete unit as it passes by in a series of stages organized in a direct line.
Before the Industrial Revolution, all things were created by hand, taking a lot of time and many individual workers to complete. After the concept of interchangeable parts was established, Ransom Olds, of Oldsmobile, created the assembly line process giving Oldsmobile the ability to produce 20 cars per day, a 500 percent increase from its days prior to the assembly line. It is often thought that Henry Ford is the original owner of the assembly line process. While he is not the owner of the concept, Ford did add the conveyor to the assembly line process which gave it the ability to mass produce allowing Ford to produce a Model T every 90 minutes!
In 1961 General Motors installed their first robot arm to the production assembly line; by 1969 they were considered the most automated manufacturer in the industry using robot arms in assembly lines. Today there are many manufacturing plants that are fully automated, using all robots to complete the production process and those that still require humans to finish the task. However both robots and humans are posted along an assembly line.
The assembly line method defines mass production in manufacturing. As new technologies and concepts evolve manufacturing and change the way goods are produced, the assembly line method is one that remains and will always have a permanent place inside a manufacturing facility.
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