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assembly line

From Man to Machine: A Brief History of Car Manufacturing

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Walking was the main, and admittedly only, way of transportation for a long time. After taming large animals, horse-drawn carriages lessened the burden on the body and allowed people to get to where they needed to be faster.

Today, we have many options to choose from. We can traverse the sky with airplanes, the sea with boats, and the land with bikes, trains, and buses. Cars are especially the most used, serving as the primary way of transportation for most people.

Automobiles are being mass produced nowadays to accommodate the consistently high market demand. However, companies weren’t always able to provide cars in large quantities before. Let’s look back and learn about the history of car manufacturing.

Made to Order

The first automobiles were made bespoke by experts called coachbuilders. They ordered various car parts from manufacturers but modified the chassis and interior. However, this was a job that took a lot of time and effort. It resulted in a low profit for the builder.

Training personnel was also cumbersome for coachbuilders. Since the parts of a car are complex, they would need to teach their apprentices for a long time. As a result, coachbuilders would usually train their kids in their craft to continue their line of work.

After mass production took off, coachbuilders slowly began to lose popularity. After all, why would you wait for a commission when you can get your car fresh off the line? They decided to either retire or look for employment in manufacturing companies.

Mass Production

Ransome Eli Olds pioneered the mass production of automobiles, and he became the leading automobile manufacturer in America from 1901 to 1904. His method of production, the stationary assembly line, reduced a single car’s production time by leaps and bounds.

In a stationary assembly line, a car was assembled at a singular point, where various workers will bring a specific part and build the car bit by bit. Even unskilled workers could do their tasks, which were easier to learn and could be done repetitively.

Assembly Line

car manufacturer

In 1913, Henry Ford improved the concept of the assembly line, which resulted in the moving assembly line. The car being built will move along a track and be gradually assembled as it moves through stations – areas where workers will do a specific task.

Companies nowadays still use the same process for their manufacturing, aside from a few upgrades. As a result, some companies can produce their manufacturing parts onsite – otherwise known as OEM parts. Volkswagen is one of these companies.

Workers in the stations are also trained to do just one task in car assembly. This not only reduces the chances of manufacturing defects from happening but also increases the profit of the company.

Modern Production Lines

To further increase manufacturing efficiency, robotics were implemented in the assembly line. A computer system monitors the progress of the car chassis throughout the track and assists workers in assembly. Specialized machines are also made to handle more precise work.

While purchasing the machines can be quite costly, it provides various benefits in the long run. Product quality and quantity are further increased, leading to higher profits and lowered costs.

The manufacturing process that companies currently utilize seems to be the most efficient one that can be used. However, improvement is a never-ending process. Innovators should look at what their predecessors did and use that as a basis in developing new ideas and concepts.

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