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Fun Ford Facts

2013 marks 100 years of the assembly line at Ford Motor Company.

January 22, 2013 by Chad Houghton


With the introduction of the Model T in 1908, Henry Ford set out to build a car for the masses.  The number of cars needed was increasing quarterly and the need to build the cars faster and more efficiently would be crucial in carrying out this plan.  Though the impression is that Ford created the assembly line, this was not the case.  Henry perfected it!  Ford would be the first company in North America to implement the assembly line and take it to new heights.  In the early days at Ford, cars were built in work stations, where the workers would bring the parts to the car.  If you think about it, the building had to be huge to hold all the parts needed to build a car, and to walk to a holding area for each part would take up a lot of time during that building process.  An experiment was set up with a Model T being pulled by a rope in a straight line while the workers waited till the car came to them to install their part.  The process proved to be successful and a plan was put in motion to make the plant a fully automated assembly line.

With the introduction of the assembly line, the Model T went from 14 hours to 1.5 hours to build!

Despite the initial cost, the efficiency and productivity could not be ignored.  Installing the assembly line helped with two growing issues, the lack of skilled workers and meeting high production demands. Many of the workers originally hired at Ford were American born with Anglo and German decent with most trained in mechanics.  With the assembly line increasing in volume and workers, most of the work was relying on immigrants flocking to the Detroit area from Eastern and Southern Europe with little to no mechanical skills.  By giving the unskilled workers only one task to do and a moral boosting five dollars a day, production rose to new heights.  Also resulting in lower cost to produce and purchase a Model T. What started out at $850 for a Runabout in 1908 dropped to $345 by the year 1916.  Ford not only used the assembly line to produce his car but for sub assembly as well.  Other parts of the building were used to build the rest of the components like the engine, transmission, body and then were transported by floor level and overhead conveyors to the main line. 

An assembly line for the modern ages.

In the beginning a plant would build only one kind of vehicle.  Making all parts standard for that vehicle, kept the flow going.  Also keeping the cost down and the car count high.  With time, the ability to build multiple vehicles on one line has increased due to a higher skilled work force and the rise of automation.  Today Ford has transformed the Louisville Plant into a state of the art modern, flexible plant producing the new Escape but also capable of building up to 6 different vehicle platforms without shutting down.  Even in the machining departments with the use of CNC machines.  Ford has repurposed a head machining line in Windsor, Ontario to now machine the Coyote block, adding a huge cost savings.  With Ford having it's eye on the future of more electric and hybrid vehicles, the Michigan Assembly Plant will be the first plant capable of producing these along side their gas powered models, all on the same line. Making this plant the first of this type in the world!

MAP produces the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, C-MAX Hybrid, Focus Electric, as well as the conventional Focus and Focus ST high performance model.