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Mass production, also known as flow production or continuous production, is the production of substantial amounts of
standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standard A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes un ...
products in a constant flow, including and especially on
assembly line
assembly line
s. Together with
job production Job production, sometimes called jobbing or one-off production, involves producing custom work, such as a one-off product for a specific customer or a small batch of work in quantities usually less than those of mass-market products. Job productio ...
and
batch production Batch production is a method of manufacturing where the products are made as specified groups or amounts, within a time frame. A batch can go through a series of steps in a large manufacturing process to make the final desired product. Batch product ...
, it is one of the three main production methods. The term ''mass production'' was popularized by a 1926 article in the ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' supplement that was written based on correspondence with
Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company (commonly known as Ford) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple c ...
. The ''New York Times'' used the term in the title of an article that appeared before publication of the ''Britannica'' article. The concepts of mass production are applied to various kinds of products: from
fluids In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through ...

fluids
and particulates handled in bulk (
food Food is any substance consumed to provide Nutrient, nutritional support for an organism. Food is usually of plant, animal or Fungus, fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein (nutrient), proteins, vi ...

food
,
fuel A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical conc ...

fuel
,
chemicals A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which ...

chemicals
and
mined
mined
minerals In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...

minerals
), to parts and assemblies of parts (
household appliances A major appliance, also known as a large domestic appliance or large electric appliance or simply a large appliance, large domestic, or large electric, is a non-portable or semi-portable machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power ...
and
automobiles A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle Electric bicycles parked in Yangzhou's main street, Wenchang Lu. They are a very common way of transport in this city, in some areas almost outnumbering regular bicycles A motor vehicle, also k ...
). Some mass production techniques, such as standardized sizes and production lines, predate the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
by many centuries; however, it was not until the introduction of
machine tool A machine tool is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an action. Machines can be driven by animals and people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural ...
s and techniques to produce interchangeable parts were developed in the mid 19th century that modern mass production was possible.


Overview

Mass production involves making many copies of products, very quickly, using assembly line techniques to send partially complete products to workers who each work on an individual step, rather than having a worker work on a whole product from start to finish. Mass production of fluid matter typically involves pipes with
centrifugal pump Centrifugal pumps are used to transport fluids by the conversion of rotational kinetic energy to the hydrodynamic energy of the fluid flow. The rotational energy typically comes from an engine or electric motor. They are a sub-class of dynamic ...

centrifugal pump
s or
screw conveyor A screw conveyor or auger conveyor is a mechanism that uses a rotating helical screw A screw and a Bolt (fastener), bolt (see ''#Differentiation between bolt and screw, Differentiation between bolt and screw'' below) are similar types of ...
s (augers) to transfer raw materials or partially complete products between vessels. Fluid flow processes such as oil refining and bulk materials such as wood chips and pulp are automated using a system of
process control An industrial process control in continuous production processes is a discipline that uses industrial control system#REDIRECT Industrial control system Industrial control system (ICS) is a general term that encompasses several types of control s ...
which uses various instruments to measure variables such as temperature, pressure, volumetric and level, providing feedback man Bulk materials such as coal, ores, grains and wood chips are handled by belt, chain, slat, pneumatic or
screw A screw and a bolt Bolt or bolts may refer to: Implements and technology * Bolt (fastener), similar to a screw, used with a nut * Bolt (climbing), an anchor point used in rock climbing * Bolt (firearms), a mechanism used in firearms * Crossbow ...
conveyors,
bucket elevator 250px, A river bucket elevator A bucket elevator, also called a grain leg, is a mechanism for hauling flowable bulk materials (most often grain A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached husk, hull or fruit layer, harvested ...
s and mobile equipment such as front-end loaders. Materials on pallets are handled with forklifts. Also used for handling heavy items like reels of paper, steel or machinery are electric
overhead crane An overhead crane, commonly called a bridge crane, is a type of Crane (machine), crane found in industrial environments. An overhead crane consists of two parallel Rail profile, rails seated on longitudinal I-beams attached to opposite steel c ...

overhead crane
s, sometimes called bridge cranes because they span large factory bays. Mass production is capital intensive and energy intensive, as it uses a high proportion of machinery and energy in relation to workers. It is also usually
automated Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. Human intervention is reduced by predetermining decision criteria, subprocess relationships, and related actions — and embodying those predetermi ...
while total expenditure per unit of product is decreased. However, the machinery that is needed to set up a mass production line (such as
robot A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer—capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. A robot can be guided by an external control device, or the control may be embedded within. Robots may be ...

robot
s and
machine press A forming press, commonly shortened to press, is a machine tool that changes the shape of a work-piece by the application of pressure. The operator of a forming press is known as a press-tool setter, often shortened to tool-setter. Presses ...
es) is so expensive that there must be some assurance that the product is to be successful to attain profits. One of the descriptions of mass production is that "the skill is built into the tool" , which means that the worker using the tool may not need the skill. For example, in the 19th or early 20th century, this could be expressed as "the craftsmanship is in the
workbench A workbench is a sturdy table Table may refer to: * Table (information) A table is an arrangement of data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "W ...

workbench
itself" (not the training of the worker). Rather than having a skilled worker measure every dimension of each part of the product against the plans or the other parts as it is being formed, there were
jigs The jig ( ga, port, gd, port-cruinn) is a form of lively folk dance A folk dance is a dance Dance is a performing art art form, form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement ...
ready at hand to ensure that the part was made to fit this set-up. It had already been checked that the finished part would be to specifications to fit all the other finished parts—and it would be made more quickly, with no time spent on finishing the parts to fit one another. Later, once computerized control came about (for example,
CNC Numerical control (also computer numerical control, and commonly called CNC) is the automated control of machining truck of the US Army with machinists working on automotive parts Machining is a process in which a material (often metal) is cu ...

CNC
), jigs were obviated, but it remained true that the skill (or knowledge) was built into the tool (or process, or documentation) rather than residing in the worker's head. This is the specialized capital required for mass production; each workbench and set of tools (or each CNC cell, or each ) is different (fine-tuned to its task).


History


Pre-industrial

Standardized parts and sizes and factory production techniques were developed in pre-industrial times; before the invention of
machine tool A machine tool is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an action. Machines can be driven by animals and people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural ...
s the manufacture of precision parts, especially metal ones, was very labor-intensive.
Crossbows A crossbow is a ranged weapon . English longbowmen figure prominently in the foreground at right where they drive away the French crossbow A crossbow is a ranged weapon using an elastic launching device similar to a bow; it consists of a ...
made with bronze parts were produced in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
during the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period i ...
. The Qin Emperor unified China at least in part by equipping large armies with these weapons, which were equipped with a sophisticated trigger mechanism made of interchangeable parts. The
Terracotta Army The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of , the first . It is a form of buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from approximat ...

Terracotta Army
guarding the Emperor's necropolis is also believed to have been created through the use of standardized molds on an . In
ancient Carthage Carthage (; xpu, 𐤒𐤓𐤕𐤟𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕, translit=Qart-ḥadašt, lit=New City; la, Carthāgō) was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
, were mass-produced on a large scale at a moderate cost, allowing them to efficiently maintain their control of the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
. Many centuries later, the
Venetians Venetian often means from or related to: * Venice, a city in Italy * Veneto, a region of Italy * Republic of Venice (697–1797), a historical nation in that area Venetian and the like may also refer to: * Venetian language, a Romance language sp ...
would follow Carthage in producing ships with prefabricated parts on an assembly line: the
Venetian Arsenal Entrance to the Arsenal ca. 1860–70. Photo by Venetian photographer Carlo Ponti The Venetian Arsenal ( it, Arsenale di Venezia) is a complex of former shipyard A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where ships are built and re ...
produced nearly one ship every day in what was effectively the world's first
factory A factory, manufacturing plant or a production plant is an Industry (manufacturing), industrial site, often a complex consisting of several buildings filled with Outline of industrial machinery, machinery, where workers manufacturing, manufactu ...

factory
, which at its height employed 16,000 people. The invention of
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of a ...
has allowed for documents such as books to be mass produced. The first movable type system was invented in China by
Bi Sheng Bi Sheng and his invention at Beijing Printing Museum Bì Shēng (畢昇 972–1051 AD) was a Chinese artisan, engineer, and inventor of the world's first movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system ...
, during the reign of the
Song Dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
, where it was used to, among other things, issue
paper money A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable instrument, negotiable promissory note, made by a bank or other licensed authority, payable to the bearer on demand. Banknotes we ...
. The oldest extant book produced using
metal type 200px, Metal type sorts arranged on a composing stick In typesetting on a composing stick on a type case. , letter founder, from the 1728 edition of '' Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Cyclopaedia''. . Typeset ...

metal type
is the ''
Jikji ''Jikji'' () is the abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document whose title can be translated to "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Zen ( zh, t=禪, p=Chán; ja, text= 禅, translit=zen; ko, text=선, translit=Seon; vi, te ...
'', printed in Korea in the year 1377.
Johannes Gutenberg Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; – 3 February 1468) was a German inventor An invention is a unique or novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. ...

Johannes Gutenberg
, through his invention of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water ...
and production of the
Gutenberg Bible The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the earliest major book printed using mass-produced movable metal type in Europe. It marked the start of the " Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of printed ...

Gutenberg Bible
, introduced movable type to Europe. Through this introduction, mass production in the European publishing industry was made commonplace, leading to a
democratization of knowledge The democratization of knowledge is the acquisition and spread of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge), or objects ( ...
, increased literacy and education, and the beginnings of modern
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. ...

science
. Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval, a French artillery engineer, introduced the standardization of cannon design in the mid-18th century. He developed a 6-inch (150 mm) field howitzer whose gun barrel, carriage assembly and ammunition specifications were made uniform for all French cannons. The standardized
interchangeable parts Interchangeable parts are parts (components Component may refer to: In engineering, science, and technology Generic systems *System A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to ...

interchangeable parts
of these cannons down to the nuts, bolts and screws made their mass production and repair easier than before.


Industrial

In the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
, simple mass production techniques were used at the
Portsmouth Block Mills Portsmouth () is a port city primarily built on Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a Counties of England, county in South East England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Winchest ...

Portsmouth Block Mills
in England to make ships' pulley blocks for the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
in the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
. It was achieved in 1803 by
Marc Isambard Brunel Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (, ; 25 April 1769 – 12 December 1849) was a French-born engineer who is most famous for the work he did in Britain. He is best known for the construction of the Thames Tunnel and as the father of Isambard Kingdom ...
in cooperation with
Henry Maudslay Henry Maudslay (pronunciation and spellingPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lang ...

Henry Maudslay
under the management of Sir
Samuel Bentham Sir Samuel Bentham (11 January 1757 – 31 May 1831) was a noted English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early ...
. The first unmistakable examples of manufacturing operations carefully designed to reduce production costs by specialized labour and the use of machines appeared in the 18th century in England. The Navy was in a state of expansion that required 100,000 pulley blocks to be manufactured a year. Bentham had already achieved remarkable efficiency at the docks by introducing power-driven machinery and reorganising the dockyard system. Brunel, a pioneering engineer, and Maudslay, a pioneer of machine tool technology who had developed the first industrially practical
screw-cutting lathe A screw-cutting lathe is a machine (specifically, a lathe A watchmaker using a lathe to prepare a component cut from copper for a watch A lathe () is a machine tool that rotates a workpiece about an axis of rotation to perform various operati ...
in 1800 which standardized
screw thread A screw thread, often shortened to thread, is a helix, helical structure used to convert between rotational and linear movement or force. A screw thread is a ridge wrapped around a cylinder (geometry), cylinder or cone (geometry), cone in the for ...
sizes for the first time which in turn allowed the application of
interchangeable parts Interchangeable parts are parts (components Component may refer to: In engineering, science, and technology Generic systems *System A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to ...

interchangeable parts
, collaborated on plans to manufacture block-making machinery. By 1805, the dockyard had been fully updated with the revolutionary, purpose-built machinery at a time when products were still built individually with different components. A total of 45 machines were required to perform 22 processes on the blocks, which could be made into one of three possible sizes. The machines were almost entirely made of metal thus improving their accuracy and durability. The machines would make markings and indentations on the blocks to ensure alignment throughout the process. One of the many advantages of this new method was the increase in labour
productivity Productivity is the efficiency Efficiency is the (often measurable) ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money, and time in doing something or in producing a desired result. In a more general sense, it is the ability to do thin ...
due to the less labour-intensive requirements of managing the machinery. Richard Beamish, assistant to Brunel's son and engineer,
Isambard Kingdom Brunel Isambard Kingdom Brunel (; 9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859) was an English civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history," "one of the 19th-century engineering giants," and "on ...
, wrote:
So that ten men, by the aid of this machinery, can accomplish with uniformity, celerity and ease, what formerly required the uncertain labour of one hundred and ten.
By 1808, annual production from the 45 machines had reached 130,000 blocks and some of the equipment was still in operation as late as the mid-twentieth century."The Portsmouth blockmaking machinery"
. makingthemodernworld.org
Mass production techniques were also used to rather limited extent to make clocks and watches, and to make small arms, though parts were usually non-interchangeable. Though produced on a very small scale,
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ...
gunboat engines designed and assembled by John Penn of Greenwich are recorded as the first instance of the application of mass production techniques (though not necessarily the assembly-line method) to marine engineering. In filling an Admiralty order for 90 sets to his high-pressure and high-revolution horizontal
trunk engine A marine steam engine is a steam engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and ...

trunk engine
design, Penn produced them all in 90 days. He also used Whitworth Standard threads throughout. Prerequisites for the wide use of mass production were
interchangeable parts Interchangeable parts are parts (components Component may refer to: In engineering, science, and technology Generic systems *System A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to ...

interchangeable parts
,
machine tools A machine tool is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular machine that uses Power (physics), power to apply Force, force ...
and
power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power is the watt, equal to one joule per second. In older works, p ...
, especially in the form of
electricity Electricity is the set of physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physi ...

electricity
. Some of the organizational management concepts needed to create 20th-century mass production, such as
scientific management Scientific management is a theory of management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British En ...
, had been pioneered by other engineers (most of whom are not famous, but
Frederick Winslow Taylor Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 – March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer Mechanical may refer to: Machine * Mechanical system, a system that manages the power of forces and movements to accomplish a task * Machine (mech ...
is one of the well-known ones), whose work would later be synthesized into fields such as
industrial engineering Industrial Engineering is an engineering profession that is concerned with the optimization of complex processes A process is a series or set of Action (philosophy), activities that interact to produce a result; it may occur once-only or be recu ...
,
manufacturing engineering Manufacturing engineering is a branch of professional that shares many common concepts and ideas with other fields of engineering such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, and industrial engineering. Manufacturing engineering requires the abilit ...
, operations research, and management consultancy. Although after leaving the
Henry Ford Company The Henry Ford Company was an automobile manufacturer active from 1901 to 1902. Named for Henry Ford Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American Technological and industrial history of the United States, industrialist and b ...
which was rebranded as
Cadillac The Cadillac Motor Car Division is a division (business), division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors Company (GM) that designs and builds luxury vehicles. Its major markets are the United States, Canada, and China. Cadilla ...

Cadillac
and later was awarded the
Dewar Trophy The Dewar Trophy was a cup donated in the early years of the twentieth century by Sir Thomas R. Dewar, M.P. a member of parliament of the United Kingdom (UK), to be awarded each year by the Royal Automobile Club (R. A .C.) of the United Kingdom "to ...
in 1908 for creating interchangeable mass-produced precision engine parts,
Henry Ford Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist A business magnate is someone who has achieved great success and enormous wealth through the ownership of multiple lines of enterprise. The term characteristically ...

Henry Ford
downplayed the role of Taylorism in the development of mass production at his company. However, Ford management performed time studies and experiments to mechanize their factory processes, focusing on minimizing worker movements. The difference is that while Taylor focused mostly on efficiency of the worker, Ford also substituted for labor by using machines, thoughtfully arranged, wherever possible. In 1807,
Eli Terry Eli Terry Sr. (April 13, 1772 – February 24, 1852) was an inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut. He received a United States patent for a shelf clock mechanism. He introduced mass production to the art of clockmaking, which made clocks af ...
was hired to produce 4,000 wooden movement clocks in the Porter Contract. At this time, the annual yield for wooden clocks did not exceed a few dozen on average. Terry developed a
Milling machine Milling is the process of machining truck of the US Army with machinists working on automotive parts Machining is a process in which a material (often metal) is cut into a desired final shape and size by a controlled material-removal process. The ...

Milling machine
in 1795, in which he perfected
Interchangeable parts Interchangeable parts are parts (components Component may refer to: In engineering, science, and technology Generic systems *System A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to ...

Interchangeable parts
. In 1807, Terry developed a spindle cutting machine, which could produce multiple parts at the same time. Terry hired
Silas Hoadley 250px, Silas Hoadley clock face Silas Hoadley (1786 – December 28, 1870) was an American clockmaker. Biography Hoadley was born in Bethany, Connecticut and was a cousin of the architect and builder David Hoadley (architect), David Hoadley. He r ...
and Seth Thomas to work the at the facilities. The Porter Contract was the first contract which called for mass production of clock movements in history. In 1815, Terry began mass-producing the first shelf clock.
Chauncey Jerome Chauncey Jerome (1793–1868) was an American clockmaker in the early 19th century. He made a fortune selling his clocks, and his business grew quickly. However, his company failed in 1856, and he died in poverty. Early life He was born in Cana ...
, an apprentice of Eli Terry mass-produced up to 20,000 brass clocks annually in 1840 when he invented the cheap 30-hour OG clock. The
United States Department of War The United States Department of War, also called the War Department (and occasionally War Office in the early years), was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army, al ...
sponsored the development of interchangeable parts for guns produced at the arsenals at
Springfield, Massachusetts Springfield is a city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, su ...
and
Harpers Ferry Harpers Ferry, population 286 at the 2010 census, is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States, in the lower Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low ar ...
, Virginia (now West Virginia) in the early decades of the 19th century, finally achieving reliable interchangeability by about 1850. This period coincided with the development of
machine tools A machine tool is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular machine that uses Power (physics), power to apply Force, force ...
, with the armories designing and building many of their own. Some of the methods employed were a system of gauges for checking dimensions of the various parts and
jigs The jig ( ga, port, gd, port-cruinn) is a form of lively folk dance A folk dance is a dance Dance is a performing art art form, form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement ...
and fixtures for guiding the machine tools and properly holding and aligning the work pieces. This system came to be known as ''armory practice'' or the ''
American system of manufacturing The American system of manufacturing was a set of manufacturing Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity), labor, machines, tools, and chemical or biological ...
'', which spread throughout New England aided by skilled mechanics from the armories who were instrumental in transferring the technology to the sewing machines manufacturers and other industries such as machine tools, harvesting machines and bicycles. Singer Manufacturing Co., at one time the largest sewing machine manufacturer, did not achieve interchangeable parts until the late 1880s, around the same time
Cyrus McCormick Cyrus Hall McCormick (February 15, 1809 – May 13, 1884) was an American inventor and businessman who founded the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which later became part of the International Harvester, International Harvester Company in 19 ...
adopted modern manufacturing practices in making . During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, The United States mass-produced many vehicles and weapons, such as ships (i.e.
Liberty Ship Liberty ships were a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analyt ...
s,
Higgins boats The landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVP) or Higgins boat was a landing craft Landing craft are small and medium seagoing watercraft, such as boats and barges, used to convey a landing force (infantry and vehicles) from the sea to the shore du ...
), aircraft (i.e.
North American P-51 Mustang The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter aircraft, fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in April 1940 by a design ...

North American P-51 Mustang
,
Consolidated B-24 Liberator The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models desi ...

Consolidated B-24 Liberator
,
Boeing B-29 Superfortress The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is an American four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber Heavy bombers are bomber A bomber is a combat aircraft A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft An aircraft is a ...

Boeing B-29 Superfortress
), jeeps (i.e.
Willys MB The Willys MB and the Ford GPW, both formally called the U.S. Army Truck, -ton, 4×4, Command Reconnaissance, commonly known as the Willys Jeep, Jeep, or jeep, and sometimes referred to by its List of U.S. military vehicles by supply catalog d ...

Willys MB
), trucks, tanks (i.e.
M4 Sherman The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank A medium tank is a tank classification, classification of tanks, particularly prevalent during World War II which represented a compromise between the mobility ...

M4 Sherman
) and
M2 Browning The M2 machine gun or Browning .50 caliber machine gun is a heavy machine gun A heavy machine gun or HMG is a ammunition belt, belt-fed machine gun that fires full-powered rifle cartridge, full-powered/magnum cartridges and is designed to be ...
and
M1919 Browning machine gun The M1919 Browning is a that was widely used during the 20th century, especially during , the , and the . The M1919 saw service as a light , , mounted, , and machine gun by the U.S. and many other countries. The M1919 was an air-cooled devel ...
s. Many vehicles, transported by ships have been shipped in parts and later assembled on-site. For the ongoing
energy transition Energy transition is a significant structural change in an energy system. Historically, these changes have been driven by the demand for and availability of different fuels. Energy transitions can also result from depletion of energy sources, fo ...
, many wind turbine components and solar panels are being mass-produced. Wind turbines and solar panels are being used in respectively
wind farm A wind farm or wind park, also called a wind power station or wind power plant, is a group of wind turbines in the same location used Wind power, to produce electricity. Wind farms vary in size from a small number of turbines to several hundre ...

wind farm
s and
solar farm A photovoltaic power station, also known as a solar park, solar farm, or solar power plant, is a large-scale grid-connected photovoltaic power system A grid-connected photovoltaic system, or grid-connected PV system is an electricity El ...
s. In addition, in the ongoing
climate change mitigation Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been , but the current cha ...
, (through
reforestation Reforestation (occasionally, reafforestation) is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, ste ...
, blue carbon restoration, etc) has been proposed. Some projects (such as the
Trillion Tree Campaign The Trillion Tree Campaign is a project which aims to plant one trillion trees worldwide. It seeks to repopulate the world's trees and climate change mitigation, combat climate change as a Nature-based solutions, nature-based solution. The projec ...
) involve planting a very large amount of trees. In order to speed up such efforts, fast propagation of trees may be useful. Some automated machines have been produced to allow for fast (vegetative)
plant propagation Plant propagation is the process by which new plants grow from a variety of sources: seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bro ...
.Also, for some plants that help to sequester carbon (such as seagrass), techniques have been developed to help speed up the process . Mass production benefited from the development of materials such as inexpensive steel, high strength steel and plastics. Machining of metals was greatly enhanced with high-speed steel and later very hard materials such as tungsten carbide for cutting edges. Fabrication using steel components was aided by the development of electric resistance welding, electric welding and stamped steel parts, both which appeared in industry in about 1890. Plastics such as polyethylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can be easily formed into shapes by plastics extrusion, extrusion, blow molding or injection molding, resulting in very low cost manufacture of consumer products, plastic piping, containers and parts. An influential article that helped to frame and popularize the 20th century's definition of mass production appeared in a 1926 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' supplement. The article was written based on correspondence with Ford Motor Company and is sometimes credited as the first use of the term.


Factory electrification

Electrification of factories began very gradually in the 1890s after the introduction of a practical DC motor by Frank J. Sprague and accelerated after the AC motor was developed by Galileo Ferraris, Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse Electric (1886), Westinghouse, Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky and others. Electrification of factories was fastest between 1900 and 1930, aided by the establishment of electric utilities with central stations and the lowering of electricity prices from 1914 to 1917. Electric motors were several times more efficient than small steam engines because central station generation were more efficient than small steam engines and because line shafts and belts had high friction losses. Electric motors also allowed more flexibility in manufacturing and required less maintenance than line shafts and belts. Many factories saw a 30% increase in output just from changing over to electric motors. Electrification enabled modern mass production, as with Thomas Edison's iron ore processing plant (about 1893) that could process 20,000 tons of ore per day with two shifts of five men each. At that time it was still common to handle bulk materials with shovels, wheelbarrows and small narrow gauge rail cars, and for comparison, a canal digger in previous decades typically handled 5 tons per 12-hour day. The biggest impact of early mass production was in manufacturing everyday items, such as at the Ball Brothers Ball Corporation, Glass Manufacturing Company, which electrified its mason jar plant in Muncie, Indiana, U.S. around 1900. The new automated process used glass blowing machines to replace 210 craftsman glass blowers and helpers. A small electric truck was used to handle 150 dozen bottles at a time where previously a hand truck would carry 6 dozen. Electric mixers replaced men with shovels handling sand and other ingredients that were fed into the glass furnace. An electric overhead crane replaced 36 day laborers for moving heavy loads across the factory. According to
Henry Ford Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist A business magnate is someone who has achieved great success and enormous wealth through the ownership of multiple lines of enterprise. The term characteristically ...

Henry Ford
:
The provision of a whole new system of electric generation emancipated industry from the leather belt and line shaft, for it eventually became possible to provide each tool with its own electric motor. This may seem only a detail of minor importance. In fact, modern industry could not be carried out with the belt and line shaft for a number of reasons. The motor enabled machinery to be arranged in the order of the work, and that alone has probably doubled the efficiency of industry, for it has cut out a tremendous amount of useless handling and hauling. The belt and line shaft were also tremendously wasteful – so wasteful indeed that no factory could be really large, for even the longest line shaft was small according to modern requirements. Also high speed tools were impossible under the old conditions – neither the pulleys nor the belts could stand modern speeds. Without high speed tools and the finer steels which they brought about, there could be nothing of what we call modern industry.
Mass production was popularized in the late 1910s and 1920s by Henry Ford's
Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company (commonly known as Ford) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple c ...
, which introduced electric motors to the then-well-known technique of chain or sequential production. Ford also bought or designed and built special purpose machine tools and fixtures such as multiple spindle Drill#Drill press, drill presses that could drill every hole on one side of an engine block in one operation and a multiple head milling machine that could simultaneously machine 15 engine blocks held on a single fixture. All of these machine tools were arranged systematically in the production flow and some had special carriages for rolling heavy items into machining position. Production of the Ford Model T used 32,000 machine tools.


Buildings

The process of prefabrication, wherein parts are created separately from the finished product, is at the core of all mass-produced construction. Early examples include movable structures reportedly utilized by Akbar the Great, and the chattel houses built by emancipated slaves on Barbados. The Nissen hut, first used by the British during World War I, married prefabrication and mass production in a way that suited the military's needs. The simple structures, which cost little and could be erected in just a couple of hours, were highly successful: over 100,000 Nissen huts were produced during World War I alone, and they would go on to serve in other conflicts and inspire a number of similar designs. Following World War II, in the United States, William Levitt pioneered the building of standardized tract houses in 56 different locations around the country. These communities were dubbed Levittowns, and they were able to be constructed quickly and cheaply through the leveraging of economies of scale, as well as the specialization of construction tasks in a process akin to an assembly line. This era also saw the invention of the mobile home, a small prefebricated house that can be transported cheaply on a truck bed. In the modern industrialization of construction, mass production is often used for prefabrication of house components.


The use of assembly lines

Mass production systems for items made of numerous parts are usually organized into s. The assemblies pass by on a conveyor, or if they are heavy, hung from an
overhead crane An overhead crane, commonly called a bridge crane, is a type of Crane (machine), crane found in industrial environments. An overhead crane consists of two parallel Rail profile, rails seated on longitudinal I-beams attached to opposite steel c ...

overhead crane
or monorail. In a factory for a complex product, rather than one assembly line, there may be many auxiliary assembly lines feeding sub-assemblies (i.e. car engines or seats) to a backbone "main" assembly line. A diagram of a typical mass-production factory looks more like the skeleton of a fish than a single line.


Vertical integration

Vertical integration is a business practice that involves gaining complete control over a product's production, from raw materials to final assembly. In the age of mass production, this caused shipping and trade problems in that shipping systems were unable to transport huge volumes of finished automobiles (in Henry Ford's case) without causing damage, and also government policies imposed trade barriers on finished units. Ford built the Ford River Rouge Complex with the idea of making the company's own iron and steel in the same large factory site as parts and car assembly took place. River Rouge also generated its own electricity. Upstream vertical integration, such as to raw materials, is away from leading technology toward mature, low return industries. Most companies chose to focus on their core business rather than vertical integration. This included buying parts from outside suppliers, who could often produce them as cheaply or cheaper. Standard Oil, the major oil company in the 19th century, was vertically integrated partly because there was no demand for unrefined crude oil, but kerosene and some other products were in great demand. The other reason was that Standard Oil monopolized the oil industry. The major oil companies were, and many still are, vertically integrated, from production to refining and with their own retail stations, although some sold off their retail operations. Some oil companies also have chemical divisions. Lumber and paper companies at one time owned most of their timber lands and sold some finished products such as corrugated boxes. The tendency has been to divest of timber lands to raise cash and to avoid property taxes.


Advantages and disadvantages

The economies of mass production come from several sources. The primary cause is a reduction of non-productive effort of all types. In craft production, the craftsman must bustle about a shop, getting parts and assembling them. He must locate and use many tools many times for varying tasks. In mass production, each worker repeats one or a few related tasks that use the same tool to perform identical or near-identical operations on a stream of products. The exact tool and parts are always at hand, having been moved down the assembly line consecutively. The worker spends little or no time retrieving and/or preparing materials and tools, and so the time taken to manufacture a product using mass production is shorter than when using traditional methods. The probability of human error and variation is also reduced, as tasks are predominantly carried out by machinery; error in operating such machinery has more far-reaching consequences. A reduction in labour costs, as well as an increased rate of production, enables a company to produce a larger quantity of one product at a lower cost than using traditional, non-linear methods. However, mass production is inflexible because it is difficult to alter a design or Manufacturing, production process after a production line is implemented. Also, all products produced on one production line will be identical or very similar, and introducing variety to satisfy individual tastes is not easy. However, some variety can be achieved by applying different finishes and decorations at the end of the production line if necessary. The starter cost for the machinery can be expensive so the producer must be sure it sells or the producers will lose a lot of money. The Ford Model T produced tremendous affordable output but was not very good at responding to demand for variety, wikt:customization, customization, or design changes. As a consequence Ford eventually lost market share to General Motors, who introduced annual model changes, more accessories and a choice of colors. With each passing decade, engineers have found ways to increase the flexibility of mass production systems, driving down the lead times on new product development and allowing greater customization and variety of products. Compared with other production methods, mass production can create new Occupational_hazard, occupational hazards for workers. This is partly due to the need for workers to operate heavy machinery while also working close together with many other workers. Preventative safety measures, such as fire drills, as well as special training is therefore necessary to minimise the occurrence of List_of_industrial_disasters#Manufacturing_industry, industrial accidents.


Socioeconomic impacts

In the 1830s, French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville identified one of the key characteristics of America that would later make it so amenable to the development of mass production: the homogeneous consumer base. De Tocqueville wrote in his ''Democracy in America'' (1835) that "The absence in the United States of those vast accumulations of wealth which favor the expenditures of large sums on articles of mere luxury... impact to the productions of American industry a character distinct from that of other countries' industries. [Production is geared toward] articles suited to the wants of the whole people". Mass production improved Productivity#Historical productivity: Major sources of growth and effects on living standards, productivity, which was a contributing factor to economic growth and the decline in work week hours, alongside other factors such as transportation infrastructures (canals, railroads and highways) and agricultural mechanization. These factors caused the typical work week to decline from 70 hours in the early 19th century to 60 hours late in the century, then to 50 hours in the early 20th century and finally to 40 hours in the mid-1930s. Mass production permitted great increases in total production. Using a European crafts system into the late 19th century it was difficult to meet demand for products such as sewing machines and animal powered mechanical reaper, harvesters. By the late 1920s many previously scarce goods were in good supply. One economist has argued that this constituted "overproduction" and contributed to high unemployment during the Great Depression. Say's law denies the possibility of general overproduction and for this reason classical economists deny that it had any role in the Great Depression. Mass production allowed the sociocultural evolution, evolution of consumerism by lowering the unit cost of many goods used.


See also

* Batch production * Craft production * Continuous production * Culture industry * Fast moving consumer goods, Fast-moving consumer goods * Fordism * Ford Model T * Great Divergence * Industrial engineering * Industrialisation *
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
* Instant manufacturing * Job production * Just-in-time (business), Just-in-time * Lean manufacturing * Licensed production * Manufacturing * Mass market * Mechanization * Modular construction#Modular construction systems, Modular construction systems: identical components are easier to mass-produce * Operations management * Outline of industrial organization * Pilot plant * Cost-of-production theory of value * Scientific management * Second Industrial Revolution * Technological revolution * Technological unemployment


References


Further reading

* * Borth, Christy. ''Masters of Mass Production,'' Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, IN, 1945. * Herman, Arthur. ''Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II,'' Random House, New York, NY, 2012. .


External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Mass Production Mass production, History of science and technology in the United States Industrial processes Business economics Types of production Human activities with impact on the environment Economic development