The assembly line has long been considered one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century. It has shaped the industrial world so strongly that businesses that did not adopt the practice soon became extinct, and it was one of the key factors that helped integrate the automobile into American society.
The Early Assembly Line Concept
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, manufactured goods were usually made by hand with individual workers taking expertise in one portion of a product. Each expert would create his own part of the item with simple tools. After each component was crafted they would be brought together to complete the final product. 1)
The drawback of this process was, that human workers had to do the job, which means that each building step along the assembly required the intelligent human presence and intervention, starting from the human brains commando signal to the physical transformation through the handy work, in order to manufacture the required part. All along during the whole process, new formation of information in the brain to do each step of the task was required. Errors through missing concentration was high. A high fidelity of copies was not achievable.
With the start of the Industrial Revolution, machines began to perform work that once required human hands. With the use of machines, factories sprang up to replace small craft shops. This change was made possible by the concept of interchangeable parts, an innovation designed by Eli Whitney.
The concept of interchangeable parts first took ground in the firearms industry. Before this, firearms were made individually by hand, thus each weapon was unique and could not be easily fixed if broken.
It wasn’t until Eli Whitney introduced the idea in the United States that the practice took off. He was able to use a large unskilled work force and standardized equipment to produce large numbers of identical gun parts at a low cost, within a short amount of time. It also made repair and parts replacement more suitable.
As we can see, there was a evolution towards more advanced building techniques, using standardized parts, which made the assembly process faster, more accurate, precise, cheaper, and the end product more reliable, durable, secure, and better to be fixed. The evolution to arrive at this point required hudge efforts of brain power and invention capacity of many brilliant and skilled specialists, design innovation was achieved through intelligent minds. It was a gradual evolution towards more advanced fabrication processes, requiring time, many ideas did not stick and were discarded as not being useful, some eventually even harmful, all all requiring and coming from many inventors, engeneers and scientists.
Determined to find a more efficient way to make cars, Henry Ford launched the industry's first moving assembly line at the Highland Park Plant in Detroit, Michigan, in 1913.
The rope-and-pulley system moved the vehicle down a line of workers, each with a specific task. It drastically cut the man-hours required to assemble a Model T -- from 12-and-a-half-hours, down to six.
This was already a big step forward in regard of quality control and fidelity to the source ( or copy of the standard of the original )
Ransom Olds created and patented the assembly line in 1901. Switching to this process allowed his car manufacturing company to increase output by 500 percent in one year. The Curved Dash model was able to be produced at an exceptionally high rate of 20 units per day.
The Oldsmobile brand then had the ability to create a vehicle with a low price, simple assembly and stylish features. Their car was the first to be produced in large quantities. Olds’ assembly line method was the first to be used in the automotive industry and served as the model for which Henry Ford created his own. 2)
The invention of a assembly line was a further hudge step in direction of economy of time and costs, and capacity of mass production. Again: the assembly line came as result of high research efforts, being the invention of highly trained, experienced and intelligent craftsmen, inventors, engeneers and scientists, which spend hudge amounts of time with experiments, and refinement of a initially rudimentary idea. The assembling of parts in a production line, saving energy and prodution costs, and gaining volume in production, making the products more affordable to the masses, and last not least makig more profit.
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In this picture, a long line of employees place magnets on Model T flywheels, in 1913. So how did the first moving assembly line work? Around 140 workers were stationed along a 150ft line, while a winch and rope dragged the chassis along. The process was broken into 84 separate steps, each performed by a different station of workers. "What was so significant about it, is it really increased the volume they could create cars, and reduce waste," said Bruce Hettle, the company's vice president of North America manufacturing. "It reduced the cost of the vehicle to a point where it could be afforded by much more people -- so it didn't just change manufacturing, but culture and society at the time."
In the 1940s, Delmar Harder formed the company's first Automation Department. The pioneering department explored new ways of using autonomous machines on the production line. By the end of the decade, Ford had built a sheetmetal stamping plant in Buffalo, New York, installing hundreds of self-regulating machines. However, workers still played a central role on the assembly line, pictured above1941.
So that was a major evolutionary step, replacing human craftspower partially with machines. These machines were however not fully programmed to do the tasks, but were guided by intervention of operators, which directed the movements with joysticks, controlling and directing cutting sizes, pressures, operationg time etc. A further important step forward and advance to lower costs, faster production and reliability.
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1961 The first industrial robot (UNIMATE) is installed in a General Motors automobile factory in New Jersey. The assembly line robot is controlled step-by-step by commands stored on a magnetic drum; the 4,000-pound arm sequenced and stacked hot pieces of die-cast metal.
1962 saw the introduction of "Versatran" -- a cylindrical robot, named after the words "versatile" and "transfer." Six of the machines were installed at the Ford factory in Canton, Ohio, each boasting five axes of motion, allowing for 25 individual movements.
Robotics continued to become more sophisticated throughout the decade, and in 1969 American engineer Victor Scheinman invented the "Stanford Arm" -- a six-axis, computer-controlled electronic arm, pictured. It was later used to build a Ford water pump and was a milestone in the design of industrial robots.
After 50 years of the introduction of assembly lines, the first industrial robots entered the manufacturing scence. A milestone in the achievement of homo sapiens, capable of imagination, thought and advanced intelligent design, and example and celebration of what human minds are capable of invent, create and realise. A machine executing pre programmed tasks without the continued intervention of external intelligence, but fully automated, supplied with a stable energy source, and working with high precision and reliability and low costs, transforming coded specified computational information in physical work and as result useful tools necessary to build complex machines. Being able to take the parts nearby and insert them in the right order, at the right place, with the right fit, or shaping the external structure of a building block to be prepared to be handed over to a other robot to provide it as part and serve in a machine as a whole.
When Henry Ford first introduced mass production techniques to building cars, he followed the simplest possible method by making all of his cars identical right down to the color of paint. While this was very economical, it limited their marketing appeal. As long as Ford was the only mass producer of cars around, that wasn't such a big problem, but General Motors quickly moved in with a variety of models and colors and outcompeted Ford rather quickly. Still, though, even into the sixties each make of cars had only a handfull of models and the available options remained limited. Many desirable features had to be added by hand at the dealership. Since then, there has been a gradual increase in the number of models offered, and the number of available features has increased greatly. Typical 60's models sold hundreds of thousands of copies each year, and there were a limited number of body variations. Today manufacturers try to sell niche models which have anual production runs of only tens of thousands, often with greater variations in body style and avaiable features.
The key to this increased market segmentation has been more flexible assembly lines. Lines in the 60's were really only capable of turning out a single design with a few variations of, for instance, engine types. Even this showed limited flexibility, as the engines were produced on a separate line and fitted into the car fully finished. Modern assembly lines, in contrast, use a mixture of multi-program robots and human workers to achieve tremendously greater variation. A single line can turn out both left and right hand drive cars, models with any of a much wider selection of available features, and even several different models based around a common platform. A company like Saturn can take a customer's order for a car, including body type, features, and color, and program that data into a radio transponder which is placed on the chasis at the beginning of production. As the car reaches each stage in the assembly process, the automated equipment receives information from the transponder and decides what steps are necessary without further outside assistance. That type of flexibility promises only to increase in the future.
Large robotic arms at a plant in Michigan, in 2004. In a typical, fairly large plant today, you would see in the area of 500 robots -- and they would do tasks like fastening bits together and moving heavy components from one station to another. But many many employees doing the lighter assembly work, the quality evaluation, and a lot of the vehicle testing is still required.
Information, biosynthesis, the analogy with human programming, engineering, and factory robotic assembly lines
The best and most advanced result that intelligent and capable minds, thousands and hundred thousands of the most brilliant and inventive man and woman from all over the globe have been able to come up with after over one hundred years of technologic advance and progress, of what is considered one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century, is the construction of complex factories with fully automated assembly lines which use programmed robots in the manufacturing, assembly, quality control and packing process of the most diverse products, in the most economical, efficient and effective way possible, integrating different facilities and systems, and using advanced statistical methods of quality control, making from cell phones, to cars, to power plants, etc., but the constant intervention of intelligent brain power is required to get the whole process done and obtain the final products. The distribution of the products is also based on complex distribution networks and companies, which all require huge efforts of constant human intervention and brainpower.
Amazingly, the highest degree of manufacturing performance, excellence, precision, energy efficiency, adaptability to external change, economy, refinement, and intelligence of production automatization ( at our scale = 100 ) we find in proceedings adopted by each cell, analogous to our factory, and biosynthesis pathways and processes in biology. A cell uses a complex web of metabolic pathways, each composed of chains of chemical reactions in which the product of one enzyme becomes the substrate of the next. In this maze of pathways, there are many branch points where different enzymes compete for the same substrate. The system is so complex that elaborate controls are required to regulate when and how rapidly each reaction occurs. Like a factory production line, each enzyme catalyzes a specific reaction, using the product of the upstream enzyme, and passing the result to the downstream enzyme.
If just one of the enzymes is not present or otherwise not functioning then the entire process doesn’t work. We now know that nearly every major process in a cell is carried out by assemblies of 10 or more protein molecules. And, as it carries out its biological functions, each of these protein assemblies interacts with several other large complexes of proteins. Indeed, the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. Cells adopt the highest advanced Mass-Craft production techniques, which yield products with the ability of high adaptability to the environment ( microevolution ) while being produced with high efficiency of production, advanced error checking mechanisms, low energy consumption, and automatization, and so is generally being far far more advanced, complex, better structured and organized in every aspect, than the most advanced robotic assembly facility ever created by man. Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell's manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . . I advocate that this fact is strong evidence of a planning, super-intelligent mind, which conceptualized and created life right from scratch.
Considerations of the planning of the layout of an assembly line facility.
Important considerations for a high economic, effective, and proper material flow are required and must be considered, though, and brought in when planning the concepts and layout design of a new factory assembly line, as for example maximal flexibility in the line for demand and supply fluctuation, planning deep enough to answer all possible aspects of a new line to get max efficiency afterward. There should be simple material delivery routes and pathways throughout the facility that connect the processes. Also, there needs to be a plan for flexibility and changes, since volumes and demand are variable. Awareness of the many factors involved right in the planning process of the factory is key. Right-sized equipment and facilities must be planned and considered as well. All equipment and facilities should be designed to the demand rate or takt time projects and facility designs that do not take these considerations into the account, start out great, but quickly bog down in unresolved issues, lack of consensus, confusion, and delay. 3)
Denton, p. 329.
We would see [in cells] that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analog in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of late-twentieth-century technology.
“What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth. However, it would be a factory that would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. To witness such an act at a magnification of one thousand million times would be an awe-inspiring spectacle.”
Seth Garren Biology resembles objects created by intelligent agents (humans) in a number of remarkable ways but it also differs from man-made objects. Biological processes are dynamic while man-made objects are static. Biological processes reproduce entirely on their own while man-made objects must be assembled new each time. Biological processes rely on micro and nanoscale physics while only the most advanced man-made objects operate on that level. We can claim that such differences are purely the result of biology being essentially a machine that is more advanced than any machine man has yet to make but this does not rule out a bottom-up cause and is essentially a hypothesis-preserving ad hoc explanation. Most man-made objects have a clear purpose in their creation to do a particular task. Biological processes do not appear to accomplish any purpose outside of their own continued existence. There is also no apparent reason to make a number of biological processes that resemble each other to varying degrees such that they give the false appearance of common ancestry.
Last edited by Otangelo on Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:47 am; edited 52 times in total