Today, we already live in a time when almost everyone who wants to own a car owns one. However, there was a time when this was not common at all – and the revolution in the form of the launch of a production line at Ford, complete with an “enhancer” inspired by slaughterhouses and breweries, helped to change that to a large extent.
However, the very idea of a kind of ancient “production line” was born sometime in the 12th century in medieval Venice. Inside the shipyard there, the work was carried out in such a way that, with the help of ropes, the ships were lowered into the water through a special sloped channel, where at each subsequent “stop” craftsmen assembled more and more components.
And to be precise, the production line at the Ford plant in Detroit’s Highland Park was far from the first in the automotive industry. This system was patented by Ransom E. Olds, the founder of the Oldsmobile automobile company.
While Ransom Olds’ static production line made automobile production more practical—his concept helped increase Oldsmobile’s productivity by as much as 500%—it was Ford’s improvements that made it so efficient.
So the real turning point came in Michigan on December 1, 1913. The management of the Ford car company incorporated a key “moving” mechanism, the belt conveyor, into its production lines – inspired by, for example, slaughterhouses or breweries.
However, the beginnings were not easy. Paradoxically, people cannot and will not get used to more comfortable work – many employees left for competitors because they found belt production boring. In addition, for some, the pace was too fast – so at first it was not uncommon for cars to be moved to the next stage of production with missing parts, or for workers to get in the way and then fall as they hurriedly tried to make up for the shortfall.
Henry Ford also introduced a full $5 daily wage, which was an unprecedented amount at the time. As a result, job seekers flocked to Michigan like bees to honey, which made it possible to reduce the working hours to 8 hours and switch to three-shift operation relatively quickly – the Highland Park Ford Plant was thus able to churn out cars 24 hours a day.
Thanks to this, the production time of one car was reduced from some twelve hours to just an hour and a half. Ford Model T with serial number 10,000,000 was produced in 1924, a year later production was increased to 10,000 cars per day!
In the end, normal people actually benefited from Henry Ford I’s megalomaniacal vision. At the turn of the last century, the car was not only a symbol of freedom, but also of prestige and social status – some things haven’t really changed much in more than a hundred years, have they?
And not only that. The fact is that in 1908 you had to save up a whopping $825 for a Model T, which equates to the equivalent of approximately $26,000 today. However, in 1925, the price of a new Ford Model T dropped to 260 dollars – which corresponds to 4,400 dollars today (about 110 thousand crowns).