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Ford Model T Assembly Line - A Revolution in Manufacturing
Videos for Engineers

RF Cafe Video for Engineers - Ford Model T Assembly Line - A Revolution in ManufacturingAs time goes by, we tend to take for granted some of the innovations in both methods and materials that changed the way business is conducted. Just as anyone under the age of 30 assumes that personal computers have always been a part of life, and anyone under 20 thinks that cell phones are issued at birth along with a Social Security Number, even old-timers might forget that modern manufacturing techniques for mass production that we take for granted were pioneered long ago by people like Henry Ford. Not only did Mr. Ford conceive of and implement a high efficiency assembly line for his horseless carriages, but he also made a crucial decision that allowed his idea to work - he paid his employees far above the prevailing wage of the era. $5 per day (worth about $112 in 2011) was just the incentive Ford assembly line workers needed to keep up the fast paced, repetitive work (workers got to keep almost all of their pay, because there were no union dues, and Federal tax rate in 1913 was a whopping 1%). This video documents the assembly line from sometime during the 1908 through 1927 production run of the Model T. It appears that either the video is sped up in places, or the workers were really cranking to make the company look good. Keep in mind also that frame rates in early movie cameras tended to make movement appear fast and choppy. I always point out the lack of safety practices in these old videos as compared to today. There were a lot more workplace injuries back before OSHA existed. I generally eschew government intrusion in people's lives, but this is one area where a useful purpose is served.

Note: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, $5 in 1913 would be the equivalent of $111.77 in 2011 money (as of April, anyway - inflation is moving that number quickly).

Videos for Engineers - RF CafeThis archive links to the many video and audio files that have been featured on RF Cafe.

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Posted April 12, 2011

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