DEARBORN - On Oct. 7, 2013 Ford will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the innovation that made the largest impact on manufacturing, industry and society as a whole: the moving assembly line.
Not only did the moving assembly line drastically increase the pace at which cars were produced, it also drove down the price of each car making them more accessible to the masses.
Bringing the product to the worker instead of moving various teams of workers to the product became the idea that overhauled the manufacturing industry as a whole. A new standard had taken over making it possible to generate more products and greater income through mass production.
The pictures below tell a story of just how innovative the moving assembly line was at its genesis and how continued progress has refined the process over the last ten decades.
Early Model T assembly at Highland Park Plant
Thanks to the moving assembly line, Ford was able to produce the 10 millionth Model T by 1924
As the company expanded, plants like this one in Dallas, Texas, sprouted up around the world
By 1941, the vehicles coming down the line had changed significantly, adding elements of complexity to the assembly line
A line of Mercury models reaching the final assembly stage in 1946
A crew inspects an engine circa 1946
Dearborn Assembly Plant in 1954
Before ergonomic design made its way into the plants, some workers worked alongside the vehicles while others made progress in the pits below
An engine is placed into a Ford Boss 429 Mustang in 1969
An F-150 body is placed onto the frame at the Louisville Assembly Plant in 1973
A team performing quality control duties at Dearborn assembly in 1975
F-Series trucks undergoing inspection at Twin Cities Assembly
The mechanization of the assembly line continues to evolve over time, as seen in this 2004 shot of the Ford Mustang being produced at Flat Rock Assembly Plant
More robotics in place in 2008 at the Fiesta Assembly Line at Ford’s Cologne-Niehl plant in Germany
While machines and robots have been introduced into plants to reduce physical stress on workers and increase productivity, people still play the most vital role in bringing a car together
Improved processes and ergonomics, as displayed here in 2012 at the Louisville Assembly Plant, have brought workers out of the pits and into a safer, healthier work environment