Introduction The time is the 1910s: people are moving about, working day and night for the next big thing. Places to be, people to meet, new things to experience-this is the new era of America. A time where big ideas become a reality, where America is beginning to be recognized as world leader, these are the times of invention, excitement, and limitless possibilities. Americans of this time are always willing to spend money for entertainment, and more importantly they are willing to spend money on anything that could possibly make life easier.
America was beginning to enter the Industrial Revolution, and the way America produced goods would never be the same. Leading the Industrial Revolution is a young man from Dearborn, Michigan who dreams of producing a machine that has the ability to move people from place to place faster than ever. This young man’s name is Henry Ford, and his ideas will transform the way America produces goods, and the way Americans get around from place to place.
Henry Ford, known as the father of the automobile, is working to invent his most popular machine known as the Ford Model T- the first common man’s automobile. In order to make his dream a reality Ford needed a way to produce Model Ts quickly and efficiently, he needed a well-oiled, man-powered factory that could make vehicles as fast as he could sell them. Ford’s biggest and most famous factory is Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park Plant in Highland Park, Michigan. Ford’s factory performed and perfected all of his ideas to full potential, and gave a strong blueprint for many factories across America.
His ideas of mass production and the availability of transportation to everyone would shape the way America would develop into a nation always on the move. Even though there were other major factories of this time, none compared to the mass production, efficiency and influence of the Model T produced in the Ford Motor Company-which changed America’s industry and life style even to this day. The “Assembly Line” Before the idea of mass production was even in existence, products made in America were locally produced by a neighbor one by one and made to order.
This made sure that no time or product was ever wasted by the producer. Henry Ford, however, would never make a profit if he were to just produce the Ford Model T one by one for every person who came to him asking him for one. Ford knew his invention would be a success, meaning that he would need to produce his product in very large quantities. Ford needed a way of producing his automobile in a short amount of time, while minimizing waste and retaining quality. An idea came to Ford when he thought of how butchers dress meat in mass amounts.
The butchers would complete their task on the meat and then slide the meat down to the next man in line to perform his job. Ford repurposed this idea and designed what is now known to workers as an “assembly line”. Ford’s ingenious idea of the assembly line allowed for Ford Model Ts to be produced rapidly and in great amounts, the first time any product in America has ever been mass produced. The assembly line plays a huge role in the success of the Ford Model T because of how rapidly the Ford Motor Company could produce the automobile in as little time as possible.
Ford saved time by having specialized jobs assigned to the workers so that each worker would complete one part of the automobile, and that part only. “With one workman doing a complete job he could turn out from thirty-five to forty pieces in a nine-hour day, or about twenty minutes to an assembly. What he did alone was then spread into twenty-nine operations; that cut down the assembly time to thirteen minutes” (Ford, 45). Ford had nearly cut the production time of one Ford Model T in half, allowing for more automobiles to be produced in a day.
The Ford Motor Company was able to produce 150 Ford Model Ts every day and eventually reached nearly 10,000 Model Ts a day by 1925 (Sandler, 21). Each worker would contribute his skill at assembling a single part of the Model T, and once he completed his task he would pass the Model T on to the next worker in line along the assembly line, similar to the meat production factory in which Ford envisioned his idea. His idea soon caught on and became an idealistic way to mass produce products in America which soon caught on to other industries and continued to inspire the ways Americans would produce goods even to this day.
The Ford Motor Company’s success with the assembly line caught the eyes of many industries that made products that required assembly, and because the assembly line was so successful it made a great awareness in finding its way into other factories during the 1910s and even today. Factories that assembled products like textiles, firearms, and bicycles began to be assembled piece by piece to ensure that production time was kept to a minimal. The Ford Motor Company had started a revolution that changed the way products were being made in America.
“Perhaps Ford Motor Company’s single greatest contribution to automotive manufacturing was the moving assembly line” (Ament, Inventor Henry Ford Biography). The assembly line was a great contribution to the industrial revolution of America which leads to new inventions and opportunities for products to be mass produced. Now that the Ford Motor Company was in full swing in production of the Ford Model T, the company needed workers to fill the required positions to build the Model T. Ford had no problem in finding men willing to work on the line because of the many unemployed men of the 1910s due to the mass immigrations
to America and the vast array of unemployment in America. Keeping the Relationship With the ever increasing population in America during the 1900s, due mainly because of many immigrants coming to the United States from Europe looking to start a new, Henry Ford knew that there would be a need and desire for jobs for a long time from both Americans and immigrants alike. Ford knew that he would need a large workforce to produce the high demand for Model Ts per day and would need a man for every specialized position on the assembly line.
Because the Ford Motor Company supplied so many jobs for America the Ford Motor Company saw a great deal of support from Americans, which gave the company a great reputation. To keep his good reputation with America Henry Ford also made sure to pay his employees equally, and treat them equally. The company gave the employees an eight hour work day compared to the usual ten hour work day, while still paying the employees more than what they would make in an ordinary factory. In the beginning of the 1910s there was a huge jump in the number of immigrants entering the United States, nearly 13. 5 million immigrants in 1910s alone.
The more people in the United States meant that there needed to be more jobs to supply these people with the money they need to support their families. “The first of them arrived at 3 A. M. By daybreak some 4,000 were huddled in the deep January freeze. By 7:30, 10,000 men had gathered at the entrance to the Highland Park, Mich. , factory, hoping for a job at a wage that sounded too good to be true (Useem, Ford Offers $5 a Day). Though the Ford Motor Company employed such a large number of men and women, Ford understood the importance of keeping the moral of his workers at its best to ensure that they produced the best product possible.
“First get at the relationships. It is not usual to speak of an employee as a partner, and yet what else is he? Whenever a man finds the management of a business too much for his own time or strength, he calls in assistants to share the management with him” (Ford, 62). The workers of the Ford Motor Company had the luxury of being paid $5 instead of the minimal wage of $2. 34 in 1910 (Georgano, America on the Move). Not only did his workers have the pleasure of being paid double of the minimal wage as normal factory workers, they also worked shorter work days.
A normal factory worker that worked a set of equipment would typically work in excess of ten hours per day for five day of the week. Ford announced that workers would only be working eight hour work days at the same $5 wage, “I have learned through the years a good deal about wages. I believe in the first place that, all other considerations aside, our own sales depend in a measure upon the wages we pay [our employees]…their prosperity will be reflected in our sales” (Ford, 66). Ford realized that the better paid, and better he treated his employees the more and greater product his employees would produce.
Also, the better he paid his employees, the more his employees would buy from others and the more those others would buy from the Ford Motor Company. This increased sales for the Ford Motor Company and a greater support from his customers. Ford truly understood the importance of paying his workers well enough to support themselves and others and his knowledge lead his company to a huge number of sales. Americans saw the Ford Model T as a symbol of hard, honest, American-made labor that could only come from the best automobile producers, the Ford Motor Company.
The assembly line allowed for the Ford Motor Company to produce automobiles at rapid speeds with little waste. This meant that the Ford Motor Company could also allow for shorter work hours for its employees and give greater minimum wages to each employee. Henry Ford saw the improvement in his employees’ production because of how well and how quick they could produce Model Ts off the assembly line. Not only were the assembly lines of the factories speeding up the process of producing a single Model T, but his workers were speeding up the process as well while still keeping in mind that quality is very important as well.
The production of a single Model T in such little time was the first sight of mass production, and since mass production reduces the number of man hours per product it also allows for the producer to sell the product at a much lower price. This made the Model T a quality car not only for the rich and prosperous, but for the common man and his family as well. The Philosophy of Mass Production The idea of getting from place to place with the use of wheels had been around for years before Henry Ford was even born.
The use of the horse and buggy, or the man powered bicycle was being used to speed up the ride from place to place for Americans. The new idea now was to create a machine that would move without having to be fed or take a break every 10 miles or so, but the idea of such machines seemed to be a dream for most Americans. This is where timeliness and quality of mass production come in handy. The Ford Motor Company had perfected the art of mass production and now was able to produce a new Model T almost every ten minutes.
The little man hours per Model T and the waste reduction resulting of the assembly line production made the Model T an automobile for everyone. At the beginning of the 1900s automobiles were seen as fragile, luxury items that were only to be used by the rich and high class people of America who could afford it. People who could not afford an automobile would use the electric trollies, at five cents a ride, to get around. The Ford Motor Company then stepped in with their mass production and took the idea of automobiles only being available to the rich, and instead made an automobile for every social class.
The average cost of a single Model T was only $850, which is equivalent to around $20,000 in today’s dollars. The cheap price caught the attention of many Americans and Model Ts were selling by the thousands all across America, the rich and the poor alike all wanted a Model T. In 1900, Americans owned 8 thousand cars; in 1920, Americans owned nearly 8 million cars all across the country. The Model T was truly a car for every American family and earned its spot as an iconic symbol of American industry, and as an American way of life (Glass, America on the Move | Transportation History).
Now that the Model T was being driven by ten percent of Americans, the thought came to mind of how mass production could apply to other products and industries in America. The output and timeliness of mass production meant for many industries a great deal of profit to be made. America was now entering the age of being able to produce single products in large amounts by using the art of mass production:
“The production of interchangeable parts entailed far more than its early proponents visualized, and it demanded more of them than anyone first expected. Not only did the armory mechanics have to figure out how their goal could be realized in theory but also in practice.
This achievement require developing a system of jigs, fixtures, and gauges that were based on a “perfect” model and establishing procedure to maintain a constant vigil over the accuracy of these special devices and the machine tools with which they were used. Armory mechanics also pursued the development of machine tools. Their efforts paralleled those of other American inventors and mechanics in that the focus of much of their work was in the construction of special or single-purpose machine tools” (Hounshell, 327).
The mechanics of the Ford Motor Company were using practice and single step methods over and over to perfect the production of the Model T which allowed them to produce as many Model Ts as they did. Another aspect that made mass production efficient was its ability to easily replace parts of a product if the mechanic were to install them incorrectly or break a piece. This meant for little waste while making the product and thus increased the gross income of the company. America was at the dawn of a new era and at the peak of the industrial revolution.
With the invention and perfection of mass production made industry seem like a limitless idea that could produce anything in a short amount of time. Companies were expanding and hiring more and more workers to work the assembly lines, and products were beginning to be shipped overseas because a single company could produce a product and sell it so cheap. Mass production brought about the new era of industry in America that would change the way Americans would produce, sell, and buy products across the country. Industries Built off an Industry The Ford Motor Company was rapidly growing every day because of its great success in sales.
This meant that the company needed a great deal of supplies to support such a large company. Model Ts required materials like steel, wood, iron, and most importantly oil. With a set of standardized parts required for the mass produced Model T there were specific companies that Henry Ford bought to ensure that the factory would never be short of parts. This is the first time ever in America that a factory has needed so many supplies to support its product. The idea of supplying for a bigger factory gives birth to a new industry known as chain factories.
The Ford Motor Company whether directly or not created and boosted many industries during the mass production of the Model T. The Model T was a single product repeatedly produced using the same method, same parts, and same materials every time it was manufactured. This meant that the Ford Motor Company could make the same parts with the same materials every time, saving the company money by buying the parts in bulk. Henry Ford came up with the idea for smaller companies to supply the parts needed to produce the thousands of Model Ts being made every day.
This would allow the company to control the number of parts produced and allow the company to control where their materials came from. One material in particular that caught Henry Ford’s eye is the Vanadium Steel the French were producing. Vanadium Steel-a metal that was lighter but stronger than what was being used in America-seemed to be a sort of magic material that could increase the durability of the auto mobile, but decrease the weight (Bonner, 1-3). After seeing this amazing material the Ford Company from then on only used the Vanadium Steel in the production of the Model T.
What Ford could not control was the one essential item needed to run his automobile, and that material is oil. The introduction of the Model T thus brought forth one of Americas biggest industries that would last for decades. Upon a new frontier that would lead America into its modern age were the Hamel brothers, and their ambition to find the black gold buried beneath the Texas dirt. The Hamel brothers are hired to dig an oil well on a shallow hill that was believed to contain millions of dollars’ worth of crude oil that would supply the millions of Model Ts being manufactured.
What they find is the largest reserve of oil in America, and the Hamel brothers become some of the richest men on earth. The three brothers have discovered a massive vein of crude oil which can be used to power all of the Model Ts in America. The same year the Hamel brothers discover their vain of black gold, 500 oil companies are made to supply enough oil need for all of America and the rest of the world, and America becomes the largest oil producer in the world (Nutopia, America: The Story of Us).
The creation of the oil industry changes the way America moves and supplies energy. The millions of Model Ts produced by the Ford Motor Company now had enough oil for every person who owned a Model T. The Ford Motor Company did not invent the oil industry, but with the great success of the Ford Motor Company and their Model T, the oil industry had enough strength to become one of the biggest industries of America. Oil was the start of the modern era of energy and is a material that is still being used today by millions of Americans and their automobiles.
The Ford Model T allowed for expansion and development of the oil industry by creating a demand for oil by the millions of Model Ts out on the road every day. The use of oil was now in full swing through America, and industries boomed with profit while allowed for greater expansion of companies all across America. America was now in a revolution that would shape the way products would be made and the way the country would be transformed. Transforming America Yesterday and Today Everything in America that is produced in a factory can pay attribute to the original creator of mass production, Henry Ford.
Everything from food to cleaning supplies are in some way mass produced at some point in their process of production, and none of these products would ever be produced the same if the perfection of the Model T by the Ford Motor Company. Industries like the oil and car production industries would have never existed because of their lack of success. America would not have expanded in the way that it did because of the limited transportation from home, and the need to be near home.
The overall production and use of the Ford Model T proved to transform America into the modern era. The idea of the production of goods before the mass production of the Model T was very primitive and needed a very long period of time to produce large amount of products. Given high demand, low production numbers would compromise the success and marketability of a company’s product. With the development of mass production companies had the opportunity to produce products at record speeds.
Now everything produced in a factory in America is mass produced by the hundreds to support the millions in demand for products every day. Without the development of mass production by the Ford Motor Company a feat like this would be nearly impossible, and companies would not be able to provide for the high demand (Nutopia, America: The Story of Us). While America was expanding on the industry front, there was also great expansion away from cities and civilization due mainly because of the easily availably transportation.
Crowded cities in America needed room to expand, and the continent was plenty big for that, the problem was that people had no way for easy transportation from their homes to their place of work. The idea of living more than five miles away from work was unheard of in the early 1900s: “People lived in crowded cities with little mobility outside of the city because trollies only stayed in the city and trains only had major destinations. With the introduction of the Model T people now had something that could take them where they pleased, anywhere that had an accessible road.
What was once a one hour walk now took just ten minutes in the Model T. This meant that Americans could now live outside of cities and begin to commute using their Model T. Suburban living became a reality, and people began to build their homes outside of cities” (Nutopia, America: The Story of Us). Without the easy transportation provided by the Model T, suburban environments would have never existed, one notable suburb being Los Angeles (Nutopia, America: The Story of Us).
People wanted to be able to move while still being able to easily make it home when they needed to. The Model T allowed, for anyone who owned one, the person and their family to move outside of the crowded cities and own their own little plot of land to build what they would call home. The Model T brought forth many opportunities and abilities for Americans to utilize and experience. Today America’s greatest mean of transportation is the automobile and the most common use for powering all of the millions of automobiles in the country is the use of oil.
Nearly 60% of Americans live in suburban areas and commute to work every day using their automobile, which was most likely mass produced in a factory using an assembly line of some sort. In the development of the Model T by the Ford Motor Company there was not only an invention that would change the way Americans got around, there was also an invention that would lead America at the peak of the industrial revolution. The Model T had a major impact on aspects in the development of America and its impacts still affect America even to this day.
Conclusion The mass production, efficiency and influence of the Model T produced in the Ford Motor Company made the Model T the most recognizable image of Americans innovation and invention. America began as a country with simple living in small towns, and products were normally purchased locally. Henry Ford took his idea for a “motorized buggie” and wanted to increase his horizons of sales for “a motor car for the great multitude. ” His automobile was to be a great success that would be available to anyone who had the desire to have one.
This meant that the Ford Motor company would have to think of a way to lower the costs of production of the Model T. With the help of mass production and the use of a single man to complete a single task, Henry Ford not only provided many jobs for the ever increasing population of America, he lowered the production costs of the Model T. “You can have any color you want as long as it’s black” (Graham, 12). The Model T came in one size, one color, and one type: which allowed Ford to perfect the production of his product, ensuring that every Model T that rolled off the assembly line was a well-built machine.
But because the machine was well built it was easy to maintain and affordable for everyone, which made the automobile the new way for Americas to get around to and from they wanted to go. Meaning that people could begin to expand their horizons outside of the confines of their farm or the city the resided in, and begin to travel outwards towards new frontiers. Suburban living became popular and later would develop to make new cities and eventually develop the rest of America.
The Model T also lead the way in pioneering the oil industry, with the number of Model Ts owned, the amount needed to fuel all of the Model Ts in America needed large amount of oil. The Model T helped develop industries, like the oil industry and automotive industry-that would change America and the way America would run. The Model T served as a useful invention that changed the way Americans would move around, but it also lead the industrial revolution as a product that would be the first ever to be mass produced, the first automobile to grow some of the largest industries in America today.
Henry Ford’s Model T was not only an invention that was used as a new means of transportation, it was an invention that changed the American standard of industry, and would continue to be the basis of production and invention for many generations to come. Works Cited America: The Story of Us. Prod. Nutopia. Perf. Liev Schreiber. History Channel, 2010. DVD. Ament, Phil. “Inventor Henry Ford Biography. ” The Great Idea Finder – Celebrating the Spirit of Innovation. 21 May 2007. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <http://www. ideafinder. com/history/inventors/ford. htm>. Bonner, Patricia.
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