By Matt Wolfe
January 14th, 1913, the moving assembly line is implemented at Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park plant.
Henry Ford realized his dream of mass producing an affordable automobile through his belief that “nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”. Inspired by the methods of meat packing plants in Chicago, Ford began to integrate elements of the moving assembly line into his factories as early as 1908 with the help of men like Charles Sorenson.
Sorenson experimented with implementing assembly line methods in smaller scale operations, like in the production of components for Ford’s cars. After seeing positive results from these experiments, Ford began to institute these methods in the assembly of the cars themselves. The first automotive assembly line was established at the Highland Park plant in 1913. By breaking down the assembly process of the car into 84 distinct steps, assembly times were drastically reduced.
As production numbers of the Model T grew, the price began to shrink. When the Model T first arrived in 1909, it carried a base price of $825. By the time the Highland Park assembly line was fully operational in 1913, it had dropped to $525. The following year, the price had dropped to $440 and finally bottomed out in 1925 at $260. Ford would produce 15 million Model T’s between 1909 and 1927. Mr. Ford once said “It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” It’s fitting then, that Mr. Ford was able to get ahead of his competition by saving time.