History of Automation in Manufacturing
The Early Years
In a newly built factory in 1913, Ford Motor Company introduced the assembly line for car production. Prior to this, single cars were built by a number of skilled and unskilled workers, in an old factory.
So the assembly line can be considered one of the first forms of automation in the manufacturing industry. It certainly boosted Ford Motor’s production rates, as well as their profits, but he was very good to his employees, giving them a rate of pay over and above other industries in the area. Their pay even allowed them to own one of the cars they produced, which was unheard of in the industry.
Ford’s assembly line and mass production was the first in the world; cutting the car assembly time from one car every twelve hours to a car every one and a half hours.
A Ford assembly line image from Wikipedia, author unknown, is shown below.
1930’s Automation Advance
Japan was in the forefront of developing components for use in industrial manufacturing automation. During the 1930’s one of their forward looking companies developed a highly accurate electrical timer, along with the first micro-switch and protective relays. All of these were immediately used in industry.
At about this time, the rest of the world were beginning to see the advantages of automation, and a lot or research and development was taking place, with the major component being a solid state proximity switch.
During the Second World War between 1939 and 1945, automation continued especially in tanks, warships, fighter airplanes, and landing craft used to get the soldiers ashore from troop carriers. Related: The History of the Liberty Ships