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Mass Production at Highland Park: The New Technology and Its Social Consequences, 1900-1917.

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Presentation on theme: "Mass Production at Highland Park: The New Technology and Its Social Consequences, 1900-1917."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mass Production at Highland Park: The New Technology and Its Social Consequences, 1900-1917

2 The Background Few have not heard of Henry Ford a national and indeed an international icon in popular and industrial culture. Ford –the arch-type of the rags to riches myth –the farm boy who through spunk, discipline, and hard work moved up the social ladder to become skilled mechanic, engineer, and finally billionaire industrialist. To John D. Rockefeller Ford the Ford Highland Park plant- the industrial miracle of the age To others the high priest of industrial efficiency

3 The Background And he resonated in the global popular culture: –In Charlie Chaplins Modern Times the image workers condemned to perpetual involuntary motions. –In Aldous Huxleys Brave New World modern times began in the year of our Ford –In Germany Fordismus of the 1920s led to the Peoples Car, or Volkswagon, in the 1930s –In Russia Fordizatsiia paved the way for forced and rushed industrialization policies of the 1920s

4 The Background The Ford Miracle between 1908 and 1914: –he invested millions in plant and equipment, –reduced the price of his Model T, –doubled the wages of labor, –reduced the hours of labor, –and he was on the path to becoming the worlds first billionaire. Ford Motor Companys remarkable growth: –1903 Ford Motor Company employed 125 workers and produced 1,700 autos –1908 450 workers 10,600 autos –191414,000 workers 248,000 autos –1921 32,700 workers 934,000 autos

5 Ford Workforce, c. 1914

6 The Background By 1914, he held 48% of the world auto market. What was the Ford idea? First the standardized product Second the Taylorization, or simplification, of work and work processes Third the adoption of the most advanced machine tool technology Finally the integration and synchronization of all productive processes

7 The Background In 1903 the FMC was a most traditional small auto assembly shop that used conventional methods of production skilled workers built automobiles from parts provided by outside suppliers Auto production: –Foundry cast metal parts –Machine shopsfinished the castings –Then, file and fit assembly of components –Finally, the assembly of components into the finished product the automobile

8 Traditional Auto Production: Machine Shop


10 Traditional Auto Production: Component Assembly

11 Traditional Auto Production: Body Assembly

12 Traditional Auto Production: Auto Assembly


14 The Background Initial automobiles a playthings for the wealthy Limited production runs skilled workers general purpose machines Stationary assemblyengine and auto assembly a three dimension jigsaw puzzle filing and and fitting Until the beginnings of mechanized production around 1910 traditional skilled craftsmen produced automobiles with the aid of less skilled and unskilled workers helpers, assistants, laborers, truckers, etc.

15 The Background Fords chief contribution the concept of a motor car for the great multitude the Model T Fordhe proclaimed: I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. He wanted to make automobiles like matches or pins all identical to each other Mass consumption forces mass production

16 Evolution to the Model T Ford

17 The Background The Model T a product with over 5,000 parts and components conceived as simple matches of pins. This inexpensive automobileannounced in 1908proved enormously popular –The conventional Ford plant strained to keep up with popular demand for the Model T –In 1910, productive operations slowly shifted to the new Highland Park plant –From 1910-1914, incredible experimentation and innovation in methods and processes of production

18 The Ford Highland Park Plant


20 The New Technology The secret of Fords industrial success the rigidly standardized Model T The standard design of the product customer could have any color so long as it was black a logic for simplified production With product standardization Ford engineers could standardize work and work processesTaylorism

21 In effect, the ideas of Frederick Winslow Taylor had saturated the minds of Detroit industrialists and engineers Taylorism involved the careful analysis of all work tasks, the elimination of every needless motion, and the minute division and subdivision of labortime and motion study Next with such simplified and routinized work tasks machines could be easily designed to perform the simple new work tasks The New Technology

22 The shift from general-purpose machines to single-purpose ones Single purpose machines the transference of skill by the machine designer from the operators the new machines embodied he complex skills of the worker two ways specially designed machines or jigs and fixtures In 1914 the Highland Park plant had 14,000 workers and 15,000 machines Ford policy scrap old machines ruthlessly ruthlessly in favor of better types even if old was one month old The New Technology

23 Single Purpose Machines

24 The New Technology Fords next innovation progressive production and assembly the arrangement of men, machines, and work tasks in line, one task followed by the other As H. L. Arnold noted: the scheme of placing both machine and hand work in straight-line sequence of operations so that the component in progress will travel the shortest road from start to finish, with no avoidable handling whatsoever.

25 The New Technology Progressive production first came to the Highland Park machine shops around 1913 Then to the assembly operations around 1913 and 1914 In the machine shops- the conventional arrangement similar machines located together parts moved from one are to next Progressive production eliminated trucking of parts materials handling becomes important gravity slides, roll ways, endless chains, and conveyor belts

26 Progressive or Sequential Machine Operations at Highland Park: Movement of Cylinder Casting Thru Shop

27 Progressive Assembly of Magnetos

28 Progressive Assembly of Pistons

29 Chassis Assembly Line

30 The New Technology First, line production came to machine shops Then, assembly operations around 1913 experiments in magneto assembly Next, other operations Finally, the main assembly line H. L. Arnold- the highly impressive spectacle of the Ford assembly line: Long lines of slowly moving assemblies in progress, busy groups of successive operators, the rapid growth of the chassis as component after component is added from overhead of sources of supply, and finally the instant start into self-moving power.

31 A Fully Integrated Production System

32 The New Technology At the Highland Park plant, modern mass production became a reality in a few brief yearsfrom around 1910 to 1914 Butthe innovations came at incredible social coststhe world of work would never be the same again The social impact of the new industrial technology: –The complete transformation of traditional work tasks and routines –The emergence of the deskilled specialist as the principal occupational group of the plant –The development of new forms of control of workers

33 The New Technology Transformation of work tasks and routines Obviously Ford engineers and Ford workers thought differently about the coming of the modern factory work Said one journalist: Fifteen thousand men work in gangs on the track system. Each gang, and each man on each gang, has just one thing to doand do over and over again. Its push and bustle and go. Work became routine, monotonous, degraded, and boring

34 The New Technology The social structure of work also changed dramatically –In the 1890sDetroit metal workers structure of occupationsc. 2% foremen, 39% skilled mechanics, 30 % semiskilled specialists, 29% unskilled laborers similar to Ford structure of occupations in 1910 –By 1917 Ford workforce 6.2% foremen, 4.2% clerks, 3.7% inspectors, 15.6% skilled and technical workers, 55.3% unskilled specialists, and 14.6% unskilled workers The significant change was the increase in supervisors and the decrease in worker skills A large majority were unskilled specialists.

35 The New Technology New forms of control –Bureaucratic control Foremen, straw bosses, clerks, and inspectorsall ensure that workers produce at speed, quality and quantity desired The ratio of foremen to workersincreased from 1 in 25 to 1 in 15 –Technical control Machine paced productionworkers controlled by the cycle of the machine The sequential arrangement of workprogressive production of hand work and use of conveyors

36 Hand Assembly Line for Pistons Inspector at the End of the Line

37 Chassis Assembly Line Foreman Oversees Workmen

38 Shortage Chasers Clerks to Insure Availability of Components

39 Technical Control: Line Speed Charlie Chaplain, Modern Times

40 Barbara Dane, Detroit Medley A 1930s critique of line productionMine Eyes have seen the glory of the making of the Ford

41 The Social Consequences Productivity fell far below expectations Some individual shops and departments- up 1,000% In reality, only about 60% increase in Model T production Even Taylorwork reorganization alone without line techniquespromised 200-400% Serious problems with the totally integrated and synchronized production system Problems rooted in worker culture

42 The Social Consequences Immigrant cultureunskilled workattracted a largely immigrant workforcemainly from pre-industrial Southern and Eastern Europe Absence of time and work discipline which affected output Alsoworking-class culturereactions to boring, repetitive, and degraded work Absenteeismaveraged 10% over the week14,000 workers meant a reserve of 1,400 extra men to fill in for absentees Turnover, or quit ratea phenomenal 370% per yearneed to hire 52,000 to maintain existing workforce

43 Ford Immigrant Workers

44 The Social Consequences Worker and union culturesoldiering and output restrictionnot working with as much effort as possible or holding back production Unionizationthreats of worker organization ranging from radical IWW to the more staid AFL around 1913 As line production became a reality, Ford officials had a complex and multidimensional labor problem In 1913, a series of reforms that did not solve the problems Then Ford astounded the world with the announcement of the famous Five Dollar Day

45 The Social Consequences The Five Dollar Daynot a simple wage increase, but a sophisticated profit-sharing schemedoubled the average pay received by unskilled workers Main target- unproductive immigrant and working-class cultures Five Dollar Daydivided into roughly equal partswages and profits –Wages for work in the shops –Profits for right living Right livingprogressive idea that a good home environment produced good people or workers

46 Workers at Highland Park for Five Dollar Jobs

47 The Social Consequences Ford Sociological Departmenta staff of 100 investigators to go into homes to determine whether or not workers lived right Approval meant the Five Dollar Day Non-approval mean monitoring to assure changed attitudes and valuesif no change, dismissals Ford English Schoola combination language and cultural skills All in all, the standardization of the product moves to the standardization of the producers.

48 Ford English School Class, c. 1914

49 Ford English School Graduation, c. 1914

50 Ford English School Diploma

51 The Social Consequences Ultimatelyin the short run the profit-sharing scheme succeeded: –absenteeism and turnover declined –production increased –and the auto industry avoided unionism It lasted through the war years, when inflation eroded the incentive of the Five Dollar Day In the 1920s, a shift to the brutal Bennett regime which emphasized the repression of dissident and underperforming workers In the end, the auto industry became a high wage seasonal industry and workers traded the rotten work for higher wages

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