Henry Ford Changed the World: Birth of the Assembly Line
The Philadelphia Parking Authority came about in January 1950, after a city ordinance was enacted. The ordinance gave the PPA the task of providing adequate parking services for the residents, businesses and visitors of Philadelphia.
But, there were decades of automobile inventions that led to the necessity of the PPA. Inventors—and inventions– from around the world contributed to the evolution of automobiles into the fast, efficient and safe modes of transportation we use today.
One of the notable inventions along the way was the electric car. The first electric cars used on a large scale came from our very own city of Philadelphia. Manufactured by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company, these cars were sent to New York City for its growing fleet of taxis. The electric car was quieter and didn’t have the fumes that gasoline cars did. But, they were expensive, and topped out around 15 miles per hour in speed.
Henry Ford’s Evolution
Henry Ford revolutionized the way gasoline-powered cars were built, making thousands of them in record time through the use of assembly lines and mass mobilization – and he claimed he didn’t sacrifice quantity for quality. Ford’s cars were affordable, sleek, and reliable–and there were plenty of them to buy.
In order to keep up with demands and to supply the entire American population with cars without having to raise prices, Ford worked out a practical method of moving work from one employee to another, so that the factory would operate seamlessly and efficiently: the assembly line. Every worker managed his own station, and was responsible for assembling one piece of the car before handing the job off to the next worker.
This process allowed each employee to perfect his individual craft, whether installing the engine or putting in the horn, and to do it in record time. The assembly line transformed thousands of workers into a well-oiled, flawless machine, capable of mass production. While it took five years for Ford to effectively implement the assembly line, and to build factories large enough to encompass such a division of labor, by 1913 a power-driven assembly line was in place, in which every worker was synchronized to complete his specific task in the allotted time.
Most remarkably, Ford was able to produce cars that were easy to build and fix, and were affordable for the average family to maintain and own. He may not have invented the assembly line, but he perfected the process, decreasing his costs so that he could sell the cars for even cheaper – fulfilling his dream of supplying Americans across the country with reliable and efficient automobiles.