back to articles | April 17, 2020 | Midnight Driver Co

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

The Evolution of the Automobile Assembly Line

At the height of the industrial revolution, an idea was made reality which would disrupt the course of history. An idea so profound that those who did not adapt would have to shut their doors. Arguably, the greatest invention of the 20th century: the assembly line.


Before Ransom Olds’ assembly line and Henry Ford’s moving assembly line changed the world, it was a simpler time to build cars. Manufacturing products before the industrial revolution was a difficult and arduous task. Most, if not all, products were made by hand. A single person, or occasionally a team, would create each different part of the vehicle. They would use whatever tool necessary to fashion each product into a final design. If the product didn’t fit, it was trial and error. It took time, money, and labor. These facts made the initial automobiles strictly for the wealthy.

Once the assembly line was underway in 1913, the system immediately paid dividends. Henry Ford’s system reduced the time to build a car from around 12 hours to under 3 hours. It also helped them lower the price of a vehicle, which enabled more than just the affluent to purchase cars. That’s also the same for maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle, technologies and new products emerged as time went by since nowadays you don’t need to go to a professional car detailing shop to maintain the looks of your car. A Midnight Driver car detailing supply can give you instant DIY car detailing with instructions which you can easily do at the convenience of your home.

Now going back to the evolution of the car industry, the automobile assembly line is one of the most important inventions in American history. Modern day U.S.A. would look nothing like it does if it were not for the ingenious idea. Throughout its history, the assembly line has seen a lot of changes and new additions. Like any invention, it needed to evolve to be more efficient, and evolve is exactly what it did.

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution mainly occurred in the United States between 1850 and 1914, but it can be traced back to nearly 1750. During this time, many different industries began to see extreme improvement in production. Materials began to be stronger and more durable, machining was simpler, and efficiency was better than ever.

In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, there was enormous economic growth in America. Throughout the next century, countless revelations would lead to the beginning of Henry Ford’s moving assembly line.

Interchangeable Parts

In the early 19th century, the development of machine tools led to the realization of interchangeable parts. Instead of making parts for each specific automobile and fitting them to that specific car, interchangeable parts would make identical parts through specific measurements. Trial and error was thrown out the door, and the beginning of the assembly line was starting to be seen.

Without any custom fitting by a craftsman or blacksmith, the specifications on an interchangeable part were so identical that they would fit into any assembly of the same type of bicycle, car, tool, etc.

The idea stemmed from a man named Eli Whitney. In 1801, he built ten identical guns that all used the same parts and mechanisms. He disassembled the guns before the U.S. Congress and mixed up the parts between the ten guns. He then assembled the guns with mixed and matched parts. They all were put together correctly and fired correctly. This urged Congress to start using the interchangeable parts for more than just firearms. More than 200 years later, the basis of interchangeable parts is used by manufacturing companies across the globe to build cars. Today, a Toyota 4-Runner is built with the same parts as every other Toyota 4-Runner, making parts easy to fix and simple to replace.

Mass Production

One of the most important steps in the automobile assembly line was mass production. Before mass production of thousands of identical cars came along, each car was built separately with differing parts and internal mechanisms.

Ransom Olds, the would-be automaker of Oldsmobile’s, patented the assembly line concept in 1901. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not Henry Ford. Olds saw the positive effect that interchangeable parts had on the industry and decided to introduce the first mass produced automobile. He would use a line of craftsman to design the same exact car hundreds of times, each of which you could trade pacts with, and it would be the same fit. While his assembly line was nowhere near as efficient as the Henry Ford assembly line, Olds is credited with giving Ford the idea.

Robotics & the Modern Day

Finally, someone noticed that moving the product, instead of a person moving around the product, was much more efficient. One of Ford’s employees observed a conveyor belt at a butcher. Each employee was responsible for their certain cut of the meat, then the meat continued along the conveyor belt. The employee, and Henry Ford, found that the same concept could be used in building cars.

The Ford Motor Company’s first moving assembly line was put into place not long after. It consisted of a system that pulled the chassis of a car with rope, which moved it from station to station. Each employee was tasked with a specific job/jobs to perform on each vehicle. This method drastically reduced the time to build a vehicle. From start to finish, it took Ford 90 minutes to produce a Model T. From there, other manufacturers and builders would take notice of the efficient system. Over the next century, the world of building cars would change even further.

Improvement on the Horizon

For decades, Ford’s automobile assembly line went virtually unchanged. Car developers around the world adopted the style and the automobile industry hit record-breaking heights year after year. As with everything in America, the assembly line needed to become bigger and faster. Improvement of the revolutionary assembly line was needed.

The automobile assembly line is one of the most important inventions in American history.In the 1950s, engineers began to experiment in the world of robotics. They knew that it would help the development of the industrial world. In 1961, General Motors installed the very first robotic arm to assist in an assembly line. The “Stanford Arm” was a 6-armed robot that was used for various vehicle productions at the same time. By 2008, most assembly lines were mass producing vehicles with no human assistance. Today, robots operate nearly 100% of mass production auto manufacturing companies.

Getting Your First Car

Since automobiles are produced at record paces every single day, there are more cars on the road than ever before, which leads to more options in the market. Make sure to go with trusted brands and do your research well before jumping into purchase. Remember, having a car can be costly not only because you have to pay your mortgage but also with its maintenance. Check out myAutoloan for the best car financing options out in the market.