Ford's Model T Production Line

Instructor: Paul Mckinney

Paul has been in higher education for 17 years. He has a master's degree and is earning his PhD in Community College Leadership.

The Ford Model T was the first mass produced car in America. Better known as the 'Tin Lizzie,' the Model T and more importantly, its production line, would become the standard used around the world for producing products.

History of the Model T

The Model T was produced by Henry Ford's Motor Company from 1908 until 1927. Ford built 15 million Model Ts over the entire life of its production run. The car had a small engine (20 horse power), its top speed was 45 miles per hour, and it got about 21 miles per gallon.

Between 1914 and 1926, the Model T was only produced in one color, black. It was often said, 'Your Model T can be any color you want so long as it is black.' Ford used black paint because it was cheap and durable. By 1918, half of all the cars in the U.S. were Model Ts.

Henry Ford and the Model T

Production Line Example

When building the Model T, there were certain steps in the assembly of the car that had to be followed. First, you installed the engine, then the hood, and finally the wheels. However, only one of these steps could be done at a time. In traditional production, only one car would be assembled at a time. If the engine installation took 20 minutes, the hood installation took five minutes, and wheel installation took 10 minutes, then a car could be produced every 35 minutes.

In a production line, car assembly is split between several stations, all working simultaneously. When one station is finished with a car, it passes it on to the next. By having three stations, a total of three different cars can be operated on at the same time, each one at a different stage of its assembly.

The Production Line

The production line for the Model T or any mass-produced product is centered on one concept - achieving efficiency. When the Model T first went into production, the building method was typical for the time. Each Model T was built by hand, and the car stayed in one spot until all the components were assembled. This production method led to small numbers of Model Ts being produced.

Looking for ways to streamline operations, Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, began using a production line to build the Model T. The car would move along a line as workers would assemble components as the car passed by them. This greatly reduced the time needed to produce each Model T.

Henry Ford made several important modifications to the production line to make it more efficient as the years went by. A few of those improvements were:

• More machines were used to produce parts - This allowed more parts to be made at a lower cost.

• Interchangeable parts - The parts were the same. An engine, door, or seat from one Model T would fit in all the Model Ts.

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