assembly line

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assembly line,

manufacturing technique in which a product is carried by some form of mechanized conveyor among stations at which the various operations necessary to its assembly are performed. It is used to assemble quickly large numbers of a uniform product. Henry FordFord, Henry,
1863–1947, American industrialist, pioneer automobile manufacturer, b. Dearborn, Mich. The Inception of the Ford Motor Company

Ford showed mechanical aptitude at an early age and left (1879) his father's farm to work as an apprentice in a Detroit
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 is often credited with establishing the first assembly line for his Model T. So long as an assembly line's output is high, the cost per unit is relatively low. It is somewhat inflexible, however, as it must be designed and installed for a particular product. Also, the operations on the product usually must be performed in a sequence that is strictly ordered. A malfunction or shortage of parts that shuts down a single assembly station necessitates shutdown of the entire line. Traditional assembly lines had come under criticism from those concerned with their effects on workers, but industrial robots now perform many of the repetitive tasks. Recent variations on the assembly-line process, such as teams of workers responsible for multiple steps, have increased productivity and employee interest.


See D. E. Nye, America's Assembly Lines (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

assembly line

[ə′sem·blē ‚līn]
(industrial engineering)
A mass-production arrangement whereby the work in process is progressively transferred from one operation to the next until the product is assembled.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

assembly line

a sequence of machines, tools, operations, workers, etc., in a factory, arranged so that at each stage a further process is carried out
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The first five focus on the invention, development, expansion, and export of the assembly line from its introduction at the Ford Motor Company in 1913 to its mixed reception in Europe after World War I.
The last, of course, became the most vivid feature of the assembly line in the popular imagination, though he argues that it was much less important in cutting costs than the others.
(Except once, when I, and many others, fell asleep in a train that carried visitors around a car assembly line somewhere in Australia.
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