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to cater to whims instead of acquiring sufficient knowledge of their

product to be able to explain to the customer with the whim that what

they have will satisfy his every requirement--that is, of course,

provided what they have does satisfy these requirements.

 

Therefore in 1909 I announced one morning, without any previous warning,

that in the future we were going to build only one model, that the model

was going to be "Model T," and that the chassis would be exactly the

same for all cars, and I remarked:

 

"Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as

it is black."

 

I cannot say that any one agreed with me. The selling people could not

of course see the advantages that a single model would bring about in

production. More than that, they did not particularly care. They thought

that our production was good enough as it was and there was a very

decided opinion that lowering the sales price would hurt sales, that the

people who wanted quality would be driven away and that there would be

none to replace them. There was very little conception of the motor

industry. A motor car was still regarded as something in the way of a

luxury. The manufacturers did a good deal to spread this idea. Some

clever persons invented the name "pleasure car" and the advertising

emphasized the pleasure features. The sales people had ground for their

objections and particularly when I made the following announcement:

 

"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 run and

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. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary

will be unable to own one--and enjoy with his family the blessing of

hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."

 

This announcement was received not without pleasure. The general comment

was:

 

"If Ford does that he will be out of business in six months."

 

The impression was that a good car could not be built at a low price,

and that, anyhow, there was no use in building a low-priced car because

only wealthy people were in the market for cars. The 1908-1909 sales of

more than ten thousand cars had convinced me that we needed a new

factory. We already had a big modern factory--the Piquette Street plant.

It was as good as, perhaps a little better than, any automobile factory

in the country. But I did not see how it was going to care for the sales

and production that were inevitable. So I bought sixty acres at Highland

Park, which was then considered away out in the country from Detroit.

The amount of ground bought and the plans for a bigger factory than the

world has ever seen were opposed. The question was already being asked:

 

"How soon will Ford blow up?"

 

Nobody knows how many thousand times it has been asked since. It is

asked only because of the failure to grasp that a principle rather than

an individual is at work, and the principle is so simple that it seems

mysterious.

 

For 1909-1910, in order to pay for the new land and buildings, I

slightly raised the prices. This is perfectly justifiable and results in

a benefit, not an injury, to the purchaser. I did exactly the same thing

a few years ago--or rather, in that case I did not lower the price as is

my annual custom, in order to build the River Rouge plant. The extra

money might in each case have been had by borrowing, but then we should

have had a continuing charge upon the business and all subsequent cars

would have had to bear this charge. The price of all the models was

increased $100, with the exception of the roadster, which was increased

only $75 and of the landaulet and town car, which were increased $150

and $200 respectively. We sold 18,664 cars, and then for 1910-1911, with

the new facilities, I cut the touring car from $950 to $780 and we sold

34,528 cars. That is the beginning of the steady reduction in the price

of the cars in the face of ever-increasing cost of materials and

ever-higher wages.

 

Contrast the year 1908 with the year 1911. The factory space increased

from 2.65 to 32 acres. The average number of employees from 1,908 to

4,110, and the cars built from a little over six thousand to nearly

thirty-five thousand. You will note that men were not employed in

proportion to the output.

 

We were, almost overnight it seems, in great production. How did all

this come about?

 

Simply through the application of an inevitable principle. By the

application of intelligently directed power and machinery. In a little

dark shop on a side street an old man had laboured for years making axe

handles. Out of seasoned hickory he fashioned them, with the help of a

draw shave, a chisel, and a supply of sandpaper. Carefully was each

handle weighed and balanced. No two of them were alike. The curve must

exactly fit the hand and must conform to the grain of the wood. From

dawn until dark the old man laboured. His average product was eight

handles a week, for which he received a dollar and a half each. And

often some of these were unsaleable--because the balance was not true.

 

To-day you can buy a better axe handle, made by machinery, for a few

cents. And you need not worry about the balance. They are all alike--and

every one is perfect. Modern methods applied in a big way have not only

brought the cost of axe handles down to a fraction of their former

cost--but they have immensely improved the product.

 

It was the application of these same methods to the making of the Ford

car that at the very start lowered the price and heightened the quality.

We just developed an idea. The nucleus of a business may be an idea.

That is, an inventor or a thoughtful workman works out a new and better

way to serve some established human need; the idea commends itself, and

people want to avail themselves of it. In this way a single individual

may prove, through his idea or discovery, the nucleus of a business. But

the creation of the body and bulk of that business is shared by everyone

who has anything to do with it. No manufacturer can say: "I built this

business"--if he has required the help of thousands of men in building

it. It is a joint production. Everyone employed in it has contributed

something to it. By working and producing they make it possible for the

purchasing world to keep coming to that business for the type of service

it provides, and thus they help establish a custom, a trade, a habit

which supplies them with a livelihood. That is the way our company grew

and just how I shall start explaining in the next chapter.

 

In the meantime, the company had become world-wide. We had branches in

London and in Australia. We were shipping to every part of the world,

and in England particularly we were beginning to be as well known as in

America. The introduction of the car in England was somewhat difficult

on account of the failure of the American bicycle. Because the American

bicycle had not been suited to English uses it was taken for granted and

made a point of by the distributors that no American vehicle could

appeal to the British market. Two "Model A's" found their way to England

in 1903. The newspapers refused to notice them. The automobile agents

refused to take the slightest interest. It was rumoured that the

principal components of its manufacture were string and hoop wire and

that a buyer would be lucky if it held together for a fortnight! In the

first year about a dozen cars in all were used; the second was only a

little better. And I may say as to the reliability of that "Model A"

that most of them after nearly twenty years are still in some kind of

service in England.

 

In 1905 our agent entered a "Model C" in the Scottish Reliability

Trials. In those days reliability runs were more popular in England than

motor races. Perhaps there was no inkling that after all an automobile

was not merely a toy. The Scottish Trials was over eight hundred miles

of hilly, heavy roads. The Ford came through with only one involuntary

stop against it. That started the Ford sales in England. In that same

year Ford taxicabs were placed in London for the first time. In the next

several years the sales began to pick up. The cars went into every

endurance and reliability test and won every one of them. The Brighton

dealer had ten Fords driven over the South Downs for two days in a kind

of steeplechase and every one of them came through. As a result six

hundred cars were sold that year. In 1911 Henry Alexander drove a "Model

T" to the top of Ben Nevis, 4,600 feet. That year 14,060 cars were sold

in England, and it has never since been necessary to stage any kind of a

stunt. We eventually opened our own factory at Manchester; at first it

was purely an assembling plant. But as the years have gone by we have

progressively made more and more of the car.

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

GETTING INTO PRODUCTION

 

 

If a device would save in time just 10 per cent. or increase results 10

per cent., then its absence is always a 10 per cent. tax. If the time of

a person is worth fifty cents an hour, a 10 per cent. saving is worth

five cents an hour. If the owner of a skyscraper could increase his

income 10 per cent., he would willingly pay half the increase just to

know how. The reason why he owns a skyscraper is that science has proved

that certain materials, used in a given way, can save space and increase

rental incomes. A building thirty stories high needs no more ground

space than one five stories high. Getting along with the old-style

architecture costs the five-story man the income of twenty-five floors.

Save ten steps a day for each of twelve thousand employees and you will

have saved fifty miles of wasted motion and misspent energy.

 

Those are the principles on which the production of my plant was built

up. They all come practically as of course. In the beginning we tried to

get machinists. As the necessity for production increased it became

apparent not only that enough machinists were not to be had, but also

that skilled men were not necessary in production, and out of this grew

a principle that I later want to present in full.

 

It is self-evident that a majority of the people in the world are not

mentally--even if they are physically--capable of making a good living.

That is, they are not capable of furnishing with their own hands a

sufficient quantity of the goods which this world needs to be able to

exchange their unaided product for the goods which they need. I have

heard it said, in fact I believe it is quite a current thought, that we

have taken skill out of work. We have not. We have put in skill. We have

put a higher skill into planning, management, and tool building, and the

results of that skill are enjoyed by the man who is not skilled. This I

shall later enlarge on.

 

We have to recognize the unevenness in human mental equipments. If every

job in our place required skill the place would never have existed.

Sufficiently skilled men to the number needed could not have been

trained in a hundred years. A million men working by hand could not even

approximate our present daily output. No one could manage a million men.

But more important than that, the product of the unaided hands of those

million men could not be sold at a price in consonance with buying

power. And even if it were possible to imagine such an aggregation and

imagine its management and correlation, just think of the area that it

would have to occupy! How many of the men would be engaged, not in

producing, but in merely carrying from place to place what the other men

had produced? I cannot see how under such conditions the men could

possibly be paid more than ten or twenty cents a day--for of course it

is not the employer who pays wages. He only handles the money. It is the

product that pays the wages and it is the management that arranges the

production so that the product may pay the wages.

 

The more economical methods of production did not begin all at once.

They began gradually--just as we began gradually to make our own parts.

"Model T" was the first motor that we made ourselves. The great

economies began in assembling and then extended to other sections so

that, while to-day we have skilled mechanics in plenty, they do not

produce automobiles--they make it easy for others to produce them. Our

skilled men are the tool makers, the experimental workmen, the

machinists, and the pattern makers. They are as good as any men in the

world--so good, indeed, that they should not be wasted in doing that

which the machines they contrive can do better. The rank and file of men

come to us unskilled; they learn their jobs within a few hours or a few

days. If they do not learn within that time they will never be of any

use to us. These men are, many of them, foreigners, and all that is

required before they are taken on is that they should be potentially

able to do enough work to pay the overhead charges on the floor space

they occupy. They do not have to be able-bodied men. We have jobs that

require great physical strength--although they are rapidly lessening; we

have other jobs that require no strength whatsoever--jobs which, as far

as strength is concerned, might be attended to by a child of three.

 

It is not possible, without going deeply into technical processes, to

present the whole development of manufacturing, step by step, in the

order in which each thing came about. I do not know that this could be

done, because something has been happening nearly every day and nobody

can keep track. Take at random a number of the changes. From them it is

possible not only to gain some idea of what will happen when this world

is put on a production basis, but also to see how much more we pay for

things than we ought to, and how much lower wages are than they ought to

be, and what a vast field remains to be explored. The Ford Company is

only a little way along on the journey.

 

A Ford car contains about five thousand parts--that is counting screws,

nuts, and all. Some of the parts are fairly bulky and others are almost

the size of watch parts. In our first assembling we simply started to

put a car together at a spot on the floor and workmen brought to it the

parts as they were needed in exactly the same way that one builds a

house. When we started to make parts it was natural to create a single

department of the factory to make that part, but usually one workman

performed all of the operations necessary on a small part. The rapid

press of production made it necessary to devise plans of production that

would avoid having the workers falling over one another. The undirected

worker spends more of his time walking about for materials and tools

than he does in working; he gets small pay because pedestrianism is not

a highly paid line.

 

The first step forward in assembly came when we began taking the work to

the men instead of the men to the work. We now have two general

principles in all operations--that a man shall never have to take more

than one step, if possibly it can be avoided, and that no man need ever

stoop over.

 

The principles of assembly are these:

 

(1) Place the tools and the men in the sequence of the operation so that

each component part shall travel the least possible distance while in

the process of finishing.

 

(2) Use work slides or some other form of carrier so that when a workman

completes his operation, he drops the part always in the same

place--which place must always be the most convenient place to his

hand--and if possible have gravity carry the part to the next workman

for his operation.

 

(3) Use sliding assembling lines by which the parts to be assembled are

delivered at convenient distances.

 

The net result of the application of these principles is the reduction

of the necessity for thought on the part of the worker and the reduction

of his movements to a minimum. He does as nearly as possible only one

thing with only one movement. The assembling of the chassis is, from the

point of view of the non-mechanical mind, our most interesting and

perhaps best known operation, and at one time it was an exceedingly

important operation. We now ship out the parts for assembly at the point

of distribution.

 

Along about April 1, 1913, we first tried the experiment of an assembly

line. We tried it on assembling the flywheel magneto. We try everything

in a little way first--we will rip out anything once we discover a

better way, but we have to know absolutely that the new way is going to

be better than the old before we do anything drastic.

 

I believe that this was the first moving line ever installed. The idea

came in a general way from the overhead trolley that the Chicago packers

use in dressing beef. We had previously assembled the fly-wheel magneto

in the usual method. With one workman doing a complete job he could turn

out from thirty-five to forty pieces in a nine-hour day, or about twenty

minutes to an assembly. What he did alone was then spread into

twenty-nine operations; that cut down the assembly time to thirteen

minutes, ten seconds. Then we raised the height of the line eight

inches--this was in 1914--and cut the time to seven minutes. Further

experimenting with the speed that the work should move at cut the time

down to five minutes. In short, the result is this: by the aid of

scientific study one man is now able to do somewhat more than four did

only a comparatively few years ago. That line established the efficiency

of the method and we now use it everywhere. The assembling of the motor,

formerly done by one man, is now divided into eighty-four

operations--those men do the work that three times their number formerly

did. In a short time we tried out the plan on the chassis.

 

About the best we had done in stationary chassis assembling was an

average of twelve hours and twenty-eight minutes per chassis. We tried

the experiment of drawing the chassis with a rope and windlass down a

line two hundred fifty feet long. Six assemblers traveled with the

chassis and picked up the parts from piles placed along the line. This

rough experiment reduced the time to five hours fifty minutes per

chassis. In the early part of 1914 we elevated the assembly line. We had

adopted the policy of "man-high" work; we had one line twenty-six and

three quarter inches and another twenty-four and one half inches from

the floor--to suit squads of different heights. The waist-high

arrangement and a further subdivision of work so that each man had fewer

movements cut down the labour time per chassis to one hour thirty-three

minutes. Only the chassis was then assembled in the line. The body was

placed on in "John R. Street"--the famous street that runs through our

Highland Park factories. Now the line assembles the whole car.

 

It must not be imagined, however, that all this worked out as quickly as

it sounds. The speed of the moving work had to be carefully tried out;

in the fly-wheel magneto we first had a speed of sixty inches per

minute. That was too fast. Then we tried eighteen inches per minute.

That was too slow. Finally we settled on forty-four inches per minute.

The idea is that a man must not be hurried in his work--he must have

every second necessary but not a single unnecessary second. We have

worked out speeds for each assembly, for the success of the chassis

assembly caused us gradually to overhaul our entire method of

manufacturing and to put all assembling in mechanically driven lines.

The chassis assembling line, for instance, goes at a pace of six feet

per minute; the front axle assembly line goes at one hundred eighty-nine

inches per minute. In the chassis assembling are forty-five separate

operations or stations. The first men fasten four mud-guard brackets to

the chassis frame; the motor arrives on the tenth operation and so on in

detail. Some men do only one or two small operations, others do more.

The man who places a part does not fasten it--the part may not be fully

in place until after several operations later. The man who puts in a

bolt does not put on the nut; the man who puts on the nut does not

tighten it. On operation number thirty-four the budding motor gets its

gasoline; it has previously received lubrication; on operation number

forty-four the radiator is filled with water, and on operation number

forty-five the car drives out onto John R. Street.

 

Essentially the same ideas have been applied to the assembling of the

motor. In October, 1913, it required nine hours and fifty-four minutes

of labour time to assemble one motor; six months later, by the moving

assembly method, this time had been reduced to five hours and fifty-six

minutes. Every piece of work in the shops moves; it may move on hooks on

overhead chains going to assembly in the exact order in which the parts

are required; it may travel on a moving platform, or it may go by

gravity, but the point is that there is no lifting or trucking of

anything other than materials. Materials are brought in on small trucks

or trailers operated by cut-down Ford chassis, which are sufficiently

mobile and quick to get in and out of any aisle where they may be

required to go. No workman has anything to do with moving or lifting

anything. That is all in a separate department--the department of

transportation.

 

We started assembling a motor car in a single factory. Then as we began

to make parts, we began to departmentalize so that each department would

do only one thing. As the factory is now organized each department makes

only a single part or assembles a part. A department is a little factory

in itself. The part comes into it as raw material or as a casting, goes

through the sequence of machines and heat treatments, or whatever may be

required, and leaves that department finished. It was only because of

transport ease that the departments were grouped together when we

started to manufacture. I did not know that such minute divisions would

be possible; but as our production grew and departments multiplied, we

actually changed from making automobiles to making parts. Then we found

that we had made another new discovery, which was that by no means all

of the parts had to be made in one factory. It was not really a

discovery--it was something in the nature of going around in a circle to

my first manufacturing when I bought the motors and probably ninety per

cent. of the parts. When we began to make our own parts we practically

took for granted that they all had to be made in the one factory--that

there was some special virtue in having a single roof over the

manufacture of the entire car. We have now developed away from this. If

we build any more large factories, it will be only because the making of

a single part must be in such tremendous volume as to require a large

unit. I hope that in the course of time the big Highland Park plant will

be doing only one or two things. The casting has already been taken away

from it and has gone to the River Rouge plant. So now we are on our way

back to where we started from--excepting that, instead of buying our

parts on the outside, we are beginning to make them in our own factories

on the outside.

 

This is a development which holds exceptional consequences, for it

means, as I shall enlarge in a later chapter, that highly standardized,

highly subdivided industry need no longer become concentrated in large

plants with all the inconveniences of transportation and housing that

hamper large plants. A thousand or five hundred men ought to be enough

in a single factory; then there would be no problem of transporting them

to work or away from work and there would be no slums or any of the

other unnatural ways of living incident to the overcrowding that must

take place if the workmen are to live within reasonable distances of a

very large plant.

 

Highland Park now has five hundred departments. Down at our Piquette

plant we had only eighteen departments, and formerly at Highland Park we

had only one hundred and fifty departments. This illustrates how far we

are going in the manufacture of parts.

 

Hardly a week passes without some improvement being made somewhere in

machine or process, and sometimes this is made in defiance of what is

called "the best shop practice." I recall that a machine manufacturer

was once called into conference on the building of a special machine.

The specifications called for an output of two hundred per hour.

 

"This is a mistake," said the manufacturer, "you mean two hundred a

day--no machine can be forced to two hundred an hour."

 

The company officer sent for the man who had designed the machine and

they called his attention to the specification. He said:

 

"Yes, what about it?"

 

"It can't be done," said the manufacturer positively, "no machine built

will do that--it is out of the question."

 

"Out of the question!" exclaimed the engineer, "if you will come down to

the main floor you will see one doing it; we built one to see if it

could be done and now we want more like it."

 

The factory keeps no record of experiments. The foremen and

superintendents remember what has been done. If a certain method has

formerly been tried and failed, somebody will remember it--but I am not

particularly anxious for the men to remember what someone else has tried

to do in the past, for then we might quickly accumulate far too many

things that could not be done. That is one of the troubles with

extensive records. If you keep on recording all of your failures you

will shortly have a list showing that there is nothing left for you to

try--whereas it by no means follows because one man has failed in a

certain method that another man will not succeed.

 

They told us we could not cast gray iron by our endless chain method and

I believe there is a record of failures. But we are doing it. The man

who carried through our work either did not know or paid no attention to

the previous figures. Likewise we were told that it was out of the

question to pour the hot iron directly from the blast furnace into







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