The historical perspective of the industrial revolutions and the production systems

The historical perspective of the industrial revolutions and the production systems
Since the industrial revolution during the 19th and 20thcentury different production methods have dominated. On an overall level these methods can be grouped as craftsmanship, mass production and lean production, each with particular type of technology, work organization, production solutions, how to handle different product variants, and quality aspects.
Material and processes to develop products have a very long history, that is the case of casting, grinding, and forging which can be dated back 6000 years or more. The first attempts towards factory systems are described from ancient Rome. The Romans had what could be called factories to produce weapons, ceramic, glass ware, and some other products. It was not until the 19th century that real development towards the production systems of today started, when what we can call factory systems were developed. This development is frequently referred to as the industrial revolution.
Starting with the first industrial revolution in the 18th century, a big technical development occurred during the 19th and 20th century. The mechanization and automation in machines, equipment and tools increased tremendously. The prerequisites for mass production in the 20th century were covered with machines producing identical components and the utilization of capacity became an important factor to work with. The consequences from that were a need to develop new methods for planning of production, material supply and information.
The first industrial revolution
It took place during the period 1760-1830 with important changes that affect the development of systems to produce products. Inventions like the steam engine, the use of machine tools and the development within the textile industry were remarkable. This happened in parallel with the development of the fabrication system where factory workers were organized based on new principles for division of labor. This period also marks the transition from an economy based on agriculture to an economy based on industrial activities.
A significant discovery was the principle of division of labor that consist in the separation of tasks in any system so that participants may specialize. A great part of the changes carried our during the 19th and 20th century were based on this principle.
Gradually a need to coordinate, and also to control, the various operations emerged and entire production process became centralized and located in factory areas.
The second industrial revolution
The technical background to the development of the assembly system was the introduction of standardized and interchangeable parts. While England was leading the industrial revolution, the concept of interchangeable parts was introduced in the United States. In 1797 Eli Whitney (1765-1825) negotiated with the American government and received a contract for the production of 10,000 muskets. He believed he could produce parts accurately enough to permit parts assembly without fitting of each weapon. In this way the time required for production could be considerable reduced. After several years of development in his factory he traveled to Washington to demonstrate the principle of interchangeable parts.
The principle of interchangeable parts revolutionized the methods for manufacturing and constituted a prerequisite for mass production. Development of specialized production equipment made if possible to produce identical components for the assembly of complete muskets. Later on the manufacturing technique spread from the weapons industry to Singer, the company manufacturing sewing machines.
Ford’s production system from the early 20th century is often associated with the introduction of the assembly line in the manufacturing industry. The first movable assembly line in Ford’s factory was put into operation in 1913, but technology had been developed long before.

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