Efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness. These are three tiers we base our business on here at Leading Edge Industrial. In fact, the manufacturing industry itself is built around these guiding principles and the idea that the manufacturing industry should never stop pursuing greater efficiency. With Larry growing up in Detroit who better to look to than the king of modern manufacturing, Henry Ford? His assembly line was indeed a game changer for the entire industry.
About Henry Ford’s Assembly Line
Henry Ford officially rolled out his assembly line over 100 years ago on December 1st, 1913. The innovation of this assembly decreased the original time it took to construct a Ford vehicle (12 hours) to just 30 minutes! Instead of training men on how to put the entire car together, each worker was merely trained to do their one task. The assembly process was broken up into 84 discrete steps, each employee trained to do one. Additionally, he created machines that made the parts automatically, along with machinery that caused the assembly like to move even quicker (i.e., ropes, pulleys, conveyor belts). This machinery would soon become the solid foundation for industrial production as we know it. Though Ford’s “Model T” automobile didn’t last far beyond the twenties as consumers wanted cars with more bells and whistles, his manufacturing innovations not only ushered in the automobile era but the era of assembly lines and lean manufacturing.
How We Emulate Ford
Our team looks up to Henry Ford and the innovative paths he paved in the manufacturing industry. Because of this, we try to emulate Ford’s vision and principles in our own workspace whenever possible. We use lean assembly techniques in practice with our Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) manual mill and lathe machine tear down process. In fact, this has been the beginning process in our production for the last several years. However, we are working towards changing this for the better, as we are receiving our own castings (forged in Michigan), and we will cut the COTS operations out of our process entirely to increase efficiency and decrease lead time.
You see, when tasked with completing a task over and over, humans naturally work to find the best way to do a job in the least amount of time, thus making the process more efficient. This principle has reared its head over and over throughout history, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Here at LEI, we have found that batching our production runs significantly reduces time, material costs (meaning we emit less waste), labor, and defects. The boost in our productivity and efficiency was felt immediately as we made the drastic change from “one-at-at-time” machine builds in our early days as a company (much like Ford at the beginning of his career) to more massive production runs. Of course, we are continually adapting and evolving our production processes to optimize the same core tenets as Henry Ford. A few seconds or minutes here and there, at the time, may not seem like much. However, overbroad, long-term production runs, they add up very quickly to wasted hours – even days!
If there’s one thing right about our team, it’s that we never stop striving for higher efficiency! We are eager to continue to adapt our processes even more in the coming years. We hope you’ll follow along on our journey!