Mass Production (also called Flow Production)
is the production of large amounts of standardized products
production lines. It was popularized by
Henry Ford in the early 20th Century, notably in his
Ford Model T. Mass production is notable because it
permits very high rates of production per worker and therefore
provides very inexpensive products.
The economies of mass production come
from several sources. The primary cause
is a reduction of nonproductive effort of
all types. In
craft production, the craftsman must
bustle about a shop, getting parts and assembling
them. He must locate and use many tools
many times, perhaps hundreds of times to
assemble a complex product such as a clock.
In mass production, each worker repeats
one or a few related tasks that use the
same tool to perform identical or almost
identical operations on a stream of products.
The exact tool and parts are always at hand.
The worker spends no time going and getting
Another important scale benefit is that
the factory can purchase very large amounts
of materials. This reduces the overhead
costs (shipping, purchasing negotiations,
paperwork, etc.) associated with purchasing
Mass production systems are usually organized
assembly lines. The assemblies pass
by on a conveyor, or if they are heavy,
hung from an overhead monorail.
In a factory for a complex product, rather
than one assembly line, there may be many
auxiliary assembly lines feeding sub-assemblies
(i.e. car engines or seats) to a backbone "main"
assembly line. A diagram of a typical mass-production
factory looks more like the skeleton of
a fish than a single line.
This is also used in food manufacture
to produce foods continuously.
A final very important strategy is
vertical integration. In this strategy,
the manufacturer produces all or most of
the parts and subassemblies that go into
the product. For example, at one point,
Ford Motor Company literally mined iron
Minnesota and turned it into cars in
Detroit, capturing all the profits from
all the processes that added value to iron
Nowadays, rather than assembling everything,
factory managers choose which assemblies
to produce based on the
return on investment (ROI) that each
assembly process can produce. The basic
plan is to
outsource unprofitable subassemblies
to other organizations. Often, such organizations
can afford specialized equipment or organization
that makes them substantially more efficient
than an ordinary factory at a particular
While Ford was first to introduce mass
production in recent times, the idea was
first developed in
Venice several hundred years earlier,
where ships were mass-produced using
pre-manufactured parts, and
Venice Arsenal apparently produced nearly
one ship every day, in what was effectively
the world's first
factory that, at its height, employed
Books were already mass produced since
Bible was published in the mid-1400s.
American Civil War, the
Springfield Armoury started to mass
produce guns, using
interchangeable parts on a large scale.
For this reason, even to this day the term
'Armoury Practice' is used in the
USA to refer to mass production.
Industrial Revolution simple mass production
techniques were used at the
Portsmouth Block Mills to manufacture
ships' pulley blocks for the
British Navy during the
Napoleonic Wars. It was also used in
the manufacture of clocks and watches, and
in the manufacture of small arms.