September 28th, 2018
Total Cost Minimization
The world today is a very technologically advanced planet. From laptops getting smaller and their processors getting faster to automobiles soon turning completely electric. All these innovations are made possible by engineers. However, engineers are also the reason why these expensive products have only decreased in price while the technology has been improving. The decrease in price is because engineers help companies find ways to achieve total cost minimization even in high cost economies. Engineers help these companies by designing production methods that increase efficiency. The most common method is the practice of the assembly line, which was designed by a man named Henry Ford and is widely known as the greatest technological advancement of the twentieth century.
Total cost minimization is very important to engineers in high cost economies because over the last century, all aspects of manufacturing have drastically increased in price. From labour, rent, insurance and other factors. The prices of labour in todays society have sky rocketed with the minimum wage in Canada currently at fourteen dollars per hour (Ontario.gov.ca). Due to this, the risk of many products increasing in price is at large. The price of transporting goods from factories to stores has also increased in price due to the cost of fuel growing. Due to these factors it is common for companies to move their production out of high cost economies and into third world countries. The reason for this is the profit margin being obtained in these expensive areas is much too low to cover the large cost companies have. The main issue engineers have with the outsourcing of production is that it often leads to workers in other countries not being treated fairly. As well, often the safety standards in other countries are not equivalent to safety standards in first world countries making safety a large concern for infant toys and certain foods.
Henry Ford was the first person to implement the use of the assembly line. He used manufacturing engineering to reduce the prices of cars in the early 1900’s. Ford had a vision to creating automobiles that were more affordable to the average American in the early 1900’s. This was because the cost of owning and buying an automobile at those times was extremely expensive due to the amount of inefficiencies in the building process. The automotive factories at that time relied heavily on skilled labour, because there was not much of a need for unskilled workers at that time due to the fact there was not much technology behind the production, meaning each bolt had to be put on with the specific specifications by a skilled mechanic. In those days there was not yet precise machines that could tighten bolts with the specific torque needed to correctly build the vehicle. Due to the need for skilled labour, the salaries for the people working on the production was very high. The high salaries for the skilled workers reflected directly in the price of the cars. However, Ford saw that there had to be a better way to make the manufacturing process much more efficient and require less skilled labour. After using the trial and error method, Henry concluded that when people are working in a line with each other, much more can get done. Ford’s company operated with people working in a line with each other for a few months until, it was realized that the major inefficiency in production was that workers were walking much to far of a distance to get parts from one station of assembly to the next, and this was taking a lot of time. The way Henry reacted to this issue would be how lives would forever change. Henry innovated the method of people just working in a line to assemble parts, with a conveyor belt. The purpose of the conveyor belt was to have the parts come to the workers instead of the workers going to pick up the individual parts. The use of the conveyor belt proved that each worker had no excuse to leave their work station because all the parts that were needed would come directly to them. When Henry implemented the conveyor along the assembly line in “1913 the price for the Model T plummeted from $825 to just $290.” (history.com) This was obviously a drastic price reduction, which made for people all over the world to be able to finally afford to drive.
There are a few different types of assembly line systems engineers use to help companies achieve total cost minimization in high cost economies. According to the website INC.com these methods are called “Modular, Cell, Team and U-shape assembly lines.” The modular assembly line uses two parallel conveyors that manufacture two different types of products and when those products are finished they are placed on one final line, in which they are assembled onto a product. A common use for the modular assembly line is in the production of automobiles. The cell assembly line uses machines that can perform multiple tasks, while just one operator is using the machine. A common use for the cell machine is that it can weld, handle materials and even assemble products. The use of the machine cuts operating time and costs down and is commonly used in the manufacturing of parts for machines, due to the number of welds and small bolts that need to be tightened at specific torques. The team production method of the assembly line is when workers are together in teams along a parallel assembly line and perform the same repetitive tasks over and over. The team production is commonly used when installing simple doors on cars or factory emblems on vehicle rims. Finally, the U-shape assembly line is commonly used when manufacturing difficult products, this is because the method behind the U-shape is that the workers manufacturing the products can communicate easily about the speed and any common issues they encounter during the manufacturing process.
The assembly line is the most significant technological innovation of the twentieth century, with the increasing price in most economies around the world. The cost of production is set to rise, due to the increase in economies, the price of labour, materials and location costs. Due to the increase in the cost of production, the price in which consumers purchase these products will increase as well. If prices go too high, consumers will not be able to to afford everyday essentials or extra luxuries. This problem can have a direct effect on the companies and people of society because companies will not be able to produce the consumer demands for these products. The assembly line allows companies to produce large amount of quantities at a faster rate, using less human labour therefore decreasing the overall price of the product. Due to the increase in human labour in the past few years, companies have had to rely heavily on the use of robotic technologies. The robotic technologies allow for better accuracy than humans due to the natural occurrence of human error. Also, the robots/machines can be programmed to work when companies want, and don’t require wages and labour laws do not apply for machines. Therefore, if a company automates most of their production methods they can produce products cheaper making the amount they sell for in store significantly less. The assembly line is very important to society today because with the current population growing, we need access to large quantities of products at reasonable prices. If this were not the case, poverty would be an even larger problem then it currently is in todays society because most people will not be able to afford to support their families if products were exponentially increasing.
However, a problem most people in the twentieth century society have with factories turning to automated production methods is the decrease in jobs due to the machines being able to produce much more than humans could produce and with greater accuracy. Though, the total opposite is the outcome of automated production. This is because the machines require maintenance teams to ensure they run efficiently without the risk of a breakdown which would stop or reduce production. This means skilled technicians are needed to look after the machines which requires a certification, leading to better pay and benefits. In todays society there is no shortage of work for factory machine technicians. As well, people with technician certifications are much more employable in todays every growing society that requires some sort of education to get a good stable job, ensuring a better life for their families giving them more opportunities. The rise in pay and increase in opportunity is all thanks to the innovation of the assembly line, making it the most significant technological advancement of the twentieth century.
The importance of mass production and the assembly line is crucial to society in the coming years, especially with the increase in population the world will be faced with by twenty-fifty. The rate at which companies will be expected to produce at will be exponential, however to keep up with the demand and keep the costs of these products reasonable will be a challenge. Engineers must continue to innovate current procedures in the way companies produce items, with a goal that with the more items produced. The less the items will cost.
In conclusion, the invention and innovation of the assembly line has changed the lives of society forever. Without the implementation of the assembly line it is not for sure cars would have become so popular. As well, without the use of automation in todays expensive society there would not be enough quantity of products for the prices they can be purchased for. With the cost in economies worldwide set to increase in the coming years, the use and innovation of assembly lines will prove crucial to society having access to products in the needed quantity and desired price, achieving total cost minimization.