When Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company in 1903, automobiles were very expensive. They had to be custom-made and produced in small quantities. Ford wanted to make “a motor car for the great multitude” and he realised that the only way to do this was to manufacture one model in huge quantities.
Henry Ford worked tirelessly to get the manufacturing process as efficient as possible, but it still didn't meet his requirements.
Then one day, on a trip to Chicago, he visited a meat packing factory. Ford observed meat packers removing cuts of beef from a carcass, as it was passed along by a trolley.
Ford thought that this concept could be copied and adapted for the production of his automobile.
A Model T chassis would be moved along an assembly line, with parts being attached at each stage. Each worker would do one task as the vehicle passed him on the assembly line.
This insight was incredibly successful, and reduced the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to just two-and-a-half hours. By the middle of 1924, over 10 million Model T automobiles had been produced.
The copy-and-adapt approach was responsible for the first moving assembly line in the motor manufacturing industry, and forever changed how cars were made.