Category Archives: Innovation

Today in Supply Chain History

This morning Die Welt, a German newspaper I am reading at breakfast during my visit to the SCC Europe Conference, reports that today 100 years ago Ford Motor Company implemented the assembly line for the Model T. The first assembly line was manually driven and reduced the production time from 12.5 hours to 5 hours and 50 minutes. By 1914 the fully automatic flow only required a mere 90 minutes.

The article points out that the idea for the assembly line originated from a visit to the slaughter houses of Chicago – the ‘disassembly lines’. Through trial and error the overhead trolley from the meat packers resulted in the assembly line that many/most automotive manufacturers still use today.

The Ford story is another example where a practice from one industry leads to innovation in another. History shows that radical performance improvement requires a radical change to your supply chain network and processes. At events like the European Conference presenters and attendees get to share ideas – for example with Sean Culey’s presentation about how automation, robots and big data impacted the past, today and the future.