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The Maintenance Management Blog

July 21, 2014

6 Inspiring Manufacturing Pioneers

6 Inspiring Manufacturing Pioneers

In terms of innovation over the past century, it is hard to imagine any industry that has grown or contributed to society as much as the manufacturing industry. From cars to spaceships, the pioneers of manufacturing have paved the way by creating the theories and means to mass-produce products on a global scale. In this blog post, we are going to look at six of these manufacturing mavericks and their contributions to the manufacturing process.

The first person on our list of manufacturing innovators probably comes as no surprise, as he is arguably the most famous contributor to manufacturing in the world - a name synonymous with the industry and the grandfather of the automobile.

Henry Ford

Though he invented the first motor vehicle, the Model N, as early as 1908, Henry Ford did not have an efficient means of mass-producing vehicles until five years later, when he installed the world's very first moving assembly line for automobile construction.

Inspired by the manufacturing methods used in flour mills and breweries, Henry Ford developed a system that would revolutionize the world. Prior to his contribution, it took more than 12 hours for a group of men to assemble a car. After incorporating his assembly line and assembly-line methodologies, putting a vehicle together took around two and a half hours - a significant reduction in time and energy!

These innovations helped Ford create ten million of the famed Model T by mid-June 1924 and launched the era of the modern automobile industry.

Frederick Taylor

Less known around the world than Henry Ford, but important nonetheless is the sporty Frederick Taylor, who, in addition to creating several well-known, oft-debated management theories, was also an accomplished tennis player in his day.

Perhaps best known for his "stopwatch time study," Taylor sought out the "One Best Way" to accomplish tasks. It was with this theory in mind that Henry Ford set out to accomplish his assembly-line innovation.

Henry L. Gantt

Another person inspired by Frederick Taylor"s work is Henry Gantt, a mechanical engineer who"s famous in the management world. Gantt"s charts helped in the construction of such massive undertakings as the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system.

The Gantt chart is still in use to this day and helps project managers plan, record the progress of, and control the flow of work and projects.

Henri Fayol

Another early pioneer who helped pave the way for management theory is Henri Fayol, who developed his own set of 14 principles for proper management, appropriately named Fayol"s 14 Principles of Management. This list included entries such as the Division of Work, Unity of Command, and Unity of Direction principles.

Fayol"s work is one of the earliest in the management field and is, perhaps, the most influential to modern-day management theorems.

John F. Welch

While work and management theories are an important aspect of the manufacturing industry, without someone to guide the ship and implement those theories, they are, admittedly, pretty useless. One such implementer of note is John F. Welch.

John Welch is most notably known as the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, a post he served in for 20 years. Welch was infamous for some of his innovative management tactics, such as pushing for problem-solving workouts and firing the executives who performed in the bottom ten percent. Welch was performance-focused, and it was this focus and management style that helped GE become a global juggernaut.

Michael Dell

When most people think of Michael Dell, they probably consider him to be a computer guru and not an influencer in the manufacturing world. While he certainly plays a large role in the computer world - he has a whole brand of computers with his name on them - Dell also helped to create a whole new way of thinking in terms of supply chains and order customization on a grand scale (think of all of the options you can choose from when ordering a computer online).


Lisa Richards

About the Author – Lisa Richards

Lisa Richards is an experienced professional in the field of industrial management and is an avid blogger about maintenance management systems and productivity innovation. Richards' undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering opened the door for her initial career path with a Midwest-based agricultural implement manufacturer with global market reach. Over a span of 10 years, Lisa worked her way through various staff leadership positions in the manufacturing process until reaching the operations manager level at a construction and forestry equipment facility. Lisa excelled at increasing productivity while maintaining or lowering operating budgets for her plant sites.

An Illinois native, Lisa recently returned to her suburban Chicago North Shore hometown to raise her family. Lisa has chosen to be active in her community and schools while her two young girls begin their own journey through life. Richards has now joined the MAPCON team as an educational outreach writer in support of their efforts to inform maintenance management specialists about the advantages in marrying advanced maintenance software with cutting-edge facility and industrial management strategies.