July 21, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).