The vast majority of items in your life are likely a product of mass manufacturing – manufacturing has become the hidden driving force that drives our economy forward. This has been true of all stable economies throughout history, but whilst its importance has not altered the methods and practices used today are often far removed from those used in the ancient times.
The era of the tradesman: There was a time where everything you owned was handmade – people would buy handmade clothes with handmade coins. The producers of products were tradesman, who learned his trade through an apprenticeship with a tradesman who learned his trade in the same way. In these times the secrets of the trade was a valuable secret, protected by specific guilds. This system is far removed from today’s society, where you can learn to roof your house on Youtube and rent the tools online – if these provisions where available in the past it may have been enough to incite guild violence.
Weapon Manufacturing: As you probably could have guessed, military groups were pioneers of mass manufacturing. The first military groups to adopt mass manufacturing were rewarded with superior numbers of weapons and ships – allowing them to prosper over other nations. Early examples of mass manufacturing in the military are the production of Bronze crossbows in China or the production of warships in Carthage.
Home Work: Pre-Industrial revolution most manufacturing took place in households, typically in rural areas. The first form of commercial, paid mass manufacturing (slavery had been used for commercial mass manufacturing previously) took place when entrepreneurs contracted a number of households to manufacture the same goods.
Early Mechanical Manufacturing: The arrival of machines caused a permanent change in manufacturing processes; suddenly the process was quicker, worked on a wider range of substrate and required less specialised training. The first form of machine manufacturing was the English system; this involved a skilled machinist building a part from start to finish. The American system refined this process through the use of assembly lines – this allowed for the use of less skilled workers and produced much more consistent goods.
Current Manufacturing: As time has passed, manufacturing has evolved to become more and more machinery dependant. Using machines has a number of benefits, which are as follows;
- Increased automation
- Increased precision
- Increased consistency
- Reduction in the skill of workers
Machine manufacturing has even begun to loop back to early manufacturing processes, in that single machines can now use a variety of tools to perform a variety of manufacturing techniques upon a material, thus moving away from the time honoured tradition of the assembly line.
This article was written by Jacob Catt on behalf of Griffiths Eng, who can offer the subcontracted use of CNC machines -state of the art manufacturing machinery, capable of previously unimaginable precision and automation.