Up until the early 20th century the world viewed the automobile as a luxury item built for the elite of society. Cars were complicated in their use and required a significant investment that the average person could not afford. Then in 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model T Ford that did not only revolutionize the world’s perspective on personal transportation for the masses but also re-invented the manufacturing process still applied over 100 years later. Although we have seen improvements to his original process, with the development of lean manufacturing, JIT, Six Sigma, Kanban, and others, the core philosophy of streamlining production first introduced to the world by Ford still remains true for the manufacturer of the 21st century.
Henry Ford demonstrated to the world that the right combination of innovation, quality production and streamline processes is what sets a new product apart in the marketplace.
More than anything, it was the vision of the Model T Ford that revolutionized the manufacturing process of its time (still implemented today). Henry Ford’s vision was to build an automobile for the masses. At the time an unthinkable goal, Ford developed a process that would reduce the effort and material to mass produce cars that delivered a quality product to the average American citizen that resided in both rural and urban settings. By 1908 he introduced his first iteration of the Model T Ford at the retail price of $850 ($20, 709 in today’s market) when competing cars were being sold anywhere from $2000-$3000 (roughly $50, 000-$75, 000 in today’s market).
Going against popular belief and the advice of his shareholders, Henry Ford was successful in his vision in which the final production of the Model T Ford resulted with 48% of the world’s market share of automobiles selling 15 million vehicles during the model T’s tenure from 1908-1927. More importantly, Ford’s vision of a car for the masses in the process revolutionized manufacturing by popularizing the assembly line, introducing vertical integration, and doubling the pay of unskilled workers at the time to 5 dollars a day. As a result, a combination of innovative design, processes, and employee incentives were established along the way.