Cadillac Demonstrates Interchangeable Parts (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: Henry M. Leland, a master of precision techniques, introduced automobile manufacturers to the use of interchangeable parts, providing a key element necessary to the implementation of mass production.
Summary of Event
Mass production is a twentieth century methodology that for the most part is a result of nineteenth century ideas. It is a phenomenon that, although its origins were mostly American, has consequently changed the entire world. The use of interchangeable parts, the feasibility of which was demonstrated by the Cadillac Motor Car Company in 1908, was instrumental in making mass production possible.
The British phase of the Industrial Revolution saw the application of division of labor, the first principle of industrialization, to capitalist-directed manufacturing processes. Centralized power sources were connected through shafts, pulleys, and belts to machines housed in factories. Even after these dramatic changes, the British preferred to produce unique, handcrafted products formed one step at a time using general-purpose machine tools. Seldom did they make separate components to be assembled into standardized products.
Stories about American products that were assembled from fully interchangeable parts began to reach Great Britain. In 1851, the British public saw a few of these products on display at an exhibition in London’s Crystal Palace. In 1854, they were...
(The entire section is 2412 words.)
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