I thought I’d share this video from Brainpickings at the kickoff of the Labor Day weekend – seems appropriate to see where manufacturing has come from. It is from the Raleigh Bicycle company in England in 1945. For those unfamiliar with Brainpickings, it is a very cool site full of all sorts of generally worthless, but fascinating information – a lot like me I suppose.
Lots of impressions from the video … from a lean perspective, of course, the amount of work in process inventoryand the size of the batches is striking … from a production perspecctive, the labor intensity and the gains in productivity are even more striking.
I like the fact that it demonstrates the importance of the bicycle industry in manufacturing evolution. They were making bikes for the mass market long before they were making cars. Henry Ford owes his assembly line and interchangeable parts, in large measure, to the modern machine tool era which arose from the late 1800’s bicycle industry. After seeing this, you will understand why it was natural for aviation to spring from the Wright Brothers bicycle shop. Bike makers were very skilled manufacturers in 1903 – the year Orville and Wilbur flew (and incidentally the same year the Ford Motor Company was formed). When the Wright boys went to Kitty Hawk Model T’s and the assembly lines that made them were not even a dream.
Have a great holiday weekend!