An assembly line is a production process that divides t […]
An assembly line is a production process that divides the labor process. It breaks down the manufacture of goods into steps that are done in a predetermined sequence. The assembly line is the most common method in the world to mass-produce product quantities.
Assembly lines can reduce labor costs because unskilled workers can be easily trained to perform specific tasks. Rather than hiring a skilled craftsman to assemble an entire piece of furniture or a car engine, a company could hire a worker to add just a leg to a stool, or bolts to a machine.
Assembly Line Type
Assembly lines vary by user and purpose. They are usually tailored for the product being produced. But generally divided into the following categories:
Automation: These assembly lines are primarily operated and aided by mechanical workers, not humans. Most assembly lines are automated.
Classic: A classic assembly line uses a series of steps and different individuals to make a product, such as a car.
Intermittent: This assembly line produces similar but not identical products. For example, the furniture industry might use batch assembly lines to produce parts with different types of upholstery.
Lean: Similar to an automated production line, this one requires the use of a team of workers instead of one or two.
When to use an assembly line
Determining which tasks must be done, when they need to be done, and by whom is a critical step in building an effective assembly line. Complex products, like cars, must be broken down into parts that machines and workers can quickly assemble.
Companies use assembly-oriented design methods to analyze products and their designs to determine assembly sequences, as well as to identify issues that can affect each task. Each task is classified as manual, robotic or automated and then assigned to various stations on the manufacturing floor.
Companies can also design products with assembly in mind, which is called concurrent engineering. In this way, a company can start producing a new product that has been designed with mass production in mind and has tasks, task sequences, and assembly line layouts pre-determined. This can significantly shorten the lead time from initial product design release to final product launch.