What is Production Line?
Production line, also called assembly line or factory line, refers to the organized assembly path for a product. In most cases, the production line physically centers on a conveyor belt or other mechanical system that moves product from one station to another, and it's a common misnomer to call a conveyor a production line. At each station in the production process, the factory worker or machine adds a part to the finished product, performs a quality control check or other work necessary to complete the project.
The first production lines were not used for the assembly of products. The original concept of the production line was used to transform raw products such as cotton fibers into usable goods by assigning workers individual roles in this process. From this concept, the automatic assembly line used in modern production was born.
The production line was first conceptualized by Eli Whitney, but the concept did not see full fruition until 1913, when Henry Ford brought it to work in automobile mass production. Using the production line concept, Ford was able to create a moving line of cars through the various stages of assembly that passed through factory worker stations. Each time the cars arrived at the station, another component was added and the car was sent to the next station.
With production lines, mass production became a much simpler task and many man-hours were eliminated for each car produced. This allowed what was affordable automobile production at a rate that could keep up with public demand for the new technology. Witnessing Ford's success, many other manufacturers began implementing the production line concept within their own organizations, thus making the process the industry standard.
As production lines were further streamlined in the years that followed, manufacturers were able to create more advanced technology and other products using less labor. Mass production with production line assembly has created lower prices and higher quality for the end products of the production process. In some cases, the production line process has become so streamlined that human factory workers have been replaced with machines that can further reduce costs and increase productivity. This automation of the process has made it possible to remove the human element from hazardous work and use machines to complete tasks that previously required a human factory worker to risk life or limbs.