From Ford to the Coming Future: How the Automobile Industry Changed
The rise of the automobile was a pivotal moment in history. It has become a symbol of the industrial revolution, a time in which technology was exploding at a rate that had never been seen before. The automobile furthered the development of this science and gave people a mobility that they had never even imagined and without their development the world would be a much different place than it is now. Much is owed to it, not only technologically but also on an economic level. Most people alive today in developed countries have never known a time without trucks and cars, and it is hard for them to wrap their head around how young of an invention it truly is.
A Brief Background
There have been a number of automobile-type machines developed over the centuries. There are even records of a steam powered vehicle built in 1672 in China for the emperor. This was the first in a long line of prototypes and experiments that would ultimately lead to cars as the world now knows them. But is wasn’t until the early 20th century that automobiles really hit their stride with large scale production. It was thanks to the Oldsmobile factory in Michigan run by Ransom Olds that utilized a static assembly line to manufacture cars. It was a success, and then none other than Henry Ford took this concept and ran with it, creating the now infamous moving assembly line. This seemingly simplistic adjustment increased productivity eightfold. Instead of taking the typical 12.5 hours to make a car, it was now 2.5 hours and with less man power. Ford even had to change paint because it wasn’t drying fast enough to keep up with production. This saw the rise of mass production, and automobiles continue to be the quintessential commodity of this kind of manufacturing.
The Industry Today
Over the course of the 20th century the automotive industry has continued to be one of the most stable and reliable markets even with the fluctuation of fuel prices and foreign cars entering the market. To this day Canada is the home to a number of manufacturing plants to the biggest names in the industry. Companies like Honda, Dodge, Ford, and Chrysler each employ thousands of people in southern Ontario alone. Even the Japanese company Toyota has a plant in Ontario for their cars.
While the assembly line is no longer used in the way it once was, many of the principles remain. Particularly in the building of parts which are then pieced together to form the final product. The assistance of machinery is also more heavily relied upon than it was in the early days. This is of course, no surprise. The goal has always been efficiency and in the same way that a moving assembly line improved productivity, machinery and robotics have also increased the output of quality cars.
The future of the automotive industry lies in robotics. Automation and robots are an incredibly efficient route to take in this field. When programmed properly they are precise, reliable, and do not require time to rest. This thought is intimidating to many people because the manufacturing of vehicles has historically created plenty of jobs over the past century. For many places it was the economic backbone of the community, everyone would work there. So while the fears are not unfounded, it is important for these people to realize that there will be other positions created as a result of the rise of robotics.
The demand for technicians will directly correlate to the rise of robotics in the automotive production industry. It is these skilled professionals with electromechanical training who will keep the robots in proper working condition to ensure that they do their job correctly. There will also be a need for programmers and supervisors of the equipment.
So What Does This Mean?
Essentially what all this points to is that automobile manufacturing will continue to be a huge source of job creation and employment like it always has, but the kinds of jobs will be different. People will potentially be moved away from the labour side of things into more managerial and technical capacities. Workers only need to take some automation courses in order to ensure that their skills are valued. With this knowledge they will be able to fix the robots who have taken over the more menial tasks. So in the end, there will be increased productivity and efficiency. This also hints that the vehicles might become more affordable, as is the pattern of better efficiency equaling better prices.