Definition: An assembly line is a very common process in manufacturing. It uses predetermined steps to perform each stage of the production process. When a quantity of goods is being produced, each progressing stage must be covered by one or more previous steps. The steps are also connected if a change in production requirements must be made at any step in the production process. In other words, an assembly line might have one worker perform a series of operations that begin withdrawing a particular piece of equipment assembly pattern onto a computer-generated model and end with testing the entire set-up.
The assembly line model of production has some advantages over the traditional shop model. For one, it can increase efficiency—workers are freed up to work more efficiently. More importantly, assembly line work can be more personalized than traditional production because each worker can specialize in a specific task. That means you get a better product — one that fits your needs better than if a specialist made each part. It’s also more sustainable because set-up and tear-down are simplified compared with large-scale manufacturing facilities.
The assembly line didn’t just make manufacturing more efficient–it also created a more consumer-friendly product. Before introducing standardized tools and machines, workers often produced items manually with their skills and tools. This manual labor paid off in increased quality and reduced mistakes (especially among unskilled workers). But as factories developed complicated machinery to speed up production, the need for constant supervision grew more difficult to justify.
Assembly lines replaced this manual labor with automated machinery, giving rise to numerous benefits. Automation increased efficiency, resulting in more sales without additional human labor. Productivity increased because workers were freed up to do other things. Additionally, lower costs meant factories could be built more quickly—an ability that helped Europe gain an edge over Asia in the manufacturing sector for centuries after.
Types of Assembly Lines
Automated means that a machine or set of tools is used to accomplish a task instead of manually doing everything. For example, many production lines are automated using welding machines and other robots that can do many things around the factory floor quickly and efficiently. In this way, both more time can be spent on tools and materials while more product is produced, making factories more efficient overall.
This type of assembly line is still used in factories today. An example of this would be the production of parts for automobiles. Workers will see an item on the production line and immediately know whether or not it needs to be made or if a more efficient method would be better.
This type of assembly line work includes producing many identical products for a set price, rapidly adding new variations and improvements in quality, and producing small, specially designed pieces for customer demand. An intermittent assembly line can work well if the changes you make don’t completely change the product—adding a new feature might involve replacing a cheap part with a more expensive one, for example.
A lean assembly line might have one person process materials one day, followed by another working on another item, and then another working on something else. Unlike a traditional assembly line, however, in Lean manufacturing, the worker-in-the-loop isn’t just being instructed how to do a particular task; they’re being shown how to leverage different skills and tools to accomplish it.
Basically, an assembly line is the series of steps that a manufacturer takes to put together a set of products. Some examples of assembly line processes include mold making, tooling production, finishing and packaging. Each step has specific tasks associated with it, usually tasks that start with design work and include gathering information about the product or product component(s), determining how they will be put together and determining how much time will be needed for each stage.
An assembly line has workers from one end of the chain performing one function and then passing on what they have learned or learned under supervision to someone else who can perform the next step. This way, efficiency is increased (labor costs are reduced), and quality is maintained (perfection is achieved as often as possible).