Working at Rowley Spring and Stamping has really opened me up to the world of manufacturing. The idea of 100s of thousands of parts going out the door ever hour really made me take a step back and want to understand how we got to this point in time. It’s truly an amazing experience to walk through a manufacturing floor and see high volume manufacturing in progress.
Well, there is no exact start date but there are certain key eras that have made it possible to be here today. For the longest period of human existence people had to make their own tools or traded tools with others. As trade became more popular do did the idea of honing in on certain set of skills and that led to the development of the apprenticeship model. Most craftsman handed down their knowledge to their children and the children would continue the family “business”.
I would argue the birth of manufacturing came a couple hundred years ago with the development of steam power. Steam power led to the ability to run large machines such as the famous locomotive steam engine. The steam engine allowed the transportation of goods and allowed factories to develop all across the country. Steam power also is considered the corner stone of the industrial revolution, which is where we see manufacturing really take off.
Now, the industrial revolution lead to many changes and life for many people shifted from out in the fields to inside factories. Textile manufacturing was leading the way for manufacturing and the developments in Iron making wasn’t slowing down. Metallurgy had no limited and we began to see many new developments in architecture using new metal working techniques. Lastly, with all these changes, we needed more diverse and powerful tools. This lead to the invention of the milling machines, industrial lathes, metal planers and many more.
The next major shift in manufacturing came when electricity became more easily accessible. This allowed factories to have power no matter where they were built. This meant companies could strategically place factories where the demand for their product was high and labor costs were low (major cities).
Manufacturing has come a long was since steam power and the availability of abundant availability of electricity but many people claim will may see a new type of industrial revolution happen. Some believe it will be due to the invention of the internet and others believe it’s changing with the more frequent purchases of 3D printers.