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Ford Motor Co.

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Henry Ford is most well known for his contribution to the automobile industry. Although he didn't invent the first automobile, he contributed to the idea of mass production of automobiles and manufacturing his line of vehicles in large quantities using prototype designs and assembly line techniques. This made Ford Motor Co. one of the most successful and influential companies in the automobile and agricultural world.

Ford most famously produced the Model T, the car that "put America on wheels."[1] He was responsible for transforming the auto industry by reducing the time it takes to make a car by giving labor workers one task to complete and to excel at.

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] Henry Ford's Early Years

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan. Born to farmer parents who left their home in Ireland to set up in Michigan, Ford was familiar with the agricultural industry and took an interest in mechanics early on. He became known in his neighborhood for fixing watches and constructed his first steam engine in 1878, at the age of 15.[2]

He married Clara Bryant in 1888 and the couple moved into their home in Dearborn, Michigan. Clara gave birth to their only son, Edsel Bryant Ford, five years later.[3]

[edit] The Birth of a Company

Ford manufacturing plant production line
Ford had a notable start in the automobile industry. He became an engineer, working with Edison Illumination Co. in 1892 and built his first internal combustion engine in 1893. Three years later, he invented the quadricyle, which was referred to as the first "horseless carriage". It generated a lot of interest and Ford began to consider his own business ventures.

He left Edison in 1899 to help run Detroit Auto Co. but he only produced a few cars before he quit to start the Henry Ford Co. Ford came up with the idea to use only standardized parts, which he firmly believed would make the process of auto production more time and cost efficient. However, this idea scared his investors and they backed out financially, forcing Ford to resign from the company.

By 1903, Ford had enough investors interested and he founded Ford Motor Co. on June 16. The first Ford model was the Model A. The earliest recorded purchase for Model A was on July 20, 1903 to a physician in Detroit.

[edit] Ford's Novel Methods

Ford's goal was to create "a motor car for the greater multitude." At the time, cars were expensive because they were custom made, enabling only the wealthy to own vehicles. Ford wanted to change this so that everyone could own a car. He devised a way to achieve this by using interchangeable parts on his automobiles. This would mean that all the pieces would fit the vehicles in the same way. He left no choices or options for the buyer, not even color.

In 1908, Ford's T Model line was produced and available for purchase for only $850 each. The line became so popular that he was unable to keep up the demand for his automobiles. He resolved this problem by implementing an assembly line and conveyor belt. Each individual was responsible for one task. He divided the production of a car into 84 steps, one per worker. He reasoned that this would allow the workers to excel in one task.

This decision was pivotal, because Ford's workers soon became bored with the monotony of the job, resulting in a 40 to 60 percent turnover rate. To remedy this, Ford increased their pay to $5 per eight-hour day to ensure workers would maintain motivation. This solution quickly led to a decline in the turnover rates and mechanics were fleeing to Michigan as a result. This lowered the cost of the Model T even further from $850 to $290 by 1915. Ford stopped making the T Model in 1927 after selling 15 million vehicles.[4]

[edit] The Rouge Plant Controversy

A conflict embroiled with the stockholders over Ford's plans to spend millions on a manufacturing plant called the "Rouge" in 1919. It resulted in investors backing out and leaving the majority of the shareholder stock in Ford's name, making him president of the company.

[edit] Union Struggles

The National Labor Relations Act came into effect in 1935 by New York senator Robert Wagner. Its goal was to establish rights for those employed at manufacturing plants. The United Auto Workers (UAW) were successful in getting other companies such as GM and Chrysler on board, but workers at Ford were more reluctant, not having much experience with unions. A physical altercation ensued at the Rouge Plant after union members tried to distribute handbills. They were ordered to leave and an attack occurred, injuring several of the servicemen and employees of Ford, including Richard T. Frankensteen, Walter P. Reuther (who later became head of the UAW), and Richard Merriweather. The NLRB later found Ford in violation of the Wagner Act.

[edit] Fordson Tractors

A Fordson New Major E1A

Coming from an agricultural background, Henry Ford knew there was a market in need of a vehicle to facilitate farming. He made an unsuccessful attempt at a tractor design in 1907. These tractors, now featured in the Henry Ford Museum, were designed under the direction of Joseph Galamb. Originally, the name of tractor was not applied to Fordson's production line—instead, they were called "automobile plow."[5]

After his first unsuccessful attempt to build and market a tractor, Ford launched Henry Ford & Son Co. to try again in 1915. He wanted to apply his principles of mass production so he could dominate the tractor market. He created a successful prototype tractor in 1917. World War I was in effect at this time and due to the number of men in Great Britain enrolled in the forces and the resulting labor shortage, there was a desperate demand for machinery that could aid in farming. However, the English government wanted all available industrial production to concentrate on the manufacture of military vehicles. As a result, Ford decided to begin manufacturing tractors in the United States—four months later Fordson F Models were being produced.[6]

While the delay and shift in production was only a temporary setback it did cause another problem. News of Ford's new tractor spread and one company in particular decided to take advantage—the Ford Tractor Company was established in Minneapolis to benefit off Ford's name. Henry Ford was unable to use his name on his tractors so he chose the next best thing: he combined Ford and Son into Fordson.

Ford's mass production methods meant low prices for farmers, as little as approximately $150 per tractor.

[edit] Fordson F

The Fordson F was produced in response to demand from the British government. It is noted as the "most commercially important design in tractor history". The tractor sold three quarters of a million units from 1917 to 1928, which is allegedly more than any tractor before or since.

It consisted of 20 horsepower, four-cylinder engine that delivered a 10 horsepower on the drawbar, and a three-speed spur gear transmission. Mass production of the Fordson F rolled out in 1918 in response to the British government's demand.[7]

Fordson's tractor was so successful because it was a smaller design than its competitors who operated under the premise that bigger was better. The smaller size meant they were cheaper to make and easier to produce. They were different from other machinery in that they did not consist of the traditional tractor frame. The engine, transmission, and axle housings were bolted together.

[edit] Model N

Production of the Fordson Model N was started in 1933. It was credited with several advantages; among some of them were its powerful engine (27 horsepower), high-tension ignition system, water pump, and mud guards. It initially came with iron tires but as time went on, many farmers replaced them with pneumatic tires. Other changes were made; for example, the color of the tractor. The paintwork was originally orange but was changed to green to masquerade it from enemies during wartime. This and the Fordson F became crucial farming tools in wartime.

Farming evolved further with the production of the Fordson Major Model E27N. This particular model introduced the Hydraulic Power Lift and made farming easier by controlling the tractors with a simple touch of the finger. Marketing became a big part of selling the Ford tractors. Such slogans as "Farming the Fordson way" and "Go forward with Fordson" became popular in 1947.[8]

[edit] The Decline of Ford Tractors

Between 1928 and 1939, Ford's fast pace in the tractor market began to stall. The price of importing the tractors was higher and competition was stiffer as American counterparts introduced newer and shinier models.

To compete with this, Ford came up with the Fordson All-Around, a cropped, tricycle -version of the Model N. The tractor did poorly in the U.S.

[edit] Ford-Ferguson

Harry Ferguson of Ferguson-Brown paid Ford a visit one day, bringing along with him a tractor. Ford was said to have been so impressed with the design and operations of the machinery that he and Ferguson came to an agreement whereby Ferguson would patent the tractors and Ford would produce them. Ferguson agreed under the condition that he had full marketing control. With this, they launched a new line called Ford Ferguson.

The first example of this line was the Ford 9N (also known as Ford Ferguson 9N). It was a 28 horsepower, 119.7-cubic inch (1,950 cm3) displacement with four-cylinder engine and standard rubber tires. It consisted of an electrical system with a starter, battery, generator, power take-off and a large capacity cartridge-type oil filter with oil bath air cleaner that was used in a direct driven distributor with a coil instead of magneto transmission. It included a three-point hitch, which enabled the user to attach and remove implements in the system without difficulty. The Ford 9N would probably have been more successful if it were not for the outbreak of the World War II and the American inclusion in the war in 1941. During this time, it was difficult to find the raw materials for production and eventually Ford ceased.[9]

[edit] Ford Retires

Henry Ford suffered a stroke in 1938 and turned over the business to his only son. Henry was forced to return to work when his son died in 1943. When Ford died in 1945 of a cerebral brain hemorrhage, his grandson, Henry Ford II assumed presidency of the company.[10]

The death of Henry Ford had implications within the tractor business. Ford II took over presidency and wanted more control over the marketing. Since this was the condition Harry Ferguson agreed on, the agreement ended and Ford II established his own distribution and marketing company.

[edit] Ferguson Lawsuit

Ferguson launched a lawsuit claiming damages for loss of sales. This forced Ford II to implement tractor designs that avoided using Ferguson's patents. To do this, he resorted to using new hydraulic control systems, among many other changes.[11]

[edit] End of the Line

In 1957, a new line was created in an attempt to build a new identification of the production line. The most significant change was the addition of a cross section bar across the front grille. New additions such as the Fordson New Major were successful but were displaced by machines like the Dextra in 1957 because they were too large. The Dextra featured a Perkins three-cylinder diesel engine. The New Major was eventually replaced with the Major Power. Other series were introduced: the 2000 to replace the 60 and the 4000 to replace the 801.

In 1993, Fiat Agri acquired the Tractor division of Ford Motor Co. One of the reasons may have been due to the failure of the Ford 6000 series. Due to technical problems, Ford II was forced to recall these machines.[12]

[edit] The Company Today

Today, Ford Motor Co. manufactures cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, SUVs, and crossovers. With brands such as Mercury, Volvo (cars) and Mazda and Lincoln (U.S. only), it is currently the third largest manufacturer of commercial automobiles in the world, behind GM and Toyota Motor Co.

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. Ford. Idea Finder. 2008-09-22.
  2. Ford. Idea Finder. 2008-09-22.
  3. The Life of Henry Ford. HFMGV. 2008-09-22.
  4. Ford. Idea Finder. 2008-09-22.
  5. The History of Henry Ford. HFMGV. 2008-09-22.
  6. Carrol, John; Davies, Peter. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Tractors and Trucks. Hermes House, 2007.
  7. Chronology. HFMGV. 2008-09-22.
  8. Fordson. Tractordata. 2008-09-22.
  9. Chronology. HFMGV. 2008-09-22.
  10. Ford.Ideafinder. 2008-09-22.
  11. Chronology. HFMGV. 208-09-22.
  12. Ford Tractors. SSB Tractor. 2008-09-22.

[edit] External Links