Assembly machines can be operated manually or by computer, although the computerized aspect of assembly machines is what makes them so popular. The computerized aspect is referred to as CNC machining, or machines run by computer programs such as computer assisted design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) as well as other advanced programming such as photo imaging. Because these programs allow each individual machine to be programmed to repeat a task with very little human interaction, they cut down on costs and increase productivity time.
The original assembly line in 1908, developed by a team of engineers including Henry Ford did not involve much assembly machinery yet. Instead it was an organizational system, directing a group of workers to perform a single step in the process of producing a product rather then doing every step for one product from beginning to end. This sped up production to such an extent that producing cars, which was Henry Ford’s business, went from taking hours to taking minutes. The technological advances of our modern society have pushed this idea into a new realm of mass production.
What was done by many human hands in 1908 is now done by many manufacturing automation machines. These automated assembly machines are capable of performing a wide variety of tasks, including riveting, brazing, welding, eyeleting, metal injecting, screw driving, nut driving and soldering. They are faster, more accurate and more efficient than their human counterparts.
Human workers are now employed as practitioners of machine maintenance and overseeing the quality of the products coming from the assembly lines. Most assembly machines require regular monitoring and lubrication in order to continue to run smoothly and well. Although this means fewer workers are necessary in a manufacturing factory, it does require an educated employee who understands the intricacies of machinery and is very observant.
When assembly machines are involved, the human counterparts are now about quality mind power rather then the quantity employed. A vast number of industries utilize assembly machines, including aerospace, automotive, medical suppliers and food and beverage processing plants. Large products, such as cars and major sections of ships may be produced by assembly lines just as easily as the small products such as cell-phones, screws, gears, and computer pieces.