What Happens on a Car Assembly Line?

Lori Kilchermann

A car assembly line is a place where automobiles are assembled from many small components and parts. Typically divided into different component areas, the car assembly line workers install parts onto a moving vehicle chassis in a specific order. This allows the vehicle to begin the trip on the assembly line as a bare frame and finish the assembly line voyage by being driven out of the plant. Every single component of the vehicle is installed onto the vehicle while it is moving on the car assembly line. Most manufacturing plants produce between 60 and 100 cars per hour on a typical assembly line.

Auto assembly lines often are divided by components.
Auto assembly lines often are divided by components.

Invented by Henry Ford, the car assembly line allowed a vehicle such as the Model T to be built at a much lower cost than a similar vehicle that was constructed by a single worker. This theory was proven to work so well that nearly every type of mass-produced product made in manufacturing facilities all around the world today is done so on an assembly line. Special departments, such as the drive line department, are responsible for installing the engine and transmission in a vehicle traveling down the car assembly line. Other departments typically found on a car assembly line are the interior, door line and tire departments. As the vehicle moves past a worker's specific work area, there is a specific amount of time dedicated to completing the installation procedure assigned to that work station.

The moving manufacturing line was used to produce Model T cars in the 20th century.
The moving manufacturing line was used to produce Model T cars in the 20th century.

While every station along the car assembly line is important, there are some difficulties that require a vehicle to be removed from the line and taken to the repair area. This also produces a problem on the line since all of the components staged to be installed are geared towards a specific vehicle traveling on the line. When a vehicle is pulled from the line, all stations on the line must remove the component dedicated to that specific vehicle in order to be properly supplied with parts to fit the next vehicle on the line.

Most assembly plants produce 60 to 100 cars per hour on an assembly line.
Most assembly plants produce 60 to 100 cars per hour on an assembly line.

One of the last stops on the car assembly line is called final assembly. This department puts gasoline in the vehicle as well as checks the vehicle for any missing components. Once the vehicle has been checked and it has been verified that all assembly has been completed on the vehicle, a worker starts the vehicle and drives it off of the car assembly line and into a parking area. This happens nearly 100 times per eight-hour work shift in most automobile assembly plants around the world.

Each worker along an assembly line has specific tasks he must complete in order to successfully produce a car.
Each worker along an assembly line has specific tasks he must complete in order to successfully produce a car.
One department of a car manufacturing facility might solely be dedicated to the engine.
One department of a car manufacturing facility might solely be dedicated to the engine.

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Read about Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant, BMW's South Carolina assembly plant, Lear's automotive seating plant and more in Assembly Magazine.

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