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How Small Businesses Race Ahead of Henry Ford with Modern Methods of Assembly Line Operations

In today’s world, consumers have many choices and are demanding more customization of their products. Small businesses are often known for their ability to offer more versatility in their product lines with lower volumes and unique items made by skilled trades.

This ability is a differentiating advantage for many small businesses—until they grow.

As a business grows, so does the demand for higher volume and faster delivery. At this high-growth stage, many companies opt for assembly line manufacturing.

The advantages of assembly lines can transform a small business

Assembly line methods were introduced to speed up product completion and reduce defects. As a company cuts out wasteful steps and achieves better effectiveness from a specialized workforce, the lower costs per unit keep prices competitive. 

Undoubtedly, being able to produce more products at a faster rate is good news for any small business owner.  

What is gained can also be lost

However, because traditional assembly lines produce the same product, over and over, the flexibility and customization that was once your competitive advantage may have been sacrificed. 

Now when your customers ask for something different, it may require costly equipment and labor costs to deliver. Another issue is that the repetitiveness of the work can wear on your employees. Over time, your business may fall prey to lack of worker engagement and increased absenteeism and attrition. 

The modern assembly line adapts to become more flexible 

In Henry Ford’s day, it was “one way is the only way.” Today’s businesses have more choices on how to set up their assembly line operations. Here are a few popular methods used by manufacturers:

  • Modular. Sometimes called “mass customization,” this method uses secondary lines that feed into the final product line. Modules can be created for many product customizations that “plug and play” based on customer requests.
  • Teams. Working solo on a repetitive task can be isolating and demotivating for some workers. A production team owns a job from beginning to end, which gives the members a greater feeling of ownership. The team also gains an in-depth knowledge of the entire process, which can spur profitable ideas for improvements and enhancements. 
  • U-shaped. Sometimes the shortest distance between two points isn’t a straight line! In this scenario, workers are stationed inside the curve, which makes communication between stations more comfortable and productive. With this configuration, workstations can produce product variations at the same time, which gives added flexibility to assembly operations.

Which is best for your assembly operation?

At Ohio Valley Goodwill Industrial Services Division, we are assembly experts with years of experience. With best-in-class technology to provide customized solutions and a dedicated, motivated workforce that truly enjoys their work, we have become the outsourced assembly resource for some of the top businesses in the greater Cincinnati area. If you’re looking for assembly services and contract labor on a short-term or long-term basis, we can help! 

Let’s talk and discover what will take your assembly operations to the next level.