Monday, June 25, 2012

Manufacturing Industry Inventions

Between Manufactures and Electricity Buildings
Between Manufactures and Electricity Buildings (Photo credit: The Field Museum Library)
Quite a few inventions have led to economic booms ever since the 1600s. Even something as simple as barbed wire sparked a cattle industry, giving support to large companies and being able to support large populations. In the manufacturing industry, it's all about getting materials from A to B as fast and cheaply as possible, with improving quality and efficiency along the way. Here are a few notable items that helped get the manufacturing industry going throughout the past 300 years.

Steam Engine - Before, many moving parts in a manufacturing facility were powered by the workers or animals. This led to slower machines that could only output a limited number of products at a high cost. The steam engine was, and continues to be, a cost efficient way of moving large objects at high rates over long periods of time. The only real maintenance required is oiling the machinery and making sure there is no wear or tear.

Conveyor Systems - Improvements in producing products required improvements in moving them around. Conveyor belts that could move items at alternating speeds, and assembly tools and equipment that meshed with the whole process led to automated systems that required little manpower and monitoring. Today, computer systems can record every item in a warehouse with little error, something that required the work of hundreds of employees with a great deal of communication, and usually error.

Forklift - This item changed two major parts of the manufacturing industry. Before, large items could only be stored at ground level, which would be moved manually from point A to B. This decreased the amount of materials held at one place and time. Today, forklifts can move huge items stored at the ceilings of warehouses, optimizing the space of a facility and reducing cost from the owners. They also decrease the risk of injury for the workers and the likelihood of damaging valuable materials that need to be moved. This saves businesses tremendous amounts of money in many different departments of business.