Fordism – What is it and what are its main characteristics?

Fordismo – O que é e quais são suas principais características?

At the beginning of the 20th century, the world was going through the 2nd Industrial Revolution. The emergence of new machines, the use of electrical equipment and the improvement of techniques allowed for mass production and automation of work.

It is in this context that Fordism emerge as production model, idealized by Henry Ford that, in his day, was fundamental for the increase in production and the fall in prices.


What is Fordism?

As we said, the term was born with Henry Ford, an American executive who owns the Ford car line. In this mass production system, the assembly lines were semi-automatic, that is, each employee (or team) was responsible for a specific action within the production line.

In this way, the work was highly segmented, so that each employee worked only in a small part of the development of the final product. Thus, Fordism was the application of Taylorism, which defended the idea that each worker should know only his own function.

One of the innovations of the time that illustrates this mode of production very well is the conveyor belt, which takes part of the product to the employees so that they can do some work. As the pieces arrived, the collaborators performed extremely repetitive tasks.

The great idea of ​​Fordism was to produce the largest number of products in the shortest possible time, in order to leverage sales. There was no concern with the quality of these products (which even dropped significantly at the time) or excessive stock, for example.

Henry Ford’s theory was that the more products on the market, the lower their prices. That way, everyone would have access to the goods. It was even in this sense that the “eight-hour, five-dollar day” came about, in which Ford reduced his working hours and practically doubled workers’ wages.

The objective was for operators to have discipline and motivation to increase productivity and, at the same time, to be consumers of mass products that factories produced in increasing quantities.


The pillars of Fordism

It is possible to highlight three principles that mark the techniques adopted in Fordism:

  • Intensity: The assembly lines are design in order to reduce production time and, consequently, deliver products more quickly to consumers.
  • Productivity: The idea of ​​letting a worker perform the same job, over and over again, is to make him an expert at that job, so that he can do the job more efficiently than a generalist can.
  • Economy: The struggle to reduce product prices was great. A famous measure of Henry Ford was to paint all the cars black, since it was the cheapest paint and it dried faster.



Fordism X Toyotism

The decline of Fordism comes precisely with the rise of Toyotism. While the first is based on standardization, mass production and large inventories, the Toyota Production System is flexible, works with small batches and seeks minimal stock, executing the concept of just in time.

As the market became more demanding, flexibility and efficiency became fundamental points in the industry, which made the manufacturing processes faster, cheaper and more flexible.

The economy in storage and raw material was another fundamental point for Toyotism to prevail over Fordism. Today, the trend is for factories to follow more characteristics of the Toyota model, although every system can have positive points to take advantage.


Novidá and the current moment of the Industry

Facing the transformations caused by Industry 4.0, factories need to reinvent themselves. The market demands increasingly efficient, agile companies with products that offer good quality.

It was with this in mind that Novidá developed its indoor geolocation system. Through beacons or smartphones, we monitor the movement of employees on the factory floor.

Thus, it is possible to measure times and movements, identify bottlenecks, optimize routes, relocate the team and have more control over what happens in the PCP.

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