American businessman (Dearborn, Michigan, 1863-1947). After having received only an elementary education, he trained as a mechanic in Detroit industry. As soon as the German Daimler and Benz began to bring to market the first cars (to 1885), Ford became interested by the invention and began to build their own prototypes. However, his first attempts failed.
Ford and its V8 engine
With the famous Ford T
Did not achieve success until his third business project, launched in 1903: the Ford Motor Company. It consisted of making simple and cheap cars for mass consumption of the average American family; until then automobile had been an object of artisanal production and cost prohibitive, for a very limited audience. With his model T, Ford put the car classes available to stockings, by inserting it in the era of mass consumption; Thus he helped to drastically alter the habits of life and work and the physiognomy of the cities, listed "car civilization» of the 20th century.
The key of the success of Ford was its procedure to reduce manufacturing costs: the production in series, also known as Fordism. This method, inspired by the work mode of the slaughterhouses of Detroit, was to install an assembly line based on drive belts and sliding guides that were automatically moving the car's chassis to workplaces where successive groups of operators performed the assigned tasks, until the car was completely finished. The system of interchangeable parts, tested since long before in American factories of arms and clocks, cheapened the production and repairs by way of the standardization of the product.
Ford and its V8 engine
The manufacturing chain, with which Ford revolutionized the automobile industry, was a risky bet, because it would only be viable if it was a demand capable of absorbing its mass production; the dimensions of the North American market offered a framework, but also Ford correctly assessed the purchasing power of the average American man at the gates of the consumer society.
Whenever there is such demand, the manufacturing chain allowed to save loss of working time, by not having to move workers from one place to another factory, leading up to the end recommendations of the «scientific organization of labour» F. W. Taylor. Each operation was divided in a succession of mechanical and repetitive tasks, which stopped having value craft or technical qualifications of the workers, and the nascent industry could make better use of Labor without qualification of immigrants who arrived en masse in the United States each year.
The costs of training of the labour force shrank, while the deskilling of labor eliminated the awkward demanding activity of trade unions (based on the professional qualifications of its members), which were the only trade union organizations which had force at that time in United States.
With the famous Ford T
At the same time, the management of the company acquiring a strict control over the pace of work of workers regulated by the speed that is printed to the Assembly line. Reduction of costs allowed, on the other hand, Ford raise wages offered to employees very above what was normal in the American industry of the time: with its famous wage of five dollars a day ensured a satisfied staff and nothing controversial, that could impose strict rules of conduct inside and outside the factory guarding his private life through a "Department of sociology». The Ford workers came, thanks to the high salaries that were, at the threshold of the middle classes, becoming potential consumers of products such as cars that Ford sold; all social transformation was going to operate in the United States with the adoption of these business methods.
The sales success of the Ford T, which arrived to sell 15 million units, its manufacturer became one of the richest men in the world, and made the Ford one of the largest industrial companies, to the present day. Faithful to his ideas about competition and the free market, not tried to monopolize their findings in the field of business organization, but that he tried to give them the maximum diffusion; Consequently, they soon arise competitors within the automotive industry, and soon spread to other sectors and countries, opening a new era in the history of industrial manufacturing chain.
Henry Ford, on the other hand, redirected its efforts toward other causes that had less success: first failed in their peace efforts against the first World War (1914-18); and it is discredited then less laudable campaigning, as anti-Semitic propaganda that spread in the 1920s or the fight against the trade unions in the 1930s.