Modern industry has developed through pioneering innovation over many hundreds of years since its origins in the industrial revolution. Great milestones in these industries are often the result of years of tinkering, optimisation and inventions of new products. However, many individuals have made substantial contributions to innovation in advancing and modernising industry. In this article we will be looking at some of these individuals, giving examples of how one person can really make a difference.
Henry Ford was an American entrepreneur born in 1863, and the founder of Ford Motors. The car brand has grown into one of the largest automotive brands in the world. But he is not on this list because of the success of his car company, but because he pioneered a system of manufacturing which quickly became the origins of mass production today.
Henry Ford’s car model, the ‘model T ford’ was the first instance of mass production using a production line. Before this, products were manufactured individually by hand. Dependent on the complexity of the product, this was slow and inefficient. Henry Ford saw how he could make a difference to this manufacturing system. In the production line system which he pioneered, a sequence of steps was taken to manufacture the product.
The manufacture of a car now split into many smaller steps. Different teams would then use their required tools to manufacture the product based on their step in the sequence. The product would transport along this sequence and between these teams using some sort of slide or vertical carrier. This would eventually evolve into the conveyor belt system. This system was very successful, allowing the model T Ford to be produced quickly and efficiently, faster than any other car out there. This ingenuity was the turning point for the Ford motor company to become one of the largest companies in the world, and the production line spread throughout the world and different industries.
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George Raymond and Bill House
George Raymond and Bill House were the founders of the Raymond Corporation in the 1930s. Back then it was a two person company, but has since grown exponentially. In 1939, these two material handling pioneers invented both the pallet and the pallet truck. As a result, they transformed the face of the industry and succeeded to make a difference in the world of material handling and logistics. Pallets and pallet trucks are now used throughout the industry, to transport goods and products of a variety of sizes and weights.
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Malcom McLean is one of the pioneers of modern day containerisation. He was born in the US in 1913, and went on to found a trucking and logistics company. He would often have to drive his truck to transport goods to ports in the US. Back then, goods being transported had to be carefully unloaded off the trucks, hoisted up to ships, and carefully loaded onto them. This whole process would take hours and was very inefficient. It struck Malcom one day while waiting for his truck’s cargo to be loaded that it would be much quicker and easier to merely lift up his caravan up off his truck and deposit it on the ship.
This is how McLean invented the shipping container. This new type of containerisation would make a difference to how products were shipped forever more. Malcom did not immediately act on his idea. He first developed his trucking business until he was a rich and successful businessman. He then developed the patent for the shipping container and founded the shipping company Sea-land which would be the springboard from which he would launch his idea. In 1956, Malcom launched the first ship to carry shipping containers to transport goods overseas, to great success. The industry has never looked back since.