Industrial arrangement of machines, equipment, and workers for continuous flow of workpieces in mass-production operations. An assembly line is designed by determining the sequences of operations for manufacture of each component as well as the final product. Each movement of material is made as simple and short as possible, with no cross flow or backtracking. Work assignments, numbers of machines, and production rates are programmed so that all operations performed along the line are compatible. Automated assembly lines (see automation) consist entirely of machines run by other machines and are used in such continuous-process industries as petroleum refining and chemical manufacture and in many modern automobile-engine plants. See also Henry Ford, interchangeable parts, Taylorism.
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