Current Thoughts on Assembly Lines
It is true that the widespread use of assembly-line methods in manufacturing has dramatically increased output rates. Historically the focus almost always has been on full utilization of human labor that is, to design assembly lines minimizing human idle times. Equipment and facility utilization stood in the background as much less important. Past research tried to find optimal solutions as if the problem stood in a never-changing world.
Newer views of assembly lines take a broader perspective. Intentions are to incorporate greater flexibility in the number of products manufactured on the line more variability in workstations (such as size, number of workers ) improved reliability (through routine preventive maintenance) and high-quality output (through improved tooling and training) (See also the OM in Practice on How Ford Achieves Flexibility on the Assembly Line.)