Machine design principles from 1954, are they still valid?

The book “Principles of Mass and Flow Production”, published in 1954 details 18 principles essential to the design of continuous flow production lines. 70 years later, how many of these principles still stand the test of time?

  1. Mass production demands mass consumption.
    a. Flow production requires continuity of demand.
  2. The products of the system must be specialized.
  3. The products of the system must be standardized.
  4. The products of the system must be simplified in general and in detail.
  5. All material supplies must conform to specification.
  6. All supplies must be delivered to strict timetable.
  7. The machines must be continually fed with sound material.
  8. Processing must be progressive and continuous.
  9. A time cycle must be set and maintained.
  10. Operations must be based on motion study and time study.
  11. Accuracy of work must be strictly maintained.
  12. Long term planning, based on precise knowledge, is essential.
  13. Maintenance must be by anticipation, never by default.
  14. Every mechanical aid must be adopted for man and machine.
  15. Every activity must be studied for the economic application of power.
  16. Information on costs must be promptly available.
  17. Machines should be designed to suit the task they perform.
  18. The system of production must benefit everyone: consumers, workers, and owners.

It’s amazing how many of these still apply today. Standardization, simplified designs, and sticking to strict specifications are still key in modern manufacturing (and often form the backbone of many FAT/SAT checklists :wink: ). Even with all our new software tech and AI, the ideas of long term planning and anticipating maintenance needs are just as relevant. What’s really interesting is how the principle that production should benefit everyone—consumers, workers, and owners—still stands strong, and is definitely a hot topic related to AI when it comes to ethical and sustainable practices. It’s a great reminder that some foundational ideas in production are truly timeless.

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I think most if not all of them hold up, but this one speaks to me the most:

  1. "A time cycle must be set and maintained stands out to me.

If the cycle time is poorly defined at the inception of the project, it can make or break a whole automation initiative: either the system design will be inadequate, or the system will be overly expensive.


Which ones don’t hold up?

I guess they all hold up.

I would say some are arguable like 18. “Benefit” is a vague word. Do consumers benefit from the advancements in automation processes? The change in quality of the product is not always to the benefit of the consumer, but the cost-savings can be.

I think 17. holds up, but is not particularly interesting and almost needn’t be mentioned, unless I am missing the point entirely!

I think it’s just vague because it’s a one page summary.

17 seems like a no-brainer. Maybe we take it for granted because customization is easier than ever and times were different during the writers career. There’s mention of new inventions like forklifts and electrification of factories.

I thought 15 was a no brainer as well. But if perfectly sums up one of my main focuses.

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