What Is the American System of Manufacturing?

No, that American system of manufacturing isn’t the U.S. manufacturing industry. It actually refers to a specific set of manufacturing techniques that originated back in the 19th century. These techniques proved invaluable in helping manufacturing companies achieve success. To learn more about the American system of manufacturing, keep reading.

History of the American System of Manufacturing

The American system of manufacturing first appeared in the 1800s. During this time, the U.S. military expanded upon several existing manufacturing methods to produce a new, more efficient system. Known as both “army practice” and the “American system of manufacturing,” the new manufacturing system incorporated two main elements: the use of interchangeable parts as well as the use of mechanization. After adopting the use of interchangeable parts and mechanization into it manufacturing, the military was able to manufacture more products using less resources at its armories in Springfield and Harpers Ferry.

How The System Influenced Commercial Manufacturing Companies

Although it was originally developed and used by the U.S. military, the American system of manufacturing influenced the commercial manufacturing industry as well. In fact, it’s been used by manufacturing companies throughout the world, attesting to its popularity. After the U.S. military’s “army practice” or “American system of manufacturing” was revealed to the public, commercial manufacturing companies took notice and began to experimenting with the system to see firsthand whether it worked. Of course, it proved highly successful, with manufacturing companies being able to streamline the production of their goods.

The American system of manufacturing was praised by manufacturing companies for its highly efficient approach. It focused specifically on interchangeable parts and mechanization. What does this mean exactly? Interchangeable parts are simply components of a product that can be swapped out for another component. Manufacturing companies that used interchangeable parts were able to cut resource costs and labor costs because they could swap out the components. If a company had 100 units of a leftover component, for example, it could use those components to product a different product.

The other element of the American manufacturing system, mechanization, also proved instrumental in helping manufacturing companies streamline their technique. Mechanization refers to machine tools like drill presses and broaching machines to perform extensive tasks. Investing in machine tools required money, but manufacturing companies found them to be well worth the cost. Today, machine tools like those used in the American system of manufacturing are found in countless manufacturing factories.