Mass Production- Assembly Line Design

Grade Level: 
High School
Subject: 
STEM, Pre-Engineering
 
Lesson Focus
This lesson demonstrates the power of mass production. Students work in teams to design, construct, test, and redesign an assembly line to manufacture a product as quickly and efficiently as possible to meet the quality control criteria. 
 
Lesson Synopsis 
Students work individually to assemble a product and then work in teams to design, construct, test, and redesign an assembly line process whose product must meet specific quality control criteria. Students reflect and have a classroom discussion comparing the two approaches.
 
Anticipated Learner Outcomes
As a result of this lesson, students will have:
 
- Assembled a project by hand that meets the quality control criteria. 
- Designed an assembly line process to assemble a product as quickly and efficiently as possible meeting the quality control criteria.
- Constructed an assembly line.
- Tested and redesigned the assembly line process.
- Compared the difference between assembling a product individually versus with an assembly line.
 
Lesson Activities 
Students will time themselves as they assemble a product individually that meets quality control criteria. Next, as a team they will design, construct, test and redesign an assembly line process, and finally they will compare the difference between assembling a product individually versus with an assembly line.
 
Internet Connections
 
- Online Video: Assembly Line: Crayola Crayons
 
- History Channel -- the Assembly Line (www.history.com/topics/assembly-line)
 
- TryEngineering (www.tryengineering.org)  
 
- IEEE Global History Network (www.ieeeghn.org)  
 
- ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology  (www.iteaconnect.org/TAA)
 
- National Science Education Standards (www.nsta.org/publications/nses.aspx)
 
- McREL Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks (www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks)
 
Recommended Reading
 
- Henry Ford and the Assembly Line (ISBN: 978-1584151739)
- The Assembly Line (ISBN: 978-0618484379)
- Lean Assembly: The Nuts and Bolts of Making Assembly Operations Flow (ISBN: 978-1563272639)
 
Optional Writing Activity 
 
Write an “explanatory essay” describing the steps of the assembly line process. Share the essays with students from another class and have them try to replicate the assembly line.   
 
Materials
Activity 1: Assemble one Color Brick (per student)
2 brown paper bags 
5 pieces of recycled paper 8”x 11” 
1 set of markers 
1 black marker 
2 cups of different sizes or other objects that can be traced to make circles (Note: could also use a compass)
1 ruler
1 copy of the Assemble One Color Brick Worksheet
Sample Color Brick (only need one to show class)
 
Activity 2: Design, Construct, Test, Redesign Assembly Line (per team)
30 brown paper bags (30 per team)
Stack of recycled paper 8”x 11” 
1 full set of markers (1 full set for each team)
1 black marker 
1 stop watch
2-4 sets of 2 cups of different sizes or other objects or that can be traced to make circles (Note: could also use a compass)
4 Rulers 
Copies of the Design Challenge Worksheet (1 per student - available at http://www.tryengineering.org/lesson_detail.php?lesson=69)
 
Time Needed
Activity 1: Assemble One “Color Brick” (1/2 hour)
Activity 2: Design, Construct, Test, Redesign the Assembly Line (1-2 hours)  
 
 
Procedure
Activity 1: Assemble Color Brick Alone 
1. Handout the Assemble One Color Brick worksheet
 
2. Introduce the design challenge scenario.
 
3. Share the sample Color Brick.
 
4. Discuss each criterion and the tools needed to assemble the product correctly.
 
5. Provide each student with the materials and tools need to make one Color Brick.
 
6. Once the task is clear and questions have been answered, set the timer and students can begin to assemble their Color Brick making sure to meet the criteria while moving as quickly as possible. 
 
7. When a student completes the color brick they should raise her/his hand and you can write his/her name and time up on the board.
 
8. Have students complete the reflection questions.
 
9. Discuss reflection questions.
 
 
Activity 2: Design, Construct, Test, Redesign Color Brick
Assembly Line
 
1. Separate the class into two teams of 10-12.
 
2. Handout the Design Challenge Worksheet and discuss.
 
3. Have student works in their teams to design an assembly line (Engineering Design Process steps 2 & 3: brainstorm solutions and choose best solution). To make sure all students are engaged, break the two large teams into smaller teams of 2-5 and have them design an assembly line and then share with the rest of their larger team. Each large team will need to then vote on the best design for their final assembly line.  
 
4. Have students build their assembly line. Students may need to move desks into a line, circle, etc. They need to label each station and put the materials and tools at the right stations. They need to assign each person a task and a station.
 
5. When each team is done with constructing their assembly line, give them some time to test and redesign if necessary.
 
6. Set the timer to about 10- 15 minutes (base your time on how long it took teams during testing to build one). Explain to students that you will be the Senior Quality Control Officer and will be checking to make sure their Color Brick meets the criteria.
 
7. Have each team share their responses to Reflection Questions and have a class discussion. Make sure to compare and discuss individually assembling a product versus an assembly line.  
 
Extensions and Variations
- Add more tasks, such as packaging bricks into a box to ship.
 
- Change the size of the brick (use large brown grocery paper bags)
 
- Play some fun fast music during the assembly line testing.
 
- Instead of giving a time and seeing how many bricks each team makes, tell students they have to make a certain amount and see how long it takes each team.
 
- Have students research ergonomics and consider how the various jobs on their assembly line suit each worker. Have them make any necessary modifications for their assembly line workers. (Ergonomics is a science concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It puts people first, taking account of their capabilities and limitations. Ergonomics aims to make sure that tasks, equipment, information and the environment suit each worker. Source: (www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg90.pdf)
 
- Have students research robots used on assembly lines and consider how they would best utilize a robot in their assembly line. What specific job(s) would the robot perform and why?
 
Student Resource:
Key Vocabulary & History 
 
Key Vocabulary
· Manufacturing
The use of people, machines and tools to turn raw goods into finished products. 
· Mass Production 
The large scale manufacturing of a product.  
· Assembly Line
A manufacturing process where a product is assembled by adding parts in sequence. 
· Conveyor Belt
A belt moved by rollers which is used to transport objects from one place to another. 
 
History of the Assembly Line
The origins of the assembly line can be traced back to miners during medieval times who used bucket elevators to the shipbuilders of the fourteenth century who created moving lines of parts. By the 1900’s the assembly line was used by many industries (shipbuilding, canning, milling, meat-packing, etc.), but was most successful in the automobile industry. 
 
Henry Ford created the Model T automobile in 1908. The car was simple so owners could fix it themselves. It was also sturdy and cheap. Soon, the Ford Motor Company started receiving so many orders for Model T's that they couldn't build them quickly enough. To speed up production, Ford changed the way the Model T was built. Instead of several groups of workers each building a complete car from the ground up, workers stayed in one spot and added parts to cars as they moved past them. Parts were delivered to the employees by conveyor belts. Ford even managed to time the delivery of a part so that it would get to a worker only when it was needed. By 1913, Ford had a complete assembly line functioning. This method of production was rapidly adopted by many industries when they discovered that mass production on assembly lines sped up manufacturing time and lowered costs. 
 
Ford used an approach for his assembly line that we call just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing today. This approach lets manufacturers purchase and receive components just before they're needed on the assembly line. As a consequence, it relieves manufacturers of the cost and burden of housing and managing idle parts. The basic elements of JIT were developed by Toyota in the 1950's and were well-established in many Japanese factories by the early 1970's. JIT began to be adopted in the U.S. in the 1980's (General Electric was an early adopter), and is now widely accepted and used.
 
 
The Engineering Design Process
 
1. Identify the Problem 
What is the problem you want to solve?
 
2. Research Problem
What do you know about the problem? Find out as much about the problem as you can. What are the criteria (conditions that the design must satisfy—its overall size or weight, etc.) and constraints (limitations with material, time, size of team, etc.) of this problem?  
 
3. Develop Possible Solutions
Brainstorm as many solutions as possible.
 
4. Select Best Possible Solution
Which of your designs do you think is the best possible solution?
 
5. Construct Prototype
Using the materials given, build a prototype (a working model) of your design. Don’t forget about the criteria (conditions that the design must satisfy) and constraints (limitations that need to be designed around).
 
6. Test & Evaluate Solution
Test and evaluate your design. Did you satisfy the criteria and constraints?
 
7. Redesign
Did your design solve the problem? If not, brainstorm a new design, build and test it until you have successfully solved the problem.
 
Communicate
At each step in the process you must communicate with your team members. You need to also communicate with others outside of your team to get feedback on your design. You need to communicate verbally as well as by describing your design thorough writing and drawings. Communication is at the core of the engineering design process.
 
Student Worksheet:
Assemble One Color Brick
 
Scenario
A local toy company is calling on engineering teams to implement time saving methods to help them meet the demands of manufacturing their most popular product— “color bricks.” This toddler toy is made out of recycled brown bags and has been hugely popular. They are constantly selling out! The toy company needs to place an order for one million color bricks in just 3 days!  
 
 Assemble One Color Brick
See how fast you can assemble one color brick and still meet the criteria.
 
Criteria
- The brick must be made up of 2 brown bags. 
 
- The brick must be filled with 4 pieces of recycled paper (lightly crunched up and stuffed into one bag. The other bag will cover this bag and the crunched up paper.)
 
- The largest sides of the brick must be filled with polka dots. (3 large 1” diameter & 3 medium 0.5” circles scattered per side). One side must have 3 blue and 3 green circles. The other side must have 3 red and 3 orange circles.
 
- The top and bottom of the brick must have 4 vertical 0.5” purple stripes with 0.5” in between each stripe.
 
- Both sides of the brick must have Color Bricks written in black marker. Letters must be centered on the sides and 1” in height and 5” long. 
 
Constraint
Use only the materials provided.
 
Reflect
 
1. How long did it take you to make 1 color brick? 
 
2. What was the easiest task and why? 
 
3. What was the most challenging task and why? 
 
4. Is there an easier and/or faster way to make the brick? If yes, describe
 
Design Challenge
 
Scenario
A local toy company is calling on engineering teams to implement time saving methods to help them meet the demands of manufacturing their most popular product— “color bricks.” This toddler toy is made out of recycled brown bags and has been hugely popular. They are constantly selling out! The toy company needs to place an order for one million color bricks in just 3 days! They will award the contract to the engineering team that can make the bricks the fastest while meeting the quality control constraints.
 
Design Challenge
Each team (approximately 8-10 per team) will design an assembly line process that will make as many “color bricks” in 10 minutes as possible and still meet all of the quality control constraints. 
 
Criteria 
- Each brick must be made up of 2 brown bags. 
 
- Each brick must be filled with 4 pieces of recycled paper (crunched up and stuffed into one bag. The other bag will cover this bag and the crunched up paper.)
 
- The largest sides of the brick must be filled with polka dots. (3 large 1” diameter & 3 medium 0.5” circles scattered per side). One side must have 3 blue and 3 green circles. The other side must have 3 red and 3 orange circles.
 
- The top and bottom of the brick must have 4 vertical 0.5” purple stripes with 0.5” in between each stripe.
 
- Both sides of the brick must have Color Bricks written in black marker. Letters must be centered on the sides and 1” in height and 5” long. 
 
Criteria 
You must only use the materials provided.
 
Planning Stage
Meet as a team and discuss the problem you need to solve. Then develop and agree on a process for solving the challenge. You'll need to determine what materials you want to use.
 
Draw your design, and be sure to indicate the description and number of parts you plan to use. 
 
Build your assembly line. During construction you may decide you need additional materials or that your design needs to change. This is ok – just make a new sketch and revise your materials list.
 
Testing Phase
Each team will test their assembly line. If your design and process were
unsuccessful, redesign and test again. Continue until you are happy with your solution. Be sure to watch the tests of the other teams and observe how their different designs worked.
 
Sketch your Final Design
 
Evaluation Phase
 
Evaluate your teams' results, complete the evaluation worksheet, and present your findings to the class.
 
1. Was the order of your assembly line tasks successful? If not, why? 
 
2. Did you have enough people in your assembly line to have experts in one task? If not, how would it have changed your assembly line if you had more people? 
 
3. Did your group meet the quality control criteria? If not, why? 
 
4. If you had more time or different supplies what would you add, change, or do differently? 
 
5. Was it hard to go fast and still meet the quality control criteria? What would it take to improve?
  
6. Did your team work together harmoniously and efficiently? 
 
7. What are the benefits of the assembly-line method when compared to assembling a product individually?   
 
 
For Teachers:
Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks
 
Note: All lesson plans in this series are aligned to the National Science Education Standards which were produced by the National Research Council and endorsed by the National Science Teachers Association, and if applicable, also to the International Technology Education Association's Standards for Technological Literacy or the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Principals and Standards for School Mathematics.
 
National Science Education Standards Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18)
CONTENT STANDARD E: Science and Technology  
As a result of activities, all students should develop  
- Abilities of technological design  
- Understandings about science and technology  
CONTENT STANDARD G: History and Nature of Science  
As a result of activities, all students should develop understanding of Historical perspectives
 
-Standards for Technological Literacy - All Ages
Technology and Society  
- Standard 7: Students will develop an understanding of the influence of technology on history.  
Design  
- Standard 10: Students will develop an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving.