HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING – INTERCHANGEABILITY OF PARTS
Another key development in the history of industrial engineering was the concept of inter- changeable parts. The feasibility of the concept as a sound industrial practice was proven through the efforts of Eli Whitney and Simeon North in the manufacture of muskets and pistols for the U.S. government. Prior to the innovation of interchangeable parts, the making of a product was carried out in its entirety by an artisan, who fabricated and fitted each required piece. Under Whitney’s system, the individual parts were mass-produced to tolerances tight enough to enable their use in any finished product. The division of labor called for by Adam Smith could now be carried out to an extent never before achievable, with individual workers producing single parts rather than completed products. The result was a significant reduction in the need for specialized skills on the part of the workers a result that eventually led to the industrial environment, which became the object of study of Frederick W. Taylor.