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History of Automation: Parts Standardization

April 1813, a federal government contract specifies interchangeable parts, and leads to standardization

In 1813, a government contract instituted a new standard for an order of twenty thousand pistols ordered from the contractor, Col. Simeon North of Berlin, Conn. According to the contract, these pistols had to be made to the following specifications: “component parts of the pistols are to correspond so exactly that any limb or part of one pistol may be fitted to any other pistol of the 20,000.”

This new demand spurred innovation in creating machine parts to exacting standards, and the contract forms the basis of many of today’s regulatory standards for parts. The contract price was $7 per pistol, to be delivered over a five year period. Col. North produced the pistols at the rate of about 10,000 per year.

Today such contracts can be filled far more easily, and standardized parts are expected. Vision systems can perform almost instantaneous inspection, and software like InduSoft Web Studio can show machine KPIs and generate reports for audits or show real-time production numbers in the main office.

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