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European Themeroute | Production and Manufacturing

Domestic handmade textile production was typical for the pre-industrial age. The father sat at the loom and the women of the family were responsible for spinning the yarn. An entrepreneur (in Germany he was called a "Verleger") delivered the raw material and organised sales, often over considerable ... more

Icon: Production and ManufacturingGoods for the world. European Theme Route Manufacturing

Domestic handmade textile production was typical for the pre-industrial age. The father sat at the loom and the women of the family were responsible for spinning the yarn. An entrepreneur (in Germany he was called a "Verleger") delivered the raw material and organised sales, often over considerable distances. Textile manufacture was the leading industry in Europe: from the 16th century onwards it was basically organised on such a system.

The first types of factories grew up in the 17th century, when larger groups of workers were concentrated in so-called "manufactories". Although this also applied to textiles, it was more common in glass and salt production, ironworks and hammer works. In France, Royal manufactories produced tapestries, furniture and porcelain in magnificent style. The process was divided up into sections from the start, and the workers had to keep to a strict discipline despite the fact that the majority were still working individually by hand. The decisive element which turned the whole world of work on its head was mechanisation.

The factory age began around the end of the 18th century in Britain, with large spinning mills in the county of Lancashire. Here one waterwheel was able to drive around 1000 spindles. Shortly afterwards there followed the steam engine, which made production independent of swiftly flowing water and gave a huge boost to mechanical spinning, weaving and, soon after, the whole of the British economy.

From now on machines dictated the organisation and tempo of work: but not only in textile manufacturing. The Economist, Adam Smith, tells of a factory where the manufacture of a pin was divided up into 18 working sections. In 1769, the English pioneer, Josiah Wedgwood, opened up his porcelain factory "Etruria" near Stoke-on-Trent. Whereas before that, workers had followed the path of their product from the pottery wheel to decorating, firing and storing, they were now ordered to keep strictly to their own department.

Division of labour raised productivity considerably. The actions of the workers, on the other hand, were increasingly reduced to a few, constantly repeated movements. As a result they gradually became alienated from the products they made. Formerly their products had been the pride of hand workers. Since expert knowledge was hardly necessary, employers now preferred to employ women and children whom they could pay less than men. The workers were ruthlessly exploited. Women and children in textile factories had to work shifts of between 14 and 16 hours. Even hen working conditions improved during the course of the 19th century – primarily for children – this tendency was aggravated even more by the introduction of mass production.

As early as 1797 an American by the name of Eli Whitney suggested making rifle locks from exchangeable parts, instead of making them individually for every weapon. Thanks to this standardisation – a basic prerequisite for mass production - costs were drastically reduced and production further accelerated. The manufacture of exchangeable parts only really came to the fore at the end of the 19th century with the arrival of new metal precision tools. After that, the production of standard quality tools gradually became a manufacturing branch in its own right: machine tool manufacturing.
In 1881 in the USA, Frederick W. Taylor began to divide working processes systematically into their smallest components, in order to rationalise them even more. His quantitative analyses laid the foundations for "Taylorism": scientific production management. The immediate results were that engineers would go round the factories checking working processes with a watch in their hand in order to speed up the work.

The last stage of mass production was the introduction of the conveyor belt. This began in the stockyards of Chicago and Cincinnati. It was then adapted by Henry Ford in 1911 for his motor car factories in Manchester and Detroit. Whilst the conveyor belt was moving forward the next chassis at a constant speed the workers had to mount the components with as few actions as possible to avoid any "unproductive" movements. The pace of production was even more drastically increased. Whereas it had formerly taken 12.5 man-hours to mount a chassis, by 1914 only 93 man-minutes were needed. Thus Ford cars could be afforded by everyone.

In the second half of the 19th century methods of industrial production reached the food sector. The powerful engines which delivered energy independent of the specific location, encouraged entrepreneurs to set up large bakeries and breweries. New techniques made the processing of agrarian products increasingly independent of the seasons of the year.
The invention of artificial cooling methods was an important step. In 1748 a Scotsman by the name of William Cullen was the first man to demonstrate how to extract warmth from the environment by reducing a fluid to steam. The process was made even more effective by compressing the refrigerating agents. That said, it was quite a long time before these principles could be used to make the first effective refrigerator. An American by the name of Jacob Perkins is reputed to have built the first model in 1835. Around 20 years later an Australian, James Harrison, introduced refrigerators to the meat and brewing industries.

Thus large-scale beer production became possible during the summer months. At the same time people learnt how to control the temperature of the mash with a thermometer, and the amount of original gravity with a saccharometer. Such scientific knowledge was characteristic for the whole area of food production.

Conservation was a further step. The fact that food remains edible when it is kept in a closed container at a certain temperature over a long period of time, was discovered by a Frenchman, Nicolas Appert, in 1809 when he was charged with supplying food to Napoleon's armies. His British colleague, Peter Durand, discovered that tins were the best containers for doing so. But it was not until 1863 that a scientist by the name of Louis Pasteur discovered that microbes could be killed by heating. The production of tinned food spread quickly, most of all in the USA, and the United States soon became the market leader.

Milk conservation can also be traced back to military requirements. During the American Civil War in the 1860s Gail Borden developed condensed milk. A Swiss firm launched it onto the European market and soon after it merged with another firm owned by Henri Nestlé, the inventor of baby food. The result was that condensed milk became famous under Nestlé’s name.

Around the end of the 19th century a new form of co-operative manufacturing arose in dairy production. Dairy farmers, above all in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and northern Germany, joined forces to market their dairy produce. Cooperative dairies produced butter and cheese to uniform standards and conquered ever larger markets beyond national boundaries. The standardisation of food production, increasingly independent of the time of manufacture and the region where it was made, has continued right down to the present day.

Pilsen | Czech Republic
Take some malt from specially refined Moravian barley and bring the mash to the boil three times. Add medium ripe red hops from the area around Saaz each time, and leave the brew to ferment slowly at a low temperature. Finally store it for up to 30 days in cooled barrels. This recipe, written on 5th ...
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Pilsner Urquell Brewery and Museum
Plzensky Prazdroj
U Prazdroje 7
304 97 Pilsen, Czech Republic

Alfeld (Leine) | Germany
Why is it that a boot-last factory in rural Lower Saxony becomes a turning point in modern architecture? The former warehouse of the Fagus Factory turns that question into an exciting story, displayed on five floors, and recounting various aspects that still shape our reception of architecture. This ...
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Fagus Factory World Heritage Site
Hannoversche Strasse 58
31061 Alfeld (Leine), Germany

Berlin | Germany
Lifeworld Ship”, “From Ballooning to the Berlin Airlift”, “Trains, Locomotives and People”: any technological developments that Berlin witnessed during the past 120 years are showcased in the capital's Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Museum of Technology). Greeting travellers from a distance there ...
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German Technical Museum
Trebbiner Strasse 9
10963 Berlin, Germany

The framework: a listed factory building from around the turn of the 20th century. Inside: an exhibition split up under striking headlines like “Consumers”, “Entrepreneurs” “Workers”, “Creators” and “Karl-Marx-Stadt inhabitants”. Faces stare down from the walls; historical, contemporary, famous and ...
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Saxon Museum of Industry | Chemnitz Museum of Industry
Zwickauer Straße 119
09112 Chemnitz, Germany

Friedrichshafen | Germany
'Flying cigars', 'luxury liners of the air', 'giants of the skies': ever since the invention of airships they have sparked people's imagination. People are also the main focus of the Zeppelin Museum at Friedrichshafen. Who was this Count Ferdinand Zeppelin sticking against all odds with the idea of ...
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Zeppelin Museum
Seestrasse 22
88045 Friedrichshafen, Germany

The same show is repeated every hour on the hour. A striking mechanism pushes a little wooden bird into position and simultaneously raises two small bellows that emit air through two lip pipes: "Cuckoo!" For 300 years the people in the German Black Forest delivered handmade cuckoo clocks all over ...
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German Clock Museum | German Clock Route
Robert-Gerwig-Platz 1
78120 Furtwangen, Germany

Hamburg | Germany
The telephone, the light bulb, the camera – what we now take for granted was revolutionary around 1900. But technical progress had its price, as can be seen by the spittoon for tuberculosis sufferers – an expressive symbol of the poverty-stricken living and working conditions in the old cities. ...
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Museum of Work
Wiesendamm 3
22305 Hamburg, Germany

How did people used to make bricks? Where did they make them? And who made them? You can find the answers to all these questions on the historic brickworks site of the Westphalian Industrial Museum in Lage. The brickworks are situated in the heart of the Lippe region that was once renowned for its ...
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Lage Brick Works LWL Industrial Museum
Sprikernheide 77
32791 Lage, Germany

Papenburg | Germany
A towering lobby of white and gold, glass-cased panorama lifts, galleries like opera boxes. This is where glittering worlds of leisure are created. Floating five-star hotels. Completely artificial towns laid out specially for smooth running and utmost comfort on the high seas. The Meyer wharf has ...
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Meyer Shipyard
Papenburg Tourismus GmbH
Ölmühlenweg 21
26871 Papenburg, Germany

Rüdersdorf | Germany
What is both, near Berlin and right in the middle of it? The answer is Rüdersdorf because the limestone dug out there is part of many of the capital's iconic buildings like the Brandenburg Gate. And that's only one of the many stories told by the Museum and Park Rüdersdorf where visitors walk ...
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Rüdersdorf Museum Park
Heinitzstrasse 1
15562 Rüdersdorf bei Berlin, Germany

Selb | Germany
Don’t be afraid of the jaw crusher: it might sound like a violent thug but in reality it is simply a machine for processing quartz, feldspar and china clay. The end result is breakfast dishes. In the European Industrial Museum of China in the Bavarian town of Selb everything revolves around the ...
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Porzellanikon
Werner-Schürer-Platz 1
95100 Selb, Germany

Zehdenick | Germany
Climb aboard everyone! The historic field railway is waiting to take you on a tour of the Mildenberg brick park near Zehdenick in Brandenburg. Or join a guided tour and follow the procedures by which clay was turned into bricks during the last century. The brick moulder set off the process. Up until ...
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Mildenberg Brick Work Park
Ziegelei 10
16792 Zehdenick, Germany

Zwickau | Germany
Horchstraße, Audistraße, Trabantstraße. Schon der Blick auf den Stadtplan zeigt: Hier geht es um Autos. Und was für welche! Ein Horch 303 Feuerwehrwagen von 1927 zum Beispiel mit Deutschlands erstem serienmäßigen Achtzylinder unter der knallroten Haube. Oder ein DKW F 1 Baujahr 1931, dessen ...
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August Horch Museum
Audistraße 7
08058 Zwickau, Germany

They represented the acme of European technology prior to the Industrial Revolution: the Bologna-type silk-throwing machines. Not a single of them has survived, but a half-size reconstruction in the Museum of Industrial Heritage keeps them impressingly alive. Coupled with other functional models ...
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Museum of Industrial Heritage
Museo del Patrimonio Industriale
Fornace Galotti Via della Beverara 123
40131 Bologna, Italy

A dozen neatly arranged copper cauldrons, linked to tall distillation columns by curved pipes, the whole framed by smoothly jointed brick walls and permeated by the characteristic mix of sweet and dry scents that accompanies the production of brandy: Already at first glance the Grappa Distillery ...
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Poli Distillery – Poli Grappa Museum
Poli Distillerie – Poli Museo della Grappa
Via G. Marconi 46
36060 Schiavon, Italy

Amsterdam | Netherlands
Four huge copper silos stand side by side in the hall. Until 1988 this was the heart of the famous old Heineken brewery in Amsterdam. Now the world famous firm is using its historic building to present a highly modern interactive exhibition on itself and its products called “The Heineken ...
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Heineken Experience - Heineken Brewery
Stadhouderskade 78
1072 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands

Kerkrade | Netherlands
Listen to it, look at it, touch it, smell it, try it out!...It’s clear from the start that Industrion in Kerkrade is a very special museum. Here you can discover the exciting and turbulent history of people and machines over the last 150 years. All the different activities take place in and around ...
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Continium - Discovery Center Kerkrade
Museumplein 2
6461 MA Kerkrade, Netherlands

Medemblik | Netherlands
This place in the north of Holland is a twin milestone in Dutch industrial history. On the one hand it displays a huge number of original steam engines used in shipping and industry, most of which have been preserved thanks to the farsightedness of a private collector named Cees P. Jongert. On the ...
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Netherlands Steam Machine Museum
Nederlands Stoommachinemuseum
Oosterdijk 4
1671 HJ Medemblik, Netherlands

Zevenaar | Netherlands
The old Aberson cascade handform press may be over 100 years old but still cannot be written off completely. For visitors of all ages can bake their own personal bricks here and take them back home as mementos. The De Panoven brickworks in the far east of the Netherlands were closed down in 1983. In ...
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De Panoven Brick Works
Panovenweg 18
6905 DW Zevenaar, Netherlands

The Norwegian Museum of Technology is full of pioneering, life-sustaining, and also miraculous discoveries and inventions. In a swift, highly varied and interactive manner it displays the extent to which the development of science, technology, industry and medicine are continually determining our ...
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Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology, Industry and Medicine
Norks Teknisk Museum
Kjelsåsveien 143
0491 Oslo, Norway