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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.

Karlskoga is a town on the shores of Lake Möckeln near Örebro in the Swedish province of Värmland. It was one of the homes, in his later years, of Alfred Nobel (1833-96) creator of the modern explosives industry. Nobel was also the owner from 1894 of the nearby Bofors engineering works. He spent ...

Nobel Museum in Karlskogs & Bofors Museum
Nobelmuiseet i Karlskoga og Bofors Museet Björkborns Herrgård
Björkbornsvagen 10
69133 Karlskoga, Sweden

Karlskrona | Sweden
Karlskrona, on the south coast of Sweden, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 as ‘an exceptionally well-preserved example of a European naval base’. The city was founded in 1680 when it was decided to make the harbour the headquarters of the Swedish navy. Many buildings in the ...

Naval Museum
37132 Karlskrona, Sweden

Kosta | Sweden
The manufacture of glass in Sweden was encouraged by King Gustav Vasa (1496-1560) who had observed glass making during a visit to Italy. The industry flourished in the heavily forested province of Småland where 15 works are still operating. The Kosta Glasbruk (Kosta glassworks) was founded in 1742 ...

Orrefors Kosta Boda AB
Stora Vägen 96
36052 Kosta, Sweden

In the northern part of the Swedish island of Gotland limestone has been quarried for building purposes and for burning into lime since the middle ages, and for many centuries lime was exported to ports in mainland Sweden, Denmark and Germany. The demand for limestone was particularly high around ...

Bläse Limestone Quarry Museum
Bläse Kalkbrukmuseum
Fleringe Bläse 325
62460 Lärbro, Sweden

Malmö | Sweden
Emil Mazetti-Nissen, from Copenhagen, founded the Malmö Chokolad och Konfektfabriks Aktiebolag in 1888, and his company continues to do so in the same factory building in Sweden’s third largest city. The company is the only one in Sweden that still carries out the whole process of chocolate ...

Malmö Chocolate Factory
Malmö Chokladfabrik
Möllevångsgatan 363
214 20 Malmö, Sweden

The technology and maritime museum in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, illustrates many aspects of engineering, particularly those relating to transport. It is housed in a building of the 1950s which has extensions to give access to one of its chief attractions – a Class U3 submarine of the ...

The Science and Maritime House
Teknikens och Sjöfartens hus
Malmöhusvagen 6
21118 Malmö, Sweden

Mőlndal | Sweden
The town of Mőlndal on the southern edge of Gothenburg (Gőteborg) was built around fast-running rapids which until the 1940s provided power for a host of different industries, corn mills, saw mills and paper mills. The town museum was established in 1987 and moved in 2002 to its present building, a ...

City Museum
Kvarnbygaten 12
43134 Mőlndal, Sweden

Norrtälje | Sweden
The Motorfabriken Pythagoras (Pythagoras Engine Works) was established at Norrtälje in the province of Uppland in 1898 and specialised in the manufacture of hot bulb engines. For a considerable time it was very successful and Pythagoras engines were exported all over Europe, but hot bulb engines ...

Pythagoras Industrimuseum
Stiftelsen Motorfabriken Pythagoras
Verkstadsgatan 6
Norrtälje, Sweden

Södertälje | Sweden
Södertälje, south-west of Stockholm is the international headquarters of the Scania-Vabis company. Scania originated in Malmö in southern Sweden and Vabis at Södertälje. The museum is centred on the hall named after the banker and industrialist Marcus Wallenberg (b 1956). Displays include early ...

Scania Museum
Vagnmakarvägen 2
15132 Södertälje, Sweden

Sweden’s national museum of science and technology was founded in 1924 under the patronage of several of the country’s leading learned societies and industrial organisations. It is located in a building in the International Modern style designed by Ragnar Hjorth that was opened in 1946, and has ...

Museum of Science and Technology
Tekniska museet Box 27842
Museivagen 7
115 93 Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm | Sweden
Skansen is the open air museum that has given its name to museums in many European countries. For 70 years it has attracted more than two million visitors per annum. It was founded in 1891 by the ethnographer Artur Hazelius (1833-1901) whose interests in folk lore had been aroused when he travelled ...

Djurgardsslatten 49-51
11593 Stockholm, Sweden

Surte | Sweden
The Surte Glassworks Museum near Alafors in West Gotland, 25 km north of Göteborg, commemorates a works that produced utilitarian glass ware for everyday use rather than works of art. It was founded in 1862 and continued production until 1978. It manufactured bottles for beer, soft drinks, milk and ...

Glassworks Museum
Surte Glasbruksmuseet
Kvarnvägen 6
44557 Surte, Sweden

Tumba | Sweden
The Rikbank, established in 1668, was one of Europe’s first central banks. In the 1750s the bank decided to establish a mill for printing banknote paper at Tumba, 18 km south-west of Stockholm. In 1759 Johan and Erasmus Muller arrived at the mill bringing the latest technology from the Netherlands, ...

Tumba Papermill Museum
Tumba Bruksmuseum
Sven Palmes Väg 2
Tumba, Sweden

Växjö | Sweden
The glass museum at Växjö, with some 40,000 glass artefacts collected from 105 glassworks in Sweden that have worked between the 1580s and the present is the best starting point for any tour of the region that is known as ‘the kingdom of crystal’ on account of its many glass makers. Collecting for ...

Swedish Glass Museum
Sveriges Glasmusum
Södra Järnvägsgatan 2
35104 Växjö, Sweden

Arbon | Switzerland
The town of Arbon, north of St Gallen on the shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) has a population of only about 13,000, but was the location for three generations of one of Europe’s principal manufacturers of commercial motor vehicles. In 1853 Franz Saurer (1806-82) moved from Veringenstadt 10 km ...

Saurer Museum
Weitegasse 8
9320 Arbon, Switzerland

The Galliciani mill in Basle was converted to make paper in 1453, continued to do so until 1955, and was adapted as a museum in the 1970s. Its displays provide a comprehensive picture of the development of paper making and printing. There is a workshop showing how paper was made by hand in the 18th ...

Basel Paper Mill and Swiss Museum of Paper, Writing and Printing
St Alban-Tal 35-37
4052 Basel, Switzerland

Bischofszell | Switzerland
Bischopfzell is a picturesque town in the municipality of Weinfelden in Canton Thurgau in north-east Switzerland south of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and the River Rhine. The entire town is on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. Typorama is a museum of the printing industry managed by the ...

Fabrikstrasse 30a
9220 Bischofszell, Switzerland

Engi | Switzerland
Slate has been extract in the Sernft valley in eastern Switzerland.since the sixteenth century. Exporting was restricted by lack of a road into the valley, and the produce of the mines and quarries was taken away on the backs of mules until a road was built in 1826. More than 200 men were employed ...

Landesplattenberg Engi GmbH
Sernftalstrasse 109
8765 Engi, Switzerland

Flawil | Switzerland
Schoggi-Land is the visitor centre at the ultra-modern Maestrani factory at Flawil, 16 km west of St Gallen. The company’s origins go back to the early 19th century when Guiseppe Maestrani, from Aquila in the Ticino, who had learned about chocolate-making in Lombardy, sold chocolate on the streets ...

Toggenburgerstrasse 41
9230 Flawil, Switzerland

Hergiswil | Switzerland
Hergiswil lies 10 km south of Lucerne between Mount Pilatus and the Vierwaldstattersee (Lake Lucerne). The glassworks in the village was established in 1818 by the brothers Siegwart. It suffered a threat of closure in 1975, but was saved largely through the efforts of the designer Roberto Niedereeer ...

Glasi Hergiswil
Seestrasse 12
6052 Hergiswil, Switzerland

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WORK it Out – Day of Industrial Culture

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