ford factory first assembly line 1913

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when car manufacturing relied on horse-drawn carriages to deliver each frame to the workers.

Determined to find a more efficient way to make cars, Henry Ford launched the industry's first moving assembly line at the Highland Park Plant in Detroit, Michigan, in 1913.

The rope-and-pulley system moved the vehicle down a line of workers, each with a specific task. It drastically cut the man-hours required to assemble a Model T -- from 12-and-a-half-hours, down to six.

More than 100 years later, the moving assembly line is a fundamental part of car manufacturing around the world -- though you'd be hard pressed to find a rudimentary rope-and-pulley nowadays.

Superstrong robots, some with "laser eyes," perform everything from welding, to die casting and painting, alongside their human colleagues on the factory floor.

Today, Ford has over 20,000 robots in operation globally. Click through the gallery to see some of the revolutionary assembly line's engineering milestones.

First published April 29, 2015: 5:41 AM ET

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