Management in the Portsmouth Block Mill, 1803-1812

Wilson, J. M. (2015) Management in the Portsmouth Block Mill, 1803-1812. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2015(1), 10033. (doi: 10.5465/AMBPP.2015.122)

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The Portsmouth Block Mill was built in 1803 to produce pulleys for the Royal Navy. It was the world’s first steam-powered mass production facility, implemented as part of Samuel Bentham’s reforms to naval administration and operations with machinery designed by Marc Isambard Brunel and built by Henry Maudslay. The Mill is one of the best known early industrial concerns. The facility’s buildings in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and machinery in the Science Museum are popular displays, but little is known about how the Mill was managed and used. Past research describes the Mill as a “production line” with technical analyses of its capacity and throughput. Archival materials show staff numbers, hours and work assignments providing insight into scheduling and workload management, capacity availability and use, and overall facility organization and design. A review of production records reveals items made specifically to meet individual production requirements and those made for “stock” and later use, and the Mill’s internal lines ran in a “lean” fashion. This facility’s operations allow inferences to be drawn about factory management practices in the early industrial revolution more generally.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wilson, Dr James
Authors: Wilson, J. M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Academy of Management Proceedings
Publisher:Academy of Management

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