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Terracotta Army sophisticated like Toyota assembly (UCL)


The public is very familiar with
the Terracotta Army, this arrangement of thousands of warriors that were buried in China just over
two thousand years ago. They are a small component of a much
larger mausoleum, the mausoleum that Emperor Qin Shi Huang,
the first emperor of China had built for himself. So it’s a much larger construction site. It’s over 50 square
kilometres. It’s the size of a small city and the Warriors are just one satellite
component that’s there to protect the emperor in
his afterlife. When we think of the manufacturing of anything that’s being made on a very
large scale that’s made of multiple components and
has to be very highly standardised , be them cars or terracotta warriors
with their weapons, we tend to envision a large production chain that’s split in smaller, highly
specialised units, each of which is producing a component.
And these may be in separate locations, so there’s one
factory producing engines, the other one gearboxes, the other one breaking systems,
and these different parts join one another in the flow line
production sequence so there are then other experts, or
specialists, who put them together, others who then add the finishing
touches and so on, and that’s the idea that most of us associate with large-scale, standardised production, and this was our
initial assumption when we approached the terracotta army. Having conducted the chemical,
statistical and medical analysis of a large number of the 40,000 bronze
weapons that appear with terracotta army, we’re not quite confident that their
production mode was not the long massive production chain,
but rather that the mode of production was around smaller, cellular workshops, what we
call today ‘Toyotism’. Basically there are smaller production units and in each of those you have all the
resources you need, all the expertise, all the knowledge, all the tools to
produce finished items, so they are much more highly skilled,
the engineers, the workers in that particular unit but they are also more versatile. Toyota, the modern car maker, has done a great labour in developing this system as an organisational model that
may actually be more efficient than the more traditional
flow line production that we associate with Fordism.
002:30.480,0:02:33.590
Basically Toyota engineers are on average more
highly-skilled, more autonomous, and so the smaller cells can turn out
whatever car is needed at any given time, so they produce in a
system that’s known as ‘just in time’. They avoid waste,
they don’t need to overstock, they just produce whatever is needed
as it is needed. This would also have been useful for
the terracotta army. Let’s not forget that this is the first ever terracotta army. It was totally
impossible for them to know how many warriors they’re going to need,
how many arrows, how long it’s going to take, and therefore having an adaptable
workforce is going to make this much easier. We are convinced that there may
have been quite a few of these working in parallel, all to the same standards, but all of
them working at the same time. Then if there’s a
breakdown in one of them, the others can continue working or even
change activity to replace this, because when you’re creating the terracotta army,
their all such tightly packed information that all the
work has to progress at the same time, because once you’ve placed a row of warriors, you cannot then
go back to fit the sword that you have now finished,
the sword has to be ready at the same time as the warrior so they can all be placed harmoniously
at the same time in the pit, so that the work can move forward. What’s perhaps most impressive is when
we look at the surface of any of these arrowheads under this
electron microscope what we find is a pattern like this. We
are looking at about one millimetre across here, and what we
see is this arrangement of extremely shallow but
perfectly parallel and very densely packed marks, and
these are the marks that you’ve got in your kitchen knives, they are the diagnostic marks of something
has been sharpened using a rotary device, a polishing wheel if you like,
a sharpening wheel. This is interesting as an anecdote because it
is the earliest instance that we have found of the industrial, systematic use of the rotary sharpening wheel, but perhaps it’s
also interesting at a different level because it does show that no efforts and
resources were spared in the construction of the terracotta army. You’re looking at the smallest,
unimportant item, those tiny pics of the arrow
heads that are going to be buried anyway, but effort is placed in making sure that every one of them is perfectly
sharp and lethal.

Tony wyaad

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5 COMMENTS

  1. flyonthewall37 Posted on June 6, 2013 at 2:56 am

    How can you compare something so majestic and beautiful to a frickin' car assembly plant? Pathetic.

    Reply
  2. aburningpromise Posted on February 13, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    fascinating…and it all makes better sense explained with a Spanish accent. 

    Reply
  3. miniscus5 Posted on February 6, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Just seen the documentary on channel 4. Saudos dunha medio galega, mister Marcos!!

    Reply
  4. lourdes m Posted on July 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    He visto,esta noche,un documental en la tele.Era una emisora francesa.Dicho documental,trataba de los soldados de Xian.Es una pena que no haya pasado al español,el Sr.Martinón,cuya existencia he descubierto hoy,en subtitulado,este vídeo.Una,sabe francés y se defiende en alemán. 😕

    Reply
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