The ideal of efficiency in industry is to simplify the work to such a degree that it can be done by a trained gorilla.This does exemplify the temptation to make a cartoon of something pretty complex.
(from Stuart Chase Men and Machines [1929, pg 158])
Here's a summary extract on Fordism, and a set of longer articles on Fordism in various contexts.
From the 1929 source quoted above (and thanks to John Blackburn for finding it):
Henry Ford declares: "Of necessity, the work of an individual workman must be repetitive --not otherwise can he gain the effortless speed which makes low prices and earns high wages. Some of our tasks are exceedingly monotonous --many want to earn a living without thinking, and for these men a task which demands no brains is a boon. We are always looking for brains-- and men with brains do not long stay in repetitive work. After many years of experience in our factories, we have failed to discover that repetitive work injures workmen. In fact, it seems to produce better physical and mental health than non-repetitive work" (pg 158-159)
So what Fordism ushers in is mass production and automation --the latter a word so common in our own time that it's almost incredible that it was coined in 1947. Here's the OED entry:
automation otomei.S<e>n. [irreg. f. automatic a. + -ation.] Automatic control of the manufacture of a product through a num ber of successive stages; the application of automatic control to any branch of industry or science; by extension, the use of electronic or mechanical devices to replace human labour. The example of automation found in some copies of the 1669 edit ion of S. Patrick's Brief Account of the New Sect of Latitude-Men is a misprint for automaton (see Amer. Speech (1959) XXXIV. 236). The coinage of the modern word is usually attributed to Delmar S. Harder (U.S.).1948 Amer. Machinist 21 Oct. in McGraw-Hill Encycl. Sci. & Technol; I. 676/2 Automation, the art of applying mechanical devices to manipulate work pieces into and out of equipment, turn parts between operatio ns, remove scrap, and to perform these tasks in timed sequence with the production equipment so that the line can be put wholly or partially under pushbutton control at strategic stations.1953 Manch. Guardian Wee kly 3 Dec. 15/2 Many factories are spending large sums on `automation', that is, the adoption of automatic machines working together with little labour.1954 Economist 29 May 712 Mechanisation-promoted to the exalted station of `automation'-now consists essentially in the use of bigger and faster machine tools.1955 Times 3 Aug. 8/7 The group of resolutions on automation..says the technological advances will pr esent the trade union movement with new opportunities, but these opportunities will be attended by new and complex human, social and economic problems.1957 Technology July 182/1 Automation is now well known t o be the automatic control of mechanized systems, although the term is used somewhat vaguely to cover many different aspects of control and communication, especially in the industrial situation.1964 Ann. Reg. 196 3 181 The demand for skilled labour and the substitution of unskilled labour by automation was increasing faster than the training and education of the Negro.