- "People can have the Model T in any color - so long as it's black."
– Henry Ford
- "What can be labeled, packaged, mass produced is neither truth nor art."
– Marty Rubin
The concept of mass production, where different items are made exactly the same using uniform parts which can be interchanged, prepares humankind for the Industrial Revolution, which will change the world as we know it. The full scope of implementation of this concept has to wait until such time as technology develops, but in the Renaissance some things can already be mass-produced. The invention of the printing press allows mass production of standardized texts, and the utilization of uniform planks allows mass production of ships. A new structure is invented to implement this in Harbor districts: the Shipyard.
This tech is usually not very useful to any non-seafaring civilization. In fact, even civs with coastal cities but no great navies can't benefit that much from it: the tech only enables the Tier II Harbor building, whose utility is highly dependent upon the Harbor's adjacency bonus, and adds little else to the city but Production. The Venetian Arsenal is a useful wonder, albeit somewhat difficult to place.
Now seafaring civs have much more use for the Shipyard - besides the Production bonus (which is likely to be bigger in the cities of civs specialized in coastal settling), it adds the usual other bonuses, of which the XP bonus is maybe the most important to further boost your growing navy.
Until the Industrial Revolution, the idea of “mass production” was limited to pottery (molds), Chinese crossbows with interchangeable parts, and assembly line production of books. But in the Renaissance, Venice began mass-producing ships to maintain their grip on the Mediterranean in their famed Arsenal, using prefabricated parts and assembly lines that would not be matched for output for three centuries. At its peak of efficiency, the Arsenal could produce a seaworthy ship in a day and employed some ten thousand workers.
Meanwhile, the printing press gave rise to another kind of mass production, standardized texts produced cheaply for the masses. Although the products of movable type printing were not as elegant nor as durable as hand-copied tomes, they were inexpensive and firmly established the idea of uniform quality (whatever the level) in the midst of quantity. Meanwhile, molds were being used to create ceramic and metal products in large numbers that were identical, and mills staffed by hundreds of spinners and weavers were churning out standardized woolen garments in England and France.
The Industrial Revolution brought mass production to just about everything, even things that hadn't been invented when it started in the early 1800s.
In 1914 AD Henry Ford realized that by making a conveyor line on which automobiles moved and giving each worker on the line a series of specialized tasks they alone would do, he could make cars cheaply and more efficiently. The time it took to turn out a Model T in the factory went from 728 minutes to 98 minutes; this time was eventually to drop to one Model T every 24 minutes. Where once folks were thrilled to pay extra for mass-produced goods of uniform quality, now hand-crafted things are more highly valued. That's progress ...