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- Shop Management - 10/24 -
many cents by working hard for so many minutes, they will avail themselves of it.
As an illustration, the steel tires used on car wheels and locomotives were originally turned in the Midvale Steel Works on piece work, a single piece-work rate being paid for all of the work which could be done on a tire at a single setting. A fixed price was paid for this work, whether there was much or little metal to be removed, and on the average this price was fair to the men. The apparent advantage of fixing a fair average rate was, that it made rate-fixing exceedingly simple, and saved clerk work in the time, cost and record keeping.
A careful time study, however, convinced the writer that for the reasons given above most of the men failed to do their best. In place of the single rate and time for all of the work done at a setting, the writer subdivided tire-turning into a number of short operations, and fixed a proper time and price, varying for each small job, according to the amount of metal to be removed, and the hardness and diameter of the tire. The effect of this subdivision was to increase the output, with the same men, methods, and machines, at least thirty-three per cent.
As an illustration of the minuteness of this subdivision, an instruction card similar to the one used is reproduced in Figure 1 on the next page. (This card was about 7 inches long by 4 inches wide.)
[Transcriber's note -- Figure 1 not shown]
The cost of the additional clerk work involved in this change was so insignificant that it practically did not affect the problem. This principle of short tasks in tire turning was introduced by the writer in the Midvale Steel Works in 1883 and is still in full use there, having survived the test of over twenty years' trial with a change of management.
In another establishment a differential rate was applied to tire turning, with operations subdivided in this way, by adding fifteen per cent to the pay of each tire turner whenever his daily or weekly piece work earnings passed a given figure.
Another illustration of the application of this principle of measuring a man's performance against a given task at frequent intervals to an entirely different line of work may be of interest. For this purpose the writer chooses the manufacture of bicycle balls in the works of the Symonds Rolling Machine Company, in Fitchburg, Mass. All of the work done in this factory was subjected to an accurate time study, and then was changed from day to piece work, through the assistance of functional foreman ship, etc. The particular operation to be described however, is that of inspecting bicycle balls before they were finally boxed for shipment. Many millions of these balls were inspected annually. When the writer undertook to systematize this work, the factory had been running for eight or ten years on ordinary day work, so that the various employees were "old hands," and skilled at their jobs. The work of inspection was done entirely by girls--about one hundred and twenty being employed at it--all on day work.
This work consisted briefly in placing a row of small polished steel balls on the back of the left hand, in the crease between two of the fingers pressed together, and while they were rolled over and over, with the aid of a magnet held in the right hand, they were minutely examined in a strong light, and the defective balls picked out and thrown into especial boxes. Four kinds of defects were looked for--dented, soft, scratched, and fire cracked--and they were mostly 50 minute as to be invisible to an eye not especially trained to this work. It required the closest attention and concentration. The girls had worked on day work for years, ten and one-half hours per day, with a Saturday half-holiday.
The first move before in any way stimulating them toward a larger output was to insure against a falling off in quality. This was accomplished through over-inspection. Four of the most trustworthy girls were given each a lot of balls which had been examined the day before by one of the regular inspectors. The number identifying the lot having been changed by the foreman so that none of the over-inspectors knew whose work they were examining. In addition, one of the lots inspected by the four over-inspectors was examined on the following day by the chief inspector, selected on account of her accuracy and integrity.
An effective expedient was adopted for checking the honesty and accuracy of the over-inspection. Every two or three days a lot of balls was especially prepared by the foreman, who counted out a definite number of perfect balls, and added a recorded number of defective balls of each kind. The inspectors had no means of distinguishing this lot from the regular commercial lots. And in this way all temptation to slight their work or make false returns was removed.
After insuring in this way against deterioration in quality, effective means were at once adopted to increase the output. Improved day work was substituted for the old slipshod method. An accurate daily record, both as to quantity and quality, was kept for each inspector. In a comparatively short time this enabled the foreman to stir the ambition of all the inspectors by increasing the wages of those who turned out a large quantity and good quality, at the same time lowering the pay of those who fell short, and discharging others who proved to be incorrigibly slow or careless. An accurate time study was made through the use of a stop watch and record blanks, to determine how fast each kind of inspection should be done. This showed that the girls spent a considerable part of their time in partial idleness, talking and half working, or in actually doing nothing.
Talking while at work was stopped by seating them far apart. The hours of work were shortened from 10 1/2 per day, first to 9 1/2, and later to 8 1/2; a Saturday half holiday being given them even with the shorter hours. Two recesses of ten minutes each were given them, in the middle of the morning and afternoon, during which they were expected to leave their seats, and were allowed to talk.
The shorter hours and improved conditions made it possible for the girls to really work steadily, instead of pretending to do so. Piece work was then introduced, a differential rate being paid, not for an increase in output, but for greater accuracy in the inspection; the lots inspected by the over-inspectors forming the basis for the payment of the differential. The work of each girl was measured every hour, and they were all informed whether they were keeping up with their tasks, or how far they had fallen short and an assistant was sent by the foreman to encourage those who were falling behind, and help them to catch up.
The principle of measuring the performance of each workman against a standard at frequent intervals, of keeping them informed as to their progress, and of sending an assistant to help those who were falling down, was carried out throughout the works, and proved to be most useful.
The final results of the improved system in the inspecting department were as follows:
(a) Thirty-five girls did the work formerly done by one hundred and twenty.
(b) The girls averaged from $6.50 to $9.00 per week instead of $3.50 to $4.50, as formerly.
(c) They worked only 8 1/2 hours per day, with Saturday a half-holiday, while they had formerly worked 10 1/2 hours per day.
(d) An accurate comparison of the balls which were inspected under the old system of day work with those done under piece work, with over-inspection, showed that, in spite of the large increase in output per girl, there were 58 per cent more defective balls left in the product as sold under day work than under piece work. In other words, the accuracy of inspection under piece work was one-third greater than that under day work.
That thirty-five girls were able to do the work which formerly required about one hundred and twenty is due, not only to the improvement in the work of each girl, owing to better methods, but to the weeding out of the lazy and unpromising candidates, and the substitution of more ambitious individuals.
A more interesting illustration of the effect of the improved conditions and treatment is shown in the following comparison. Records were kept of the work of ten girls, all "old hands," and good inspectors, and the improvement made by these skilled hands is undoubtedly entirely due to better management. All of these girls throughout the period of comparison were engaged on the same kind of work, viz.: inspecting bicycle balls, three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.
The work of organization began in March, and although the records for the first three months were not entirely clear, the increased output due to better day work amounted undoubtedly to about 33 per cent. The increase per day from June on day work, to July on piece work, the hours each month being 10 1/2 per day, was 37 per cent. This increase was due to the introduction of piece work. The increase per day from July to August (the length of working days in July being 10 1/2 hours, and in August 9 1/2 hours, both months piece work) was 33 per cent.
The increase from August to September (the length of working day in August being 9 1/2 hours, and in September 8 1/2 hours) was 0.08 per cent This means that the girls did practically the same amount of work per day in September, in 8 1/2 hours, that they did in August in 9 1/2 hours.
To summarize: the same ten girls did on an average each day in September, on piece work, when only working 8 1/2 hours per day, 2.42 times as much, or nearly two and one-half times as much, in a day (not per hour, the increase per hour was of course much greater) as they had done when working on day work in March with a working day of 10 1/2 hours. They earned $6.50 to $9.00 per week on piece work, while they had only earned $3.50 to $4.50 on day work. The accuracy of inspection under piece work was one-third greater than under day work.
The time study for this work was done by my friend, Sanford E. Thompson, C. E. who also had the actual management of the girls throughout the period of transition. At this time Mr. H. L. Gantt was general superintendent of the company, and the work of systematizing was under the general direction of the writer. It is, of course, evident that the nature of the organizations required to manage different types of business must vary to an enormous extent, from the simple tonnage works (with its uniform product, which is best managed by a single strong man who carries all of the details in his head and who, with a few comparatively cheap assistants, pushes the enterprise through to success) to the large machine works, doing a miscellaneous business, with its intricate organization, in which the work of any one man necessarily counts for but little.
It is this great difference in the type of the organization required that so frequently renders managers who have been eminently successful in one line utter failures when they undertake the direction of works of a different kind. This is particularly true of men successful in tonnage work who are placed in charge of shops involving much greater detail.
In selecting an organization for illustration, it would seem best to
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