POSSIBLE ECONOMIES IN AUTOMOTIVE MACHINE-SHOP OPERATIONS
This paper is confined to a discussion of machine-shop operations, and is intended to indicate by a few examples certain important economies that might be introduced in the shops of the automotive industry. It deals chiefly with the economies that can be effected without much capital outlay, though others are also mentioned. Calling attention particularly to the fact that, in the past, improvements of methods and of equipment have been confined largely to the more important operations on the more important parts and that relatively little study has been made of the smaller pieces and the less important operations, emphasis is placed on the necessity for carefully determining which tools and which makes of tool will best serve the purposes for which they are intended and for carefully sharpening the tools and providing means of setting them accurately. The various auxiliaries are discussed and, in order to confine the paper as much as possible to actual cases, one definite operation, namely, drilling, has been chosen as the chief example.
The campaign for economical production in the factory may well be compared to the campaign of an army. In both cases there must be a general strategy, a plan that, if carried out, will lead to success. There must be, also, the proper tactics, for however brilliant the plan of the strategists may be, it is bound to fail unless the tactics employed are correct; and, similarly, no tactics, however well thought out and applied, can lead to permanent success unless the general strategy is sound. The comparison may be extended still farther. The best general will fight a losing battle unless he is supported by a good army, well-officered; and even that is not sufficient unless the quartermaster's department supplies the munitions of war when and where required.
This paper does not concern itself with the general strategy of a factory but purposes to take up some of the phases of the tactics employed. To revert once more to the simile used, it may be said that such items as the officers and personnel of the army are given a great deal of attention in the factory, that the movements of troops, the routing and the dispatching have been given the most careful thought and that, excepting a few badly managed factories, the supply of materials is well taken care of. There remains, however, the use of the munitions of war.
Dropping the analogy, it may be said that most of the phases of factory economy have been studied profoundly. The general layouts of shops, methods of handling material, routing systems and the like have been improved; and it has been accepted by practically every uptodate factory that no success can be expected unless these matters are studied, systematized and rigidly controlled. This applies not only to the workshops of the automotive industry but to practically all shops of the larger sizes. The thought has become almost instinctive that efficiency methods in the shop refer to methods of control. In some instances the actual work to be done also is carefully analyzed, but, as a whole, the actual methods of production are based on existing practices, rather than on what should be done, and are often left in the hands of minor officers, men who, on account of lack of early preparation and limited experience, have not had an opportunity to acquire the broader vision that is so necessary for real progress. In my work as consulting engineer I have had a great many opportunities to observe this lack of thorough detailed study of the actual operations of factories; it is with this phase of the general economy that this paper will deal.