WE are in a new era of production that has been made possible by the broader vision of the production engineer, who is now an established factor in industry because of the demand for reduced production costs. The two factors over which he has control are labor and machinery. Labor cost is of diminishing significance as machinery takes over an increasing proportion of the responsibility for performance.
To the two production principles of the division of labor and the transfer of skill to machinery is added a third principle deduced from facts observed in modern production practice. This principle is integrated production, the combining of work units, which are the smallest possible divisions into which operations are broken down by the time-study man, so that a number of identical or similar operations are performed simultaneously by multiple tools, with the maximum efficiency and economy for each tool or each work unit.
This calls for increasingly greater refinement, from multiple tooling to provision for performing at one time operations governed by differing conditions. It can be carried to any extent justified by resulting economy. The point at which economy ceases to increase is determined by calculating carrying charges on the equipment against the operating cost of production. On greater quantities, as refinement is carried to greater limits, the savings in each case become less; the economy curve flattens out considerably long before “mass production” is reached.
Integrated production also combines the division of labor, the transfer of intelligence to machines, and the simultaneous performance of work units in a way to comprise a complete process or method performed in the shortest possible time. This results in smaller inventories of raw materials and materials in process, greater flexibility in the manufacturing process, quicker turnover from raw material to finished product, shorter financing periods, less money required and less tied up in forms subject to loss. Such savings, on a National scale and in the volume represented by the automotive industry, must contribute to the present favorable financial situation. Thus the production engineer is an important factor in such an ultimate phenomenon as the National prosperity of the Country.
In the discussion one member tells how “simultation” with multiple-head machines made possible in 6 years a reduction of incandescent-lamp factories from 10 to 3 and of direct-labor operatives from 4500 to 1500 with a simultaneous increase in production of 62.5 per cent. Other points brought out are that economical production can be obtained in a period of reduced schedule by keeping all the machines in a group running but reducing their speed and reducing the number of operators; that cost can be reduced by putting money into machinery and reducing the labor-cost; that there is economy in setting the equipment for a production a little greater than the planned quantity; and that there is a critical point at which the cost per piece becomes greater with the simple machine than with the more refined and more expensive machine and at which a change in method should be made.