In some cases, material to be processed is placed near the work stations of a number of operators. The operators go to the material and themselves select the jobs they wish to do. This procedure involves a -minimum amount of supervision and clerical work, but it possesses certain serious disadvantages. As has
already been pointed out, some jobs are more desirable from the operator's standpoint than others. They may be easier or lighter or cleaner, or if time allowances are not accurate as is sometimes the case, some jobs may carry looser rates than others, thus permitting higher earnings for a given expenditure of effort.
Regardless of the reason, certain jobs are preferable to others; if the operators are allowed to pick their own jobs, friction is likely to develop. Those who have stronger characters or are physically superior are likely to get the best jobs, and the weaker must take what is left. The least desirable jobs will be slighted altogether as long as there is any other work to do, which causes these jobs to lag and become overdue.
Finally, there is no assurance that the operators will get the jobs for which they are best suited, considering the group as a whole. If the most skilled operator happens to be the strongest, he is likely to select all the easiest jobs, leaving the more difficult jobs to those who are not so well qualified to do them.
Where the group system is used, these difficulties are minimized, but principally because the group leader assumes a function of management and hands out the work to the members of his group. The group knows that sooner or later it will have to handle all jobs sent to it, and so there is less tendency to slight
undesirable work. In the interests of good performance as a group, the skilled men will do the more difficult jobs, leaving the easier tasks to the new or less skilled men. In short, the entire situation is changed; when the group system is used, the selection of jobs may be left to the workers themselves.
Another common procedure is to have all jobs handed out by the foreman. The foreman knows the work, and he knows his men. Therefore, he is in a good position to distribute the work so that it will be performed most effectively. The chief difficulty with this arrangement is that the modern foreman is so loaded
with duties and responsibilities that he often does not have time to plan his work properly. In moments of rush activity, instead of always having several jobs ahead of each operator, he is likely to assign jobs only when men run out of work. When a man comes to him for a job, he is likely to glance at the available
work and assign the first job he sees that he thinks the operator can do. It may not be the one best suited to the operator; perhaps even more important, it may not be the job that is most important from a delivery standpoint.
With regard to this last point, in order to get work through the shop on schedule, the planning or production department must work closely with the foreman. Usually, chasers or expediters call to the attention of the foreman the job that is required next. If there are only a few rush jobs, the foreman may be able to
have them completed as desired. In times of peak activity, however, when the shop is overloaded, all jobs become rush jobs. Each expediter has a long list of jobs to be completed at once. Considerable pressure is brought to bear upon the foreman to get out this job and that, and he is likely to find himself devoting
time to detailed production activities that could better be spent on taking steps to relieve the congestion.
In most up-to-date plants, the foreman is regarded as a very important man. He is called into conferences and meetings and often participates in educational programs. He is, therefore, away from his department at intervals and, if he has the responsibility of giving out jobs, must give out enough work to last until
he returns. If he is called away suddenly or is unexpectedly detained, operators will run out of work. Then they either lose considerable time and hence money which creates dissatisfaction, or they help themselves to another job. If this latter practice is countenanced in a time of emergency, there is a danger that it
will soon develop into a standard practice. If men get their own jobs, the foreman is relieved of a certain amount of work and, if he is otherwise overloaded, may tend to allow operators to select their work with increasing frequency, until all the advantages gained by having the foremen hand out work are lost.
The decisions with respect to the order in which jobs are to be put through the shop are made by the planning or production department. Since they know in what order jobs are wanted, it would, therefore, appear that a representative of this department should cooperate closely with the foreman in giving out the work. The foreman may specify the men who are to work on each job when the orders first reach his department, and a dispatch clerk may give the work to the assigned men in the order of its impor-
tance from a delivery standpoint. This arrangement is followed in a number of plants. Figure 66 shows a typical dispatching station under the control of the production department. Time tickets for each operation on each job are made out in a central planning department and are marked with the date the operation
should be completed. The dispatcher arranges these time tickets in his dispatch board. Each group of machines within the department is assigned a pocket hi the dispatch board, and each pocket has three subdivisions.
The time tickets are received considerably in advance of the material. They are first filed in a subdivision of the proper machine pockets called the "work ahead " division. The number of tickets in the "work ahead" divisions at any time gives a rough idea of the load on the shop. When material for a given job enters the department, the dispatcher Is notified. He then moves the time ticket for the first operation from the "work
ahead" division to the "work ready " division. The time tickets in the latter pocket then show the jobs that are actually ready to be worked upon. When an operator completes one job, he goes to the dispatcher's station and turns in the ticket for that job. The dispatcher then gives him another job by taking the time ticket from the "work ready" division and handing it to him. He selects always the ticket marked with the date nearest
to the current date and thus gets the work done in the desired order.
The rest of the system need not be described here, for it is desired principally to Indicate the manner in which jobs are handed out by a representative of the production department, thus relieving the foreman of this responsibility.
Source: Operation Analysis by Maynard