Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MOTION STUDY VARIABLES - Frank B. Gilbreth - Part 4


We turn now to the variables of the surroundings.
These differ from the variables of the worker in that we
can influence them more quickly and more directly. In
discussing the variables of the worker, we deal more or
less with the past and the future. The variables of the
surroundings are each and all distinctly of the present.


The " standard conditions" maintained by the employer
are a most important factor for high outputs. It is obvi-
ous that the appliances furnished the workman and the
motions used are interdependent on each other.

Examples. i. The bricklayer could not be expected to
pick up the brick so that he would not have to spin or flop
it in his hand unless it were delivered to him in the right
position on a packet.

2. The bricklayer could not be expected to have so
high an output if he had to stoop over in order to pick
up his stock as he would have to do if the scaffold did not
have a bench that obviated bending.

3. The bricklayer could not be expected to lay brick
without turning around or bending over unless he was
provided with packs of bricks that could be lifted bodily
and placed upon the wall in units as large as could be
economically handled.

4. The bricklayer could not be expected to do away
with those motions that are necessary to remove the lumps
from under a brick if there were holes in the sand screen
and no pug mill to break up the lumps.

It is most important that the workman should be given
"handy conditions" under which to work, that is, the
"most comfortable," or those that require the "least per-
centage of rest" to overcome fatigue.

Examples. i. The bricklayer must obviously have a
scaffold to stand upon that permits adjusting the height
of the platform on which he stands to a standard distance
below the top of the ever-growing wall on which he is lay-
ing the brick. We have found that the best height is
from twenty-four to thirty-two inches below the top of the
wall. If the wall is being laid overhanded, the height
should not be over twenty-four inches, while if the wall
is not being laid overhanded, thirty-two inches is the better

It is obvious that the bench from which the stock is
picked up should be maintained at a standard distance
above the platform on which the man stands. Also the
platform on which the laborer walks should be located at
the standard distance below the stock platform that will
enable him to deposit the brick and mortar in a manner
that will cause the least fatigue. Therefore, the three
platforms for bricklayer, stock, and tender should be
fixed with relation to one another, and movable in relation
to the top of the wall, capable of being hoisted as the wall
grows without stopping or disturbing the men.

2. The elevator for hoisting the brick and mortar should
always be arranged so that it can, when desired, land
above the top of a staged wall, and thus the brick and mor-
tar can be wheeled down to the scaffold on the floor below.
Then the tenders can wheel down with full loads and
wheel the empty barrows up to the floor above.

3. Make a table, barrel, or box to put near the work-
man, no matter what his trade is, so that he will not have
to stoop over and pick up his tools. Provide something to
lean his shovel against or to hang his shovel on when he is
alternately shoveling and wheeling to cut down time and
to reduce the fatigue of stooping over and picking up the

The motions to be used and to be avoided are largely
determined and affected by the appliances used; therefore
for the highest outputs the right appliances must be de-
vised, standardized, used, and maintained, otherwise the
motions cannot be standardized. Furthermore, it is much
easier to standardize motions with standard appliances
than without them.


The clothes that the workman wears may be a hindrance
or a help to him in his work. Tight or ill-fitting clothing
may restrict motions. Fear of ruining clothing may
seriously cut down the speed of the worker.

On the other hand, clothing designed and specially
adapted to the work that the worker has to do may in-
crease output to a surprising extent.

Not till the advantages have been appreciated of having
working clothes made the subject of study from the motion-
economy standpoint will manufacturers provide the gar-
ments needed. But they are only too anxious to meet
every demand as soon as they are conscious of it. Once
let the specialized clothes for the worker be standardized
and they will be placed immediately upon the market in
inexpensive, durable, and attractive shape.

As for their reception by the worker, as soon as he
realizes that they increase his efficiency, and are a badge
of specialization and not of servitude, he will be ready and
glad to welcome them.


The stimulating effect of color upon workers is a subject
to be investigated by psychologists. The results of their
study should be of great benefit, especially to indoor work-
ers. Motions could undoubtedly be made simpler by the
proper selection of the color of painting and lighting in
the workroom.

In our work we have to deal chiefly with color as a
saver of motions. Color can be seen quicker than shape.
Therefore, distinguishing things by their color is quicker
than distinguishing them by the printing on them.

Examples. i. The various pipes in a pipe gallery
can best be nvogniwf by painting them different

2, The right-hand end of the packet is pointed Mack, in
order that when earned in the right hand of the laborer
it can be placed so that the bricklayer can pick op cadi
brick without spinning or flopping the brick in Ms

3, Painting took different colors, and also the place
where they are to be placed in the drawer or the chest
the same color, saves motions and time of motions when
patting them away and finding them next time,

4. When tow-priced men bring packages of any kind to
higher-priced wen to use or handle, the packagrs should
always be painted stenciled, or labeled with a distinguish-
ing color on one end and on top. Tins wifl enable the
low-priced workman to {dace the package in the manner
called for on the instruction card with the least thought,
delay, and motions. It win also enable the Ingb-priced
man to handle the package with no such lost mgffr^Mt as
turning the package around or over.

5. Oftentimes the workmen who are best fitted physically for their work cannot read, or at least cannot read
English. Even if they could it would take some time to
read the stenciled directions on the non-stooping -*dW
to the effect that "this side goes against the brick wall."
It win greatly reduce the number of motions to paint the
side that goes next to the wall a different color from the
side that goes away from the watt.


Music. The inspiring and stimulating effect of music has been recognized from ancient times, as is shown by
the military band, the fife and drum corps, the bagpipe of the Scotchman, down to the band that rushes the
athlete around the track or across the field.

The singing of gangs at certain kinds of work, the rhythmic orders that a leader of a gang shouts to his men, and the grunting in unison of the hand drillers, show the unifying as well as the motion-stimulating effect of music and rhythm.

That some of the trades can have their motions affected
in time and speed by music, to a point that will materially
affect the size of their outputs, is a recognized fact.

Some of the silent trades have used phonography and
musical instruments to entertain the men while they were
working. It was found it paid the employer to furnish
stimulating records at his own expense, so that the work-
men would make more and quicker motions, rather than
to permit the employees to furnish phonographic records at
random at their own expense.

Reading. Reading as a stimulus to output has been
used with excellent results among the cigar makers.

It is also interesting to read in an article on " Three
Months in Peonage" in the March, 1910, issue of the
American Magazine, that story- telling may produce the
same good results.

"The four packers under me," says the writer, a Ger-
man white, who was working with peons at packing tobacco
in Mexico, 'knew no greater joy than to listen to a fairy
tale with the regulation princess and dragon, and if I
could but tell them one, or one of their number did so, the
work went twice as fast, and they were happy."

The excellent and direct effects of entertainment upon
health, fatigue, etc., are subjects for the scientist to study
and the planning department and the welfare worker to
apply. The effects of entertainment upon output should
be studied by the student of motion economy. This
variable alone furnishes a vast field for investigation.


Heating, cooling, ventilating, and humidizing are closely
allied, because all can be done with one and the same
apparatus, and all greatly increase the workman's comfort,
health, and possible number of motions.

Maintaining desired temperature in summer as well as
winter by forcing into workrooms air that has been passed
over heating or refrigerating coils has a great effect on the
workman. Many factories, such as chocolate factories,
have found that cooling the air for better results to the
manufacturing process also enables the workers to pro-
duce more output an output quite out of proportion to
the cost of providing the air.

In many trades requiring great alertness and physical
strength the proper heating and ventilating will allow
the workman to dress in a costume specially adapted to
his work, or to strip almost to the athlete's suit, with a
consequent increased number and effectiveness of motions.

The degree of temperature and the percentage of humid-
ity desired for each day of the year should be determined.
The man in charge of the heating should receive no bonus
for small consumption of fuel unless he also maintained
the temperature and humidity called for on his instruction card.

The subjects of heating, ventilating, etc., are well cov-
ered by Mr. Hugo Diemer in his book on " Factory Organ-
ization and Administration." The proper time to consider
these subjects is when the building is designed, but too
often at that time the all-important question is, How
cheaply can the building be built? Ultimate saving will
justify almost any conceivable first costs.


The subject of lighting has, indirectly as well as directly,
a great influence upon output and motions, as upon the
comfort of the eye depends, to a large extent, the comfort
of the whole body.

The arrangement of lighting in the average office, fac-
tory, or house is generally determined by putting in the
least light necessary in order that the one who deter-
mined the location of the light may be able to see perfectly.
This is wrong. The best light is the cheapest. By that
is not meant that which gives the brightest light. In fact,
the light itself is but a small part of the question. Go
into any factory and examine every light, and you will
notice that as a rule they are obviously wrong. A light
to be right must pass five tests:

a. It must furnish the user sufficient light so that he
can see.

b. It must be so placed that it does not cause the user's
eyes to change the size of the diaphragm when ordinarily
using the light.

c. It must be steady.

d. There sha'l not be any polished surfaces in its vicin-
ity that will reflect an unnecessary bright spot anywhere
that can be seen by the eyes of the worker.

e. It must be protected so that it does not shine in the
eyes of some other worker.

The use of polished brass and nickel should be aban-
doned wherever it will shine in the worker's eye.

For work done on a flat surface, like the work of a book-
keeper or a reader, the light should be placed where the
glare will reflect least in the worker's eyes; where the
work is like the examining of single threads, the relative
color and figured pattern of the background, as well as
good light, is important. This is obvious. So is nearly
everything else in good management. Go into the build-
ings among the workers, the students, and the scientists
and see how rarely it is considered. All of this is not a
question of getting the most out of the light. Light in
a factory is the cheapest thing there is. It is wholly a
question of fatigue of the worker. The best lighting con-
ditions will reduce the percentage of time required for
rest for overcoming fatigue. The difference between the
cost of the best lighting and the poorest is nothing com-
pared with the saving in money due to decreased time for
rest period due to less fatigued eyes.

It is a similar case to the taxicab concerns they
charge their drivers with gasoline and tires and mileage,
accidents, etc., but they furnish the lubricating oil free.
The fallacy of the common practice of putting the lighting
in the hands of the man whose merit is measured inversely
as the coal bill is obvious.

The sub-variables involved make the problem as to
exactly what lighting is most desirable difficult of solution.
The proper solution will have such a beneficial effect, not
only upon the man's work, but also upon his welfare, that
no time or effort expended upon it can be too great.


It is essential to the use of standard motions and the
resulting large output that all material used shall be in
exactly that state in which it can be most easily handled
by the worker.

Examples. i. If there are lumps in the mortar, due to
pieces of brick or shavings or lumps of lime, or cement or
coarse pebbles in the sand, it is impossible for the bricklayer
to do his best work.

2. If the sand is not selected with reference to the thick-
ness of joints, if the sequence of tiers and courses (see
Figs. 15 and 16) and the thickness of joints is determined by
the whim of the bricklayer on the lead, instead of by the
planning department, it is out of the question to expect
high outputs. On the other hand, if the material is of
exactly that consistency with which it can be best handled,
and the other conditions are determined on the instruction
card, much better speed can be obtained.

3. When using cement mortar made of cement and sand
and no lime, the bricklayer will do more and better work
if a tender is kept on the stock platform tempering the
mortar to just the right consistency for the bricklayers.

4. If the brick are all handled in packs on packets from
the time that they arrive upon the job until they reach the
bricklayer's hand, they will each be of better quality, due
to there being little or no chipping from handling and
throwing about. The bricklayer will then be saved the
useless motions of picking up brick that are chipped and
discarding them again, to be used only when laying in the
filling tiers.


The stimulus that rewards and penalties give motions
is obvious. The discussion of reward and punishment
would come under the head of compensation. It must be
left to the cost reducing system to determine just what
system of compensation will induce the men to do their
swiftest, best work.


The most advantageous size of unit to use is a difficult
problem to solve, and is often controlled by some outside
factor. For example, the most economical size of brick
has been determined by the cost and other conditions
relating to the making and baking, and not by the con-
ditions of handling and laying. When the conditions of
laying are studied scientifically, as they are to-day, one is
forced to the conclusion that, for the greatest economy, the
size of common brick should be changed materially from
that of the present practice in America. The usual size of
the brick used in England is much larger than the cus-
tomary size used here.

It is obvious that there is some size of unit that is the
most economical to make the standard package for han-
dling brick in bulk. We have found it to be ninety-two
pounds for a first-class laborer, either for piling or loading
and unloading brick from carts. (See Figs. 17 and 18.)

Careful examination of brickwork with the object in
view of selecting the most profitable motions has entirely
revolutionized the methods of bricklaying. For example,
the size of unit that is picked up when loose brick are
handled must be one brick for each hand. The packet
enables us to pick up about eighteen brick at once.

The fountain trowel permits us to pick up and carry to
the wall and spread mortar for twenty-one brick at one
time without dropping the regular trowel which forms a
temporary handle to it. (See Fig. 19.)

The two-wheeled trucket permits carrying twelve packets,
or 216 brick (see Fig. 20), while the hod carries 18 brick,
and the one-wheeled barrow carries 60 loose brick.


Only the careful student of management realizes how
much the speed of the worker can be increased by providing
him with all possible aids toward doing his work.

Mr. Fred. W. Taylor, in his paper on " Shop Manage-
ment," tells of a study he made of overhauling a set of

"He [the writer] did all of the work of chipping, clean-
ing, and overhauling a set of boilers, and at the same time
made a careful time study of each of the elements of the
work. This time study showed that a great part of the
time was lost owing to the constrained position of the work-
man. Thick pads were made to fasten to the elbows,
knees, and hips; special tools and appliances were made
for the various details of the work. . . . The whole scheme
was much laughed at when it first went into use, but the
trouble taken was fully justified, for the work was better
done than ever before, and it cost only eleven dollars to
completely overhaul a set of 300 horse-power boilers by this
method, while the average cost of doing the same work on
day work without an instruction card was sixty- two dollars."
In reading this, it must be remembered that the fatigue-
eliminating devices were only one element in increasing
speed and reducing costs. But, on the other hand, it
must be remembered also what a large element they were
in adding to the comfort and ultimate well-being of the


"Surroundings" have been previously discussed under
" Fatigue, " . " Appliances," etc. It is only necessary to
say here that the surroundings of the worker should be
standardized, the standard being derived from a study of
all the variables.

It is obvious that the highest possible records of output
cannot be obtained unless the workers are furnished with
a standard instruction card made out by the best man
obtainable, one who knows more about their work than
they do, and who can, and does, provide them with stand-
ard conditions that fulfill the most economical conditions
of motions. Even then daily outputs and unit costs must
be watched, so as to take advantage of the slightest change
of conditions that affect costs. In practice, the unit costs
must always also include the wages of the recorder, other-
wise one cannot tell when the wages of the recorders are
not deceiving as to actual unit costs under this intensive


The influence of the tools used upon the output is large.
No workman can possibly comply with standard motions
unless he has the standard tools. No worker should ever
be obliged to furnish his own tools, if large output is ex-
pected. When workmen are obliged to furnish their own
tools (due to their having too much thrift, lack of money,
or fear of having them stolen), they usually use one size
only of the same kind of tool. On many kinds of work
greater output can be obtained by using two or more
sizes of a tool.

Example. The bricklayer should use a smaller trowel
on pressed brick and a larger trowel on common brick.

Again, where workmen furnish their own tools, they use
them after they are too much worn. A shovel with a
worn blade will require several motions to push it into
the material to fill it. It is cheaper in this case to cut
off the handle of the shovel, so that the men cannot use
it. Where no records are kept of their individual outputs
the men always choose the shovel with the small blade.

It is especially important that apprentices should be
supplied with proper tools. According to the usual prac-
tice the apprentice is taught with any tool procurable.
He becomes adept and skilled, but often becomes so ac-
customed to the poor tool he has used that he finds it
difficult to adapt himself to the use of a better new tool.
This seriously hinders his complying with deir.ands for
standard quantities of output.

Tools should bo of standard size and pattern. Workmen
should invariably be made to use a tool that will enable
them to make standard-sized outputs instead of using
a tool that may seem " handier" to them. You cannot
expect a man to comply with standard motions unless he
has the standard tool for which his standard instruction
card was made out.

The customary method in the past for determining the
best weight of tool to use was to guess at it, and to
use that size of tool which was thought to be the
"handiest," or which it seemed could be used with the
least fatigue.

Makers of hand tools cater to the whims of the local
workmen, and, as a result, hand tools are made of many
different designs in different parts of the country. Makers
spend and waste great sums of money making experi-
ments and conducting selling campaigns of odd or new
designs of tools that have no merit from a motion-economy
standpoint. There should be a bureau of testing, where
the actual value of new shapes, designs, and sizes of tools
could be tested and rated in percentages of efficiency from
the standpoint of motion study.

Critics will say that such a scheme will crowd out new
designs, and the benefit of the individual's inventions will
be lost. But it would not; on the contrary, the testing
would give great stimulus to inventors, designers, and tool
makers, for they could then obtain the immediate atten-
tion of the buyers, because they would have the standard
stamp of merit that comes from the record of a test that
excelled previous standards.

We have testing stations for everything else. Think
what the societies for testing materials have done for the
progress of the world! Their records are usable forever, in
any part of the world, once they are made.

When machines have to be tended, two separate sets of
motions must be provided for:

1. The set that the worker uses when he is tending the

2. The set that the worker uses to prepare tools and
material for the machine while it does not require his

All machines have to be tended more or less. Even
automatic machinery has to have attention, and it is most
important here to have motion study, because of the earn-
ing value of the machine being lost while it is shut down.

One sees occasionally a machine that can have any and
every lever operated without the operator taking a single
step, but comparatively few machines are constructed
with this in mind.

Machines requiring constant starting and stopping and
hand feeding or adjusting should have their various levers
so positioned that the "laws of least effort of simultaneous
motions" are complied with.

These laws will be discussed under " Variables of the
Motion." It is only necessary to say here that motions
should be similar on each side of a fore and aft vertical
plane passing through the body. It is so necessary to
have the motions similar that often counterbalances and
springs can be installed to reverse the motion, thus also
causing the hardest work to be done in the most convenient

Anything that is used very often can be returned to
place better, as well as with less motions, by gravity, or by
the application of the gravity by some such means as a string
and a weight. It requires some skill to use a wrench, but
it requires no skilled motion or thought to return the wrench
to its exact resting place with handle pointing in the most
economical direction for picking up the next time it is used.

The average machine to-day is designed for a short
demonstration of quick output, with less regard for the
least percentage of rest required for overcoming fatigue
due to continuous operation. With demand will come
supply of machines that fulfill all economical motion re-


The local rules of some unions are sometimes a hin-
drance to standardizing motions and thereby increasing
output. The higher wages from higher outputs under
intensive management soon convert the desirable members,

Many unions believe that extremely high outputs per
man are against the interests of the union as a whole, on
the theory that they may "work all of their members out
of a job." Furthermore, they often think that the sacri-
fice that their one union may make in the world's en-
deavor to reduce the cost of living generally, is not properly
offset by having any one trade or any one locality practic-
ing intensive outputs. A few practical object lessons of
the general increase in business resulting from higher
wages and simultaneously created lower-production costs
will, however, always convince the most prejudiced be-
liever in artificially restricted maximum outputs.

The compensat'on of workers will not be discussed here,
although the basis of compensation does affect motions.


Generally speaking, the weight of the unit moved is of
three kinds:

1. The weight of that part of the body that is moved.

2. The weight of a tool used, such as a hammer or
a trowel.

3. The weight of material used, such as a brick, or
the mortar on the trowel.

Other things being equal, the less of the body moved the
less fatigue.

The weight that the tool should be is determined by
the use of the tool. In the case of a sledge hammer, in-
creased weight means increased efficiency. A twenty-five
pound sledge might break a block of granite in halves
in five blows, whUe a ten pound hammer might require
one hundred blows. In the case of a trowel, increased
weight means d: creased efficiency. The heavier the trowel,
the greater the fatigue with no accompanying gain in
output. .

We have determined that a cutting-out hammer for
brickwork should weigh, exclusive of the handle, 3.75
pounds, but that a hammer for drilling plug holes in granite,
for making dog holes in heavy stone blocks, should weigh
4 pounds.

The weight of units moved should be standardized.

Example. There is undoubtedly a certain sized load
in a shovel that will enable a first-class man to accom-
plish the largest output with his maximum effort. Taylor
has found his weight to be 21.5 pounds. The size of
shovels that should be used should therefore be desig-
nated on the instruction card accordingly, and exactly
21.5 pounds should be the standard unit of weight of
material shoveled.


This discussion of the variables of the surroundings,
etc., is not detailed because general discussion is self-
evident, and detailed discussion must be too specialized
to interest the general reader.

It is only necessary to call attention to the general laws,
logical and psychological, which underlie these variables,
and their effect on standardizing motions. Each student
naturally applies these laws to his own field, and sees for
himself the opportunities for further study and application.

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