Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Frederick Taylor's Piece Rate System - 1895 - Part 4

Frederick Taylor's Piece Rate System - 1895 - Part 4

46. Before the best results were finally attained in the
case of work done by metal-cutting tools, such as lathes,
planers, boring mills, etc., a long and expensive series of
experiments was made, to determine, formulate, and
finally practically apply to each machine the law gov-
erning the proper cutting speed of tools, namely, the
effect on the cutting speed of altering any one of the
following variables : the shape of the tool (i.e., lip an-
gle, clearance angle, and the line of the cutting edge),
the duration of the cut, the quality or hardness of the
metal being cut, the depth of the cut, and the thickness
of the feed or shaving.

47. It is the writer’s opinion that a more complicated
and difficult piece of rate-fixing could not be found than
that of determining the proper price for doing all kinds
of machine work on miscellaneous steel and iron cast-
ings and forgings, which vary in their chemical compo-
sition from the softest iron to the hardest tool steel.
Yet this problem was solved through the rate-fixing de-
partment and the “ differential rate,” with the final re-
sult of completely harmonizing the men and the man-
agement, in place of the constant war that existed under
the old system. At the same time the quality of the
work was improved and the output of the machinery
and the men was doubled, and in many cases trebled. At
the start there was naturally great opposition to the rate-
fixing department, particularly to the man who was tak-
ing time observations of the various elements of the
work ; but when the men found that the rates were fixed
without regard to the records of the quickest time in
which they had actually done each job, and that the
knowledge of the department was more accurate than
their own, the motive for hanging back or “ soldiering ”
on this work ceased, and with it the greatest cause for
antagonism and war between the men and the manage-

48. As an illustration of the great variety of work to
which elementary rate-fixing has already been success-
fully applied, the writer would state that while acting
as general manager of two large sulphite pulp mills he
directed the application of piece-work to all of the com-
plicated operations of manufacturing throughout one of
these mills, by means of elementary rate-fixing, with the
result, within eighteen months, of more than doubling
the output of the mill.

The difference between elementary rate-fixing and the
ordinary plan can perhaps be best explained by a simple
illustration. Suppose the work to be planing a surface
on a piece of cast iron. In the ordinary system the rate-
fixer would look through his records of work done by
the planing machine, until he found a piece of work as
nearly as possible similar to the proposed job, and then
guess at the time required to do the new piece of work.
Under the elementary system, however, some such analy-
sis as the following would be made :

Work done by Man. Minutes.

Time to lift piece from floor to planer table — - ■

Time to level and set work true on table

Time to put on stops and bolts —

Time to remove stops and bolts

Time to remove piece to floor

Time to clean machine “■

Work done by Machine . Minutes .

Time to rough off cut X in* thick, 4 feet long, 2 X in. wide . t

Time to rough off cut % in. thick, 3 feet long, 12 in. wide etc. -■

Time to finish cut 4 feet long, 2# in. wide

Time to finish cut 3 feet long, 12 in. wide, etc —


Add per cent, for unavoidable delays

It is evident that this job consists of a combination
of elementary operations, the time required to do each of
which can be readily determined by observation.

This exact combination of operations may never occur
again, but elementary operations similar to these will be
performed in differing combinations almost every day in
the same shop.

A man whose business it is to fix rates soon becomes
so familiar with the time required to do each kind of
elementary work performed by the men, that he can
write down the time from memory.

In the case of that part of the work which is done by
the machine, the rate-fixer refers to tables which are
made out for each machine, and from which he takes the
time required for any combination of breadth, depth, and
length of cut

49. While, however, the accurate knowledge of the
quickest time in which work can be done, obtained by
the rate-fixing department and accepted by the men as
standard, is the greatest and most important step toward
obtaining the maximum output of the establishment,
it is one thing to know how much work can be done in
a day and an entirely different matter to get even the best
men to work at their fastest speed or anywhere near it.

50. The means which the writer has found to be by
far the most effective in obtaining the maximum output
of a shop, and which, so far as he can see, satisfies the
legitimate requirements, both of the men and manage-
ment, is the differential rate system of piece-work.

This consists briefly in paying a higher price per
piece, or per unit, or per job, if the work is done in the
shortest possible time and without imperfections, than is
paid if the work takes a longer time or is imperfectly

51. To illustrate : Suppose 20 units or pieces to be
the largest amount of work of a certain kind that can be
done in a day. Under the differential rate system, if a
workman finishes 20 pieces per day, and all of these
pieces are perfect, he receives, say, 15 cents per piece,
making his pay for the day 15 X 20 = $3. If, how-
ever, he works too slowly and turns out, say, only 19
pieces, then, instead of receiving 15 cents per piece he
gets only 12 cents per piece, making his pay for the day
12 X 19 = $2.28, instead of #3 per day.

If he succeeds in finishing 20 pieces, some of which
are imperfect, then he should receive a still lower rate
of pay, say 10 cents or 5 cents per piece, according to
circumstances, making his pay for the day $ 2 , or only $1,
instead of $3.

It will be observed that this style of piece-work is di-
rectly the opposite of the ordinary plan. To make the
difference between the two methods more clear : Sup-
posing under the ordinary system of piece-work that the
workman has been turning out 16 pieces per day, and
has received 15 cents per piece ; then his day’s wages
would be 15 X 16 =$2.40. Through extra exertion he
succeeds in increasing his output to 20 pieces per day,
and thereby increases his pay to 15 X 20 =$3. The
employer, under the old system, however, concludes that
$3 is too much for the man to earn per day, since other
men are only getting from $2.25 to $2.50, and therefore
cuts the price from 15 cents per piece to 12 cents, and the
man finds himself working at a more rapid pace and yet
earning only the same old wages, ia X 20 = $2.40 per
day. What wonder that men do not care to repeat
this performance many times ?

53. Whether cooperation, the differential plan, or
some other form of piece-work be chosen in connection
with elementary rate-fixing, as the best method of work-
ing, there are certain fundamental facts and principles
which must be recognized and incorporated in any sys-
tem of management before true and lasting success can
be attained ; and most of these facts and principles will
be found to be not far removed from what the strictest
moralists would call justice.

54. The most important of these facts is, that MEN
ordinary day’s pay ; and any attempt on the part of
employers to get the best work out of their men and'
give them the standard wages paid by their neighbors
will surely be, and ought to be, doomed to failure.

55. Justice, however, not only demands for the work-
man an increased reward for a large day’s work, but
should compel him to suffer an appropriate loss in case
his work falls off either in quantity or quality. It is
quite as important that the deductions for bad work
should be just, and graded in proportion to the short-
comings of the workman, as that the reward should be
proportional to the work done.

The fear of being discharged, which is practically the
only penalty applied in many establishments, is entirely
inadequate to producing the best quantity and quality of
work ; since the workmen find that they can take many
liberties before the management makes up its mind to
apply this extreme penalty.

56. It is clear that the differential rate satisfies auto-
matically, as it were, the above condition of properly
graded rewards and deductions. Whenever a workman
works for a day (or even a shorter period) at his maxi-
mum, he receives under this * system unusually high
wages ; but when he falls off either in quantity or
quality from the highest rate of Efficiency his pay falls
below even the ordinary.

57. The lower differential rate should be fixed at a
figure which will allow the workman to earn scarcely
an ordinary day’s pay when he falls off from his maxi-
mum pace, so as to give him every inducement to work
hard and well.

58. The exact percentage beyond the usual standard
which must be paid to induce men to work to their
maximum varies with different trades and with different
sections of the country, And there are places in the
United States where the men (generally speaking) are
so lazy and demoralized that no sufficient inducement
can be offered to make them do a full day’s work.

59. It is not, however, sufficient that each workman’s
ambition should be aroused by the prospect of larger
pay at the end of even a comparatively short period of
time. The stimulus to maximum exertion should be a
daily one.

This involves such vigorous and rapid inspection and
returns as to enable each workman in most cases to
know each day the exact result of his previous day’s
work — i. e ., whether he Jias succeeded in earning his
maximum pay, and exactly what his losses are for care-
less or defective work. Two-thirds of the moral effect,
either of a reward or penalty, is lost by even a short

60. It will again be noted that the differential rate
system forces this condition both upon the management
and the workmen, since the men while working under
it are above all anxious to know at the earliest possible
minute whether they have earned their high rate or not.
And it is equally important for the management to know
whether the work has been properly done. 

No comments:

Post a Comment