Henry Laurence Gantt worked under F.W. Taylor, the person credited with founding Industrial Engineering Discipline.
Gantt graduated in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute. In July 1887, he took up the post of Assistant in the Engineering Department of Midvale Steel Company. A year later he had become Assistant to the Chief Engineer, F.W.Taylor. In this post, Gantt was engaged in determining the most economical methods of working the machine tools in the machine shop. Gantt worked in close contact with Taylor even after Taylor left Midvale. They shared in many inventions and technical developments.
Gantt’s professional career can be categorized into two parts. One, he was a technician and a manager in the industry. The second, he was a consulting engineer for economical shop management and for time-, cost-, and record-keeping. He will be remembered for his contribution to economical shop management.
Gantt was preoccupied with human aspect of management in his quest for economy in industrial activities.
Two of his statements exemplify this concern.
“The control over labour given to management by the application of the system which I installed was so far-reaching as compared with other management controls that I refused to install it unless convinced that the management was such that no unfair advantage would be taken of the system to oppress labour.
“Before I undertake to do any work for any concern, I ask the people employing me, or who contemplate employing me, to read this little book, ‘Work, Wages and Profits.’ I ask those people who have in mind employing me whether they are in accord with the idea expressed in that book of how to handle their workmen, and what share the workmen shall have in what is being done. Unless they are willing to subscribe substantially to what I have written in this book, I have always declined to do any work for them.”
In 1904, Gantt secured an assignment as “efficiency expert” at Sayles Bleacheries. It was a textile plant. Based on this assignment, he read the paper “Training Workmen in Habits of Industry and Cooperation.” He amplified his ideas on the subject in a further paper “Modern Methods of Training Workmen” in 1915.
In 1916, Gantt started a body by name “The New Machine.” It was an organization of Engineer-Executives. The slogan of this body was “to increase the purchasing power a day’s work in New York City.”
The best known contribution of Gantt is the bar chart. The graphic presentation of facts has always appealed to him
The official biography of H.L. Gantt was prepared by L.P. Alford for American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was published in 1934.
L. Urwick and E.F.L. Brech, The Making of Scientific Management: Thirteen Pioneers, Sir Issac Pitman and Sons, London, 1951.
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