Saturday, August 3, 2013

Usefulness of Gantt's system - F.W. Taylor

Mr. Gantt's system is especially useful during the difficult and
delicate period of transition from the slow pace of ordinary day work to
the high speed which is the leading characteristic of good management.
During this period of transition in the past, a time was always reached
when a sudden long leap was taken from improved day work to some form of
piece work; and in making this jump many good men inevitably fell and
were lost from the procession. Mr. Gantt's system bridges over this
difficult stretch and enables the workman to go smoothly and with
gradually accelerated speed from the slower pace of improved day work to
the high speed of the new system.

It does not appear that Mr. Gantt has recognized the full advantages to
be derived through the proper application of his system during this
period of transition, at any rate he has failed to point them out in his
papers and to call the attention to the best method of applying his plan
in such cases.

No workman can be expected to do a piece of work the first time as fast
as he will later. It should also be recognized that it takes a certain
time for men who have worked at the ordinary slow rate of speed to
change to high speed. Mr. Gantt's plan can be adapted to meet both of
these conditions by allowing the workman to take a longer time to do the
job at first and yet earn his bonus; and later compelling him to finish
the job in the quickest time in order to get the premium. In all cases
it is of the utmost importance that each instruction card should state
the quickest time in which the workman will ultimately be called upon to
do the work. There will then be no temptation for the man to soldier
since he will see that the management know accurately how fast the work
can be done.

There is also a large class of work in addition to that of the period of
transition to which task work with a bonus is especially adapted. The
higher pressure of the differential rate is the stimulant required by
the workman to maintain a high rate of speed and secure high wages while
he has the steady swing that belongs to work which is repeated over and
over again. When, however, the work is of such variety that each day
presents an entirely new task, the pressure of the differential rate is
some times too severe. The chances of failing to quite reach the task
are greater in this class of work than in routine work; and in many such
cases it is better, owing to the increased difficulties, that the
workman should feel sure at least of his regular day's rate, which is
secured him by Mr. Gantt's system in case he falls short of the full
task. There is still another case of quite frequent occurrence in which
the flexibility of Mr. Gantt's plan makes it the most desirable. In many
establishments, particularly those doing an engineering business of
considerable variety or engaged in constructing and erecting
miscellaneous machinery, it is necessary to employ continuously a number
of especially skilful and high-priced mechanics. The particular work for
which these men are wanted comes, however, in many cases, at irregular
intervals, and there are frequently quite long waits between their
especial jobs. During such periods these men must be provided with work
which is ordinarily done by less efficient, lower priced men, and if a
proper piece price has been fixed on this work it would naturally be a
price suited to the less skilful men, and therefore too low for the men
in question. The alternative is presented of trying to compel these
especially skilled men to work for a lower price than they should
receive, or of fixing a special higher piece price for the work. Fixing
two prices for the same piece of work, one for the man who usually does
it and a higher price for the higher grade man, always causes the
greatest feeling of injustice and dissatisfaction in the man who is
discriminated against. With Mr. Gantt's plan the less skilledworkman
would recognize the justice of paying his more experienced companion
regularly a higher rate of wages by the day, yet when they were both
working on the same kind of work each man would receive the same extra
bonus for doing the full day's task. Thus, with Mr. Gantt's system, the
total day's pay of the higher classed man would be greater than that of
the less skilled man, even when on the same work, and the latter would
not begrudge it to him. We may say that the difference is one of
sentiment, yet sentiment plays an important part in all of our lives;
and sentiment is particularly strong in the workman when he believes a
direct injustice is being done him.

Mr. James M. Dodge, the distinguished Past President of The American
Society of Mechanical Engineers, has invented an ingenious system of
piece work which is adapted to meet this very case, and which has
especial advantages not possessed by any of the other plans.

It is clear, then, that in carrying out the task idea after the required
knowledge has been obtained through a study of unit times, each of the
four systems, (a) day work, (b) straight piece work, (c) task work with
a bonus, and (d) differential piece work, has its especial field of
usefulness, and that in every large establishment doing a variety of
work all four of these plans can and should be used at the same time.
Three of these systems were in use at the Bethlehem Steel Company when
the writer left there, and the fourth would have soon been started if he
had remained.

Before leaving this part of the book which has been devoted to pointing
out the value of. the daily task in management, it would seem desirable
to give an illustration of the value of the differential rate piece work
and also of the desirability of making each task as simple and short as

The writer quotes as follows from a paper entitled "A Piece Rate
System," read by him before The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
in 1895:

"The first case in which a differential rate was applied during the year
1884, furnishes a good illustration of what can be accomplished by it. A
standard steel forging, many thousands of which are used each year, had
for several years been turned at the rate of from four to five per day
under the ordinary system of piece work, 50 cents per piece being the
price paid for the work. After analyzing the job, and determining the
shortest time required to do each of the elementary operations of which
it was composed, and then summing up the total, the writer became
convinced that it was possible to turn ten pieces a day. To finish the
forgings at this rate, however, the machinists were obliged to work at
their maximum pace from morning to night, and the lathes were run as
fast as the tools would allow, and under a heavy feed. Ordinary tempered
tools 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch, made of carbon tool steel, were used for
this work.

"It will be appreciated that this was a big day's work, both for men and
machines, when it is understood that it involved removing, with a single
16-inch lathe, having two saddles, an average of more than 800 lbs of
steel chips in ten hours. In place of the 50 cent rate, that they had
been paid before, the men were given 35 cents per piece when they turned
them at the speed of 10 per day; and when they produced less than ten
they received only 25 cents per piece.

"It took considerable trouble to induce the men to turn at this high
speed, since they did not at first fully appreciate that it was the
intention of the firm to allow them to earn permanently at the rate of
$3.50 per day. But from the day they first turned ten pieces to the
present time, a period of more than ten years, the men who understood
their work have scarcely failed a single day to turn at this rate.
Throughout that time until the beginning of the recent fall in the scale
of wages throughout the country, the rate was not cut.

"During this whole period, the competitors of the company never
succeeded in averaging over half of this production per lathe, although
they knew and even saw what was being done at Midvale. They, however,
did not allow their men to earn from over $2.00 to $2.50 per day, and so
never even approached the maximum output.

"The following table will show the economy of paying high wages under
the differential rate in doing the above job:


ORDINARY SYSTEM OF PIECE WORK--Man's wages $2.50 Machine cost 3.37 Total
cost per day 5.87 5 pieces produced; Cost per piece $1.17

DIFFERENTIAL RATE SYSTEM--Man's wages $3.50 Machine cost 3.37 Total cost
per day 6.87 10 pieces produced; Cost per piece $0.69

"The above result was mostly though not entirely due to the
differential rate. The superior system of managing all of the small
details of the shop counted for considerable."
(my comment: superior system of managing all of the small
details of the shop counted for considerable)

The exceedingly dull times that began in July, 1893, and were
accompanied by a great fall in prices, rendered it necessary to lower
the wages of machinists throughout the country. The wages of the men in
A. the Midvale Steel Works were reduced at this time, and the change was
accepted by them as fair and just.

Throughout the works, however, the principle of the differential rate
was maintained, and was, and is still, fully appreciated by both the
management and men. Through some error at the time of the general
reduction of wages in 1893, the differential rate on the particular job
above referred to was removed, and a straight piece work rate of 25
cents per piece was substituted for it. The result of abandoning the
differential proved to be the best possible demonstration of its value.
Under straight piece work, the output immediately fell to between six
and eight pieces per day, and remained at this figure for several years,
although under the differential rate it had held throughout a long term
of years steadily at ten per day.

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

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