Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MOTION STUDY VARIABLES - Frank B. Gilbreth - Part 3



That previous experience is an element to be considered
is obvious. This fact is so well recognized that the expres-
sion "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" may be
heard around the world. While this may be true with
dogs, it is not true with workmen. On a short job it may
not be advisable to attempt to change radically the life-
time customs of a local workman. But recording the out-
put of each man separately will tell whether or not it is
advisable to make out the instruction card in accordance
with the previous experience of the workman, or in accord-
ance with the way in which actual records have proved to
be productive of the highest outputs. Experience varies
widely, and the habits formed are often difficult to over-

Example. A bricklayer from certain sections of New
England has been accustomed to pick up mortar with a
trowel at the same time that he picks up brick with the
other hand. This is called the " pick-and-dip method."
The size and shape of his mortar receptacle, the arrange-
ment of the brick and mortar on his scaffold, the shape
of the scaffold itself, the sequence in which he builds the
vertical tiers and the horizontal courses, and, finally, the
labor- union rules themselves, are fashioned after the con-
sequences of using a small trowel, just large enough to
pick up sufficient mortar for one brick only.

A bricklayer so trained finds it difficult at first to adapt
himself to the " string mortar" method of the West. The
western-taught bricklayer experiences the same difficulties
in adapting himself to the " pick-and-dip " method with
the speed of the eastern bricklayer. But their difficulties
are nothing compared with those that the employer ex-
periences who puts the good points of both systems on
any one job.

Not only do habitual motions become fixed, but also
the previous experience of the bricklayer is often the
cause of his making too many motions, i.e., unnecessary
motions. He seldom, if ever, has been rigidly trained to
use a certain number of definite motions. It takes time
and patience to induce him to adopt a standard method.

On a small job it is advisable to select those men for the
leads and the trigs who are best fitted to be leaders, that
is, who are best prepared by previous experience to carry
out without delay the requirements of the instruction
cards but give due consideration to the previous ex-
perience and habits of work of the workmen.

On a large job, however, it is most economical to insist
on standard methods and standard motions that will pro-
duce the highest outputs, without regard to the previous
training of the workmen. Attract and retain those work-
men who can follow out their instruction card and as a
result produce the high records of outputs.


Fatigue is an important variable to consider when
selecting those motions that will give the most economy
and that make the " standard motions." It goes without
saying that the motions that cause the least fatigue are
the most desirable, other things being equal.

Fatigue is due to a secretion in the blood.
To quote from an article signed "I. M. T." in the
American Magazine for February, 1910:

"The toxin of fatigue is the phrase the physicians have
given us with which to jar the attention of those who can
only be stirred by harsh words. It has been demon-
strated in the last few years that fatigue is due to an
actual poison not unlike the poison or toxin of diphtheria.
It is generated in the body by labor. But the system
takes care of itself and generates enough anti-toxin to
take care of a normal amount of toxin or poison. If it
continues to be produced in abnormal quantities the sys-
tem cannot grapple with it. There is a steady poisoning
of the body, with all the baneful effects, mental and moral,
as well as physical, that poison produces."

Continuous hard work, however, like proper training, puts
the body into that condition that best overcomes fatigue.
Fatigue is due to three causes:

1. Fatigue due to coming to work improperly rested
(fatigue brought to the job).

2. Unnecessary fatigue, due to unnecessary work, un-
necessary motions, or uncomfortable positions, surround-
ings, and conditions of working.

3. Necessary fatigue, due to output.

Every motion causes fatigue. The same motions in
the same trade cause about the same fatigue for all first-
class men, and they all require about the same amount of
rest to overcome fatigue, provided their habits and mode
of living are the same outside of working hours.

The amount of fatigue caused and the percentage of
rest required in many different kinds of work have been
computed by Frederick W. Taylor with great exactness.
He has assigned the various workers to classes and accu-
rately computed the "task" from his records.

We have no such records as Mr. Taylor has gathered,
but we have numerous records of outputs of different men
on several kinds of work. We know that the amount cf
rest actually required by a workman increases with the
discomfort of the position in which he works. We also
know that the speed, hence the output of the worker, de-
creases rapidly if there is much fatigue to overcome.

Example. A bricklayer can lay brick for a few min-
utes quite as quickly when he picks up the brick from the
level of the platform on which he stands (see Fig. 9), as
he can when he picks up the brick from a bench twenty-
four inches above the level of the platform on which he
stands (ses Figs. 10, n, and 12), but he cannot keep that
speed up, because he requires more rest to overcome the
greater fatigue.

It is not simply for the welfare alone, although that
reason should be sufficient, but for economic reasons as
well, that the men should be so placed and equipped
that their work is done under the most comfortable

Examples. i. It is a recognized fact that a clut-
tered-up floor under a workman's feet will tire him quite
as much as the productive work that he is doing. A
smooth-planked floor will enable a bricklayer to lay many
more brick than will earth that has been leveled off.

2. A bricklayer can stoop over and pick up anything
from the floor with one hand with much less fatigue if he
has a place to rest his other hand while he is stooping,

because he puts his weight on one foot and lifts his other
foot out behind him, which does not tire the muscles of his
back nearly so much.

Slow motions do not necessarily cause less fatigue than
quick motions, and, per unit of work done, may cause
much more fatigue than quick motions.

The amount of work done per motion may not be
fatiguing proportionately to the size of the unit.

Example. - Lifting ninety pounds of brick on a packet
to the wall will fatigue a bricklayer much less than handling
the same number of brick one or two at a time. Conse-
quently with the same amount of fatigue the workman
will handle several times as many brick on packets as he
can handle one or two at a time.

We have, then, under this variable two tasks to perform:

1. To eliminate unnecessary fatigue. This we do by
studying and fixing the variables; that is, by standardiz-
ing the work.

2. To provide for rest from necessary fatigue, and to
utilize rest time.

Under old forms of management workmen " should keep
busy at something," even if prevented from doing their
regular work. An idle workman was considered a disgrace.
The consequence of this was that the workman took his rest
while working, or made believe work while resting. The
old-fashioned kind of rest is called " systematic soldiering."
It is the curse of the military type of management. It is
a form of cheating that has been made respectable by the
conditions forced upon the workers by the employers.

Under scientific management the evils of soldiering are
eliminated, and the correct definite percentage of rest
required is recognized and provided for. When a man is
prevented by causes beyond his control from doing his
regularly assigned work, he is told to use the opportunity
for rest, not to take such rest as can be obtained by
making slow and useless motions, that will give him an
industrious appearance to the casual observer, but to rest,
the ico-per-cent kind of rest.

There are cases where chairs and reading tables have
been provided with beneficial effect for workers to occupy
when delayed for a few minutes. They get the rest, and
their presence at the table acts as a danger signal to the

When a man is fatigued to the point where it is im-
possible for him to do his best work he should be made to
rest. He must not do anything but rest until he is in that
condition that will enable him to fly at his work and per-
form it with the fastest standard motions possible.

Rest does not necessarily mean idleness. The worker
can spend the rest period reading his instruction card, or
filling out his record of output on the card, or in some
other form of restful work. A change of work is often a
rest. By performing the above two tasks well, we secure
the greatest output per day and the fewest hours per day
without injury to the health of the men.


The habits of the workman have much to do with his
success in eliminating unnecessary motions and in adopt-
ing quickly and permanently standard methods. The
term ''habits," as here used, includes not only personal
" habits," so-called, but also habits of thinking, habits of
working, etc.

Habits brought to the work may act as a deterrent or
as an aid to its best performance. They embrace a group
of sub-variables which are difficult to describe and analyze,
and are of immense importance in influencing output.

That acquiring good habits of work makes the worker
more versatile as well as more efficient is forcefully stated
by Mr. Gantt in his book on "Work, Wages, and Profits."
He says:

"The habits that a man has to acquire to become effi-
cient in one class of work stand him in good stead in be-
coming efficient in other work. These habits of work are
vastly more important than the work itself, for it is our
experience that a man who has become efficient in one thing,
readily learns to become efficient at doing other things."

The health of the worker may be affected by:

1 . Other things than his work and the conditions under
which it is done.

2. The work.

Consideration of other things than the work may prop-
erly be left to the welfare department. This department
can most successfully define the scope of its work by
attempting to improve the man himself and his surround-
ings in every way that will make him a better and more
successful worker. This criterion will satisfy both em-
ployer and employee as to the appropriateness, justness,
and utility of the work of the welfare department.

The life of the man when away from work is only in so
far subject to the inspection and jurisdiction of the so-
called "welfare" department as that department can show
itself able to make of the man a more valuable economic
unit to himself and to the community.

If the welfare department makes an efficient workman
the product of its work, the philanthropic by-products
will take care of themselves.

The work itself should be laid out in such a way that its
performance will add to and not subtract from health. A
proper study and determination of the variables that affect
the surroundings and the motion will go far to insure this.
Moreover, standardized work will transform the workman.

Henry L. Gantt, in a most stimulating paper on "Train-
ing the Workmen in Habits of Industry and Cooperation,"
read before the American Society of Mechanical Engineers,
December, 1908, says of workmen:

"As they become more skilled, they form better habits
of work, lose less time, and become more reliable. Their
health improves, and the improvement in their general ap-
pearance is very marked. This improvement in health
seems to be due to a more regular a-nd active life, com-
bined with a greater interest in their work, for it is a well-
known fact that work in which we are interested and
which holds our attention without any effort on our part,
tires us much less than that we have to force ourselves
to do."

This Mr. Gantt says in speaking of the benefits of the
"task and bonus" system; but the same thing is undoubt-
edly true of men working under standards derived from
motion study.


Mode of living has been more or less touched upon
under " health" and " habits." It is a complex variable,
difficult to analyze and difficult to control. Its effects on
output are for this reason all the more far-reaching and
demand scientific investigation.


This is a subject that has been investigated much more
scientifically with regard to horses and mules than with
regard to workmen, but cases are seen on every hand
where it is more profitable to furnish the most nutritious
food to the men gratis than to permit them to have the
usual poor food of the padrones' storehouse. In the build-
ing of a new town in Maine it was found to be economical
to spend considerable sums of money for supplying food for
the men at less than cost, rather than to have them eat
the food provided by the local boarding houses. The
nutritive value of various foods and the amount of energy
which various diets enable one to put forth have been
made a study in training soldiers. There must be many
data available on the subject, and the government should
collect them and issue a bulletin for the use of the welfare
departments of large employing organizations. The army
might also serve as an example in many other ways to the
student of economics. The " Tactics" are admirable "in-
struction cards," conforming to many of the laws o
motion study. It seems unfortunate that the govern-
ments of the world up to the present time have confined
all of their attempts to standardize motions to the arts
of war, and have done nothing in this line in the arts of


Size of men, with relation to their motions, has much
more influence than is usually realized.

Short men are usually the best shovelers where the
shovelful need not be raised much in doing the work, such
as in mixing mortar and concrete. Few foremen realize
that this is because a short man does fewer foot-pounds of
work in doing the same amount of shoveling. On the
other hand ; when men are shoveling in a trench, the taller
the men, usually, the more the output per man.

Oftentimes a staging is built at a height below a set of
floor beams that enables the men to work to best advan-
tage. On such a staging men should be selected of as
nearly the same height as possible.


The workman with the most skill is usually the one
who can adapt himself quickest to new methods and

Example. A bricklayer who has great skill in his
trade can instantly lay a brick in the same manner that
he is once shown. To get him to do so constantly when
not supervised is difficult, but that can be quickest im-
pressed upon his mind if he is shown the reason for
every change demanded of him.

To make sure that the worker of the future acquires his
skill properly, is the most important task here. This can be
done only by insisting continuously on conformity to scien-
tifically derived standards from the beginning of his training.

Example. The best results from a motion- study stand-
point can be attained only by teaching the apprentice
from his first day to lay the brick with the standard
motions regardless of the looks of the work. If the work
is not good enough to permit the brick to remain on the
wall, a skilled bricklayer should fix it, until the apprentice
can lay the brick with the prescribed standard motions in
a manner good enough to permit the work to remain as a
part of the structure.

The apprentice should not be permitted to depart from
the standard motions in any case until he has first acquired
them as a fixed habit. The most pernicious practice is
the generally accepted one of first having an apprentice
do perfect work and then attempting to make speed later.
The right motions should be taught first, and the work
taken down and rebuilt until it is up to standard quality.
This is the only way to get the full benefits of the economics
of motion study. (See Figs. 13 and 14.)

The workman who will make the highest outputs of the
future will be he who has as a habit those standard motions
that are the most productive when operated under stand-
ard conditions.


The temperament of the man has more to do with the
motion he uses than one usually supposes.

Example. Many expert face bricklayers would quit a
job rather than lay common brick on interior walls, even
though they might earn higher wages on the inside work.
Other bricklayers prefer to lay common brickwork, not
that they doubt their ability to lay the face brick, but
because they like the strenuous athletic contests for high
scores of output and high pay. To them there is no
monotony in laying common brick day after day, for to the
skilled mason brick are not so nearly alike as are human

A bricklayer interested in his work will often remember
the characteristics of one certain brick years after he has
forgotten the wall upon which it was laid.

Therefore the temperament of the man must be taken
into consideration when placing the men. When they are
best placed they follow their instructions on the subject of
motion, and higher scores will be the result.


" Training" is so closely related to "skill" and "ex-
perience" that it is difficult to separate it from them. We
use the word to mean both the worker's theoretical and
practical equipment for his work, his entire preparation.
The problem is to see that the worker has both kinds of
equipment, acquired in the most useful, balanced method

The training of the available worker must always be
considered in estimating the time that it will take him to
acquire standard methods and the output that can be
expected of him. The training of the worker of the future
should be planned to fit him for standard work. The
training of the apprentice on the work to-day is usually
defective because he has little or no training in theory
at the same time that he is getting his practice. Further-
more, the journeyman who is his instructor not only has
had no training in pedagogy, but often lacks the benefits
of the elements of a common-school education. The usual
time of apprenticeship in the building trades in this coun-
try is three years, or until the apprentice is twenty-one
years old.

On the other hand, the boy taught in the trade school
lacks training under actual working conditions. The ques-
tion of dollars and cents to make for the employer, special
fitting for high wages for himself, and the knowledge
of the principles underlying the requirements necessary
in order to obtain specially high outputs from intensive
management, are wholly lacking.

The present apprenticeship system is pitiful and criminal
from the apprentice's standpoint, ridiculous from a modern
system standpoint, and there is no word that describes its
wastefulness from an economic standpoint.


Before turning to the variables of the surroundings, it
may be well to summarize. The variables of the worker
consist of the elements of the equipment that the worker
brings to his work, both those that he was born with and
those that he has acquired. These are mental and physical.

We have concluded:

1. That first-class men should always be secured if that
be possible.

2. That everything possible should be done to preserve
and to add to the natural powers and capacities that the
worker brings to his work.

3. That standard practice derived from motion study
does add to the natural powers of the worker, and both
shortens his hours of work and adds to his output.

4. That training based on the laws underlying standard
practice will enable the worker of the future to attain still
higher efficiency and output.

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