Saturday, June 29, 2019

Taylor's Industrial Engineering

Taylor's Industrial Engineering in New Framework - Narayana Rao

Industrial Engineering is System Efficiency Engineering and Human Effort Engineering. - Narayana Rao.

Taylor is given the credit as father of industrial engineering. But Taylor did not write any article or paper with the term "industrial engineering" in the title. All early authors of industrial engineering give him the credit as a pioneer in industrial engineering and they only bestowed the honor on him as father of industrial engineering. To understand "Taylor's Industrial Engineering" we need to study his papers and summarize them into a meaningful explanation of industrial engineering as a discipline with focus on efficiency and productivity of engineering activities in engineering organizations and departments. Such an effort is being attempted in this article. In the explanation developed, one can see the components of system efficiency (efficiency of machines and related tools/accessories/materials/building/space/material handling etc.) and human effort efficiency.


Mr. Henry R. Towne laid the foundation for industrial engineering through his papers The Engineer as an Economist and Gain Sharing. Towne also described his conception of industrial engineering in a convocation address to Purdue Engineering Students.

Mr. Taylor is the earliest and foremost advocate of engineering management and industrial engineering. Taylor's contribution to production management is well known though his works shop management and scientific management. His contribution to industrial engineering is not that direct through specific works. But he is credited as the father of industrial engineering as his ideas and works became industrial engineering in practice and theory. As early as 1889, Mr. Taylor earnestly pleaded that shop statistics and cost data should be more than mere records, and that they in themselves constituted but a small portion of the field of investigation to be covered by the industrial engineer. While he did not so express himself, the gist of his treatment of factory management is this:

He considers a manufacturing establishment just as one would an intricate machine. He analyzes each process into its ultimate, simple elements, and compares each of these simplest steps or processes with an ideal or perfect condition. He then makes all due allowances for rational and practical conditions and establishes an attainable commercial standard for every step. The next process is that of attaining continuously this standard, involving both quality and quantity, and the interlocking or assembling of all of these prime elements into a well-arranged, well-built, smooth-running machine. It is quite evident that work of this character involves technical knowledge and ability in science and pure engineering, which do not enter into the field of the accountant. Yet the industrial  engineer must have the accountant's keen perception of money values. His work will not be good engineering unless he uses good business judgment. He must be able to select those mechanical devices and perfect such organization as will best suit present needs and secure prompt returns in profit. He must have sufficiently good business sense to appreciate the ratio between investment and income. 

The industrial engineer to-day must be as competent to give good business advice to his corporation as is the skilled corporation attorney. Upon his sound judgment and good advice depend very frequently the making or losing of large fortunes. Mr. James Newton Gunn is responsible for the use of the term " production engineer" or "industrial engineer" in speaking of the engineer who has to do with plant efficiency.

The word "production" indicates the making or manufacturing of commodities. Engineering as applied to production means the planning in advance of production so as to secure certain results. A man may be a good mechanic but no engineer. The distinction between the mechanic and the engineer is that the mechanic cuts and tries, and works by formulae based on empiricism. The engineer calculates and plans with absolute certainty of the accomplishment of the final results in accordance with his plans, which are based ultimately on fundamental truths of natural science.

The mechanical engineer has to do with the design, construction, testing, and operating of machines. The mechanical engineer designs with certainty of correct operation and adequate strength. Production engineering has to do with the output of men and machines. It requires a knowledge of both. The product involved may be anything that is made by or with the aid of machinery.

It is the business of the production engineer to know every single item that constitutes his finished product, and every step involved in the handling of every piece. He must know what is the most advantageous manufacturing quantity of every single item so as to secure uniformity of flow as well as economy of manufacture. He must know how long each step ought to take under the best attainable working conditions. He must be able to tell at any time the exact condition as regards quantity and state of finishedness of every part involved in his manufacturing process.

The engineer must be able not only to design, but to execute. A draftsman may be able to design, but unless he is able to execute his designs to successful operation he cannot be classed as an engineer. The production engineer must be able to execute his work as he has planned it. This requires two qualifications in addition to technical engineering ability: He must know men, and he must have creative ability in applying good statistical, accounting, and "system" methods to any particular production work he may undertake.

With regard to men, he must know how to stimulate ambition, how to exercise discipline with firmness, and at the same time with sufficient kindness to insure the good-will and cooperation of all. The more thoroughly he is versed in questions of economics and sociology, the better prepared will he be to meet the problems that will daily confront him. As economic production depends not only on equipment and plant, but on the psychological effect of wage systems, he must be able to discriminate in regard to which wage system is best applicable to certain classes of product.

Hugo Diemer defined or explained Industrial Engineering in chapter I in his book published in 1910.

Professor of Industrial Engineering, Pennsylvania State College; Consulting Industrial Engineer

Contribution of F.W. Taylor to Industrial Engineering

Taylor developed efficient methods, advocated scientific management and  advocated study of work by engineers and shop managers. Taylor developed both scientific study of machine work and man work. He also developed stop watch time study to find the improvement in working time due to various changes proposed by industrial engineers/scientific managers.

Taylor was involved in the activities of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) from the very early years. In year 1886, when Henry Towne called for the study of management, accounting and economics by engineers, Taylor was present in the meeting and he participated in the discussion of cost accounting system proposed by Metcalf. Thus Taylor already had active participation in study of accounting, economics and productivity improvement.  Subsequent to the presentation of papers on productivity gain sharing by Towne, and Halsey Taylor presented his ideas on piece rate system and daily wage system that included mechanism for time study and process improvement. Taylor also presented a paper on redesign of belt system based on collection of data for 10 years on cost of the belting system. Thus Taylor laid the strong foundation for redesign of engineering components and systems based on the accumulated cost data and economic decision making.


Taylor's industrial engineering has to be understood from his papers.

"Notes on Belting" is the first paper presented by F.W. Taylor on Productivity Engineering. Taylor's commitment to productivity science can be seen in this first paper.  The Paper on Piece Rates presented in 1895 contains both productivity engineering and productivity management aspects.

Taylor wrote in the "Piece Rate" paper that to increase productivity, systematizing that is systematically studying and improving all of the small details in the running of each shop, such as the care of belting, the proper shape for cutting tools, and the dressing, grinding, and issuing tool, oiling machines, issuing orders for work, obtaining accurate labor and material returns, and a host of other minor methods and processes has to be done. Then only on the basis of productivity improvement estimates, piece rates that provide motivation or incentive to operators to participate in the high productivity redesigned process can be given.

Incentives are not increasing the productivity. Productivity science and  engineering improve productivity. Incentives are part of productivity management, where by operators are recruited and trained to work in high productivity processes.

Important points in "Notes on Belting"

In using belting so as to obtain the greatest economy and the most satisfactory results, the following rules should be. observed :

The chief consideration in design of belting in industry has to be  how to get the maximum of work from belting ; while, in making up belting design tables, the two most important considerations — how to secure the minimum of interruptions to manufacture, and the maximum of durability — have to be given attention. The one consideration which should have more weight than all others in making up design tables and rules for the use and care of belting is how to secure the least possible interruption to manufacture from this source.

It is the writer's judgment that belts should be made heavier and run more slowly than theory and accepted rules would indicate, not only for the sake of reducing the belt bill in the long run, but even more to avoid the frequent interruptions to manufacture. In figuring the total expense of belting, and the manufacturing cost chargeable to this account, I think that most careful observers soon come to the conclusion that by far the largest item in this account is the time lost on the machines while belts are being replaced and repaired.

The most interesting and important fact noticeable is the superiority of the shifting to the cone belts in every respect except first cost. The life of the shifting belts will be three times that of the cone. The total cost of the shifting belts per year of service is less than that of the cone. After 8.8 years of life the total cost of maintenance and repairs of the shifting belts amounts to only 30.4% of the original cost, while with the cone belts the maintenance and repairs through a life of 6.7 years amounts to one and one-half times the first cost.

The greatest point of advantage of the shifting belts is the fact that the interruptions to manufacture are nearly seven times as frequent with the cone as with the shifting belts. Each shifting belt having been tightened or repaired on an average only 6 times during nine years, while the cone belts averaged 32 interruptions to manufacture in 0.7 years. The shifting belts having run on an average twenty-two months without tightening, while the cone belts ran only two and one-half months.

Summarizing,  we may state that the total life of belting, cost of maintenance and repairs, and the interruptions to manufacture caused by belts, are dependent upon

 (1) the " total load " to which they are subjected, more than upon any other condition ; and that, in our judgment, the other conditions chiefly affecting the durability of belting are : 

(2) Whether the belts are spliced, or fastened with lacing or belt hooks. 

(3) Whether they are properly greased and kept clean and free from machinery oil. 

(4) The speed at which they are run. 

The most economical total load for belting must lie between 174 lbs. and 357 lbs. per square inch of section of belt.  The average total load on belting should be 200 to 225 lbs. per square inch section of belt. 

Six- and seven-ply rubber belts, and all double leather belts except oak tanned and fulled, will transmit economically a pull of 30 lbs. per inch of width to the rim of the pulley. 

Oak tanned and fulled double leather belts will transmit economically a pull of 35 lbs. per inch of width. 

The most economical speed for belting is 4,000 to 4,500 feet per minute.

Frederick Taylor's Elementary Rate-fixing Department (Industrial Engineering Department).

From the paper, Piece Rate System, 1895

The advantages of this system of management (Taylor's Piece Rate System) are :

The manufactures are produced cheaper under it.
The system is rapid  in attaining the maximum productivity of each machine and man

The writer has endeavored in the following pages to describe the system of management introduced by him in the works of the Midvale Steel Company, of Philadelphia, which has been employed by them during the past ten years with the most satisfactory results.

The system consists of a principal element: An elementary rate-fixing department (productivity department).

Elementary rate-fixing differs from other methods of making piece-work prices in that a careful study is made of the time required to do each of the many elementary operations into which the manufacturing of an establishment may be analyzed or divided. These elementary operations are then classified, recorded, and indexed.

The remedy for this trouble lies in the establishment in every factory of a proper rate-fixing department ; a department which shall have equal dignity and command equal respect with the engineering and managing departments, which shall be organized and conducted in
an equally scientific and practical manner.

Yet this elementary system of fixing rates has been in successful operation for the past ten years, on work complicated in its nature and covering almost as wide a range of variety as any manufacturing that the writer knows of. In 1883, while foreman of the machine shop of the Midvale Steel Company of Philadelphia, it occurred to the writer that it was simpler to time each of the elements of the various kinds of work done in the place, and then find the quickest time in which each job could be done, by summing up the total times of its component parts, than it was to search through the records of former jobs and guess at the proper price. After practising this method of rate-fixing himself for about a year as well as circumstances would permit, it became evident that the system was a success. The writer then established the rate-fixing department, which has given out piece-work prices in the place ever since.

This department far more than paid for itself from the very start ; but it was several years before the full benefits of the system were felt, owing to the fact that the best methods of making and recording time observations of work done by the men, as well as of determining the maximum capacity of each of the machines in the place, and of making working-tables and time-tables, were not at first adopted.

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 governing 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 angle, 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

 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 castings and forgings, which vary in their chemical composition from the softest iron to the hardest tool steel. Yet this problem was solved through the rate-fixing department and the “ differential rate,” with the final result of completely harmonizing the men and the management, 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 taking 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 management

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.

Of the two devices proposed for increasing the output of a shop, the differential rate and the scientific rate-fixing department, the scientific rate-fixing department is by far the more important. The differential rate is invaluable at the start as a means of convincing men that the management is in earnest in its intention of paying a premium for hard work, and it at all times furnishes the best means of maintaining the top notch of production; but when, through its application, the men and the management have come to appreciate the mutual benefit of harmonious cooperation and respect for each other’s rights, it ceases to be an absolute necessity. On the other hand, the rate-fixing department, for an establishment doing a large variety of work, becomes absolutely indispensable. The longer it is in operation the more necessary it becomes.

Practically, the greatest need felt in an establishment wishing to start a rate-fixing department is the lack of data as to the proper rate of speed at which work should be done.

There are hundreds of operations which are common to most large establishments ; yet each concern studies the speed problem for itself, and days of labor are wasted in what should be settled once for all and recorded in a form which is available to all manufacturers.

68. What is needed is a hand-book on the speed with which work can be done, similar to the elementary engineering hand-books. And the writer ventures to predict that such a book will, before long, be forthcoming. Such a book should describe the best method of making, recording, tabulating, and indexing time-observations, since much time and effort are wasted by the adoption of inferior methods (Taylor himself created the engineering knowledge to determine cutting speeds, feeds and depth of cut of machine tools).

The benefits of elementary rate-fixing including many indirect results.

The careful study of the capabilities of the machines and the analysis of the speeds at which they must run, before differential rates can be fixed which will insure their maximum output, almost invariably result in first indicating and then correcting the defects in their design and in the method of running and caring for them.

In the case of the Midvale Steel Company the machine shop was equipped with standard tools furnished by the best makers, and the study of these machines, such as lathes, planers, boring mills, etc., which was made in fixing rates, developed the fact that they were none of them designed and speeded so as to cut steel to the best advantage. As a result, this company has demanded alterations from the standard in almost every machine which they have bought during the past eight years. They have themselves been obliged to superintend the design of many special tools which would not have been thought of had it not been for elementary rate-fixing.

But what is perhaps of more importance still, the rate-fixing department has shown the necessity of carefully systematizing all of the small details in the running of each shop, such as the care of belting, the proper shape for cutting tools, and the dressing, grinding, and issuing sairfe, oiling machines, issuing orders for work, obtaining accurate labor and material returns, and a host of other minor methods and processes. These details, which are usually regarded as of comparatively small importance, and many of which are left to the individual judgment of the foreman and workmen, are shown by the rate-fixing department to be of paramount importance in obtaining the maximum output, and to require the most careful and systematic study and attention in order to insure uniformity and a fair and equal chance for each workman. Without this preliminary study and systematizing of details it is impossible to apply successfully the differential rate in most establishments.

No system of management, however good, should be applied in a wooden way. The proper personal relations should always be maintained between the employers and men; and even the prejudices of the workmen should be considered in dealing with ]them.

Above all it is desirable that men should be talked to on their own level by those who are over them.

Each man should be encouraged to discuss any trouble which he may have, either in the works or outside, with those over him. Men would far rather even be blamed by their bosses, especially if the “ tearing out ” has a touch of human nature and feeling in it, than to be passed by day after day without a word and with no more notice than if they were part of the machinery.

The opportunity which each man should have of airing his mind freely and having it out with his employers, is a safety-valve ; and if the superintendents are reasonable men, and listen to and treat with respect what their men have to say, there is absolutely no reason for labor unions and strikes.

Source: Frederick Taylor's Piece Rate System

Shop Management was presented by Taylor to ASME in 1905. In the paper, many activities of industrial engineering are described and the system engineering and human effort engineering components become visible in it. As it is a big essay by itself it is presented as a separate article.

Industrial Engineering Described in Shop Management by F.W. Taylor

Taylor developed his shop management and productivity improvement theories initially in machine shops and later extended to other industrial activities. In the machine shop, improving machine work is important and Taylor devoted considerable attention to machine work and improvement of machines, tools and accessories to increase productivity of machine. He made a presentation his experiments conducted over a period of 26 on machine tools and machining in ASME conference of 1906. It is an elaborate work on machine work study. The summary of Taylor's machine work study is presented in a separate article.

Machine Work Study by Taylor - Art of Metal Cutting - 1906/7 - Important Points

Importance of System for Efficiency - F.W. Taylor

President Roosevelt in his address to the Governors at the White House, prophetically remarked that "The conservation of our national resources is only preliminary to the larger question of national efficiency."

The whole country at once recognized the importance of conserving our material resources and a large movement has been started which will be effective in accomplishing this object. 

We can see our forests vanishing, our water-powers going to waste, our soil being carried by floods into the sea; and the end of our coal and our iron is in sight. But our larger wastes of human effort, which go on every day through such of our acts as are blundering, ill-directed, or inefficient, are less visible, less tangible, and are but vaguely appreciated.

We can see and feel the waste of material things. Awkward, inefficient, or ill-directed movements of men, however, leave nothing visible or tangible behind them. And for this reason, even though our daily loss from this source is greater than from our waste of material things, the one has stirred us deeply, while the other has moved us but little.

It is only when we fully realize that our duty, as well as our opportunity, lies in systematically cooperating to train and to make this competent man, to be on the road to "true" national efficiency.

The first object of any good management system must be that of developing first-class men; and under systematic management the best man rises to the top more certainly and more rapidly than ever before.

The paper "Scientific Management"  has been written:

First. To point out, through a series of simple illustrations, the great loss which the whole country is suffering through inefficiency in almost all of our daily acts.

Second. To try to convince the reader that the remedy for this inefficiency lies in systematic management, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man.

Third. To prove that the best management is a true science, resting upon clearly defined laws, rules, and principles, as a foundation. And further to show that the fundamental principles of scientific management are applicable to all kinds of human activities, from our simplest individual acts to the work of our great corporations, which call for the most elaborate cooperation. And, briefly, through a series of illustrations, to convince the reader that whenever these principles are correctly applied, results must follow which are truly astounding.

This paper was originally prepared for presentation to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The illustrations chosen are such as, it is believed, will especially appeal to engineers and to managers of industrial and manufacturing establishments, and also quite as much to all of the men who are working in these establishments. It is hoped, however, that it will be clear to other readers that the same principles can be applied with equal force to all social activities: to the management of our homes; the management of our farms; the management of the business of our tradesmen, large and small; of our churches, our philanthropic institutions our universities, and our governmental departments.

Full Content of Taylor on the Issue Part of F.W. Taylor, Scientific Management

The system developed, implemented and advocated by Taylor is based on four principles of scientific management.



Principles of Industrial Engineering - Taylor - Narayana Rao

Presentation at 2017 Annual IISE Conference at Pittsburgh, USA


The industrial engineering related issues described by F.W. Taylor in the book "Scientific Management" are covered in a separate article.

Industrial Engineering and Productivity Improvement Described in Scientific Management by F.W. Taylor

This article is included in
July - Industrial Engineering Knowledge Revision Plan
Ideas and thoughts fundamental to industrial engineering 


  1. Present problems of industrial engineering


  2. Basic engineering and industrial engineering - Complementary role article

  3. Exonerating Frederick Taylor
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    Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work
    November 2011 | Volume: 43 | Number: 11