Continued improvements in mechanical production methods are without effect unless similar changes are made in the personnel. Re-arrangement and re-equipment of a plant may go forward with initiative which bespeaks of improved production methods, but unless the human problem is given careful consideration waste elimination will not be as effective as the planned changes indicated.
As brought out in an article appearing in this issue, 80 per cent of the production work is involved in human labor. An improvement of 25 per cent in mechanical efficiency only effects the entire production by a matter of 5 per cent, while waste elimination effected through improvement of 25 per cent in labor results in the saving of 20 per cent in the production method.
Used rebuilt machinery and equipment has played its part in reducing waste in mechanical phases of industry. It is unfortunate that a like factor can not be injected into the labor phases of the same industry.
Even Ship Yards Have Waste Reducing Problems
One rarely associates the problem of waste elimination with the ship building industry. It always appears to the lay mind as though this particular industry proceeds without waste creeping into any phase of its activities. However, waste elimination is given serious thought by executives in the ship building game in order to improve efficiency in the manufacture of ships.
As outlined by W. B. Ferguson of Newport News Ship Building and Dry Dock Company, waste elimination has been given very careful consideration by his particular company. It is through the establishing of different forms of foreman’s training that this company hopes to reduce if not entirely eliminate waste. Different subjects such as waste of wire, waste of lumber and other major wastes are dealt with in lectures to the men. The plan of the company is to save $10,000 in one place, $20,000 in another and so on through the entire plant. The educational scheme adopted seeks an answer to the question, “How can this method be improved?”
Incentive systems to improve production and elimination of waste include piece work, subcontract and bonus. In the ship building industry it is impractical to set up a system of records to tell what each man is doing each day. Ship yards are more dependent upon honesty and loyalty of the minor executives than any other industry. It has been pointed out that of 6,000 men at Newport News Yard only 2,000 are dependent upon the use of equipment, two-thirds of the work being done by hand.
This illustration indicates clearly the thought given to waste elimination which in this particular case finds its solution in improved personal efficiency. Similar improvements in mechanical efficiency can be more easily consummated as the human element does not materially enter into such improvements.