This section is from the "Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, And Management" book, by Oscar E. Perrigo. Also see Amazon: Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, And Management.
Such being the general conditions under which we must organize, we may proceed with the further consideration of the system by which our plant is to be managed. We must first know what we are to plan for. It is assumed that the plant and all its accessories have been designed and equipped for manufacturing only. Therefore, with the exception of the shipping facilities, the entire establishment is devoted to turning out and shipping what it is directed to make. To accomplish the results we seek, we must go about the matter with a definite and comprehensive plan. It will not do simply to decide some of the main features and leave the others to be determined as we go along. If we do so we shall probably be surprised to find that some of the minor matters will loom up as important features when we least expect trouble.
We will consider the scheme of organization. In deciding what plan is best we should look to efficiency as the first requisite. This will include the question of making the most of the services of each man in a responsible position; it will include the consideration of a plan that shall have the least friction between the different officials in the routine work of the shop. It will seek a proper division of responsibility, so that if anything goes wrong we may at once determine what man was responsible for the lack of attention to duty. It should be a plan that will produce a maximum of result with a minimum of effort. Every man must know exactly what his duties are, what are the limits of his authority, as well as from whom he takes and to whom he may give orders.
It will be understood, of course, that the entire management of the plant is under the charge of the superintendent and that all orders from the general office go to him direct, and that there is no interference with any other official of the shops by the general manager or any one in the general office. This sort of interference "over the head" of the superintendent will break up the discipline of any shop, and it should never be indulged in by the authorities in the office or permitted by the superintendent. It should be the same with all officials in the shop. No official or employee should accept any order unless coming to him in the regular way through the next higher authority.
We think it has never been seriously questioned, that the organization of the United States Army, with its division of responsibilities, the provisions for accounting for all property handled, and for ascertaining the final results, as well as for keeping a definite record of the individual efficiency of both officers and men, is a well-nigh perfect system. Its practical utility is not thoroughly appreciated by the manufacturers of to-day, who are prone to look upon anything labeled "military" as savoring of arbitrary and summary methods that in the shop would be disagreeable to both employer and employee. That this is too apt to be the popular impression is evident from the remarks of a recent writer on this subject, who says:
"Under the military type of organization the foreman is held responsible for the successful running of the entire shop. He must lay out the work for the whole shop, see that each piece of work goes in the proper order to the right machine, and that the man at the machine knows just what is to be done and how he is to do it. He must see that the work is not slighted, and that it is done fast, and all the while he must look ahead a month or so either to provide more men to do the work or more work for the men to do. He must constantly discipline the men and readjust their wages, beside fixing piece work prices and supervising the timekeeping".
This is hardly a fair conception of what military rules mean, as it is surely anything but military. No military officer has any such variety of duties to perform. As well might it be contended that the colonel of a regiment takes command of the police guard or drills the awkward squad, or that a captain teaches the recruits the manual of arms. On the contrary, the colonel commands a regiment, but he gives orders to his majors who command battalions and give orders to the captains of companies. They in turn give orders to the non-commissioned officers who instruct the enlisted men. Each officer has his clearly defined duties, authority, and limitations. It is true that the organization and management of many of the larger and more successful manufacturing companies in this country to-day are using systems very closely modeled after the military methods, and in many cases, as investigation will show, following the army methods much more closely than is realized by many men.
Let us consider for a moment the analogy which may exist between a regiment of infantry and a large machine shop plant, with its force of officials and employees. The general manager may be likened to the general in command, and the machine shop or manufacturing plant to a part of an army, say a regiment of infantry on active service. The colonel in command will be represented by the superintendent or works manager. The colonel must have a staff, each of the officers composing it being at the head of one of the staff departments. So here we must have a staff, and it will consist of the office force, and include the chief clerk, purchasing clerk, time clerk, cost clerk, and the stenographer, all reporting directly to the superintendent.