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.
A regiment is divided into two or three battalions commanded by majors.
Our force will be divided into two parts, each under an assistant superintendent. Each battalion is composed of a number of companies, commanded by captains. Our two groups are divided into certain analogous departments each in charge of a foreman. Our arrangement will be for the first assistant superintendent to have charge of the drawing room, pattern shop, tool room, experimental room, stock room, power house, iron foundry, forge shop, carpenter shop, paint shop, shipping room, and the yard gang.
The second assistant superintendent will have under his charge all of the strictly machine shop departments, consisting of the planing department, heavy turning department, drilling and boring department, milling and gear-cutting department, small parts department, grinding department, polishing department, finished parts storeroom, small parts assembling department, erecting department, and inspecting department.
This, then, is the skeleton of the plan of our organization and from this we may make up what is called, in army parlance, the roster. This will include all responsible officials, commencing with the superintendent and the office force, then the assistant superintendents, foremen, etc. A little further on we will add others more intimately connected with the workmen.
This plan requires the superintendent to look after his office force as to accounting, purchasing, issuing, time keeping, pay roll, manufacturing costs, and the correspondence, and to hold the two assistant superintendents responsible for all of the requirements of their respective jurisdictions. In a plant of the capacity which we have been considering and the force employed this will be all that one man can be expected to do.
In the same manner the two assistants will find their time quite steadily employed in the successful management of the eleven or twelve departments in their charge. The assistant superintendents should be men of good executive ability, good machinists, and understand in detail the operations of machining and working every variety of work or material handled under their supervision. They should understand drawings thoroughly and be able to make any of the calculations usually made in the drawing room. They should understand the character of the men under their control and the characteristics of machinists or other tradesmen working under them.
While these men are officials capable of handling men by direct contact with them, their positions now place them one step beyond that, and all matters of instruction as to the work, the everyday routine in passing work from one department to another, the discipline of the force under their charge, should be done with the foremen, and never with the men.
An infallible rule for injuring the efficiency of a shop official of whatever rank is for some higher authority to ignore him and pass orders on to the grade below him, or, in shop parlance, to "make a bridge of his nose." The foremen, in turn, give the work to the gang boss having charge of similar work, and he instructs the workmen when necessary and sees that the work is pushed along. This may seem a little like "red tape," but it is at once the quickest, surest, and safest way to manage the shop, and one that will produce the greatest amount of good work with the least friction and ill-feeling on the part of the employees. Still, any official witnessing a violation of the sanitary or of what may be called the police regulations of the establishment is expected to call the offender to account and later to report him to his foreman.
The foreman should be a man of excellent mechanical ability, understand drawings thoroughly, and be able to make any of the ordinary calculations necessary. He should be able to make estimates as to time, cost, and material, of anything handled in his department. He should know the characteristics of men in general and the abilities and dispositions of those under his control. If his room is large enough to have gang bosses he should give his orders to them, and not to individual workmen. He should know every item of work passing through his room, keep things moving in it, and see that work transferred to him from another department is in proper condition and is promptly used, and that the product of his department going to another one is in proper condition for the transfer and is passed on without unnecessary delay.
It is not at all necessary that the foreman of a small department, or over a few men, should devote all or even a large percentage of his time to strictly foreman's duties, as he may be able to do considerable work himself while directing others. The point is, to have one competent man in charge of the force, the gang, the room, or the department, whom we can hold responsible for the results in that department. In the same way some departments may be large enough to require gang bosses, or assistant foremen.
The gang bosses or foremen of small departments may do some machine work themselves, but it frequently happens that it pays better when they do not, but on the contrary give their entire time and energy to keeping things moving; to seeing that the operatives at the machines are supplied with proper tools and materials, that their product is promptly moved out of their way when completed, and that everything moves harmoniously, with proper speeds and feeds on all the machines. The gang boss may thus make himself a very useful man.
There is another view of the question. The gang boss is very likely to be more in the position of "one of the gang" than the foreman, more closely affiliated with the workmen of his gang than a foreman is ever likely to become, and the men will naturally feel more interest in their work under his direct leadership because of this.
In our analogy of the plan of organizing and administering the affairs of a manufacturing plant to the military organization, we had got to the foreman as corresponding to the captain. Our gang bosses will fittingly represent the non-commissioned officers. These are privates of more than ordinary ability and faithfulness and have been promoted for these reasons. They are the real leaders as well as instructors of the privates and form what might be termed the connecting link between them, as a class, and the commissioned officers. So should the gang boss or assistant foreman be, and his influence for good in the smooth running and harmonious, as well as efficient and profitable, conduct of the shop is a very important matter which should receive the most careful consideration in the organization and operation of the plant. The gang boss should be a man properly qualified for the position; able to read drawings readily; to know enough of human nature to "size up" the abilities of the men under him, and to know, not only each man's practical knowledge of the business, but his natural disposition, so as to be able to direct him intelligently and for the best good of the establishment. In the foregoing remarks as to foremen, etc., those of the machine shop proper have been meant. But in a general way the principles are equally applicable to those of other departments.