The evolution of the machine shop is a topic of vital interest to everybody, from the proprietor, to the apprentice. All must know the tendency of the times. The development is going on irresistibly. The change affects the security of investment, the reputation of managers and the trade of machinists.
It is a time for cool observation and careful determination of the proper course. There is no other way to protect a good name, to make a good record, or to keep a plant from depreciating, to say nothing about making a dollars-and-cents profit, which is the substantial proof of good work.
The condition that confronts us to-day is one of unusual activity in the development of important changes in the art. There have been whole centuries since the beginning of the human race in which there has been little or no progress in the arts. But the last century was not one of that kind, and the last decade was probably the greatest in point of progressive development, the machine shop sharing in record-making advancement; but great as this advancement has been, there is evidence in the signs of the times that the next five years will greatly outdo the last ten in changing the methods of machine shop work.
An indication of the tendency of the times may be best obtained by a careful study of the present-day conditions and a glance at the older practice. Within the last ten years many special machines have become standard, and there are now many machines for the work for which there were formerly only the lathe, planer and drill press; so that the machine shop of to-day does not resemble the machine shop of ten years ago, and it is very safe to assume that the shop of ten years hence will be very unlike the present.
1895 A. D. 1905 A. D. 1915 A. D.
Many of the present-day machines were originally designed for special conditions and for a certain narrow field of work in which good results were given. Nearly all of these machines have been used beyond the field for which they were intended, so that now we find certain parts of the work covered by many different types of machines.
This variety renders it possible for the careful observer to select the machines best suited for the present-day conditions, and although this is the process of selection that has been followed in the past, there is to-day not only greater opportunity, but an absolute necessity of knowing the machines that should be used, also those which should be discarded. The machines and methods for next month's work or next year's work should be selected after carefully looking over those now in use. This may seem a very great task to men who have made a life study of some other phase of work in which every minute of every day is occupied, but it is not so difficult, after all, if the real essentials alone are considered.