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.
Changes and improvements. The modern factory. Manufacturing conditions of the present time. Economy a necessity. Arrangement of departments. Character of the work in different departments. Transferring stock. Economy of power. Various systems. Necessary conditions. Location of shafting. Roller bearings. Arrangement of machines. Machines on benches. Efficiency of machines. High speed steel. Design of machines. Design of the cutting tools. Transportation of stock and materials. Shop tracks. Elevators. Trucks. Cars. Overhead trolleys. Distribution of small tools. Overhead carriers. Vertical carriers. Economy of the pay roll. Cheapness not necessarily economy. Classifying employees. Classifying the work. Time accounts. Registering clocks.
Everything in nature lives, moves, and has its being by a well-defined system of natural laws which govern all animate and inanimate things, and all tend towards the evolution and development of life and matter into an innumerable variety of more complete and perfect forms.
In our world of business, trade, and manufacture, we shall do wisely if we strive to imitate nature in these respects, to the end that whatever plans we may devise, whatever changes we may effect, or whatever processes we may develop, they shall be for the better and more perfect use of the means at our command, and in fact and in truth we may so labor "that each to-morrow Finds us farther than to-day," that each step we take may be a real improvement, a real advancement to better and more perfect conditions of whatever we manage and control.
And in so doing we shall do well to remember that change is not always progress. That a narrow-minded and short-sighted view of matters, facts, and conditions often lead men, seeing the successful changes effected by their more broad-minded fellows, to endeavor to imitate them by simply making changes. Often to the detriment rather than the betterment of existing conditions.
Hence we should proceed with a well considered and well planned system, supported alike by theory and experience, since such a system will have all the chances in its favor and consequently always make for success, more or less certain, of course, according to the conditions of the case, while without systematic proceeding to a betterment of conditions will but invite the failure that usually follows.
These conditions and observations are applicable to nearly all positions in life, but in this chapter we propose to consider briefly their relation to the equipment of the modern factory in the effort to decrease its expense and to increase its efficiency in the regular routine work of manufacturing.
As no particular line of goods to be manufactured is taken up the subject will be treated in a general way by referring to such matters as are common to all or nearly all factories whenever possible to so consider the matter.
While the present time is by no means the "day of small things," but on the contrary the day of very large enterprises, it is yet true that the percentage of profits in comparison to the amounts invested and the number of workmen employed are relatively considerably less than formerly. It might be said with truth in almost all manufacturing operations that the percentage of actual waste fifteen years ago was greater than the net profits of to-day. It therefore behooves us to so arrange and conduct manufacturing operations that every item of unnecessary waste may be eliminated, every ounce of material utilized, and every hour of the employees' time expended in useful work, and properly accounted for.
And not only is this true, but also that as every square foot of floor space costs a certain amount of outlay in the interest upon the real estate and buildings, as well as their maintenance and insurance, and the expense for light, heat, and power, we must see to it that every available foot of floor space is occupied and utilized with profit, and every machine kept as constantly employed on profitable work as possible, since every occupied foot of floor space and every working machine must bear, not only its own proportion of these burdens of expense, but also a proportion of those of the unused space and the idle machines.
In laying out and locating the various departments composing the factory, we must first carefully consider what the product is to be and the various operations which will be necessary to its manufacture.
Then we will consider the different classes of machines needed to properly perform these operations. This will give us the needed facts in determining the number of departments required, while the number of machines needed of each class, to properly balance the production, and the space they are to occupy, will determine the floor space to be occupied by each of the different departments.
The character of the work done in each department, from the raw material to the finished product, will determine the location of the departments in relation to each other, since the material or stock in progress through the factory should be moved on in one continuous course with little or no retrograde movement, as every unnecessary movement adds to the expense of manufacturing, and also interferes with other stock being moved in its onward way towards completion. This is a point too often lost sight of, or its application to existing or future conditions very much underestimated; the result being an unnecessary expense, perhaps small, but continuous.
Much discussion has been indulged in as to the relative merits and economy of driving machines by long lines of shafting belted from the engine; shorter lines driven by electric motors; or motors for driving individual machines.
All of these systems are good in their place and may be used with economical results in the same factory. The special points in favor of each are usually as follows: Heavy machines, requiring considerable power, if placed near the engine, may probably be driven by the system of shafting and belting very economically, while if placed at quite a distance, say one hundred feet or more, it will be more economical to operate them individually by motors; or, if several are located closely together as a group, to drive them from a short line shaft operated by a motor.