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now very little of it. And usually it so works out that adopting the way

which is easier on the men also decreases the cost. There is most

intimate connection between decency and good business. We also

investigate down to the last decimal whether it is cheaper to make or to

buy a part.

 

The suggestions come from everywhere. The Polish workmen seem to be the

cleverest of all of the foreigners in making them. One, who could not

speak English, indicated that if the tool in his machine were set at a

different angle it might wear longer. As it was it lasted only four or

five cuts. He was right, and a lot of money was saved in grinding.

Another Pole, running a drill press, rigged up a little fixture to save

handling the part after drilling. That was adopted generally and a

considerable saving resulted. The men often try out little attachments

of their own because, concentrating on one thing, they can, if they have

a mind that way, usually devise some improvement. The cleanliness of a

man's machine also--although cleaning a machine is no part of his

duty--is usually an indication of his intelligence.

 

Here are some of the suggestions: A proposal that castings be taken from

the foundry to the machine shop on an overhead conveyor saved seventy

men in the transport division. There used to be seventeen men--and this

was when production was smaller--taking the burrs off gears, and it was

a hard, nasty job. A man roughly sketched a special machine. His idea

was worked out and the machine built. Now four men have several times

the output of the seventeen men--and have no hard work at all to do.

Changing from a solid to a welded rod in one part of the chassis

effected an immediate saving of about one half million a year on a

smaller than the present-day production. Making certain tubes out of

flat sheets instead of drawing them in the usual way effected another

enormous saving.

 

The old method of making a certain gear comprised four operations and 12

per cent. of the steel went into scrap. We use most of our scrap and

eventually we will use it all, but that is no reason for not cutting

down on scrap--the mere fact that all waste is not a dead loss is no

excuse for permitting waste. One of the workmen devised a very simple

new method for making this gear in which the scrap was only one per

cent. Again, the camshaft has to have heat treatment in order to make

the surface hard; the cam shafts always came out of the heat-treat oven

somewhat warped, and even back in 1918, we employed 37 men just to

straighten the shafts. Several of our men experimented for about a year

and finally worked out a new form of oven in which the shafts could not

warp. In 1921, with the production much larger than in 1918, we employed

only eight men in the whole operation.

 

And then there is the pressing to take away the necessity for skill in

any job done by any one. The old-time tool hardener was an expert. He

had to judge the heating temperatures. It was a hit-or-miss operation.

The wonder is that he hit so often. The heat treatment in the hardening

of steel is highly important--providing one knows exactly the right heat

to apply. That cannot be known by rule-of-thumb. It has to be measured.

We introduced a system by which the man at the furnace has nothing at

all to do with the heat. He does not see the pyrometer--the instrument

which registers the temperature. Coloured electric lights give him his

signals.

 

None of our machines is ever built haphazardly. The idea is investigated

in detail before a move is made. Sometimes wooden models are constructed

or again the parts are drawn to full size on a blackboard. We are not

bound by precedent but we leave nothing to luck, and we have yet to

build a machine that will not do the work for which it was designed.

About ninety per cent. of all experiments have been successful.

 

Whatever expertness in fabrication that has developed has been due to

men. I think that if men are unhampered and they know that they are

serving, they will always put all of mind and will into even the most

trivial of tasks.

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

THE TERROR OF THE MACHINE

 

 

Repetitive labour--the doing of one thing over and over again and always

in the same way--is a terrifying prospect to a certain kind of mind. It

is terrifying to me. I could not possibly do the same thing day in and

day out, but to other minds, perhaps I might say to the majority of

minds, repetitive operations hold no terrors. In fact, to some types of

mind thought is absolutely appalling. To them the ideal job is one where

the creative instinct need not be expressed. The jobs where it is

necessary to put in mind as well as muscle have very few takers--we

always need men who like a job because it is difficult. The average

worker, I am sorry to say, wants a job in which he does not have to put

forth much physical exertion--above all, he wants a job in which he does

not have to think. Those who have what might be called the creative type

of mind and who thoroughly abhor monotony are apt to imagine that all

other minds are similarly restless and therefore to extend quite

unwanted sympathy to the labouring man who day in and day out performs

almost exactly the same operation.

 

When you come right down to it, most jobs are repetitive. A business man

has a routine that he follows with great exactness; the work of a bank

president is nearly all routine; the work of under officers and clerks

in a bank is purely routine. Indeed, for most purposes and most people,

it is necessary to establish something in the way of a routine and to

make most motions purely repetitive--otherwise the individual will not

get enough done to be able to live off his own exertions. There is no

reason why any one with a creative mind should be at a monotonous job,

for everywhere the need for creative men is pressing. There will never

be a dearth of places for skilled people, but we have to recognize that

the will to be skilled is not general. And even if the will be present,

then the courage to go through with the training is absent. One cannot

become skilled by mere wishing.

 

There are far too many assumptions about what human nature ought to be

and not enough research into what it is. Take the assumption that

creative work can be undertaken only in the realm of vision. We speak of

creative "artists" in music, painting, and the other arts. We seemingly

limit the creative functions to productions that may be hung on gallery

walls, or played in concert halls, or otherwise displayed where idle and

fastidious people gather to admire each other's culture. But if a man

wants a field for vital creative work, let him come where he is dealing

with higher laws than those of sound, or line, or colour; let him come

where he may deal with the laws of personality. We want artists in

industrial relationship. We want masters in industrial method--both from

the standpoint of the producer and the product. We want those who can

mould the political, social, industrial, and moral mass into a sound and

shapely whole. We have limited the creative faculty too much and have

used it for too trivial ends. We want men who can create the working

design for all that is right and good and desirable in our life. Good

intentions plus well-thought-out working designs can be put into

practice and can be made to succeed. It is possible to increase the

well-being of the workingman--not by having him do less work, but by

aiding him to do more. If the world will give its attention and interest

and energy to the making of plans that will profit the other fellow as

he is, then such plans can be established on a practical working basis.

Such plans will endure--and they will be far the most profitable both in

human and financial values. What this generation needs is a deep faith,

a profound conviction in the practicability of righteousness, justice,

and humanity in industry. If we cannot have these qualities, then we

were better off without industry. Indeed, if we cannot get those

qualities, the days of industry are numbered. But we can get them. We

are getting them.

 

If a man cannot earn his keep without the aid of machinery, is it

benefiting him to withhold that machinery because attendance upon it may

be monotonous? And let him starve? Or is it better to put him in the way

of a good living? Is a man the happier for starving? If he is the

happier for using a machine to less than its capacity, is he happier for

producing less than he might and consequently getting less than his

share of the world's goods in exchange?

 

I have not been able to discover that repetitive labour injures a man in

any way. I have been told by parlour experts that repetitive labour is

soul--as well as body--destroying, but that has not been the result of

our investigations. There was one case of a man who all day long did

little but step on a treadle release. He thought that the motion was

making him one-sided; the medical examination did not show that he had

been affected but, of course, he was changed to another job that used a

different set of muscles. In a few weeks he asked for his old job again.

It would seem reasonable to imagine that going through the same set of

motions daily for eight hours would produce an abnormal body, but we

have never had a case of it. We shift men whenever they ask to be

shifted and we should like regularly to change them--that would be

entirely feasible if only the men would have it that way. They do not

like changes which they do not themselves suggest. Some of the

operations are undoubtedly monotonous--so monotonous that it seems

scarcely possible that any man would care to continue long at the same

job. Probably the most monotonous task in the whole factory is one in

which a man picks up a gear with a steel hook, shakes it in a vat of

oil, then turns it into a basket. The motion never varies. The gears

come to him always in exactly the same place, he gives each one the same

number of shakes, and he drops it into a basket which is always in the

same place. No muscular energy is required, no intelligence is required.

He does little more than wave his hands gently to and fro--the steel rod

is so light. Yet the man on that job has been doing it for eight solid

years. He has saved and invested his money until now he has about forty

thousand dollars--and he stubbornly resists every attempt to force him

into a better job!

 

The most thorough research has not brought out a single case of a man's

mind being twisted or deadened by the work. The kind of mind that does

not like repetitive work does not have to stay in it. The work in each

department is classified according to its desirability and skill into

Classes "A," "B," and "C," each class having anywhere from ten to thirty

different operations. A man comes directly from the employment office to

"Class C." As he gets better he goes into "Class B," and so on into

"Class A," and out of "Class A" into tool making or some supervisory

capacity. It is up to him to place himself. If he stays in production it

is because he likes it.

 

In a previous chapter I noted that no one applying for work is refused

on account of physical condition. This policy went into effect on

January 12, 1914, at the time of setting the minimum wage at five

dollars a day and the working day at eight hours. It carried with it the

further condition that no one should be discharged on account of

physical condition, except, of course, in the case of contagious

disease. I think that if an industrial institution is to fill its whole

role, it ought to be possible for a cross-section of its employees to

show about the same proportions as a cross-section of a society in

general. We have always with us the maimed and the halt. There is a most

generous disposition to regard all of these people who are physically

incapacitated for labour as a charge on society and to support them by

charity. There are cases where I imagine that the support must be by

charity--as, for instance, an idiot. But those cases are extraordinarily

rare, and we have found it possible, among the great number of different

tasks that must be performed somewhere in the company, to find an

opening for almost any one and on the basis of production. The blind man

or cripple can, in the particular place to which he is assigned, perform

just as much work and receive exactly the same pay as a wholly

able-bodied man would. We do not prefer cripples--but we have

demonstrated that they can earn full wages.

 

It would be quite outside the spirit of what we are trying to do, to

take on men because they were crippled, pay them a lower wage, and be

content with a lower output. That might be directly helping the men but

it would not be helping them in the best way. The best way is always the

way by which they can be put on a productive par with able-bodied men. I

believe that there is very little occasion for charity in this

world--that is, charity in the sense of making gifts. Most certainly

business and charity cannot be combined; the purpose of a factory is to

produce, and it ill serves the community in general unless it does

produce to the utmost of its capacity. We are too ready to assume

without investigation that the full possession of faculties is a

condition requisite to the best performance of all jobs. To discover

just what was the real situation, I had all of the different jobs in the

factory classified to the kind of machine and work--whether the physical

labour involved was light, medium, or heavy; whether it were a wet or a

dry job, and if not, with what kind of fluid; whether it were clean or

dirty; near an oven or a furnace; the condition of the air; whether one

or both hands had to be used; whether the employee stood or sat down at

his work; whether it was noisy or quiet; whether it required accuracy;

whether the light was natural or artificial; the number of pieces that

had to be handled per hour; the weight of the material handled; and the

description of the strain upon the worker. It turned out at the time of

the inquiry that there were then 7,882 different jobs in the factory. Of

these, 949 were classified as heavy work requiring strong, able-bodied,

and practically physically perfect men; 3,338 required men of ordinary

physical development and strength. The remaining 3,595 jobs were

disclosed as requiring no physical exertion and could be performed by

the slightest, weakest sort of men. In fact, most of them could be

satisfactorily filled by women or older children. The lightest jobs were

again classified to discover how many of them required the use of full

faculties, and we found that 670 could be filled by legless men, 2,637

by one-legged men, 2 by armless men, 715 by one-armed men, and 10 by

blind men. Therefore, out of 7,882 kinds of jobs, 4,034--although some

of them required strength--did not require full physical capacity. That

is, developed industry can provide wage work for a higher average of

standard men than are ordinarily included in any normal community. If

the jobs in any one industry or, say, any one factory, were analyzed as

ours have been analyzed, the proportion might be very different, yet I

am quite sure that if work is sufficiently subdivided--subdivided to

the point of highest economy--there will be no dearth of places in which

the physically incapacitated can do a man's job and get a man's wage. It

is economically most wasteful to accept crippled men as charges and then

to teach them trivial tasks like the weaving of baskets or some other

form of unremunerative hand labour, in the hope, not of aiding them to

make a living, but of preventing despondency.

 

When a man is taken on by the Employment Department, the theory is to

put him into a job suited to his condition. If he is already at work and

he does not seem able to perform the work, or if he does not like his

work, he is given a transfer card, which he takes up to the transfer

department, and after an examination he is tried out in some other work

more suited to his condition or disposition. Those who are below the

ordinary physical standards are just as good workers, rightly placed, as

those who are above. For instance, a blind man was assigned to the stock

department to count bolts and nuts for shipment to branch

establishments. Two other able-bodied men were already employed on this

work. In two days the foreman sent a note to the transfer department

releasing the able-bodied men because the blind man was able to do not

only his own work but also the work that had formerly been done by the

sound men.

 

This salvage can be carried further. It is usually taken for granted

that when a man is injured he is simply out of the running and should be

paid an allowance. But there is always a period of convalescence,

especially in fracture cases, where the man is strong enough to work,

and, indeed, by that time usually anxious to work, for the largest

possible accident allowance can never be as great as a man's wage. If it

were, then a business would simply have an additional tax put upon it,

and that tax would show up in the cost of the product. There would be

less buying of the product and therefore less work for somebody. That is

an inevitable sequence that must always be borne in mind.

 

We have experimented with bedridden men--men who were able to sit up. We

put black oilcloth covers or aprons over the beds and set the men to

work screwing nuts on small bolts. This is a job that has to be done by

hand and on which fifteen or twenty men are kept busy in the Magneto

Department. The men in the hospital could do it just as well as the men

in the shop and they were able to receive their regular wages. In fact,

their production was about 20 per cent., I believe, above the usual shop

production. No man had to do the work unless he wanted to. But they all

wanted to. It kept time from hanging on their hands. They slept and ate

better and recovered more rapidly.

 

No particular consideration has to be given to deaf-and-dumb employees.

They do their work one hundred per cent. The tubercular employees--and

there are usually about a thousand of them--mostly work in the material

salvage department. Those cases which are considered contagious work

together in an especially constructed shed. The work of all of them is

largely out of doors.

 

At the time of the last analysis of employed, there were 9,563

sub-standard men. Of these, 123 had crippled or amputated arms,

forearms, or hands. One had both hands off. There were 4 totally blind

men, 207 blind in one eye, 253 with one eye nearly blind, 37 deaf and

dumb, 60 epileptics, 4 with both legs or feet missing, 234 with one foot

or leg missing. The others had minor impediments.

 

The length of time required to become proficient in the various

occupations is about as follows: 43 per cent. of all the jobs require

not over one day of training; 36 per cent. require from one day to one

week; 6 per cent. require from one to two weeks; 14 per cent. require

from one month to one year; one per cent. require from one to six years.

The last jobs require great skill--as in tool making and die sinking.

 

The discipline throughout the plant is rigid. There are no petty rules,

and no rules the justice of which can reasonably be disputed. The

injustice of arbitrary discharge is avoided by confining the right of

discharge to the employment manager, and he rarely exercises it. The

year 1919 is the last on which statistics were kept. In that year 30,155

changes occurred. Of those 10,334 were absent more than ten days without

notice and therefore dropped. Because they refused the job assigned or,

without giving cause, demanded a transfer, 3,702 were let go. A refusal

to learn English in the school provided accounted for 38 more; 108

enlisted; about 3,000 were transferred to other plants. Going home,

going into farming or business accounted for about the same number.

Eighty-two women were discharged because their husbands were working--we

do not employ married women whose husbands have jobs. Out of the whole

lot only 80 were flatly discharged and the causes were:

Misrepresentation, 56; by order of Educational Department, 20; and

undesirable, 4.

 

We expect the men to do what they are told. The organization is so

highly specialized and one part is so dependent upon another that we

could not for a moment consider allowing men to have their own way.

Without the most rigid discipline we would have the utmost confusion. I

think it should not be otherwise in industry. The men are there to get

the greatest possible amount of work done and to receive the highest

possible pay. If each man were permitted to act in his own way,

production would suffer and therefore pay would suffer. Any one who does

not like to work in our way may always leave. The company's conduct

toward the men is meant to be exact and impartial. It is naturally to

the interest both of the foremen and of the department heads that the

releases from their departments should be few. The workman has a full

chance to tell his story if he has been unjustly treated--he has full

recourse. Of course, it is inevitable that injustices occur. Men are not

always fair with their fellow workmen. Defective human nature obstructs

our good intentions now and then. The foreman does not always get the

idea, or misapplies it--but the company's intentions are as I have

stated, and we use every means to have them understood.

 

It is necessary to be most insistent in the matter of absences. A man

may not come or go as he pleases; he may always apply for leave to the

foreman, but if he leaves without notice, then, on his return, the

reasons for his absence are carefully investigated and are sometimes

referred to the Medical Department. If his reasons are good, he is

permitted to resume work. If they are not good he may be discharged. In

hiring a man the only data taken concerns his name, his address, his

age, whether he is married or single, the number of his dependents,

whether he has ever worked for the Ford Motor Company, and the condition

of his sight and his hearing. No questions are asked concerning what the

man has previously done, but we have what we call the "Better Advantage

Notice," by which a man who has had a trade before he came to us files a

notice with the employment department stating what the trade was. In

this way, when we need specialists of any kind, we can get them right

out of production. This is also one of the avenues by which tool makers

and moulders quickly reach the higher positions. I once wanted a Swiss

watch maker. The cards turned one up--he was running a drill press. The

Heat Treat department wanted a skilled firebrick layer. He also was

found on a drill press--he is now a general inspector.

 

There is not much personal contact--the men do their work and go home--a

factory is not a drawing room. But we try to have justice and, while

there may be little in the way of hand shaking--we have no professional

hand shakers--also we try to prevent opportunity for petty

personalities. We have so many departments that the place is almost a

world in itself--every kind of man can find a place somewhere in it.

Take fighting between men. Men will fight, and usually fighting is a

cause for discharge on the spot. We find that does not help the

fighters--it merely gets them out of our sight. So the foremen have

become rather ingenious in devising punishments that will not take

anything away from the man's family and which require no time at all to

administer.

 

One point that is absolutely essential to high capacity, as well as to

humane production, is a clean, well-lighted and well-ventilated factory.

Our machines are placed very close together--every foot of floor space

in the factory carries, of course, the same overhead charge. The

consumer must pay the extra overhead and the extra transportation

involved in having machines even six inches farther apart than they have

to be. We measure on each job the exact amount of room that a man needs;

he must not be cramped--that would be waste. But if he and his machine

occupy more space than is required, that also is waste. This brings our

machines closer together than in probably any other factory in the

world. To a stranger they may seem piled right on top of one another,

but they are scientifically arranged, not only in the sequence of

operations, but to give every man and every machine every square inch

that he requires and, if possible, not a square inch, and certainly not

a square foot, more than he requires. Our factory buildings are not

intended to be used as parks. The close placing requires a maximum of

safeguards and ventilation.

 

Machine safeguarding is a subject all of itself. We do not consider any

machine--no matter how efficiently it may turn out its work--as a proper

machine unless it is absolutely safe. We have no machines that we

consider unsafe, but even at that a few accidents will happen. Every

accident, no matter how trivial, is traced back by a skilled man

employed solely for that purpose, and a study is made of the machine to

make that same accident in the future impossible.

 

When we put up the older buildings, we did not understand so much about

ventilation as we do to-day. In all the later buildings, the supporting

columns are made hollow and through them the bad air is pumped out and

the good air introduced. A nearly even temperature is kept everywhere

the year round and, during daylight, there is nowhere the necessity for

artificial light. Something like seven hundred men are detailed

exclusively to keeping the shops clean, the windows washed, and all of

the paint fresh. The dark corners which invite expectoration are painted

white. One cannot have morale without cleanliness. We tolerate makeshift

cleanliness no more than makeshift methods.

 

No reason exists why factory work should be dangerous. If a man has

worked too hard or through too long hours he gets into a mental state

that invites accidents. Part of the work of preventing accidents is to

avoid this mental state; part is to prevent carelessness, and part is to

make machinery absolutely fool-proof. The principal causes of accidents

as they are grouped by the experts are:

 

(1) Defective structures; (2) defective machines; (3) insufficient room;

(4) absence of safeguards; (5) unclean conditions; (6) bad lights; (7)







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