Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Piece-Work Basis is Found Applicable in This Department---It Saved Money for Manufacturer and Made Money for the Men---How the Plan Worked Out By M. A. OLIVER

[ocr errors]

F YOU take a hundred furniture manufacturers at random and ask them how they pay their lumber handlers, ninety-nine will reply that these operators are paid by the day. They may have any one of several piece-work plans in vogue, operating in other departments of the plant, but when it comes to the lumber yard they will stick to the moss-covered tradition, "Do it thus because your ancestors did it thus."

Ask the manufacturer why he doesn't have his lumber handled on the piece-work basis and you may get a dozen replies stating, in effect, that this is not a producing department and only the producer is paid by the piece, or that it is impractical because there is no satisfactory way of establishing a piece rate owing to the varieties of sizes and stock handled.

Facing the situation squarely, can any manufacturer tell why a so-called non-producer should not be put on a piece-work basis if a rate can be established that will benefit both the employer and the employe? If the lumber manufacturer has found piece-work applicable in handling his product, and many of them have, why cannot the furniture manufacturer successfully place his yard department on the same plan?

Lumber may be handled in the yard on the basis of so much per thousand feet, regardless of the various widths and thicknesses. While there is a difference in the labor and time required to handle the several dimensions, the proposition averages itself in the course of the week, since the crew gets to handle pretty nearly the entire range of product in that time. In establishing a piece rate the essential knowledge is, how much the work is costing as paid for by the day. Figures should be tabulated showing how many feet are moved from the car, or team, to the pile; how much from the pile to the factory, etc.

After these figures are obtained, and the manufacturer knows how much he is spending in the yard, if he decides that he wants to cut off some of the expense, he is in a position to fix a figure that will force the men in the yard to do more work in order to get the returns they have been securing on the day rate schedule. The yard man will not suffer financially by this change. In fact, he will invariably be benefited, because the same evolution takes place with him as develops with the production laborer when his rate is changed from day to piece. He simply moves his efficiency notch up higher and when pay day comes usually gets more than he did before.

Lumber yard operators must of necessity work in crews and if a rate per thousand is established this rate naturally will be divided equally among the members of the crew. If any member of the crew starts "soldiering" the rest are apt to make it pretty miserable for him, so he will be compelled to hold up his end of the work or quit. So the whole proposition equalizes itself.

Consider now what resulted when one large case goods manufacturer in the Middle West had the courage to put his yard department on the piece rate. On the day plan the men had been getting from 15 to 20 cents per hour, according to their term of service and considered value. On the basis of the amount of lumber handled, figures showed that this was costing $1.94 per thousand feet to get the lumber from the cars to the "breakout"

department. This cost was deemed excessive and after some investigations the announcement was made that 55 cents per thousand feet would be paid for loading from the car to the pile and 45 cents per thousand feet from the pile to the truck for the kiln. Later developments made occasional special rates necessary, but these were always adjusted to the satisfaction of all concerned.

There was, of course, the usual discussion among the men, but they soon went to work with a vigor when they were told that they could have all they made under the new rates which would not be cut under any circumstances. The result is that these operators, instead of getting from $8 to $12 per week, averaged $14.50 for the six months ending January 1st of this year. On the other hand, the manufacturer is getting his work done for about 50 per cent. less than before.

Each manufacturer has conditions different from the other, but a proper study of these conditions should enable him to establish some other than the per diem rate for paying the wages of his yard men.

[ocr errors]

Sanding Oak

AK, WHETHER plain or quartered, is a comparatively easy wood to work smooth. It is not a

soft wood, but what is meant is that oak can be worked on the planer and get a smooth finish with knives that are a little dull. The same thing is true in working it with saws. When it comes to gum and some of the other woods, the knives and saws must be perfectly keen to give good results. Now, when it comes to sanding, it is the other way. You may sand gum, or some other even-grained wood, with comparatively smooth or even slick sandpaper and get fair results, but when it comes to sanding oak, to get a good finish, the sandpaper should be fresh and sharp. This is because of the unevenness in the texture of the wood. If it is plain oak, there are the hard streaks and the soft streaks of the annual rings of growth and if they are sanded over with dull paper, it will cut down into the soft streaks and the hard ridges be all right for a certain kind of finish, but where a perfectly smooth face is wanted, one should sand oak with a sharp, clean paper. If it is quartered oak, it is the same thing in a different way. There is a hard film which makes the splash line which nothing but sharp paper will touch. If the wood is sanded over with dull or slick paper, it will simply dig down between the splash lines and leave them standing up in waves. To get good results, you should not only have sharp paper, but you should get the sanding across the grain or splash line to reduce the tendency to cut down the soft places between.— Southern Furniture Journal.

[blocks in formation]

Some of the Un-thought-of Possibilities in Wood for Furniture, With a Review of Woods Which Have Been Used and Now Have Been Displaced By JOHN E. WILLIAMS

F

EW persons, no matter how "smart," can tell just how many kinds of trees there are in the United States. Among botanists there, of course, are those who could find out to a nicety, but the

masses at large, when it comes to questions of numbers and kinds, know mighty little, and care a heap less, about it. The human family, as such, is getting along very well without knowing, and accordingly does not bother much about finding out. In point of fact, it to the average citizen means nothing worth the effort of trying to remember. There may be hundreds of species, but what of it? They are all wood, there is no doubt about that, and what's in a name? Occasionally some one more than ordinarily well to do intellectually may suspect something, say, about oak, not when he sees it growing necessarily, but when told about it. Travelers who are used to riding in Pullman cars may or may not know the botanical name of the wood used in the car. They do know that those underberth panels are ravishingly fine. The beauty is in the tracings of the grain lines; in the waves or indescribable blending of grace and intricacy of nature's inimitable marks. Whether somehow conventionalized, or artificially or otherwise "played up," it doesn't matter. The effect is immensely fine, though, and that without bothering about tiresome ante-facto questions of species, or processes, or even the name. That about mahogany. How now about oak, plain or quartered?

or can it make to posterity? Not much, it seems to me. Oak trees, which from the birth of literature, have been the symbol of storm-resisting sturdiness and stateliness of

JOHN E. WILLIAMS

The editor of this magazine may have been told, and probably thinks he knows; so do his readers, so do I, but how many average citizens could not tell to save their lives? Those shapeless, promiscuous surface splotches that were they white would look like snow flakes, just begun to fall, and not yet covering, only dotting the sidewalk-what has "quartered" or "quarter-sawed" to do with that anyhow? What difference does it all make? The taste of "milady" may be soothed or bruised by the daintiness or boldness of the splotches, but what cares she for how it is done? For all that she knows, or cares, it may have been wrought by nature, or accident, or design, or neither; she knows whether it suits her or not, and that is enough.

But how about it when the discriminating and sensitive-souled matron with an inbred horror of sham complacently and beamingly points to a lovely mahogany dresser or "buffay," the ancestry of which is traceable not to the primeval tropies, but to the fast disappearing hardwood forests of Wisconsin or Michigan, but in the depths of which no tree of that name, or exactly like it, was ever known to grow? The versatility of birch in its rare mimicry of other woods of more patrician native gifts, has been responsible for many an example of what, when we were "kids," we called "pertendin'". Considering, however, that neither she, nor her neighbor, whose admiration has been stirred to the bubbling point knows or will ever know, what difference does it make to either of them,

mien, have been an unfailing first aid to poets and writers. In that probably more than any other way has oak been impressed upon the public consciousness. And how could you furniture makers get along as well without as with it in your business?

Not all of even the leading woods of commerce excite any considerable or immediate interest among purveyors of furniture. The conifers of any one of the many sections of the country, that more than any of the rest include prime favorites for structural uses, do not, I suppose, greatly interest the furniture industry except as they may be used in furniture. Beginning in Colonial times on the Atlantic seaboard and moving first westerly to the Lake States, then southerly to the Gulf, and finally to the far Pacific, where there practically are no commercial hardwood forests, the conifers have ever been and yet are the mainstay of the country at large. Today the yellow pine of the South is the premier in point of volume, but that is because it is nearer to the big consuming areas than any of the products of the Inland Empire and the Pacific slope. Some day when disparities of comparative stumpage values and distances shall both have been modified or eliminated and a new adjustment of the fitness of things established, yellow pine will then have seen its best days and the coming into its own by the super-opulent timber of the Coast will be the order of the day.

Cypress how about "The Wood Eternal?" Furniture folk, I suppose, have comparatively but slight occasion to interest themselves in this unique product of the far Southern swamps. Its purveyors are doing more to familiarize the public with it and its peculiar virtues than are those of any other commercial wood of the period, but in spite of an almost countless array of uses to which it is peculiarly adapted, furniture making is almost unheard of as one of them. Cypress, a wood, by the way, solely indigenous to the South, the best of it to the Gulf and South Atlantic coasts, is valued chiefly for its peculiar "lastingness." Besides the slogan first above quoted another popular boast in the numerous and costly cypress advertisements for some years running in the magazines is that "He who builds of cypress builds but once." There, however, is one decidedly unique product of red cypress that some day may attract the attention of the furniture industry, if it has not already done so. It is called "Sugi," a peculiar process of manipulation or effect said to have been known to and practiced by the Japanese throughout at least a half-dozen centuries. I have in the dining-room of my home in Evanston a striking specimen in the form of a salver with a mahogany frame and brass handles, the gift of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers' association through its secretary, George E. Watson, while at New Orleans I was editing the Lumber Trade Journal, of that

[graphic]

city. The process by which the "Sugi" effect is produced may be briefly described in this way: The operator after applying a burning plumber's torch to the surface of a cypress board until the spaces between the harder of the grain strata are charred, removes the disintegrated ash by the use of a wire brush. The seemingly embossed grain lines by this process left undisturbed, of course, stand out distinctly in bas-relief. The effect is fantastic, or gracefully intricate, picturesque or otherwise impressive, according as the grain may have been marked by nature. In New Orleans, where Mr. Watson has his headquarters, an apartment of the Progressive Union, of that city, was wainscoted with "Sugi" under the direction of that gentleman some years ago, and in a manner to excite the wonder and admiration of the thousands of visitors by whom it meanwhile has been visited and inspected. The object of the club named, by the way, is to exploit the many interestingly unique attractions of the Crescent City, notably including numberless structures built inside and out of

cypress.

Almost anybody may have heard enough about the uses of hickory and ash and oak to associate either of them all with wagon and implement making and other uses in which strength or tenacity of fiber is the most important ingredient.

Poplar, a much less important commodity today than it once was, is a peculiarly honest and dependable wood. There is a tradition that the Pullman Company refuses to use any other wood for the outside of its finest cars and all because of its confirmed habit of "staying put" and its peculiar paint-holding tenacity.

Cottonwood, a "family relation," and to some extent resembling poplar, has been extensively used as a substitute for it when at times stress of supply and demand has boosted the latter beyond competitive reach. But even cottonwood, like basswood, is betraying signs of approaching exhaustion that shall finally become a vacuum.

The last of the woods to enter the lists, tupelo gum, not related to, but on intimate terms with, cypress, has fought its way, like other new and untried candidates for commercial recognition have had to do, until it today is established among other woods of commerce, but capable of utilization in less volume and of less moment than its kindred product of the South, red gum, or as it more euphoniously and suitably is called, "satin walnut."

According to the editor's deposition in the last edition. of this magazine, our distinguished and amiable friend, J. A. Freeman, who first having sought expatriation under the balmy skies and amid the soothing, because genial, climate of California, has declared himself a partisan advocate of red gum for interior finish. He admittedly, it also appears, had chosen this wood in preference to another for use in his new house out there, and for which they wanted to charge him $350 a thousand feet. Mr. Freeman's partiality in this matter is a mighty fine card for red gum. That gentleman, along with the rest of us, now agrees that there is no more doubt about the commanding virtues of red gum for residential interior finish than there is or justly ever was about yellow pine. In the light of some previous remarks of mine in this magazine on this subject, it may be inferred that Mr. Freeman's conversion as regards yellow pine, although coming somewhat "tardily off," is a pleasant thing to contemplate.

As long the freely and cordially recognized "official orator" and the high chief pacificator of the yellow pine industry, Mr. Freeman having with characteristic frankness purged himself of any possible objection, the ceremonies of his canonization may accordingly now proceed in due and ancient form.

The Law of It

Necessity for Safeguarding Saws

In a suit for injury to a rip-saw operator, caused by a board kicking back while he was attempting to pass it through the saw, it was open to the jury to find that the employer was negligent in not providing a spreader on the machine, which would have avoided the accident; it appearing that a hood with which the machine was equipped was cumbersome and not adapted to the kind of work the employe was doing. (Washington Supreme Court, Jenison vs. Shaw Show Case Company, 136 Pacific Reporter 698.)

Validity of Freight Valuation

Although a contract whereby a railway company attempts to exempt itself from liability for loss of freight, or injury thereto, is invalid, a shipper may bind himself by an agreement that, in consideration of a reduced freight rate, the carrying railway company shall not be held responsible beyond a specified valuation of the freight, if that valuation is reasonable. (Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company vs. Knox, 63 Southern Reporter 538.)

Workman's Failure to Use Guard

It being practicable to guard a saw for ripping and other classes of work, but not for grooving, an employer provided a guard, which was hung upon a wall near the saw, with instructions that is must be used in ripping. An operator of the saw, disregarding these instructions, used the saw for ripping without adjusting the guard, and was injured in consequence. Held, that the employe is not entitled to recover on account of the accident. (Indiana Supreme Court, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Company vs. Oesterling, 103 Northeastern Reporter 401.)

Effect of Wisconsin Compensation Act

And

The Workmen's Compensation Act is based on the theory that losses resulting from injury to employes should be treated as an element of the cost of production in industries. The amount which may be allowed against an employer on account of medical and surgical treatment must be limited to the fair value of such service. when an employer offers to provide competent medical or surgical treatment, he will not be held liable for expense incurred by the employe on that account in disregard of such offer. The duty rests upon an injured emplove to give his employer notice of his need of medical or surgical treatment, and not upon the latter to discover such need. (Wisconsin Supreme Court, City of Milwaukee vs. Miller, 144 Northwestern Reporter 188.)

Liability of Railway Company for Delaying Freight Recovery against a railway company of damages for delay in delivering goods must be limited to the amount of resulting deterioration in the value of the goods at the destination, and cannot include profits lost to the consignee through inability to use the goods pending the delay in delivery, unless the railway company had notice when the contract for the shipment was made that such loss would follow as a result of failure to make prompt delivery. (Alabama Supreme Court, Southern Railway Company vs. Langley, 63 Southern Reporter 545.) Special damages, resulting from delay and already accrued when the railway company is informed of the facts out of which the damages arise, cannot be recovered. (Mississippi Supreme Court, Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Company vs. Allen, 63 Southern Reporter 572.)

Labor Should Be Paid on Basis of Its Productivity---The Premium System Has Objectionable Features---Bonus System Seems to Be An Improvement

By HERBERT E. SUMNER

The Incentive to Economic Activity is the Desire for Profit.
-Edward Sherwood Mead.

O

NE of the first things that you learn in the study of economics is that the incentive to economic activity is the desire for profit. From the humblest worker to the president of the big corporation, the thought is chiefly concerned with the profit to be gained in doing one's work. We do not expect, however, that the laboring man nor the humble worker in an industrial plant will reason out this force or fact in business. On the other hand, the high official knows this law, and is constantly seeking to apply the economics of business to cut his costs, increase the efficiency of his organization, and thereby increase his profit.

It is reasonable to suppose so, and, moreover, the writer predicts that within the next fifteen years the heads of even the small industrial corporations will begin to realize that a man should be paid for what he produces. In the end it will mean increased production, a lower

overhead cost per piece, a lower administrative and selling expense per piece and while the profit or salary of each worker is increased, there will be a still greater proportionate profit for the heads themselves.

The writer can well imagine that his readers will take exception in some way or other to the foregoing statements, and will probably say that the piece work system, which a great many manufacturers have in use today, is the only method by which this can be accomplished. This is a fallacy from the start. There are a great many places where the piece work system can be used, but it only applies in some particular work, or for some particular parts of the factory's product. There is the premium system, the piece work system and the bonus system.

[graphic]

HERBERT E. SUMNER

Engineers today are applying their principles of efficiency to such a degree that it may be well termed a vicious economic system. It may be all right, in these days, when business is poor and labor is plentiful, but under the present wage system, in good times, it cannot hold.

There is a new thought that is just entering the minds of a few far-sighted business men, and that is, that sooner or later, when times return to the normal again, and labor is scarce, that the laborer will naturally seek the employment where he can get the most personal profit with the least labor.

The writer cannot pass this point without referring to the drastic actions of the labor unions in maintaining their rules and regulations, the way they have in the past, and he safely can say that these unions form the most conspicuous trust that there is in the United States, or, in fact, in any part of the world today. Their influence has been felt to such an extent that it may be here said that they have destroyed the incentive of the progressive individual, laborer or working man. They ban the man who produces twice as much work. He gets no recognition of the fact except his usual daily wage, and, conversely, the shiftless laborer, who produces just enough to hold his job, is paid the same sum as the other. Where there is no incentive the good worker naturally is not going to extend himself and do more work than the man who receives equal pay for a less volume. The consequence is that the ranks of labor today are filled with a set of men who are only doing a certain amount of work, or, in other words, are doing just what they are paid for. Naturally the industrious worker is not going to use any effort toward acquiring more knowledge of the product that he is making.

Let us repeat again, "The incentive to economic activity is the desire for profit."

Now consider the subject from the other side. If the trades unions are disbanded, and a man is paid for what he knows, or for how efficiently he handles his work, isn't it reasonable to suppose that an employer will give recognition, in a monetary form, for these individual efforts?

The premium system has been tried in a great many plans, and in general it has been condemned a failure; in many respects it is a failure, for the reason that it is not fair to all workers. The idea of that system was to speed up production in a plant, and at the end of the year the company would divide a certain percentage of the profits among all its employes. Is it fair to the workman who bends all his energy to increase production, when his efforts are compared to the shiftless workman, as each gets the same premium at the end of the year? From this you can see that it simply goes to substantiate the writer's statement in regard to the unions.

The bonus system, on the other hand, is the newest of all methods for increasing the production in a plant, and this system is the one that will come into use more and more. Under this scheme, a standard day's work is established, and if a workman produces the full amount of the standard he gets his ordinary pay. If, on the other hand, he increases his work above the standard he receives, in addition to his daily wages, an additional amount, or bonus. Let us repeat again, "The incentive to economic activity is the desire for profit." What will be the result of such a system when in universal use? The employers will make more for themselves and the workmen as well will have a new desire to learn and increase their own efficiency. This is also the basis of organization, as well a preventive of strikes. There are many indirect results that will be accomplished. The constant warfare of capital and labor will show signs of a truce, and it will be also the means of stamping out socialism, to a certain extent. Isn't it a peculiar thing that when a working man has been able, by sheer force of energy, to raise himself from the class of employes to that of the employer, that all his principles change, and he then looks at the struggle of capital and labor from the side of the former

as

and yet only a few years ago he was on the side of the latter. It is the viewpoint and the incentive that changes him from one to the other. Go through any ordinary plant today and watch the soldiering of the men. There is no incentive for them to turn out more work and they certainly are not going to bend their energies toward increased production unless they are sufficiently remunerated for their efforts. It is true almost the world over, and when you stop to look at it, and stop to figure up the losses that are incurred by this very idleness, the results will astound even the least progressive employer. Of what use is the high priced labor-saving machine, if the man behind it does not push it to its utmost capacity? We might go so far as to say that instead of making money for you that you were losing money on the investment, in that particular machine.

One of the best examples of the profit sharing system is the United Steel Corporation. It has been aptly termed "The biggest, brainiest, fairest, most progressive corporation in the country today." This corporation, while probably the most criticised of any, is the most ably managed, and the employes' profit sharing plan is one of the most efficient in use today. You seldom, if ever, hear of strikes or troubles at any of their plants, and it is simply from the fact that their workmen, most of whom are directly interested in the company, in owning shares of stock which the company has allowed them to buy at special prices, are treated with consideration and are paid in accordance with what they all produce as well.

Many plants, that in former times paid big dividends, have not been able to pay a nominal one of late. When

questioned as to the reason most of the managers are unable to solve it and think that by reducing wages they can increase their earnings to some extent. If they could only get the proper viewpoint, and look beneath the surface, they would see one broad principle that they entirely overlooked. It has been aptly said that the Standard Oil Company is "poor" on getting the price for their product, but that they are most efficient in reducing cost. Have you ever thought of that? They do it by increasing capacity and by efficiency.

It all resolves itself down to the fact that a man must work and live. He must have the daily necessities of life and a little of the luxuries as well. Put him on the same job day in and day out, hour after hour, at the same pay, and you have a piece of machinery that is growing older, and doing less and less work. Put the incentive before him, however, and your machinery springs into life and takes an interest in the work before him. He is going to think out new ways, so that he can increase his employer's profit and thereby increase his own. Personal profit is the mainspring of energy-it is the incentive the desire for profit. It also means that we will have new efficiency and intelligence and the standard will be raised accordingly.

The bonus system is the only answer. It is necessary to the factories today, whose accounts are showing up on the wrong side of the ledger. Business conditions are not to be blamed for more than 50 per cent. of the failures, and if each were looked into it would prove this statement conclusively.

WOODWORKING PLANT COST SYSTEMS Fundamentally They Should Be Made to Determine Efficiency, Which is More Important Than Mere Cost Finding---Simple Systems at Beginning

By KENNETH FALCONER

IN CONSIDERING the installation of a cost system,

I

a great many of those in control of productive organizations regard it only as a matter of finding the cost of the product, entirely losing sight of its second and no less important function as a definite record of the efficiency of each department, its use in this direction being based on the records from which is obtained the labor cost of articles produced or of work executed.

Many manufacturers fail to realize that the records secured are not an end in themselves, but rather a means to an end. Finding the cost of individual articles is only one and not the most important of the uses to which such records should be put. They fail utterly in their real value and usefulness unless in their final and ultimate results, the entire system is an influence towards cost reduction and consequently towards greater profits than would be secured without them A manufacturing business is simply a productive tool; the efficiency of the entire organization is its cutting edge; and a cost system designed and operated to meet the particular conditions of each individual case, the information secured intelligently presented, and carefully considered and acted upon, is the best possible means of keeping the cutting edge in proper condition. So thoroughly is this realized by at least one of the most progressive furniture manufacturers in Eastern Canada that he has repeatedly stated to the writer that his cost system, valuable though it is in deter

mining the actual cost of each line manufactured, is of much greater and of more "dollar and cent" value in following up and devising means of improving the efficiency of the different departments of his factory.

Ask

Failure to realize this results in many cases from a wrong interpretation put upon the word "Costs." half a dozen manufacturers in the same industry what they understand by the word and if they answer off-hand, you will likely receive as many definitions. In its broad, but legitimate, sense, a cost system should cover all the expenditures of a manufacturing company, whether for construction, maintenance, production, selling, or administration and control. Unless all of these are included in its records, it is not a complete factory cost system.

In woodworking, as in other industries, cost of product is represented by the wages, materials, and other expenditures, incurred in converting raw materials into product laid down in the stock-room in a finished and completed state. In some instances, as in the case of a furniture factory in a small town, practically the entire output of which must be crated or packed for shipment, cost of product may quite correctly be taken as covering all expenditures up to and including delivery to carrier, though under other circumstances this might be inadvisable.

So far as labor cost is concerned, there are three main types or kinds of cost systems, and the cost-finding

« ÎnapoiContinuă »