The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 6 (October 24, 1926)
Production Engineering — Part VI.: Charts and the Human Factor
There is no phase in the management of an industry like ours that is of more importance or requires more consideration than the Human Factor—that is the adaptation of the people actually in the service to produce a given result.
Maybe we have a hundred different jobs—the number doesn't matter—it is because we have so many jobs to do that we need to know where we are and have control of them. So we list them up on the left hand side of the chart. They are definite jobs and we know what they are.
Time is the next point for consideration. There must be some time, some date when each job is required to be finished. Maybe a job requires to go to several different departments or be handled by different Branches of the Railway. Supposing the Locomotive Department orders a machine. The Stores receive it and send it to the shop. Millwrights install it. Electricians connect power with motor. Loco get it into production. Time is a definite item and part of the plan. So we have to place time on the chart.
Just as the old clock keeps ticking away the minutes, so we tick off a number of regularly spaced dots along the top of our chart and make columns representing days, weeks, months, etc.
That makes two definite factors. We have defined our job and along that line, in the column representing the date the job should be done, we make a “completion mark.’
The next factor is the uncertain one. The human factor! Does the job get done? And when? Can we define the human side at all?
No. We can only define the job; instruct as to requirements and time, result desired, and leave it to the humans to attain that result.
Do they do it?
Here is where we can come in again with something we can record, and since this is a record of the result, it interests us more than anything else.
Do they do it? On time? Yes—then we chart under the date a black line which means—Done or On Schedule.
Next item—is it done? No! What's the reason?page 29
Every production checker will ask the reason. It is an essential part of his marking to know the reason and to indicate it on his chart or else enter “Reason not clear,” which indicates that more than he do not know why the job is not done.
What's the reason? It may be any one of the following:—Waiting for material from Stores. Waiting for electricians to connect. Waiting for Head Office instructions or drawings. Waiting for another Department in own Workshop.
By a system of coloured lines the Department concerned in the delay is marked up, so that it does not become a difficult matter to really know where delays most consistently occur. That is what we want to know, because these weak points demand the attention of the management in order to make a better organisation for better service.
This method of charting progress and results is a very excellent one even if one only wants to know what did happen. Too often it occurs, that the man who has the job at the time it is wanted, or when it is checked up, comes in for all the criticism due to someone else.
The progress chart tells the truth, for this reason. We have the man who makes no fuss, perhaps effaces himself too much and, by his very quietness, makes the officer in charge not sure of him. What does the chart record of his work? On time! On time! On time!
We have the man who reminds us of a fire engine. Hustle. Speed. Noise. Promises galore, all personally made, so that the officer in charge is very impressed. Does he do it? What does the chart show? Delay! Delay! Delay! Reasons, always reasons, but delays!
We have the solid steady man whose results are consistent; the student type who gets the results another way; the disgruntled man who may also be getting results; the talker, the intelligent, the dependable, the silent—in fact one cannot enumerate the number of combinations that enter into each of cur problems. Among all types some get there, some don't; very few there are who don't try; so that if the result only enables us to spot delays before they affect the final completion date, we are accepting a lot. The method is constructive and designed to enable us to improve things, and is not for purposes of personal criticism.
By explaining these methods frankly and openly I am indicating plainly that there are no secret or stunt ideas or motives in our minds, and that must appeal to all in the service who are sincere to co-operate with us.
The Empty Seat
The Empty Seat is eloquent in its silence, eloquent to the fact that passenger department representatives, and all cmployees, have still much more business to get. The Empty Seat is a dead loss to the Railways and a dead loss to the employee. To some it might be a sign of inefficiency; certainly it is an indication that untiring effort must be continued until the Empty Seat is a rarity on all standard trains. How many Empty Seats are you filling?
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The coloured porter of the Pullman car company of America has been described as “the genius of the gentle art of travellers’ comfort.”