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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3 (July 1, 1927)

Production Engineering — (Part XII.) — “The Foreman's Cheque Book.”

page 40

Production Engineering
(Part XII.)

“The Foreman's Cheque Book.”

When a Loco/40, or Loco/43, or any other form of requisition for material is issued, an instruction to spend some money is given. This ends in the writing of a cheque for a stipulated sum-real money to pay for the material being drawn from the Railway Account.

I wonder how many, out of all those authorised to issue material requisitions of any sort, really appreciate that their requisition book is a very real cheque book-with just this big difference-that it is a cheque book on someone else's account.

Old Auckland. Showing schooner at anchor on the site of the new railway station building at Auckland.

Old Auckland.
Showing schooner at anchor on the site of the new railway station building at Auckland.

Orders for material, instructions for the Stores Branch to carry stock, orders in Workshops for spare parts, etc., are all cheques issued, for which hard cash is paid out.

Is the same judgment used in placing these orders on the Railway Account, as would be used if the money had to be paid out of your own account?

Is the Railway Department entitled to any less consideration because you do not own it personally? “Of course it isn't.”

I have written on this subject before, but this is a vital subject and I feel that there is a tendency on the part of some supervisors to expect the Stores Branch to consider their viewpoint, instead of the broad Railway viewpoint.

There is a tendency in some depots to order six of an item, when one is enough, and when two would be plenty. “It's good stock,” they say. But it's not. It's mighty poor stock, if it's going to last eighteen months or a couple of years. We have plenty of evidence of that kind of stock.

There also is a tendency to “order it on the shops,” and then, while making out the order, the thought occurs, “We might as well make some extra for stock.”

“How do we know?”

You should see some of our order lists!

Sometimes I get the impression that our main shop business is in spare parts! Any of our Workshop Managers would tell you of our investigations into this business.

The whole thing, summed up, is-If you owned the business personally, would you issue that cheque?

Again-Would you order new material, or would you consider whether the old parts could really be made to do another term, economically?

Again-Would you, if you owned the business, allow the supervisors under your charge to issue cheques on your own bank account? Your answer: “Not without adequate safeguards!” Yet that is practically a parallel to the position in relation to Stores orders on the Railway Department.

It is, therefore, your responsibility to see that the supervisors under you are trained to issue material cheques efficiently and economically-not wastefully.

The Stores Department's viewpoint is our viewpoint, and our viewpoint is the Stores viewpoint. I can vouch for that. The Stores want “quick turnover,” “minimum stock on hand,” and at the same time desire to give us efficient service, by having the right material on hand when it is wanted.

We have all got to help.

We may say we are interested mainly in the last clause because we have to deliver the goods, but it is utterly senseless for us to demand an efficiency in delivery in order to save money, if, on the other hand, we ask the Stores to carry large stocks on which they must pay interest all the time. In this way we are losing the very money we think we are saving.

Think on this a bit, fellow members; it's a bit hard, perhaps, but it's a fact. If in your best judgment you would issue that cheque yourself-go ahead. Use the judgment though -the cheque book is real.