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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 7 (December 15, 1926)

Interested in Their Jobs — Systematic Methods Appeal to Shops Foremen and Leading Hands

page 76

Interested in Their Jobs
Systematic Methods Appeal to Shops Foremen and Leading Hands

A Striking feature of the new methods introduced as part of the Railway Workshops reorganisation is the enthusiasm with which those responsible for carrying through the system have hailed the improvements already adopted. An instance of this is afforded at Petone Workshops, where the Workshops Manager has started monthly evening meetings of all Foremen and Leading Hands. At these gatherings a lecture is given and discussion follows. They have been described as “real live meetings.” The following is the text of an address delivered thereat by Mr. A. E. Walworth, Workshops Manager:—

Gentlemen, my object in calling you together this evening is for the purpose of having a little “talk” on scheduling and planning. As most of you are aware it is some 18 months since scheduling was introduced at Petone and the time seems opportune to me for those concerned to get together and discuss the system in the light of actual practice. Sufficient practical experience has now been obtained to enable us to intelligently consider the merits of the system and the benefits resulting from its introduction. Certainly, several serious disadvantages under which we laboured in the past and of which we were vaguely aware, such as out-of-date appliances, insufficient shop room, unbalanced staff, etc., have been definitely revealed, but to my mind the most important lesson taught us, is that, through the co-ordination and co-operation which the system induces, we have been able, without the least additional physical exertion, to appreciably reduce the number of days vehicles are under repair. Excellent as this result is, gentlemen, there is not the slightest doubt it can be made better still, providing we all give the system the study and consideration it deserves. The success of any system, no matter how good that system may be, is, in a large measure, dependent on the co-operation of, and enthusiasm shown by, those directly concerned with its actual working.

Now, in order that we may judge the system fairly, let us, for the moment, call to our minds the conditions existing prior to its inauguration. On the locomotive side an engine would be brought in for repairs, stripped, and from then on the Leading Hand would be at his wits' end to keep track of his material and gear. And frequently, when the repairs were nearing completion it would be discovered that some part was missing or had been overlooked, with the result that the various departments would be thrown into confusion through having to rush the job through, very probably, when other urgent work was in hand. Such occurrences were a source of irritation to the Departmental Foreman and Leading Hands, who rightly resented being pushed in such circumstances. On the car and wagon side similar conditions existed. Under the schedule system such trouble is completely eliminated, every department being supplied with schedules showing the dates material will come to hand and the dates it must be repaired by and returned to the Leading Hand concerned. So that, in addition to avoiding departmental delays we find under the schedule system that:—

1. The Leading Fitter in charge of an engine or other work is relieved of the constant worry formerly entailed in chasing his material.

2. The work of the several departments is facilitated through the schedule enabling each job to be carried out in its correct sequence

3. Weaknesses in staffing, plant, lay-out, etc., are clearly indicated and remedial measures are thus made possible.

4. The system does not necessitate any man working harder than he did under the old conditions.

Clearly, in these results alone, something worth while has been achieved.

Now, let us see how we can still further improve the system. As a start I should like to see our Foremen and Leading Hands endeavour to make up schedules, in detail, themselves. There is nothing in the work to be afraid of; it is interesting; and it is surprising when once a start is made, how anxious one becomes to continue and improve on past efforts. It is pleasing to note that some Officers and Leading Hands have already interested themselves in this direction and I will tell you of an example which was of real assistance to the Schedule Officers and myself. When the 56 ft. car schedule was in the making we found that the General Car Foreman had already prepared a schedule for the departments under his control. Using this schedule as a basis, the Schedule Clerk, with the various foremen, was able, without difficulty, to build the schedules of the other departments round it and so save a vast amount of time. This simply shows what can be done by anyone sufficiently interested to make an effort.

page 77

Now, I suggested, a moment ago, that schedules be made up in detail, and I would like to stress the importance of this being done. In practice it is found that if sufficient details or items are not shown on the schedule, its practical value is very much reduced. This will, I think, be obvious to you, because, clearly, it is little use making a timetable for some items, if, at the same time, many items on the same job are omitted and left to chance. The main thing, however, gentlemen, is to make a start, and I suggest that you each take your pencil and paper and see what you can do.

Another matter the importance of which I desire to impress upon you, is the reporting of delays. To my mind this is one of the most important phases of schedule working, because, if delays are not reported, it is quite impossible to investigate the cause and take such action as will obviate similar trouble in the future. To assist in this direction we have now developed graphs which, by a system of coloured lines, show, in picture form as it were, the position of any particular job. The one I am now exhibiting is for the 5 special Sleeping Cars in course of construction, the meaning of the various colours being as follows:—

The Buller Road, West Coast, South Island

The Buller Road, West Coast, South Island

Yellow—Waiting Blue Prints.

Red—Waiting Material.

Green—Operation Delays.

By thus recording the progress of work it is possible for the management to see at a glance how the job stands, but more important still, any weaknesses are clearly shown, enabling intelligent action being taken to remedy matters.

Considerable attention is also being given to the question of job costs and overhead charges. In the past our methods for keeping an efficient check on these, have been of rather a crude nature, yet the necessity for such action cannot be too strongly stressed. Economy consistent with efficiency must be our slogan if we are to successfully play our part, and undoubtedly Foremen and Leading Hands have a wide scope for activity in this direction.