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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 4 (August 1, 1927)


I Have always contended that the proven methods of successful manufacturers can be adapted to Railways. Further, I am in a position to say they are adopted by successful Railways.

Some years ago I was actively associated with a successful manufacturing industry that did not believe in letting the grass grow under its feet. I call to mind a frequent occurrence at the Works which should convey a message worth while.

Seated around a large table, in what we called the “Conference” room were the following officers:-The Works Manager, Chief Draftsman, Production Engineer, General Foreman, Tool Room Foreman, Tool Draftsman and a Shop Foreman.

One of the latest shaping machines with which the workshops are now equipped. Safety in operation, speed and rigidity are features of these machines.

One of the latest shaping machines with which the workshops are now equipped. Safety in operation, speed and rigidity are features of these machines.

The subject was contained in a batch of drawings of some work intended to be put in hand, and the questions to be considered were:- “How we were going to do the job-in the time required-on what machines-with what tools and fixtures-and at what cost.”

The procedure was for the Chief Draftsman to first explain each piece on each drawing, saying what it was and its intended duty.

Next an analysis of all the operations on that one piece would be made. The Production Engineer had a “Machine Diagram” of each machine in the shop, giving all speeds and the capacity of each machine. This supplied a basis for discussion as to the best machine on which each operation should be done.

The question of jigs and fixtures, cutters or bars for each operation, would next be discussed, and the Tool Room Foreman with his Draftsman would there make preliminary sketches of all tools required.

Oftentimes the design of the piece would be changed by the Chief Draftsman to better suit the tooling. Sometimes a suggestion from the Shop Foreman made possible two operation into one.

Time studies of the different operations also were made in order that the estimated cost of the job might be arrived at. These studies were used as the basis for the premium allowed time.

When everyone was agreed that the best course had been decided upon, we passed on to the next piece.

At the end of the Conference the Chief Draftsman revised his drawings confidently, knowing them to be right. The Production Engineer had a proper record of the requirements of the Job, how to route each piece round the shop in correct sequence of operations, and what each operation ought to cost. The Tool Room Foreman completed his sketches of tools, jigs and fixtures to be made-in fact everybody had their part planned out, and was out to do their part faithfully and confidently.

And it was carried out.

What I would like to convey from the above is that “that is the method” of a successful manufacturing institution; and there are thousands of others, too, who plan work out to its last detail, long before a piece of iron is ordered for the job. They know they are making money by so doing.

In the shop to which I have referred the man gets the order, drawings, proper tools and all instructions with the material; and the next job is ready before he finishes the one he is on.

If it is worth while to have all that “Overhead” or planning, in a manufacturing industry where the work is clearly defined, how much more necessary is it to plan work in Railways shops where the work, as in repairs, is less clearly defined?

page 43

Without planning, the whole job must be left to the Shop Foreman. He gets drawings, decides on tools, orders the material, allocates the operations, turns the work out-or doesn'st!

Is this course economical?

When you come to realise it, it is hardly common sense.

Let us copy the successful manufacturer.