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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8 (December 1, 1929)

Selection of Operatives

Selection of Operatives.

The General Manager has lately been illuminating on the subject of saving. The rank and file have had placed before them figures indicative of how losses can be stopped. No business can succeed unless the goods can be put on the market at the least cost, but the accomplishment of this aim is not easy. It involves many variable factors which, because of the differences in human beings, are more or less independent. Since we cannot cut all to a pattern, psychological science has, therefore, touched but one side page 23 of industry—that of cheapening production, but it has another task which the worker will realise is equally as important if commercial prosperity is to be maintained. That task is the choice of individuals for selected work. At present, many of the operatives may be doing jobs for which they are unfitted, not bodily, but rather mentally. The writer does not say that every man will be fitted to his job, but there will be no possibility of a man, whose sight is weak, being placed where sight is of the greatest importance. Later this aspect of picking the man for the job will be considered more fully. But to give point to these remarks one method of selection will be explained.

A boy desires to enter the machine shops. He has always been keen on machinery, and the salary sheet indicates a satisfactory rate of pay. The shops have become specialised, and the boy may be required to fit pins to centres of small rollers. This, of course, is a simple example. The skill demanded to perform this job is found in muscle and eye co-ordination, the pin must go straight in if the job is to proceed at a normal rate. The operation demands that one movement only must be made, there must be no bungling, no hesitation, no mis-hits. To ascertain his fitness for this task he is put before a simple machine, and tests for his fitness are made. The machine consists of:—

1. A metal stand with series of graduated holes which the boy must pierce with needle (5) at intervals. This interval is governed by factory conditions.

2. A dry cell connected with 1 and 5 and 4.

3. A delicately constructed watch which draws the time line on drum A.

4. A make and break magnet attached to a needle which draws a record on drum A.

A simple testing machine used to ascertain a worker's fitness for the performance of specific operations.

A simple testing machine used to ascertain a worker's fitness for the performance of specific operations.

When the record is complete the sheet is taken off the drum (shown under the apparatus). The record shows a “hit” when the needle makes a contact with the metal plate; this breaks the circuit and the needle at 4 drops. As the needle 5 is withdrawn from the plate the needle 4 lifts. When the hole is pierced cleanly by the operator nothing happens and the record is a straight line. This is the essence of the job in the shop so that if the pin does not go “home” at regular intervals then the boy is judged to be unsuitable for that type of work. Of course, one trial does not condemn. Practice is needed; but, after a time—sufficient for eye and muscle to work together—if results on the graph indicate no improvement, then output is being slowed up because of the operator's inability to overcome certain psychological difficulties, and he must be transferred to another job where his ability can be used. A more lengthy consideration of selection will be made later on when the utilisation of specific abilities will be made. In any case, selection is not a menace to the employee, rather it is an asset, for it means work in accordance with ability and psychological fitness.

Enough has been written to show the scope of the subject—that it has a definite part to play in industry. The application of the ascertained facts of industrial psychology can increase output without increasing the demands on the energy of the worker. Selection of workers on a basis of fitness will assist in relieving nervestrain and slowing-up; and, finally, by studying the job, construct new methods of work which are improvements on the old.

The next article will deal with some mental factors relevant to industry.

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“Panel and circumscribing wall Of latest feature, grand and tall.”—Thomas Hardy. The imposing booking hall of Wellington's new railway station (looking towards the Dining Room.)

“Panel and circumscribing wall
Of latest feature, grand and tall.”

—Thomas Hardy.
The imposing booking hall of Wellington's new railway station (looking towards the Dining Room.)