INVENTION AND INCREASED OUTPUT.
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The Bearing of the Faculty of Invention Upon Better Production.
By John Stewart, C.E., R.P.A., Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE /ilea(1s of increasing output are skilful organization and "Invention "—apart, of course, from working harder and more regularly !
The working harder business does not appeal to those—quite a large number of people of all grades of society—who look upon work as a necessary evil and a thing to be avoided if .possible. Organization is a matter for the principals of establishments, but inventions are personal matters for everyone engaged in industry.
Inventions may be roughly divided into two main classes—the major and the minor inventions—between the extremes of which there are infinite variations.
The advantages of the major inventions are so obvious that " live " commercial organizations do not require a, hint that encouragement is desirable. The same may be said of minor inventions, but generally the feeling is that it is scarcely worth while troubling about minor inventions, except perhaps in a general way, unless that minor invention consists in an int-: provement in the particular product which one is making or marketing.
For example, the users of a particular machine may conceive a slight alteration in the mechanism whereby the machine is slightly improved, but, aa these users are not the makers and the marketing of that slight improvement is not in their fine of business, it is often the case that they do not trouble themselves, because the recompense is, perhaps, not worth the trouble and the machine, without the slight improvement, performs its work well enough for its purpose.
On the other hand, the makers of that machine would be very pleased to hear of an improvement, however slight, conceived by the users, but, very often, the person who conceives the improvement is he who is operating or supervising the machine and who is not in touch with the makers or their agents. For a variety of reasons that person may not communicate his ideas to his chiefs—possibly he distrusts them and has, perhaps, no idea of the value of his invention, with the result that those who are in touch with the makers do not know of the suggested improvement.
The object of this article is to direct attention to the fact that, if output is to be increased without necessarily working beyond one's natural capacity, it is imperative that all suggested improvements should be brought to the notice of the proper persons and further that all engaged in industry, from the principals down to the lowest grade of unskilled labour, must be encouraged to take an intelligent and sympathetic interest in their particular work with the object of trying to find how it can be done more expeditiously, or better, or cheaper.
As a rule, when one is skilled at a particular work, or operation, it is not just apparent to one how that operation can be done more advantageously, but the following illustration, given in detail, will serve to show that, by intelligent thought and patience, one engaged at a particular operation may see a way whereby something, not perhaps the thing one is pro-. ducing, but something relative to its production, may be improved so that one's part of the work may be facilitated. _ BM _ A caulker in one of the shipyards observed, either consciously or unconsciously—it does not matter which :— 1. That the connections for the flexible tubes of the compressed air apparatus used by the caulkers and riveters simply consisted of wire wound round the ends of,the tubes.
2. That the wire bindings had to be tightened and adjusted repeatedly.
3. That a little time was lost by the workman at each adjustment.
4. That the total loss of time in a squad of riveters or caulkers from this cause alone had reached a considerable amount at the end of a. period.
5. An ordinary pipe clamp was not of much use for various reasons. one of which was that, when the two lugs were tight together, metal to metal, the clamp was not tight enough on the tube and the joint was leaking, more especially so with an old and distorted tube.
If these five points were put to any shipyard worker he would at once state that he knew of them, he had observed them, but no one had apparently turned that observation knowledge into a. practical channel so that the loss could be avoided, till this caulker did so by designing a clamp, the characteristic feature of which is that, instead of tightening the clamp by drawing the lugs at the ends of the clamp jaws together, he tightens it by forcing the Jugs apart.
The jaws open right out to receive the tube and the device can be fitted and adjusted in a fraction of the time taken to bind with the usual wire, and no further attention is required after being fitted.
In considering this question of improvements one must first get rid of the notion that, because an operation has always been done in a particular way, that way is necessarily the best way.
All men possess, in varying degrees, the faculty of observation. Some men by nature. and others by practice and training, can turn their observations into practical work. There is no doubt that, if all men are encouraged in the practical application of their power of observation, output will be greatly increased.
If it can be brought home to workmen, of all grades, from the managing director down to the boy just starting, that, to obtain best results, it is necessary for everyone to observe keenly all details of operation and construction and to try and turn their observations into practical value, there is no doubt that output will be increased, with its subsequent possibilities of shorter hours and increased pay.
Quite a large number of people; more particularly artisans and those who do not occupy very high positions in the industrial world, are very suspicious of capitalists, employers and of those in authority over them. They have a feeling, rightly or wrongly,. that, if they invent something, there is a probability of someone else reaping the benefit. They fear they will be "done in." This feeling is-due partly to their ignorance of patent matters and, in a large measure,. to the fact that, in the past, great inventors did not always•reap the reward they deserved. Nowadays, an inventor need not have any fear. If one has an invention, there is no reason why one should not reap the benefit, if ordinary care is exercised.