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The Task System Not Solving the Problems Commercially Practicable of the Carrier

2nd March 1945, Page 24
2nd March 1945
Page 24
Page 25
Page 24, 2nd March 1945 — The Task System Not Solving the Problems Commercially Practicable of the Carrier
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

It is Unnecessarily Meticulous and Needlessly Expensive Both as to Manand Vehicle-hours ; It Can be Modified to Bring .it Into Line with Practical Commercial Experience

THE " Task System " of driver care for vehicles was described in last week's issue of " The Commerciaj Motor" because so many readers had asked for information about it. Its inclusion in this series of articles must not, however, be taken as a recommendation that it be applied by civilian users.

. Actually, in my opening paragraphs to the article, I referred to a suggestion that the System might be so used, adding that I agreed, subject to certain modifications. In making that statement, I was reserving to myself the right to criticize, and I now come to that criticism. Moreover, now that I have, so to speak, got down to it, I find that the modifications I would like to suggest should be made in this Task System in order to fit it for commercial application are much more extensive than I had, at first, thought likely.

The first thing to realize is that all these task systems, which are anything but new in principle, are really forms of preventive maintenance: they are supposed to be the mechanical equivalents of the proverbial stitch-in-time which is devised to save nine (stitches).

Now the crux of any scheme of preventive maintenance is the point at which its cost equals the savings it is designed to effect. It is quite easy for a scheme to be too costly.

I have not the slightest doubt that, in the majority of cases of civilian use, this Task System would prove to be of that order. According to the schedule, it involves the loss of use of the vehicle and,its driver for three hours per week. Now, a five-tonner, running normally 500 miles per week of 48 hours, Should earn a haulier £15. This Task System, therefore, if rigidly applied, will cost the owner £1 per week, as near as makes no matter. • If the maintenance scheme will save more than the equivalent of that £1 per week it is going to be worth while. It can easily be shown that such economy is extremely unlikely. The expenditure in one year is £50, so that, if this expense be worth while, we must believe that, unless' the Task System be fully applied, the vehicle will, within the year, be laid up for something more than three weeks in order to remedy the consequences of neglect. Every practical man who reads this article will, I am sure, agree that such a thing' is most unlikely to happen.

Maintenance at the Right Time It is of interest to revert to the analogy already quoted— that a preventive scheme of maintenance is the equivalent of " a stitch 'in time . . ." In practice, the stitch is applied immediately the sign of a break occurs, so that the damage has no opportunity to extend and become serious. Now, it *would hardly be wise to apply that rule literally to motor-vehicle maintenance, for that would mean that we should have to await the signs of trouble before anything remedial was done. What we, as practical men, do want to do is to find that point, reasonably short of trouble developing, at which to effect each item of maintenance. These conditions do not apply to Army vehicles: the question of cost of labour does not arise, for, except when a military operation is actually in progress, the men have ample time to carry out task systems and more besides. The cost of their labour is a charge against the community whether they do any work or not, so that, in effect, the expenditure on this Task System is not a maintenance cost at all; it is paid for out of overheads. On the other hand, if, as the result of neglect to carry oat the Task System, a number of vehicles was to break down in the middle of an important military operation for which they were required, the colt might be enormbusincalculable, in fact.

Perhaps the best way to deal with this problem is to plan An alternative system, taking the items in this Talk System as a basis, but spacing the operations out as we would in ordinary civilian and commercial practice. Item by item, they are as follow: (In reading through them it is necessary to remember that the interval recommended in the ,Task System is a standard period of a fortnight between each. I am assuming that our civilian vehicle covers 500 miles per week.) Task No. I. Tighten sparking plug joints, cylinder-head joints, inletand exhaust-manifold joints, engine-mounting bolts, bracket-attachment bolts, etc. Check up on engine for knocks, • uneven running, smoky exhaust, weak compression. All once per month.

Task No. 2. Check oil level in crankcase and refill if necessary. This, I imagine, is done every day by every driver before he starts out in the morning. At 'least, it should be done.

The remaining operations in Task No. 2—inspection of oiL pipes for tightness of joints or for chafing---can also be included in the once-per-month class.

Task No. 3 relates to the engine-cooling system, such as radiator fastenings, water joints, fan and belt, filter and drain cocks. There is no necessity for this work to be carried out more frequently than once per month.

Period Governed by Experience As regards most of the items in Task No, 4, they could very well be postponed to alternate months. They are mostly concerned with fuel pipelines, which do not normally become choked in a couple of thousand miles or so. Admittedly, much depends on the comparative cleanliness of the fuel supplied, and the period which may safely be allowed to elapse between the repetition of cleaning fuel filters and pipes should be determined by experience. As a beginning, I would suggest two-month intervals.

Task No. 5 is concerned with a miscellaneous set of items. Lubricating the control gear, i.e., joints in throttle linkage and so on, needs doing no more often than once per month. The inspection of carburetter joints can be left over for alternate months, as also can the operation of cleaning and oiling the air cleaner.

Task No. 6 calls for close inspection of plug terminals and h.t. wiring. This should not be frequently necessary, but, in case of engines which throw about a good deal of oil, might be carried out once per month. Otherwise, every alternate month should suffice.

The coil ignition and the distributor, especially the latter —these are dealt with in Task No. 7—should certainly have attention once per month. On the other hand, I see no reason for going overall earth connections so often as that: once every other month should surely be sufficient.

Fairly comprehensive attention to the steering gear is provided for in Task No. 8. The first item is inspection of the bolts holding the steering box in place, and tightening them if necessary. Once every two months should be enough for this.

Lubricatien of the steering gear, including replenishment of the 'oil in the steering gearbox and greasing of all joints should certainly be effected once per fortnight. The remainder of the steering gear items need be given attention only once per month.

There is no need for the attentions indicated in Task No. 9-." Charging System "—to be given more than once per month. To go over the terminals bf the wiring system more frequently than that is, to my mind, making work. The way to look at such a problem is surely this : on most chassis these terminals receive no attention from the time of one overhaul to the next. They rarely come loose, so why spend time checking them over every other week-? One item in this fa* that may need attention -once per fortnight—certainly in hot weather—is the topping-up of the battery, • • •

Task' No. 10, in its entirety, can be carried opt bi-monthly: it deals with the lighting equipment and includes such ope.rations as cleaning and tightening terminals, attention to the bolts holding the dynamo, etc., The provision for running maintenance of the clutch and gearbox is made in Task No. II.' The mounting of the _assembly is to be .inspected and tightened, also the movement Of the clutch pedal, wear of the pedal bushes, etc. These operations, as well as the topping-up of the oil level in the gearbox, can be put on the list of things to be done every alternate month.

I would put most of the items included in Task No. 12 in . the monthly class. I do this because to some extent I am rather alarmed at -the stein warning given in reference to the universal joints, and the troubles which will ensue 11 they be not regularly inspected and the nuts and bolts tightened. The work called for in this task, besides that already mentioned, includes the checking of the oil level' in the rear axle case—and replenishment, of course, if necessary—and the inspection of all bolt-S, including those securing brackets to the axle. casing and-so on. This latter 'part of the work 'might reasonably be left for 'execution

in alternatis months. ,

On the other hand, the spring holding-down bolts should. certainly be checked -and tightened once per month, as should the, wheel nuts. Both these items have reference in Task No. 12.

,Task No. 13 is almost entirely concerned with the springs. There" is provision for 'their lubrication as well as for their examination, together with the shackles and pins, 1 should certainly include these operations in the monthly series of attentions: An Optimistic Estimate

The 14th Task is entitled " Frame and fittings.'" The list of items is a long one .but, in my view, the work does . not need to be done more frequently than once every other month. Incidentally, the driver who is goingto get through this particular -job in half an hour has got to work fast. He has first to check and, if necessary, tighten no fewer than 85 nuts, many of them anything but accessible. Then he is to -examine the rivets used for securing 12 brackets and fittings to the' frame of the chassis. Again, it is true to state that •feW of them are what might be termed readily

accessible. . . .

He must then, tiirn his attention to the body and look for cracks in windscreens, door glasses and rear-light glass and see to the hinging of the windscreens; check over the wings and cab panels for Cracks and dents. Next he must examinethe door locks, striker -plates, etc., look to the upholstery and examine the bonnet fasteners.

Then he must examine the body proper, looking for bent or brOken hoopsticks, torn tarpaulin, frayed guy-ropes, broken rope-cleats, worn or broken tailbbard hinges, lost or broken tailboard staples and chains, bent or broken rear Wings and stays, worn bearing-straps, broken boards in

the floor, sides, front or in the tailboard. It is true that he is required only to inspect these parts and make out a report on them, hut all that .on top of what I havealready enumerated, plus what is still to come, makes very much more than half-an-hour's work. I can well understand it taking nearly half a day. • -.

At , the same time I do appreciate that, once a-man has located all thesebolts and rivets and, what is more important, has discovered those which have a tendency. to come loose as Well as those which seem unlikely to do so, the time needed for the, task will be reduced considerably. The final item in this task—still not fully related, for all its length—is the lubrication ot the door locks, hinges and other body parts. Alternate months is a fair spacing. of this part of the task as well as of the rest.

Task No. 15 is concetned with the brakes and provides for lubrication, examination of the hydraulic connections, checking the pedal movement, inspection for wear and adjustment when needed. For all the importance of theseparts I cannot see that, except in exceptional cases involving more than the normal amount of brake usage and wear, the work needs doing more often than once per month, More Frequent Attention Necessary In dealing with Task No, 16 1 am inclined to reverse the opinion I have expressed in respect of all the others: some, at least, of the operations included should be carried out more frequently, rather than less often, than once per fortnight. Tyre pressures, in -any event, are recommended to be checked daily. Nobody., I am sure, will find any fault with that recommendation. The removal of flints and stones from tyres should be effected at least one.e per week as well-as the examination for cuts in the covers. . The bread conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing is that the majority of the tasks could reasonably he carried out once per month—some of them at intervals of two mouths--without any risk of the ‘efficiency of the vehicle being diminished.

A better scheme would be .to split up all the work, including that to be done fortnightly as well. as that scheduled for alternative months, and divide it up into weekly tasks.

Another question arises: Why set the driver any tasks at all? Why not put the work on to the maintenance staff and let the driver stick to his job of driving except that, as is usual when a maintenance staff is employed, the driver shOuld be expected to make out a daily report, calling attention to any defects he may have noticed during the course

'of his day's work? • •

The answer is very much dependent upon circumstances and, in particular, on the number of vehicles. operated. With only one or two machines the driver is usually a " driver-mechanic," and it might then be necessary to put the work on to him. Even with only two or three vehicles in the fleet, however,it -might be better to enter into suitable maintenance contracts with a local garage.

In the case of large fleets it is nearly always better to keep the driver tohis. -driving and have the maintenance

work done by experts. . S.T.R.


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