The Old Machinest vs. Modern Management

Box 146, County House Rd., Mt. Royal, New Jersey 08061

So often we hear the ‘Good Old Days’ and in many ways we
know this to be a false statement, but for one thing; the heyday of
the craftsman and the real machinist.

What has happened to these people? And why do we not have such
personnel as the back-bone of American Industry? Also, how are we
to maintain our engineering and know how status as a leader of free
enterprise in the world of today? Ten to fifteen years ago, we had
all of these things, but through many companies not wishing to
spend money for real apprenticeship and training programs, the
shortage has continued to increase as the skilled know how has
retired.

A few years ago the gap could have been narrowed had these men
of experience been taken from their machine and placed in some
position to teach these younger men who are now in the driver’s
seat. Gone is the little short and chubby foreman who walked around
with his old felt hat and his curly pipe emitting sparks because
someone had put cast iron dust in it at lunch time. Gone also is
the company spirit that once existed when a man felt that his
company was King and without him it could not produce.

Most of the older generation were extremely conscientious and
much dedicated to what could be called, their profession. Today,
this is no profession, it is merely another kind of job that pays a
little more than pushing a broom; and this is the only reason the
modern young man enters this line of work. He knows little, so he
can be told anything by his inexperienced and incapable supervisor
who has never given one hours thought to such things as leadership,
morals or power of command. Perhaps it is not entirely fair to
place sole blame upon them for: if I remember some of my Sunday
Schooling ‘Help them, for they know not what they do’!

Perhaps it is the fault of the manufacturers lieutenants who
need the flunkies for a greater power status and a personal feeling
of greater importance. The company directors are, I do believe,
dedicated people but the shameful part is they never really know
the true picture. Perhaps the lieutenants dare not let them know,
and with all now placed under a statistical system, it becomes
extremely easy to change a bad picture into a rosy one.

In this present mechanical modern world there are branches such
as Quality Control, nicknamed Damage Control. Then there is the pip
of all Production Control and dubbed Destruction Control for as the
name states, it seems to do this extremely well. These people armed
with a pocket full of pencils, a gold wrist watch and a pad full of
numbers amble around the shop looking for a part that could be a
big brass nut, a 20 ft. shaft or a 1′ gear wheel. Why
doesn’t he ask the foreman (Well, he doesn’t know); why not
ask the old machinist who probably knows most of pieces by heart?
(This is beyond dignity). Sad is the case of a machine problem
where $100,000 worth of white-shirted labor looks over a $100 job
and not one knows what to do with it.

All of this gives me the feeling that a plant appears to be run
as if it were a T. V. or a Hollywood set, where each employee is
chosen for his photographic potential and ‘does he fit the
part?’ It seems our little curly piped foreman of yesteryear
wouldn’t have made first base today, for it is the manner in
which the ‘blobs and gadgets’ are situated on the outside
of a head rather than what is on the inside. By this, I do not mean
the educated bums, for the world has too many of these at the
moment. Great Britain has wound up with too many chiefs and not
enough Indians by the great ‘brain drain’ where her
technicians and machinists left the country for other lands. There
was too great a barrier between the white collars and the blue and
now we seem to be following the same pattern which makes me ask
where does the American go when he becomes fed up?

Sometimes, I wonder what our great grandfathers would say could
they see some of our methods of operation. Today, we are talking of
a high speed electric rail line to shuttle folks back and forth
with speeds of 70-80 m.p.h. How about back in 1890 when Charlie
Hogan and his Heroes (not of T.V. fame) pushed the Empire State
Express along at speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h. and with a dirty
old steam engine. This was not just a test run this was regular
service.

Look again at British industry which was once the most well
equipped in the world. In the 30’s much amalgamation took place
such as the A.G.E. and so on, until today, many of the smaller
companies are now long gone; caused by bad management and stupid
spending of companies funds. Of course, it happened here too,
during those years, and one would think that a lesson could be
gained – least of all.

A company will now say – ‘We will hire all the Charlie
Hogans we can get, if we can get them’. I guess they would But
the question is-how long would they remain Charlie Hogans after
they were hired? In earlier timer, the experienced man was left
alone to do his job in the best manner he knew how, without
interference from process cards and schoolboys. His superior was
also a Charlie Hogan, who, by looking in a man’s tool box,
could judge his ability.

No matter who may argue, you cannot use a computer, nor the
engineer his slide rule, to define who will make a great ball
player or who will make a great musician. How many people have the
knowledge of music to the extent that there is little else they can
know? Can there ever be another Al Hirt or an Arthur Rubinstein?
The answer is NO. You could read all you wished regarding the
operation of an automobile, but it takes a driver to turn it loose
on the highway. The text book cannot put to you the feeling of a
car under your command, in motion.

How simple it is to say anyone can drive a nail. It is simple if
you only have one to drive, but how about the laying of 1500 feet
of floor boards? Then that simple driving of one nail becomes
something else. We now find we have many thousands of these nails
to drive where the type and balance of the simple hammer is of much
importance. When a man gets paid by boards laid, the ART of using
such a simple tool is a non-computed skill.

Let us also take a look at the ‘trick cyclists’ of the
personnel departments. Of course, they have a job to do but to the
layman the test given to folks seeking jobs seem so unfair and
completely ridiculous. There has become an art to job hunting and
it is usually the younger person who has the advantage. Some high
schools teach ways to beat the tests. Never go to the firm where
you hope to be employed for a first interview. Go to at least 8
others that offer similar work you seek, take their interviews, and
by the time you have run through 8 personnel offices, you will be
well accustomed to pouring on the charm at the company where you
hope to be employed.

One must go to book stores and buy copies of all the tests that
are likely to be given, because none of these tests can be too much
different from another. There are only so many ways you can
rephrase a question without changing its intellectual value. To
days question is ‘If a bear stands on the North Pole, in which
direction points his rear?’ Yesterdays question was ‘Sketch
and describe the inward workings of a shaping machine.’ Pride
and dedication are long gone and as most must admit, this
inefficiency does exist, though sad to state the inefficiency of
the machinist will be to blame.

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