This is a new series. While anything connected to shop can get discussed, there is some strong urge and positive reason, if not mission, behind starting this series. British Raj inculcated a liking for sedentary, Babu-type insipid clerical jobs in the minds of Indian youths. These jobs were lowly paid but essentially safe and permanent. White collared Indians have developed dislike and phobia towards physical hardwork. Hence engineers also avoid shop-floor jobs and prefer to sit in cosy office atmosphere. Britishers have gone but their legacy continues in some obvious as well as subtle forms This series is dedicated to shop-floor related discussions. Anything concerning shop can get talked here. Thus our domain may extend, rather, prevail over, areas such as manufacturing processes and practices, machines, latest as well as vintage, methods selections, short cuts, time and motion studies, specific problem jobs , cost and waste control, human aspects, shop .anagement skills and above all, … abundant number of case studies. If this discussion creates interest for shop-floor work in the minds of young engineers, we will pat ourselves for having done a small good job. In fact, it should also enhance the interest of practicing technicians and engineers of all faculties and give them some food for thought..
Multi-dimensional concept of productivity
Normally, productivity is supposed to be the prime concern of the shop-floor engineer. Productivity is not just higher production. It is also not a ratio between output and input which just denotes numerical efficiency. Productivity is the best utilisation of resources, both known and unknown, tangible and intangible, active and potential/dormant. Being a relative concept there is no rigid measurement for productivity. But it is there where atmosphere of "work comes first" exists. Where atmosphere of creativity is there. Where innovation and its immediate appreciation is there. It is there where teamwork exists. On the other hand, it is absent where such attitudes are lacking and lethargy is spread all over. This thinking is on the same lines as Hindu preaching as to "Where Goddess Laxmi likes to stay and where she doesnt". As per our ancient tradition, around twilight or dusk, the mother in our family cleans up the house, lights up the lamp, brings the children together and prays for the prosperity, peace and good thinking. We say Goddess Laxmi does not enter a house where dirt, untidiness, laziness, rough and rude words and in general "Tamas" atmosphere is there. When we talk of productivity on the shop-floor we mean this positive attitude and culture. Production of Rs 20 lakhs per month made in a peaceful, co-operative and friendly atmosphere is more fruitful than Rs 22 lakhs made in the atmosphere of hostility, tension and uncertainty. The enterprise must utilise its resources effectively to discharge its function of creating wealth. A mistake most commonly committed is to assign some particular value as the production capacity of a particular resource (say, a machine) and by permuting and combining all such values the management arrives at a figure called as TARGET--a word most commonly loved and dreaded by the managers and employees in an organisation. This undermines one major function of the enterprise that is - innovation. Exploring for additional facilities in a machine, productive use of the extra space available, using smaller cross-section or weight of raw material per component, probing for unknown faculties in an employee - these are some of the ways by which we can reap higher output from the same establishment. Creativity is an essential quality for any engineering executive. It puts him in an altogether different class. Bernard Shaw observed, "A rational man tries to adjust himself to the system, while an irrational man tries to adjust the system to himself. As such, the progress of mankind is mostly done by irrational men." Going a step further, we may observe that when we ask the question WHY, we try to rationalise what is happening. But if we have people who ask WHY NOT, we are on the path of progress.
Fortunately, innovation is not the privilege of a few. In fact, there is a paradise waiting for anybody who would ask and answer why and why not. Mediocre technicians would do well to shrug off their complex and gleefully start trekking in this paradise. Many innovations have come from ordinary workers whose mind took a deep interest in what their hands were doing. That is why Japanese techniques like Quality Circles involve the grass-root operatives. In general, over decades, increase in productivity has been achieved by replacement of labour by planning, brawn by brain, and sweat by knowledge. In this series, we would like to conclude each article by presenting a few practical tips or suggestions for improving shop productivity. These suggestions would normally of such a nature that the shop-floor engineer will be able to execute them easily with the help of facilities and materials handily available in his shop itself.
Practical suggestions for productivity
- For small batches of production, one need not make full-fledged jigs/fixtures. Existing universal devices can be modified/supplemented to achieve reasonable accuracy and ease of setting. Thus, add-on vise jaws shaped to accommodate awkwardly shaped workpieces may be easily prepared. Also, such jaws may be designed to incorporate a location system.
- Wherever there is monotonous repetitive work of physical, especially, material handling nature, use rhythm. The work should, if possible, be arranged to provide rhythm. See how groups of porters sing small slogan like songs while shifting and lifting big boxes containing heavy machinery.
- In general type machine shops and tool rooms, hread-tapping on small batches of jobs is done by a bench fitter. He selects the pre-tap drill either by judgment or by referring to the chart. In both cases, availability of the drill is also an important constraint. While such a particular drill may be there on the record, it might be getting used and consumed on general type work. The best way is to keep such a specific pre-tap drill in the packet of the tap-set itself .
- Often a particular milling or any other machine is dedicated for a fixed operation on a fixed job coming continuously in huge batches. Thus the setting is never disturbed for months on end. While you look at the set-up as a hen giving a golden egg every day, look into another aspects. The lead screw, the slides and other such moving parts get worn out only within a particular range of working every day while unused portions remain intact. This is not fair for them. Hence periodically change the position of the set-up on the table to the extent practically feasible. This will distribute the load over a larger area and accordingly wearing will be more uniform and not excessive at one location. Get this done under your supervision so that it is done quickly and without any discrepancy arising out of resetting. Also, you will get a feel of the machine.
- Broaching tools are very costly and as they are tailor-made, they are not available off-the-shelf. They should be stored carefully in an undisturbed corner in the tool stores. Long broaches should be stored in vertical position in special stands with V-groove type rests. The stand should preferably be totally wooden ones or at least the resting portion should be wooden or plastic coated. The orientation should be such that the pull-end comes to top side and finishing teeth are at the bottom. This way the rust preventive oiling done on the teeth gets automatically retained in the saucer shape of the tooth pockets (gullets). Also, it is safe to handle this way