Pioneering Efforts of Taylor, Gilbreth and Emerson

Contribution of F.W. Taylor to Industrial Engineering

Taylor developed efficient methods, advocated scientific management and  advocated study of work by engineers and shop managers. Taylor developed both scientific study of machine work and man work. He also developed stop watch time study to find the improvement in working time due to various changes proposed by industrial engineers/scientific managers.
Taylor was involved in the activities of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) from the very early years. In year 1886, when Henry Towne called for the study of management, accounting and economics by engineers, Taylor was present in the meeting and he participated in the discussion of cost accounting system proposed by Metcalf. Thus Taylor already had active participation in study of accounting, economics and productivity improvement.  Subsequent to the presentation of papers on productivity gain sharing by Towne, and Halsey Taylor presented his ideas on piece rate system and daily wage system that included mechanism for time study and process improvement. Taylor also presented a paper on redesign of belt system based on collection of data for 10 years on cost of the belting system. Thus Taylor laid the strong foundation for redesign of engineering components and systems based on the accumulated cost data and economic decision making.

Taylor’s Industrial Engineering

Industrial Engineering Described in Shop Management by F.W. Taylor

Time Study – Explanation by F.W. Taylor

Industrial Engineering and Productivity Improvement Described in Scientific Management by F.W. Taylor

Foundation of Scientific Management

Productivity Improvement in Machine Shops through Scientific Machine Work and Man Work by Taylor

Illustration of Human Effort Productivity Improvement – Pig Iron Handling by Taylor

F.W. Taylor – Shop Management – With Appropriate Sections

F.W. Taylor Scientific Management – With Appropriate Sections

Contribution of F.W. Gilbreth

Frank B. Gilbreth, the engineer who conceived the “Motion Study” Principles (techniques for manual productivity improvement) once visited a British-Japanese Exposition. There a demonstration of polishing shoes was being held to help the sales of Japanese shoe polish.

Casually walking and talking with his friend, Gilbreth stopped to view the shoe polish wrapping demonstration. Gilbreth watched for a few moments, then simply said, “They are really skilled, but they could produce more.” He timed the fastest girl and without hesitation, ascended the platform. He found she was being paid on a piecework basis and said, “I’m going to tell you how to earn more money, but you must follow my instructions.” He changed the location of her supplies and showed her how to wrap and set aside more efficiently. He timed her again after several cycles. When he rejoined his friend he said, “When she gets the hang of it she’ll be making twice her former earnings.”

That is an example of the applied results of using Gilbreth’s Motion Study Principles. Industrial Engineers used these guiding rules throughout the United States. Gilbreth said if his Motion Study Principles had not been previously applied to any manual work, by their application the productivity would be doubled or more.

In the late 1940’s, James S. Perkins, an Industrial Engineer, on a research assignment for the Western Electric Company, was at the University of Iowa, where he met Mrs. Gilbreth, who was a speaker at the Industrial Engineering Conference there. She visited with him and reviewed his research. Gilbreth’s film studies, research and conclusions, preserved by James Perkins extend into many diverse areas:

•Motion and Fatigue Study
•Skill Study
•Plant Layout and Material Handling
•Inventory Control
•Production Control
•Business Procedures
•Safety Methods
•Developing Occupations for the Handicapped
•Athletic Training and Skills
•Military Training
•Surgical Operations

Gilbreth developed the route model technique to improve the flow of materials in manufacturing operations. When he first developed it, Gilbreth said that several of his engineering friends, at an engineering meeting, laughed themselves to death, but that it was quickly accepted by Plant Managers. He found that by its use, the layout distance was often cut by 75% and product processing time was reduced substantially. Further, plant productivity was usually increased by 15 to 25%.

Gilbreth’s cyclegraph technique, to learn about skill, was one of his significant contributions. He demonstrates this technique in the film and also shows the three-dimensional model he made from the pictures of a drilling operation. He said, “The expert uses the motion model for learning the existing motion path and the possible lines for improvement. An efficient and skillful motion has smoothness, grace, strong marks of habit, decision, lack of hesitation and is not fatiguing.”

Gilbreth’s motion study was described by Taylor in his book “Scientific Management.”

Illustration of Human Effort Productivity Improvement – Bricklaying Improvement by Gilbreth

Contribution of Harrington Emerson

Harrington Emerson contributed to the systems efficiency focus of industrial engineering. His book Twelve Principles of Efficiency was classic.

He discussed efficiency design of organization through 12 principles

1. Clearly defined ideals.
2. Common sense
3. Competent counsel
4. Discipline
5. The fair deal
6. Reliable, immediate and adequate records
7. Despatching
8. Standards and schedules
9. Standardized conditions
10. Standardized operations
11. Written standard-practice instructions
12. Efficiency-reward

Standards and standardization as a basis for efficiency was strongly advocated by him. Nearly two hundred companies adopted various features of the Emerson Efficiency system, which included production routing procedures, standardized working conditions and tasks, time and motion studies, and a bonus plan which raised workers’ wages in accordance with greater efficiency and productivity [Guide].

Industrial Engineering Knowledge Revision Plan – One Year Plan

January – February – March – April – May – June

July – August – September – October – November – December

Updated 4 July 2019,  31 May 2019,   2 June 2016, 16 Dec 2011