Film: 5665

Industry + Work | 1940 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

Ideas that it is possible to work out how long any given task should take and therefore work out how to run factories efficiently and pay a worker according to their productivity 1940's
A man in a plain office in suit and tie speaks into a dial telephone with the receiver on a cord, making arrangements to meet someone, then takes a train timetable from a drawer and examines it. A steam engine, square shaped with passenger carriages, runs towards the camera. A small boy in shorts watches it pull into the station. The platform is covered by a metal lattice, there is a clock and signs for the waiting room. Close up of the clock, apparently the train has been late. A uniformed station guard stands by the door and checks tickets. The man stops to ask him for directions. A sign in the background remind passengers to buy tickets. Outside the sign tells us the station is High Wycombe. A London-style taxi cab waits outside, other similar cars, one with a tyre on the back. The narrator walks past shop fronts, behind him a woman pushes a high, hooded baby carriage. He talks about time- how accurate is the station guard's guess of the time it will take him to walk? He passes a red telephone box and a hardware store, stopping by a post box to ask directions of a schoolboy in a striped tie, blazer and cap, a satchel over his shoulder. The narrator walks through a large open gate in a brick wall. He enters a door marked 'Enquiries', where a man who sits behind a desk in uniform - three stripes on each shoulder - in an open office with key racks on the wall . The narrator tells this man he has an appointment. Close up of a black pendulum clock in a case on the wall, shots of different clock mechanisms, a paper calendar flicked through, a birthday cake with six candles blown out. A factory whistle blows and men and women in long coats pour out of factory gates, a crowd applauds footballers, then the umpire blows his whistle. A Northern factory town, terraces, high smoking chimneys, warehouses, huge pipes connect buildings, in the background are hills.

Rows of draftsmen in white coats at their easels, drawing with the aid of set squares. A foreman bends over the shoulder of one man as he pencils figures into a plan for a machine part. Stages in the production of this machine molten plastic(?) or metal poured into a moulding machine, taken out and trimmed, holes drilled in this base, an assembly line where small motors are fitted into the base.

The narrator lectures to a class of workers in suits about the importance of time and timing - he mentions methods of timing; the clock, the calendar, the pocket stop-clock, but stresses that the 'human element' is the most important. As an example of this he gives his own street. English suburbia ; semi-detached houses with bay windows, street paved with spaces from trees. Inside, patterned armchairs, an oil painting, the narrator reads a newspaper and smokes a cigarette. He watches his two neighbours begin to trim their privet hedges at the same time. One dawdles, talks, pets his dog and takes much longer than the other to cut the hedge. The point is that the speed of performing a task depends on the attention of a man to his job. He writes down this point on a sheet of paper on a easel, using a stick of charcoal. Another example is given; a main street shown from above ; black cabs, old fashioned London buses with doors at the back, shop fronts, an important-looking building with columns in the foreground. Men in suits with bowler hats and umbrellas, the narrator compare the speed at which they walk. A woman in a calf-length dress dawdles, looking in shop windows. A simple scale appears on the side of the screen with values from 'very fast' to 'slow' and an arrow points to each as the passers-by are shown again, walking at their various speeds. The 'very fast'- 'slow' labels are replaced by number 50-125; what the narrator calls a 'rating-scale'.

Silhouette of a train driver in his cabin, watching the track to judge speed and make adjustments. Smoke pours out of a furnace, a man, seen from above, waves his hand in signal and the steam is poured out. A school for workers; men sit in a classroom similar to that in which the narrator lectures. They are shown a film of a man stacking tins; they must rate the speed at which he works. In another test, two workers sit facing their instructor. Between them sits a woman at a bench, taking rings from a stack in front of her and stacking slotting them into a vice. They must test their ratings for her speed against the instructor's by using a dial on a wooden box. All three boxes are connected up to a machine which produces a graph showing the instructor's rating alongside the pupils so that they may compare their judgement with his. Two 'students' of this method in white coats try out their skills on the factory floor; they watch men stack metal reels into a machine which adds tops to them. They use a stop-cloak and the 'rating scale' which now appears on the screen again with definitions next to the values, '100' being 'the rate at which a qualified operator will naturally work' provided he is motivated to apply himself to the job. A cartoon of a workman with a simple machine appears next to the scale along with a picture of a stop clock. An equation appears to calculate the 'standardised time' the operation should take when the cartoon man works his machine with different levels of enthusiasm.

A man glues a cork seat into a white wooden stool; the narrator announces every different stage in this operation and works out the 'standardised time' for each element of the process taking into account all possibilities, e.g. delay in delivery of materials, rest etc. Different jobs are shown; men shovel coal into a furnace , women in white coats pick up small bottles with fork-shaped devices, a man washes his hands under a fountain-tap and men carry sacks of flour up a ladder. Another stop-clock is shown with 'allowances' included, a 'work unit - 'one minute at standard rate with proper allowances'.

Women in a factory drill holes in jigs using electric drills on stands, a man cuts screws with a circular lathe, moving the machinery which holds the screw to and from the lathe by hand- this is compared with a machine which moves the screw to and from the lathe automatically. Two men place the chassis frame of a car over its engine. Two men plant cabbages, making holes for the plants using a round pole on a small handle.

Back in the original classroom, the lecturer points out that what he has said applies only to repetitive tasks , what about less repetitive jobs? Two men screw together two halves of a pipe laid in foundations. An automatic stand drill, welding , milling, two men spin a handle. At a desk a man uses a slide-rule to calculate a 'synthesis' of elements of repetitive and non-repetitive work involved in a task. Next to a fire alarm and buckets of water, a man measures door panes with a stick. A painter loads paints pots and a ladder into a two wheeled wooden cart marked 'painters W.E. department only' and wheels it off using the handle at one end. He begins to paint the door measured earlier. In the classroom the lecturer ends by assuring his audience that this method of measuring work done is the only fair way to ensure everyone is paid according to the amount of work they do. More production lines; men sew inner soles for shoes using automatic (or foot powered?) sewing machines. Streams of men and women leaving the factory, some riding bicycles


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