Physical Strength verses Automation.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cabe, Jun 11, 2005.

  1. cabe

    cabe Well-Known Member

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    This is a thread I have wanted to post for a while now, and today it is raining very hard so here it is.I want to see the opinions of you out there that know times in the past where you could do something, but someone else could not, and it was because you were stronger. This will require the limits of work only, and this can be anywhere, home ,office, or farm. Now let us move on with the question and refine it. Let us say you could do it , but someone else could not and now for that person to do it , a costly machine was added so they could do what you do.I will give just one examle, but I have many.I have two workers, one weighs 250, is 6' 8", and very young.The other is 5'6" and weighs 120, and 44 years old.The first person can move aluminum coils of tubing by hand, carry them, and put them into a machine. The other person required a very large movable crane to be installed just to do the lifting.O.K. this is the the main question:From a managers point of veiw(and I am not)would it not be more productive and cost efficient to let certain physically typed people do certain things (if they are faster, and save money)or install costly machine to processes to let anyone do it , even if it is slower-not safer, just slower?
    This is all based on a theory I have that human labor is very seldom ever used efficiently, we too often want everything to be generic, and this is so off base it defies even the rules of nature. I mean think about this ... this would mean Lions could fly, and Rabbits would prowl the Savannahs hunting Zebra. I know we are Gods children, and not animals, but even the creator endowed each of us with unique and special gifts.Marty.
     
  2. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Work smarter, not harder!

    I was the guy that could lift heavy objects without help. My back and arms were stronger than my brain. Over time my brain has become stronger and my back not only weaker but injured.
     

  3. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ....................I think this question involves more sets of variables than I first envisioned . My initial response would be to say...max. efficiency can be achieved by employing the most talented people to do the work. Concurrently , implicit with this idea is that their size\strength is completely ignored and you facilitate their talent with whatever mechanical help that they require . This is especially True if the Part being mfged requires very high levels of precision and tolerance , such as a Turbine blade for a jet engine for an F16 that produces around 32,000 pounds of thrust . And , IF the mfger has to absorb ANY manufacturing defects that would render the turbine to be rejected by quality control . .......OR , we could utilize the Wal-Mart philosophy....Atleast , what I interpret to be their philosophy.....They, have a relatively high turnover rate in employment(within the regular workers , not management) . Which means that (a)trained personnel are NOT being retained and their knowledge and prioficiency don't really help improve the bottom line on a Quarter to Quarter basis . So , we might conclude that , given the fact WM is achieving a decent rate of return , that , the Level of proficiency needed to stock the shelves , check , unload trucks , etc . doesn't require very much "on the Job" training . The "Other" obvious benefit of a High turnover rate is that your overall payroll costs will ALWAYS be lower as people are normally given increases in their Pay the longer they m remain in one place .
    .......................Maybe I got alittle off track with my Wal-Mart example but it is indirectly related if you consider that it is Management Philosophy that dictates how each job is organized to produce a product that can be either simple or complex and hiring the personnel to produce that product and what is an acceptable rate of pay based on job requirements . fordy.. :)
     
  4. Donovan K

    Donovan K Well-Known Member

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    From a strictly business point of view, mechanical strength is better than human. The reasons?

    If I buy the machine, anyone can do this job.

    I no longer have to hire big huge guys to do this job. I can hire almost anyone, which is easier and cheaper.

    I no longer have as high of a risk that the person doing the task is going to be injured, so I have lower risk management costs.

    I am not longer dependent on a big huge worker to be at work that day to get the job done. If he is out sick, how does the job get done if there is no other big huge guy? With the machine, anyone can do the job. Same for vacations, overtime, etc.

    The cost of the machine is a capitol investment, so I can reduce my tax burden over time of the cost of the machine. It also adds to the overall value of my company, an asset, whereas an employ is a liablity.

    The cost of the manual labor will always rise over time. The cost of the machine to the business is lower each year, on paper.

    The machine is not going to suddenly quit because it got a better offer.

    Eventually, as this is a no real skill job, machinery should eliminate it completely. Mechanical muscle is a better investment, business-wise, than is manual labor.

    Again, this is just looking at the issue as a business issue, not dealing with the idea of how the company should value their employees, etc. Companies do have obligations to their employees just as workers do to the company but one of those obligations from the company, is to operate as effieciently as possible to continue to make profits which make all those jobs possible in the first place.


    As to your question about effiecent use of labor, due to variation of capabilities of each employee, work must be managed into equal parts so that every worker assigned to the job can do it. This means no one is working to full physical capacity, but then no worker can say he is unfairly being made to work harder than others doing the same job.

    Lets look at a case of a job that requires lifting. Would it be fair for Worker #1, a huge guy, to carry two hundred pounds on his shoulders and carry it from Point A to Point for the same money as Worker #2, a smaller guy, who carried fifty pounds from A to B? Just because Worker #1 is stronger, should he be expected to accomplish four times as much for the same money? Should Worker #2 make less just because he cannot carry as much as Worker #1, even though Worker #2 is lifting as much as he possibly can? Probably not. So to make it fair, in pay and results, the company has to make sure the workers labor requirements are the same.

    What would be more efficient use of labor is for result oriented pay scale. Thereby, a larger man that can carry more would be rewarded more than a worker that can physically do less. This works well for independent contract workers. It would be very difficult in most companies where workers are paid by salary or hourly.

    Expecting a worker to work to his top physical limit, day in day out, is unreasonable. It will always lead to burn out, injury, or worse.

    JMHO

    Donovan
     
  5. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I agree with Donovan.. and we practice this on our farm as well. If the job can be done by machine, chances are we will do it with horsepower not people power... less risk of injury and the job (usually) gets done faster.
     
  6. horselogger

    horselogger Well-Known Member

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    Finally had to admit that age is catching up;yes,I can pick up one end of that 500 pound log without a problem,but if I sit down,I fall out of the chair....I have things to do with my life,and beating my body for money isn't it any more!!!
     
  7. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cabe this example is a bit extreme- easy to say 6'8" young strongmen can do more than who- almost everyone else. Let's compare an average (man) of 5'10" 170# able to lift- how much do those coils weigh? call it 40#? Or is it 80# but only moved every 20 minutes between running a machine that uses the coil of tubing?

    I can move a 50# sack of feed- unlike DH (2 at a time) I do it one at a time though and use the whb if it's more than one, more than a few meters. But it would be the height of foolishness for me to take a job moving feed sacks, same for DH actually.

    Anyway- machines that prevent the job from having to be done by an unusual (huge strongman) person that you might not always be able to hire/have around to do work, that keep such a person from injuring themsleves either short or longterm (don't want all your strongmen insisting on promotion out of grunt work ASAP), that as as been pointed out reduce maybe the number of people you need to hire...

    In this particular instance if it is not just moving coils of tubing all day (actually moving them to a place then doing some other work) how about strongman loading both machines- for self and weakman- or having strongman load 4-5 stations for 4-5 average people to do work not requiring muscles?

    Physical labor if it can be avoided is betetr in current labor/oil cost marlet. On homestead decisions are different- our labor's cheaper and not repetitive, machione/oil not worth it.
     
  8. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    Machines were devloped to help with Physical labor--to do things that even the biggest or strongest people couldn't do. Animals were used for the same purpose.Do you think that workers are to be just used up by physical labor for wages? I think that Brains is much more important than Brawn in any buisness.
     
  9. cabe

    cabe Well-Known Member

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    Unusual answers from several people that I am sure have done quite a bit of hard work in their day.It seems as if some of you may be saying machines are better.Some of you are saying machines are a better option.
    I want to give another example as I stated I have many.Two workers are attemp
    ting to move a bundle of steel over to an adjacent stack of steel.One worker suggests they get the fork truck, hook up the bundle of steel, and then lift it and move it over to the other stack and place it their.A fork truck is dedicated to this, as it is the only large truck needed.. but it has now run out of propane. Propane is replaced tubing is moved and production begins again. The two tubings were beside each other and one was one bundle lower than the other. Total lapsed time 15 minutes.Two other workers in same situation using pry bars easily slid tubing on to the other stack in 2 minutes, and produced 500 parts before the other guys even made it back to the machines.Total cost of first procedure was quite a chunk , and total cost of second less than 20.00.I think we become too dependant on equipment , and will crank a Chainsaw just to make a toothpick(theoretical) but it is happening more and more. Another example, people thinking that hard work(done correctly, using proper lift tech, and common sense is bad for you) but these same folks will admit exercise is important.Every time I ever had back pain it was due to not lifting correctly. Also please do not assume the big man is slow witted and not using the fastest way possible, with or without a machine.Where are all these labor saving devices coming from?How much do we need and how much do we waste thinking too hard about something that really could have an alternate method?Let me tell you very quick my story and I will be to the point.I invented a new way to do something, and an entire new method, much more efficient , and labor saving.Very big money industry was using the other method(slower,not green, and not portable)and they were scared about me.Guess what took place?They admitted mine was better but told me it was all about selling what they had pushed for so long. So lets get off that and let me clarify this point I want to make.....Do we really need what the "other guy" has or do we need to do it safer , better,faster and more profitable.Show me a woodsplitter machine, and with two stout lads and some wedges and a few good go-devils and I will show more firewood stacked and split at days end than the machine. Also I will show you some good memories and a stronger back for the effort. Oh here is the good part....all this was made in America on that particular day.Thanks for all the replies and this is all very thought provoking, but I still feel that we tend to rely on machines more than we need -in industry-at home-and on the farm.I know I do. And it is costing us some jobs in this country. Marty.
     
  10. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Cabe,
    I guess if you look at it that way it makes sense on paper. when they recreate the building of the pyramids I'll be sure your name is submitted as one of the stone movers. I definetly don't want you for a boss!

    There is an interesting side to this thread and it concerns unions. Many unionized companies operate with Cabe's method to protect the physical labor jobs. This happens many times at the expense of the employees health. The company is using high price labor that the union goes out of it's way to block mechanization to insure many retain their physical labor jobs.
     
  11. John_in_East_Tx

    John_in_East_Tx Well-Known Member

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    Go with the machines:

    Heavy machinery is a capital expense and can be depreciated for accounting purposes.

    There will be fewer workman's comp expenses/sick time off from workers who hurt themselves lifting heavy loads.

    And as for 'it being all about what they have sold for so long' well, yeah, of course it is...
     
  12. cabe

    cabe Well-Known Member

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    Beeman, please do not refer to me as a "boss" I work for a living .. thanks very much.I think if you ever did work with me , and with me is the key word you -would find that when the day was done we would be healthy and productive.I do not hate machines, I seem to not be able to get my meaning across without some of you jumping to the extreme so let me try once more. It is the mix here I am writng about, The Mix.Just the right amount , like a good recipe, things used when and at the right time. Not man over machine.Just when it is best for one or the other. Too much of one and not the other, Good grief folks I was thinking this was for folks that wanted to homestead , and or thinking about it. Find me total automation down home on the farm , at some point we do have to put our backs in to it.I guess this is the part where some flaming and what not happens , and I am supposed to get silly and flame back , but I think I will just skip that part and say this"you get to be wrong if you want to". Just kidding , but lets all be civil. Marty.