On The Method Of Observing Manufacturies

160. Having now reviewed the mechanical principles which

regulate the successful application of mechanical science to

great establishments for the production of manufactured goods, it

remains for us to suggest a few enquiries, and to offer a few

observations, to those whom an enlightened curiosity may lead to

examine the factories of this or of other countries.

The remark--that it is important to commit t
writing all

information as soon as possible after it is received, especially

when numbers are concerned--applies to almost all enquiries. It

is frequently impossible to do this at the time of visiting an

establishment, although not the slightest jealousy may exist; the

mere act of writing information as it is communicated orally, is

a great interruption to the examination of machinery. In such

cases, therefore, it is advisable to have prepared beforehand the

questions to be asked, and to leave blanks for the answers, which

may be quickly inserted, as, in a multitude of cases, they are

merely numbers. Those who have not tried this plan will be

surprised at the quantity of information which may, through its

means, be acquired, even by a short examination. Each manufacture

requires its own list of questions, which will be better drawn up

after the first visit. The following outline, which is very

generally applicable, may suffice for an illustration; and to

save time, it may be convenient to have it printed; and to bind

up, in the form of a pocket-book, a hundred copies of the

skeleton forms for processes, with about twenty of the general



Outlines of a description of any of the mechanical arts ought to

contain information on the following points

Brief sketch of its history, particularly the date of its

invention, and of its introduction into England.

Short reference to the previous states through which the

material employed has passed: the places whence it is procured:

the price of a given quantity.

[The various processes must now be described successively

according to the plan which will be given in (161); after which

the following information should be given.]

Are various kinds of the same article made in one establishment,

or at different ones, and are there differences in the processes?

To what defects are the goods liable?

What substitutes or adulterations are used?

What waste is allowed by the master?

What tests are there of the goodness of the manufactured


The weight of a given quantity, or number, and a comparison

with that of the raw material?

The wholesale price at the manufactory? (L s. d.) per ( )

The usual retail price? (L s. d.)

Who provide tools? Master, or men? Who repair tools? Master,

or men?

What is the expense of the machinery?

What is the annual wear and tear, and what its duration?

Is there any particular trade for making it? Where?

Is it made and repaired at the manufactory?

In any manufactory visited, state the number ( ) of

processes; and of the persons employed in each process; and the

quantity of manufactured produce.

What quantity is made annually in Great Britain?

Is the capital invested in manufactories large or small?

Mention the principal seats of this manufacture in England;

and if it flourishes abroad, the places where it is established.

The duty, excise. or bounty, if any, should be stated, and

any alterations in past years; and also the amount exported or

imported for a series of years.

Whether the same article, but of superior, equal, or inferior

make, is imported?

Does the manufacturer export, or sell, to a middleman, who

supplies the merchant?

To what countries is it chiefly sent? and in what goods are

the returns made?

161. Each process requires a separate skeleton, and the

following outline will be sufficient for many different


Process ( ) Manufacture ( )

Place ( ) Name ( )

date 183

The mode of executing it, with sketches of the tools or

machine if necessary.

The number of persons necessary to attend the machine. Are

the operatives men. ( ) women, ( ) or children? ( ) If mixed,

what are the proportions?

What is the pay of each? (s. d.) (s. d. ) (s. d.) per ( )

What number ( ) of hours do they work per day?

Is it usual, or necessary, to work night and day without

stopping? Is the labour performed by piece--or by day-work?

Who provide tools? Master, or men? Who repair tools? Master,

or men? What degree of skill is required, and how many years' ( )


The number of times ( ) the operation is repeated per day or

per hour?

The number of failures ( ) in a thousand?

Whether the workmen or the master loses by the broken or

damaged articles?

What is done with them?

If the same process is repeated several times, state the

diminution or increase of measure, and the loss, if any, at each


162. In this skeleton, the answers to the questions are in

some cases printed, as Who repair the tools?--Masters, Men; in

order that the proper answer may be underlined with a pencil. In

filling up the answers which require numbers, some care should be

taken: for instance, if the observer stands with his watch in his

hand before a person heading a pin, the workman will almost

certainly increase his speed, and the estimate will be too large.

A much better average will result from enquiring what quantity is

considered a fair day's work. When this cannot be ascertained,

the number of operations performed in a given time may frequently

be counted when the workman is quite unconscious that any person

is observing him. Thus the sound made by the motion of a loom may

enable the observer to count the number of strokes per minute,

even though he is outside the building in which it is contained.

M. Coulomb, who had great experience in making such observations,

cautions those who may repeat his experiments against being

deceived by such circumstances: 'Je prie' (says he) 'ceux qui

voudront les repeter, s'ils n'ont pas le temps de mesurer les

resultats apres plusiers jours d'un travail continu, d'observer

les ouvriers a differentes reprises dans la journee, sans qu'ils

sachent qu'ils sont observes. L'on ne peut trop avertir combien

l'on risque de se tromper en calculant, soit la vitesse, soit le

temps effectif du travail, d'apres une observation de quelques

minutes.' Memoires de l'Institut. vol. II, p. 247. It frequently

happens, that in a series of answers to such questions, there are

some which, although given directly, may also be deduced by a

short calculation from others that are given or known; and

advantage should always be taken of these verifications, in order

to confirm the accuracy of the statements; or, in case they are

discordant, to correct the apparent anomalies. In putting lists

of questions into the hands of a person undertaking to give

information upon any subject, it is in some cases desirable to

have an estimate of the soundness of his judgement. The questions

can frequently be so shaped, that some of them may indirectly

depend on others; and one or two may be inserted whose answers

can be obtained by other methods: nor is this process without its

advantages in enabling us to determine the value of our own

judgement. The habit of forming an estimate of the magnitude of

any object or the frequency of any occurrence, immediately

previous to our applying to it measure or number, tends

materially to fix the attention and to improve the judgement.