FREDERICK WINSLOW TAYLOR, CLASS OF 1883
FREDERICK WINSLOW TAYLOR, CLASS OF 1883
Frederick Winslow Taylor made two outstanding discoveries which profoundly influenced the course of human affairs. His discovery, with Maunsel White, of the Taylor-White Process for treating tool steel revolutionized metalcutting techniques and paved the way for mass production methods. For their discovery the two men were awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal by the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania in 1902. Taylor also received an award at the Exposition Universelle Internationale, held in Paris in 1900, " For His High Speed Cutting Tools Made by the Taylor-White Process."
An indication of the practical result obtained from the use of this tool steel came from Taylor himself who wrote from Bethlehem early in 1900, that, "in our large machine shop we have increased the speed of the main lines of shafting from 90 revolutions per minute to 250 revolutions per minute, and in addition to this we are . . . increasing the speed of the pulleys on the counter shaft." All this, however, he considered only a segment of his larger and more direct contribution to human welfare through the discovery of the Principles of Scientific Management.
In 1906, Taylor presented his epoch-making paper, "On the Art of Cutting Metals," before the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as his presidential address. It was the result of twenty-six years of experimentation during which time more than 800,000 pounds of steel and iron were cut up into chips with experimental tools. Some 30,000 to 50,000 recorded experiments were carried out, in addition to many others not recorded. Taylor estimated the cost of these experiments at between $150,000 and $200,000. He further states that they were undertaken, "to obtain a part of the information necessary to establish in a machine shop our system of management," and were designed to answer three recurring questions: (1) What tool shall I use? (2) What cutting speed shall I use? and (3) What feed shall I use?
As the answers to these questions were ascertained, Carl G. Barth, the Norwegian mathematician and Taylor's close associate during most of the experiments, reduced the information to mathematical formulas for slide rules. Among his early models was a Complete Feed and Speed Slide Rule for the Bethlehem Steel Company's Lathe No. 43.
During his early shop experience Taylor observed that much of the blame for low production and inefficiency rested with management. Thus, as a fellow worker, his attention was first attracted to the problem of improving working conditions and raising the standard of living of the individual workman. This ideal was always before him. Among his papers are many vivid reminders of his courageous and unwavering struggle to bring about better understanding and a closer working relationship between the employee and his employer. It is a record of outstanding success and of heartbreaking failure.
Taylor was keenly interested in education and took an active part in the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, now the American Society for Engineering Education. His contention that adequate college training should include a year in an industrial enterprise was considered radical but this did not alter his opinion which was probably a reflection of his own experience.
While the exact number of Taylor's patents is in some doubt, there are forty-six in the Collection, some of them held jointly with other patentees. They cover such widely diversified interests as an " Apparatus for Moving Growing Trees and the Like "; a revolutionary " Power Hammer," built for Midvale Steel Company in 1888-89; and his famous two-handed golf putter, shaped like the letter Y.
For more information on Frederick Taylor and the Principles of Scientific Management, please visit: Stevens' Williams Library Special Collection
Excerpt taken from the "A Classified Guide to the Frederick Winslow Taylor Collection" by Elizabeth Gardner Hayward