Dad's Memories

Early at P&WA (Pratt & Whitney Aircraft)

- 08 May 98 - 08 May 98

My assignment on the new job at P&W turned out to be developing data (gosh, more numbers yet) on how the Co. was making use of manufacturing machinery on the shop floor. Because they were expanding so rapidly, and to such an extent had new machinery being rushed in for the impending "war effort", the Boss was concerned that they were not making optimum utilization of all that machinery thru out the shop.

Six of us were assigned to different areas of the shop, to observe, and record, how the various types of machines were being utilized in our area. Utilized--being operated gainfully, --Being "Setup" for another job, -- or sitting idle, and, if idle, for what reason - like-no work to do, -no operator available, -under repair, etc. I lucked out, being assigned to work in the Gear Machining Area, with around 2500 machinists on 3 shifts around the clock. All kinds of machines, that I had no idea what a lot of them were, or did. So I introduced myself to the foremen, and leadmen--there were Foremen for each variety of machine, like Lathes, Grinding, Milling, Gear Tooth Shapers, Tooth Grinders--etc. Told them what I was assigned to do, walked about to see what in heck these noisy, stinkin', machines did - and how they worked. Asked (told) the Setup men I wanted each to fill out a daily log on how each of their machines were being used during their shift. I'd collect the reports at the end of the shift. Most all the Setup men were pretty nice and co-operative and we got along fine--they were very helpful to this greenhorn. On a weekly basis, I'd analyze the data for each line of machines and prepare a Bar Chart showing the % of time utilized by category (operating, in Setup, idle, etc).

Being out on the floor all day observing things, I soon had a pretty good handle on how accurate the daily reports came thru--- and HALLELUIA the company moved equipment around--out of areas where we reported it as "Idle" and more equipment where we reported heavy use. Made me feel like we were "earning our keep" so to speak. The job required that I stay over to see the second shift leadmen, and come in early to catch the 3rd shift people. So, even at 67 cents/hr, the paycheck at the end of the week was a big improvement over the boring work at Globe Indemity Co. Noisy, smelly shop --7am to 3:30pm-- earlier & later - a 25 mile trip to and from work, enjoyable ride, except maybe in a heavy snowstorm. All in all a change for the better.

We first moved into the Farmhouse - plenty of room there,and put our furniture in storage 'till we might find a place of our own - and how lucky can you be--Walter Johnson, the youngest son of a nabor farmer--where we'd park our cow over the winter--(but thats another story)-- was engaged, and building a house for himself on the family land, almost completed, and he was being called into service. Walt was about Arthurs age and we'd been good friends for a long time -- He asked if Grace & I would like to move into his new house, and "mind it" while he went off to serve in the Navy. WOW--brand new, never lived in, four bedrooms, two fireplaces, all the best of labor thruout, tiled Kitchen, Baths & outdoor Porch Area with fireplace. A beautiful home with a great view over the hills, and adjacent to the Johnson's tennis court that we'd been helping them use for years.

After six months of this idyllic life, the boss shipped me up to see a Mr. Motycka in Timestudy (whatever that is, thought me). Now P&W maybe was not getting the best output, the best production out of the shop.We talked a while. Mr Motycka asked about what I wanted out of life, emphasized that he needed --insisted on-- integrity on this job. I replied that I didn't look to wind up any millionaire, just wanted to earn a good living, and intended to be "the best" whereever I worked. So he hired me into the Timestudy Dept.

Now it was a Salaried job -8 am to 4:30pm- at a BIG boost in pay, a mix of desk work and time out in the shop, a more responsible position directly affecting the actual weekly paycheck of a whole lot of people in the shop. Timestudy--observing a specific job in the manufacturing process to make a part, making a step-by-step record of several parts in process-and then analyzing the recorded data to come up with a reasonable "Standard Time" for doing that operation.

A "ticklish" job, not one to engender popularity with the shop operators, since it affected their paycheck. Some operators always tried to give the TS man a "hosing" by taking extra cuts, changing feed & speed on the machine, and in general slowing down the job in an effort to ensure a "loose - allowed time" and guarantee enabling the dept to make a big Bonus. The shop was on a Bonus system whereby each Dept was paid according to the number of completed parts delivered and accepted by the Inspection Dept.. Cost Accounting established a Shop Cost based on the "Std Time" we allowed for each operation to complete a part. (Std Hrs x Average Shop Hrly Rate = Std Shop Cost) My bunch knew me pretty well from being with them so much on the previous Machine Load assignment and we continued to have a good rapport.

After a year or so, Mr. Motycka made me a Group Leader for those working in the several Gear Depts. Now there were Gear Depts specializing on making gears for one specific type of engine - probably 8 to 10 thousand shop people in all. No more time making studies out in the shop, except for an occasional time when a foreman would complain that a particular rate, (pcs/hr ) was too tight. If that part was a high volume part I'd go out to make a check study myself, otherwise I'd have a different man make a check study. I'd go over the results of a check study with the original study man if we agreed on a change in time (looser - we were not allowed to make a rate tighter) we'd do that. Never, did get a foreman call to say a rate was a bit loose !

Along came D-DAY -- and amid the celebration that afternoon came a call for all the Group Leaders to gather in Mr. Motycka's office. BAD NEWS--each uf us received a handful of "Pink Slips" - layoff, effective immediately, -today that is! Our Dept dropped from 180 odd people to only 13 people. No slip for Langdon thank goodness, my group went from 18 to 4--much better than other groups, and several Group Leaders did not show up in the morning.

The shop also was cutback in the same way, about all that remained out in the shop were foremen - not all of them, and a few of the better Setup men. We spent a lot of time cleaning out all the now empty desks, had a bunch of oily old "shop shoes" to dispose of, and not much to do ourselves for a few weeks until things gradually got organized "upstairs" in the head office. Passed time on games, like Submarine and such, walked about the "Ghost Shop" and visited with the remaining Foremen, not a happy time, especially when one of my men was killed - walking by a Test Stand door when an engine exploded and the door to that room did a job on Ted. They said he never knew what hit him but it did not make us feel any better on that account.

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