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San set out to improve efficiency at the shirt factory but, as we find out later in this unit, his plans turned out not quite as he had expected.
Sam Adams, Industrial Engineer
If you ask my mother how I happened to become an industrial engineer, she'll tell you that I have always been one.
She means that I have always wanted everything to be well organized and neat. When I was still in elementary school, I liked to keep my socks in the upper left-hand drawer of my bureau, my underwear in the upper right drawer, shirts in the middle drawer, and pants, neatly folded, in the bottom drawer.
In fact, I was the efficiency expert for the whole family. I used to organize my father's tools, my mother's kitchen utensils, my sister's boyfriends.
I needed to be efficient. I wanted to be well organized. For me, there was a place for everything and everything was always in its place. These qualities gave me a good foundation for a career in industrial engineering.
Unfortunately, I was also a bit bossy and I wasn't a very good listener. You'll see what I mean when I tell you about the first project I ever did after I finished my bachelor's degree at the university.
After graduation I returned home to my small town in Indiana. I didn't have a job yet. Mr. Hobbs, a friend of my father's, owned a small shirt factory in town. Within the past five years it had grown from twenty to eighty workers. Mr. Hobbs was worried that his plant was getting too big and inefficient, so he asked me to come in on a short-term basis as a consultant.
I went to the plant and spent about a week looking around and making notes. I was really amazed at what I saw.
Most curious of all, there was no quality control whatsoever. No one inspected the final product of the factory. As a result some of the shirts that were put in boxes for shipment were missing one or two buttons, the collar, even a sleeve sometimes!
The working conditions were poor. The tables where the workers sat were very high and uncomfortable. Except for a half hour at lunchtime, there were no breaks in the day to relieve the boring work. There was no music. The walls of the workrooms were a dull gray color. I was amazed that the workers hadn't gone on strike.
Furthermore, the work flow was irregular. There was one especially absent-minded young man in the assembly line who sewed on buttons. After a while I recognized him as "Big Jim," who used to sit behind me in math class in high school. He was very slow and all the shifts were held up at his position. Workers beyond him in line on his shift had to wait with nothing to do; therefore, a great deal of time and efficiency were lost as Big Jim daydreamed while he worked. All week I wondered why he wasn't fired.
After I made observations for a week, Mr. Hobbs asked me for an oral report of my findings. I covered my major points by telling him the following:
"If you have a quality control inspection, you will greatly improve your finished product."
"If the assembly line is redesigned, a smooth work flow can be achieved and time and energy can be saved."
"If you decrease the height of the worktables, the machine operators will work more comfortably."
"If the management provides pleasant background music and beautifies the dull setting, the factory will be much more productive."
"If the workers have a fifteen-minute coffee break in the morning and afternoon, they will be more efficient."
"If excellent work results in frequent pay increases or promotions, the workers will have greater incentive to produce."
Mr. Hobbs thanked me for this report and told me he would talk over my suggestions with his brother, the co-owner and manager of the factory. "We're interested in progress here," he said. "We want to keep up with the times."
He also gave me a check for $ 100 and a box of shirts with his compliments.
n. the state or quality of being efficient 效率
a. of industry 工业的
a. orderly and clean 整洁的
a. of or for beginners 初等的，初级的
n. a chest of drawers for bedroom use 衣柜
n. a person with special knowledge or skill 专家，能手
n. room used for cooking 厨房
n. any tool or container used in the house, esp. for cooking 用具，器皿
n. the degree of goodness which a thing or a person possesses 质量；品质
n. profession; way of making a living 职业；生涯
a. always telling other people what to do and how to do it, like a boss 爱指挥人的；专横的
n. a piece of work; a big plan 项目；方案
n. a person who had the first university degree 学士
n. completion of an educational course 毕业
a. involving or lasting a short period of time 短期的
n. a person who gives professional or technical advice 顾问
vt. fill with great surprise or wonder 使大为惊讶，使惊愕
a. strange 奇怪的
a. of any kind, at all 任何的，丝毫的
vt. examine 检查
n. the act of wending, carrying or delivering goods 装运。运送
vt. be without; lack
vt. make less or easier 减轻
a. uninteresting and tiresome 令人厌烦的
n. a room specially kept for working in 工场（间）
a. not bright or clear 阴暗的
n. a smooth steady movement or supply 流（动）
n. uneven; not continuous 不规则的，不稳定的
a. so concerned with one's thoughts as not to notice what is happening, what one doing, etc. 心不在焉
a. not present
n. the act of examining (sth.) closely or in detail 检查
v. have pleasant dreamlike thoughts (about) 做白日梦，空想
vt. make (sb.) leave his job 解雇
n. the act of watching carefully 观察
a. spoken, not written 口（头）的
n. the results of any research or enquiry 调查（或研究）的结果
a. important 较大的；主要的
vt. get by effort （经努力）得到；实现
vt. make smaller or fewer 减少
n. a table at which work is done 工作台
n. a person who makes sth. work 操作人员
vt. make beautiful 美化，装饰
n. surroundings 环境
a. producing much; able to produce 多产的；富有成效的
a. happening often 频繁的
n. an idea or plan put forward for people to think about 建议
n. a joint owner 共同所有者
n. a person responsible for running a section of a business 经理
n. formal respects or greetings；贺词；问候
PHRASES & EXPRESSIONS
learn or discover 查明；发现
happen to be or found be in the end 结果是
the activity of checking that products are all of satisfactory standard and quality, usu. by testing samples of them 质量控制（管理）
as a result
because of 作这结果，因此
apart from; with the exception of 除了...外
go on strike
refuse go continue working 罢工
have as a result; cause 结果是；导致
keep up with
go or move as fast as 跟上