Duringthe last century, the growth and increasing complexity of our industry has brought about a radical change in the pattern of its development. The improvement of production processes by trial and error, and their control by secrecy, have given way to a conscious application of science and the free exchange of knowledge. The latest evidence of this is the series of reports issued by the teams that have visited the U.S.A. under the auspices of the Anglo‐American Productivity Council. Several factors have contributed to this change. Advances leading to greater specialization have produced an enormous accumulation of detailed knowledge in many fields; yet at the same time, the progress of science shows that no part of Nature exists in isolation: each part penetrates and is penetrated by others. The squandering of natural resources, and the erection of artificial trade barriers, mean that access to raw materials has become more difficult, and substitutes must be sought. Mass production methods mean the breaking‐up of a whole production process into unit operations, with the introduction of more and more standardization. Whereas in former times processes were often peculiar to one works and could only be learnt in that works, nowadays a process and a machine developed for one industry often find application in others, since unit operations in a flow line are much more easily interchangeable than complete processes. For example, in printing, straight lines are produced by inking the edges of thin strips of metal or ‘rules’; this process has been borrowed, and sharp rules are used for producing cuts and scores in sheets of cardboard, in the manufacture of folding cardboard boxes.
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