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packing a certain line of its products in boxes when it could have been shipped in bundles just as well. The boxed articles carried a much higher transportation rate than the articles in bundles wired together, to say nothing of the expense of furnishing the boxes. It was estimated that thru this one instance alone the concern had lost something in the neighborhood of $40,000 in providing the containers and paying the higher transportation rate.
EARLY CONCEPTION OF TRAFFIC WORK
It is true that long prior to 1906 industrial concerns were in the habit of having someone to look after their transportation affairs. Mr. B. H. O'Meara, in writing to a traffic publication, stated that in 1878 Mr. Wm. F. Merritt left the employ of the Chicago & North-Western Railway Company to handle the transportation work of the Best Brewing Company (now, the Pabst Brewing Company). That Mr. Merritt's work at that time was very superficial compared with the work of the modern traffic manager is clearly shown by one statement made by Mr. O'Meara to the effect that he (Mr. Merritt) frequently spoke of the system of shipping, routing, checking expense bills, and the like that he introduced.
Until it is appreciated that the traffic manager must not only know how to pack and route shipments, file claims, and trace shipments, audit freight bills, and arrange for equipment, but must also be of assistance to the selling department, to the credit department, to the advertising department, to the purchasing department, and to the manufacturing department–in fact
to all other departments of a well-organized concernhis real place has not been comprehended.
EXPERIENCE VERSUS TECHNICAL TRAINING
It is perhaps well at this point to introduce a word or so concerning the merits of practical experience versus technical training. A great many prospective employers of traffic help use the word “experienced” or the phrase "with railroad experience" with little or no conception of what the term may imply, and at the same time discount the training that a man may receive thru vocational study.
One of the leading transportation companies of the country issues periodically a leaflet showing the names of the men that have been in their service for a sufficient length of time to warrant them in pensioning these employees and transferring them to their "roll of honor." These men in many cases have had fifty years' experience with the road and as a consequence they have “railroad experience to burn." It is doubtful whether the services of such men would be acceptable in any progressive traffic department.
There are many men engaged in railroad service whose training has been along departmental or divisional lines with a result that they have become quite competent in the discharge of their duties in that field, but they are uninformed on matters coming within some other field of transportation work with which they have not been connected.
It is not uncommon to find unusually bright men acting as loss and damage claim investigators for the common carriers; likewise exceptionally well-informed quotation clerks who have an extensive knowledge of
tariff publications, their application, and of rates in general; but these men know little outside of these specific fields.
The traffic man must know all the details surrounding such work and he has been very aptly likened unto the ship's cook, in that “he is in everyone's mess and in no man's watch."
Where the activities of a department are such as to require the services of a number of men, the specialist may then be brought into the department and may perform his function under the direction of a competent traffic manager. Naturally the number of men required to administer efficiently to the needs of the department varies according to the volume of shipping done by the respective concern.
As in the case of other individuals, there is a limit to the amount of work that the traffic manager can perform. Each order of goods or each selling transaction presents a transportation study that must be analyzed to determine the most advantageous and economical way of shipping and the agencies to employ.
One of the foremost railroads conducted an exhaustive test as to the time required in ascertaining the rates applicable on the shipments offered them for transportation; it was found that in determining those rates of ordinary difficulty, over fifteen minutes was consumed as an average by intelligent rate men.
When it is understood that railroad employees at the principal stations are required to rate hundreds and hundreds of shipments daily, in some cases an individual's aggregate exceeding two thousand, the opportunity for mistakes and the necessity for careful revision of transportation charges at the hands of the industry become apparent.
Therefore, as long as the traffic needs of the industry can be efficiently administered by one man, well and good. When, however, his time is so occupied or he is so driven as to be denied the opportunity of effectively supervising his work, he should be given such assistance as he requires, and at all times the department, irrespective of what it may cost, should be viewed as an asset and not as a liability.
ADVANTAGES OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING
The advantages arising from vocational training thru resident and home-study courses are being recognized in all fields of endeavor. Comprehensive courses in matters pertaining to scientific management have been evolved. Based on observations of hundreds and hundreds of students, the graduates of such schools compare well with the man who has obtained his training entirely by experience, and, in many cases, prove his superior.
This is due in a large measure to the fact that these courses strip the subject of all unnecessary detail. The student is required to master fundamentals and principles and is not confronted with the daily routine of the railroad or the industrial traffic department man. Another point of considerable moment is that consciously or unconsciously the railroad graduate acquires a railroad bias in his analysis of transportation problems and quite frequently he will construe to the benefit of the carrier a point that is rightly the shipper's, even tho he may be an industrial employee.
In these days when service is such an important factor in the development of business, the location of a plant from the standpoint of transportation facilities for the output of a concern is a matter of very vital importance. With the very formation of an industrial enterprise, a specialist is needed to make a thoro canvass of all the transportation conditions before deciding on a location for the plant.
It is stated that prior to the development of Gary, Ind., as one of the leading steel centers of the world, thousands of dollars were expended from a traffic standpoint in making a survey of what rates would in all probability obtain into and out of that plant on fuel, crude materials, and finished products of various kinds. The forecast of this survey was borne out by the result following the subsequent establishment of the industry at that point.
There are two points to be considered in judging transportation. One is rates and the other, the kind of service given, such as time consumed in transit, the number of transfers involved, and the customers' convenience at destination.
To handle such matters adequately, the services of a competent traffic man will be required. His judgment on the location of an industry from the standpoint of securing the raw material and disposing of the produce is invaluable. He will have to answer a number of questions: (1) Does this location offer