Did You Know?
November 2006


Did You Know?
by Ken Carr
November 2006

 

            DID YOU KNOW...
            ...i
n early 1905, NCR was experiencing a growing problem of employee absenteeism and tardiness. Through the Suggestion System, an employee recommended that a large paper thermometer be placed in each department. On one side going up the thermometer would be listed the names of those employees who were absent.  As this list grew day after day, a black line would rise out of the bulb of the thermometer to show the department performance. The other side of the thermometer would contain the names of the employees who were tardy.  A red line would rise out of the thermometer as the names were added day after day.  How affective was the thermometer?  Within a few weeks the absenteeism and tardiness had been cut by over 50%.  Then, as today, public embarrassment does tend to change behavior. 

            NCR once had a company tree.  It was called the Patterson Elm.  The tree marked the northern boundary of the Patterson farm and therefore stood on the NCR complex. It was a true Dayton landmark having witnessed the local Indian history, the arrival of pioneers, the emergence of the city of Dayton, and the rise of one of the community’s greatest assesses, the National Cash Register Company.  The Patterson Elm, diseased for a while, was finally removed in 1921, one year before the death of its namesake J. H. Patterson.  An American elm, from the Hills and Dales woods was transplanted in its place.  How long the new tree stood in the place of honor is not known.

            No doubt if you worked at NCR in Dayton or visited the campus, you were aware of the tunnel system running from building to building connecting the basement of each building with the basement of the next.  There were nine main tunnels spanning nearly one half mile in length.  The average tunnel was 8 feet high and 8 feet wide.  The electric trucks which were purchased for movement of materials outside the buildings and that were such a labor saver were just too large to be efficiently used in the tunnels.  First of a number of problems, they could not pass in the narrow portions of the tunnels and second, the material being moved through the tunnels didn’t require such large capacity. We are all familiar with the small electric trucks which ultimately darted and sped throughout the tunnel system.  However, do you know that those carts were not purchased, they were made by NCR?  Mr. H. B. Scott, an NCR Efficiency Engineer had seen small electric scooters in a downtown Dayton parade and began to wonder if he could use the same large electric truck principles and scale it down to a smaller size.  So was born the “baby electric truck. “  The trucks were first assembled circa 1920 in the General Machine Department and delivered to the Transportation Department for use in the buildings and the tunnels.  The trucks looked a lot like a child’s wagon with no handle. They were initially a flat wooden bed about 3 feet by 4 feet with about 10 inch hard rubber tires over solid steel wheels.  The driving mechanism projected straight upward through a 2 inch metal pipe which was located at the rear of the truck.  Attached to the top of the pipe, running perpendicular to the pipe, and parallel to the back of the truck, was the long straight rod used to steer.  The driver stool on a platform at the rear of the truck and used a foot escalator for speed control.  . As time passed, the usefulness of the little trucks expanded to include the movement of mail, tool delivery, assembly work, finished products, maintenance supplies, machine repair equipment and to just move employees from place to place. As the uses increased so did the modifications to the trucks to meet those needs.  For instance the mail trucks were modified with a cabinet of mail drawers and some were modified to add sides to the flat bed.  These little trucks were in service right up to the end of manufacturing at the Dayton campus. 

            How many of you have had to dodge these little Sprites as they came up quietly behind you in the tunnels?

 

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