Henry Laurence Gantt, A.B., M.E. (1861 - 23 November 1919) was a mechanical engineer and management consultant who is most famous for developing the Gantt chart in the 1910s. These Gantt charts were employed on major infrastructure projects including the Hoover Dam and Interstate highway system and continue to be an important tool in project management.
It is important to note that Gantt created many different types of charts. Moreover, Gantt designed his charts so that foremen or other supervisors could quickly know whether production was on schedule, ahead of schedule, or behind schedule. Modern project management software includes this critical function even now.
Gantt (1903) describes two types of balances: the “man’s record,” which shows what each worker should do and did do, and the daily balance of work, which shows the amount of work to be done and the amount that is done. Gantt gives an example with orders that will require many days to complete. The daily balance has rows for each day and columns for each part or each operation. At the top of each column is the amount needed. The amount entered in the appropriate cell is the number of parts done each day and the cumulative total for that part. Heavy horizontal lines indicate the starting date and the date that the order should be done. According to Gantt, the graphical daily balance is “a method of scheduling and recording work.” In this article, Gantt also describes the use of production cards for assigning work to each operator and recording how much was done each day.
In Work, Wages, and Profits (originally published in 1916), Gantt explicitly discusses scheduling, especially in the job shop environment. He proposes giving to the foreman each day an “order of work” that is an ordered list of jobs to be done that day. Moreover, he discusses the need to coordinate activities to avoid “interferences.” However, he also warns that the most elegant schedules created by planning offices are useless if they are ignored, a situation that he observed.
In Organizing for Work (originally published in 1919), Gantt gives two principles for his charts: one, measure activities by the amount of time needed to complete them; two, the space on the chart can be used the represent the amount of the activity that should have been done in that time. Gantt shows a progress chart that indicates for each month of the year, using a thin horizontal line, the number of items produced during that month. In addition, a thick horizontal line indicates the number of items produced during the year. Each row in the chart corresponds to an order for parts from a specific contractor, and each row indicates the starting month and ending month of the deliveries. It is the closest thing to the Gantt charts typically used today in scheduling systems, though it is at a higher level than machine scheduling.
Gantt’s machine record chart and man record chart are quite similar, though they show both the actual working time for each day and the cumulative working time for a week. Each row of the chart corresponds to an individual machine or operator. These charts do not indicate which tasks were to be done, however.
A novel method of displaying interdependencies of processes to increase visibility of production schedules was invented (and aplicated) in 1896 by Karol Adamiecki However, Adamiecki did not publish his works in a language popular in the West; hence Gantt was able to popularize a similar method, which he developed around the years 1910-1915, and the solution became attributed to Gantt. With minor modifications, what originated as the Adamiecki's chart is now more commonly referred to as the Gantt Chart.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) awards an annual medal in honor of Henry Laurence Gantt.
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