The Tube System -How Messages Are Conveyed Between Departments

Article Taken From Wellsworth Life

Volume IX No. 3
February 13, 1925

                Photo taken in 1912 in AO Main Plant            Photo in Main Plant in year 2000 (before Bld Demolition)- Old Mail Room

In such a large plant as ours the subject of communication between departments becomes very important. Have you ever noticed the reason why you are able to remain at your desk or machine so much of the time, devoting your efforts to skilled work? It is largely because half a dozen boys and girls carry messages and orders back and forth between your department and half a hundred other departments. This relieves you of much travel inside the plant, which would otherwise be necessary.

There are three methods of delivering and collecting mail between departments and mail to and from the post office; the pneumatic tubes, the messenger boys and girls, and the “tramway.” All of these, like that other means of communication, the telephone system, are supervised in the office service department of which Lester H. Brigham is chief.

The pneumatic tubes all lead out of a central station or switchboard. This station looks as though it might be a battery of torpedo tubes, except that it is usually attended by a young lady. The station is located in the main lobby of the office, opposite the exhibition room. From this station, radiating like spokes of a wheel, three inch brass tubes radiate to forty-two departments in the offices and main factory. The tubes run in pairs. One of the pair carries outgoing and the other incoming mail. One pair goes over the river thru the tunnel to Mr. Hudson’s office at Lensdale. From that point boys distribute among Lensdale departments.

The pneumatic tube system is a very swift method of transmitting mail. But it has some limitations. Only small mail which can be folded, and which does not make the total weight more than two pounds can be sent, and the tubes do not reach everywhere. The sender inserts his mail in a cartridge about nine inches long, closes the end with a button, turns the collar to show the department address, and drops the cartridge in a tube. The suction of air carries it forward to the switchboard. Here Violette Aussant notices the address on the collar or indication and drops the cartridge into the tube leading to that address. The cartridge shoots out upon a table and awaits the attention of some one nearby to open it, remove and deliver its contents to the right persons. Empty cartridges should be returned at once to the sending department, in order that the department may be able to send other messages, for each sending department has only two cartridges. Mail may be sent to departments not having stations by telephoning that department that mail is being sent to a certain nearby station. The central switchboard serves also as a receiving and sending station for the office service department.

The “tramway” is a truck service operating between Mr. Jones’ receiving room in the main factory and seven points at Lensdale. It carries packages only. In rainy weather hand trucks are used, going through the tunnel. Otherwise the auto truck makes this short trip over the road twice daily.

By far the greater part of our mail is still handled by human beings rather than by machinery. Four young men, whose station is in the office service department, and whose supervisor is Dorothy Brigham, travel over regular trips all day, unless they are dispatched on special errands requested by telephone. Four trips to Lensdale are made each day, starting at 9:20 and 11:10 A.M. and at 2:20 and 4:10 P.M. Mr. Hudson’s office is the station at Lensdale where mail is left for miscellaneous departments which are not on the scheduled route.

The office trips are distinct from the two factory routes. The mail collected on one route for delivery upon either of the other two routes is brought to the messenger room and is there sorted into a system of tills, From these tills the young men load their sacks, which have separate pockets for each department they are to visit.

The mail collected on any route for delivery upon the same route is not, however, brought back to the messenger room. This mail is put into the proper pocket of his pouch by the messenger as he collects it, and is delivered when he reaches that department. He is continually collecting and delivering.

Some of the materials carried to and fro by our messengers are: correspondence, telegrams and cables, magazines, material orders and work orders, ediphone cylinders, samples, etc. In early morning they obtain a truck load of company ledgers and records from a fireproof vault and distribute them to various desks in the accounting department, at night they collect these and wheel them to the vault.

Delivery of finished letters from the transcribing room to the signers is done by a girl, who is attached to Miss Cronan’s staff.

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