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GUNS Magazine January 2011 - Page 10
• J O h N B A R S N E S S • SAVING tIME ANd MOtION Load more efficiently and shoot even more. couple of years ago a friend of mine named Jay A decided to buy an electronic powder scale/powder dispenser, primarily to help him load the 1,000-odd rounds of .223 ammunition he shoots every year at prairie dogs. He figured the e-scale would save a bunch of time. After figuring out how to get the machine going, he started loading brass. The first thing he noticed was the e-scale took more time than his powder measure to dispense each 25-grain charge of powder. Most of the powder went into the pan quickly, but the machine slowed down as it neared the charge-weight. That’s OK, Jay thought, I’ll seat the bullet while the next case is being filled. Even then he had to wait a few seconds for the next case to fill with powder, and it seemed like it took a lot longer to load the first 500 rounds than it usually did. At that point, he decided to do a little timing and figuring. Even with seating a bullet while the next case filled, it took a little more than two hours and 45 minutes to fill 500 rounds with powder and seat the bullets. ammo for the upcoming deer and elk season. When loading only a few rounds the e-scale is definitely more convenient than the powder measure, especially since Jay still uses the oldfashioned, large-kernelled H4831 that’s notoriously cantankerous in powder measures. (He bought an extra hours of pay for the cart drivers and more maintenance on the electric carts. The factory rearranged its machinery so the parts ended up near the final assembly room, and in the first two months of operation saved enough money to pay for the study. I don’t load as much ammo as some people, but I load a very wide variety of ammo, due to experimenting for articles. When I started applying a little time-and-motion study to my own loading, it turned out I was wasting a lot of time looking for stuff, especially since some of the stuff was in the wrong place. This didn’t mean it was misplaced, but, for example, my loaded ammo shelves were near my loading bench, while the shelves of empty cases were across the room. When loading I need empty cases, while loaded ammo often sits for a few weeks or even months until it’s used. So those items were switched around. Now the empty brass is stored right next to the presses, and the ammo across the room. Similarly, the powder is stored (in cheap coolers from Wal-Mart) right under the part of the bench where the powder scale and measure are located. Comparisons Recently my wife Eileen started handloading, setting up her own loading bench. (She Old Way faster was always free to use mine, but Then he timed how long it took often I was using it myself, due to load each round the way he had to an approaching deadline.) As before. It turned out each case a result she became interested in could be filled with powder in an other loading rooms, and started average of three seconds, and each taking photos of those of friends. bullet could be seated in an average This loading room is very neat and organized because it’s the Some are very austere and wellof eight seconds. Thus doing it the loading room at the Western Powders ballistic laboratory, organized, while others have old fashioned way saved an hour where Keith Anderson can’t afford to waste time looking for obviously been randomly filled and 15 minutes when loading 500 anything. with stuff over many years. rounds. This often results in something “I also had to re-zero and set the 8-pound keg on sale a few years ago.) very much like utter chaos, one reason electronic scale each time it got used,” In 2007 I visited a huge optics it takes so long for some handloaders he told me. “That took about the factory that had just spent a good to get anything done. It can also result same amount of time it took me to set chunk of money on a time-and- in spending extra money, because you my powder measure.” Jay still has his motion study. The study found dozens can’t find something you already have, e-scale, but only uses it for weighing of ways the factory wasted time. One so have to go out and buy more. I once cast bullets, since for that use it is of the biggest was due to various parts spent $50 for 100 rounds of new 7x57 quicker than his beam scale. being scattered all over the plant, brass, only to “discover” a few weeks He also uses the new scale when requiring long carting distances to the later I already had 100 rounds of new loading 20 rounds of .270 Winchester final assembly room. This required 7x57 brass that had never made it into 10 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JANUARY 2011