Engineers and everyone else will love this

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Engineers and everyone else will love this

    A Short Story for Engineers & I am sure this is a TRUE story because all of us (engineers) from Delphi/GM have seen this happened time & time again.....

    You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate this story.

    A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timing so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time. Small variations in the environment (which can’t be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket don’t get pissed off and buy another product instead.

    Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort.

    The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution — on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should. The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done to re-start the line.

    A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. “That’s some money well spent!” – he says, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.

    It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after three weeks of production use. It should’ve been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren't picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.

    Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory, and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed.
    A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes out of the belt and into a bin.

    “Oh, that,” says one of the workers — “one of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of walking over….. “every time the bell rang”.
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    $8 million to fix a $20.00 problem. Typical of big business. Why ask the man on the work line, when you can commission a study!
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    The CEO now divides his time between the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, working to come up with sophisticated solutions for our nation's problems.
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    Member Array gigamortis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    $8 million to fix a $20.00 problem. Typical of big business. Why ask the man on the work line, when you can commission a study!
    Exactly! In a lot of manufacturing businesses, there is quite a large disconnect between those in the air conditioned offices and the muscle on the floor. A lot of low buck solutions to problems can come from the men/women in the trenches.

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    Senior Member Array Mattmann's Avatar
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    Man I see this all the time in construction. I am in the field and the architects and engineers want to fix something the hard/ expensive way and we know that it's not necessary although we don't get paid to think! LOL.

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    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    Oh, they'll be ok after the "bail out"!
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    Senior Member Array Lotus222's Avatar
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    Haha, this is exactly the way a city/county handles planning. They force the architects and engineers to do things in the most completely inefficient and most expensive ways. But, hey, its in their "planbook" that way, so it must be the best way to do it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lotus222 View Post
    Haha, this is exactly the way a city/county handles planning. They force the architects and engineers to do things in the most completely inefficient and most expensive ways. But, hey, its in their "planbook" that way, so it must be the best way to do it...
    I can attest to that. Been there and done that dance several times.
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    Member Array kal0's Avatar
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    Haha Agree we see this type of situations lol thanks for sharing!

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    I have seen this before in action. Once when we were doing a study on the cost to change a line over form jelly-filled communication cable to non-filled cable, we were looking for solutions. When going from jelly-filled to non-filled we had about a 5 hour change over while people cleaned up the mess. We did a brain storming session which included the guys/gals that ran the machine. One of the operators said, how about we get some dryer vent tubing and run the jelly-filled through that and that will keep the line clean for the non-filled cable.

    We looked into that and the maintenance guys made some brackets to hold the tubing (used pvc instead) and for less than $500.00 we had the problem solved and our changed over time dropped to about 15 minutes. I learned early on that listening to the guys and gals that run the machines can give some common sense and cost-effective solutions. They don't always work, but generally are worth listening to.
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    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    The problem with the $20 desk fan solution, of course, is that it does not have a sufficiently well-managed "process"...
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    Member Array ncsteveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    The problem with the $20 desk fan solution, of course, is that it does not have a sufficiently well-managed "process"...
    Plus, have you ever tried to give a fan a tongue lashing?

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    I can pretty much guarantee that when it comes to physcal work,the individual that has to actually do the work will be much more inclined to find the easiest approach to a solution that limits the amount of work that he has to do.
    oneshot and rolyat63 like this.
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    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    that's reality, right there.
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