Email Jim at email@example.com
By Fos, the Rat
I am going to use a slightly different format this year. Yes, the rat convention is going on as usual, but I have reserved a private room off the main convention floor and Mr. Jim has agreed to being interviewed concerning some of the situations he has seen over his fifty plus year career in this industry.
Fos: So, Mr. Jim, tell me about the nature of these episodes you will relate to us.
Mr. Jim: First, Fos, thanks for having me. Most know I have many stories. These are matters that occurred over many years, long ago. I suspect most of the participants are long retired, and, sadly, many have passed on. Hence, their participation in these antics is no longer of concern, however, the lessons here keep being replayed over and over. I will not tell a story here that is less than thirty years old.
Fos: Thank you. Where would you like to begin?
Mr. Jim: This first story goes way back to the days of drafting boards. Personal computers had not been invented and the internet had not been imagined. Yes, my career started in such days.
In this case, the mill involved was tired of the lack of communication with central engineering on their projects. They insisted that we send people to the field on a long-term temporary basis (6 months or more) to execute a certain project. The project originated in marketing, flowed through research and ended up in engineering.
Fos: Can you give us a description of the project?
Mr. Jim: Yes. Up to this point of time KRT (Kitchen Roll Towels) had been made in multiple colors with a printed accent stripe near each edge. Marketing had decided they wanted KRT with full width printing. As the production lines existed, the two plies of the KRT were combined and then the stripes were printed on the combined towel. Testing had shown the full width printing, after combining, would reduce the absorbency of the KRT.
The decision was made to swap the combining and printing units in the production line so that printing could be done on the single top ply before the combining operation, thus preserving the absorbency of the combined KRT. This sounds easy, but it was very complex, for this is before the days of electronic drives and all the machinery was mechanically linked together. Further, there were other electrical and electronic items, as well as glue systems, print systems and other complications that needed to be swapped.
Fos: Sounds complicated.
Mr. Jim: It was. There were a total of four lines to be modified. On top of this, since the original installation, this division of the company had adopted BMP (Best Manufacturing Practices) as used in the food industry making all installations "clean design"--easy to maintain spotless housekeeping. So, BMP was also rolled into this project, not only for the components being moved in each line but for the entire department.
Mr. Jim: And, of course, marketing wanted the entire project done yesterday.
Fos: So, what did you do?
Mr. Jim: Well, manufacturing was paying the bills, so we did what manufacturing wanted. We procured some temporary construction trailers, equipped them as we needed and sent a half dozen designers and engineers to the field.
Fos: How did it go?
Mr. Jim: This is a PG 13 column, so I can't use the language that best captures the situation. Of the people we sent to the field, one had a wedding planned in the middle of the project, another had a baby and so forth. Anything and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Oh, and did I mention that this facility was in the middle of nowhere? Even finding places for our exiled team to sleep and eat was a nightmare. Due to the location, blizzards were also a problem.
Then came the big surprise. Research, for some reason, redid their print testing and discovered, after all, that absorbency was not affected by the full width printing and the operations in the line did not need to be swapped.
Fos: So, the project was cancelled?
Mr. Jim: Oh, no. The mill took the money, did all the BMP items they wanted to do on the lines, indeed in the whole department. They turned in significant savings at the end of the project and declared a great victory for their fantastic idea of doing engineering on site.
Fos: How did that leave you?
Mr. Jim: That was the beginning of the end of my time with that employer. I was thoroughly disgusted with the chicanery and false claims. Our team worked under very trying conditions and got no credit for our efforts.
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