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A Short Story for Engineers


You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate this story[/b].

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 timings 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, someone would 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 traveled 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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:cheeky1: It took that guy 3 weeks to connect the fan. Amazing! It would have taken ME at least 5 or 6 weeks. He needs a nice fat raise, hey? :cheesygrin:
 

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If the engineers propsed that solution to management in the first place, it would have been rejected.

Beside they want analysis, ROI, budgets, schedules, etc. before they will even consider a solution.



Don't ask me how I know...:lash:



Kiss maybe the real answer but not in todays world of high tech manufacturing.
 

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Besides let me tell you some truth's here if we had given the answer of the Fan



1. It would have had to be a Industrial grade Fan so it wouldn't burn up right away.

2. The bin would have had some sort of a counter because believe it or not the company needs that information.

3. Have you ever seen one of those box fans catch on fire from over heating I have and it melted the outer cover off and was flinging flaming bits of plastic all over the room it was in lucky thing was there was nothing in the room to burn all concrete.

We do the things we do for multiple reasons and because we have restrictions we have to live inside and if the factory burned down how well would the people who work there be doing. Sorry to gripe but most people just don't understand all the requirements that go into everything we do.
 

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PurplePirate wrote:
Besides let me tell you some truth's here if we had given the answer of the Fan



1. It would have had to be a Industrial grade Fan so it wouldn't burn up right away.

2. The bin would have had some sort of a counter because believe it or not the company needs that information.

3. Have you ever seen one of those box fans catch on fire from over heating I have and it melted the outer cover off and was flinging flaming bits of plastic all over the room it was in lucky thing was there was nothing in the room to burn all concrete.

We do the things we do for multiple reasons and because we have restrictions we have to live inside and if the factory burned down how well would the people who work there be doing. Sorry to gripe but most people just don't understand all the requirements that go into everything we do.
Funny you say that Pirate, this just happen to my son, only the fan was in his carpeted hallway, and lucky they seen it happen so there was a happy ending.
 

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That is pretty funny and smart.:applause:
 

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My engineering motto "The walls are square on my computer screen and according to my drawing it WILL fit together properly if YOU put it together properly."
 
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