Area 51 has gone really well for me over the past few months. I’ve been happy working with the swing shift team on this line. Everybody here is helpful, fun to work with, and there haven’t been any petty episodes or personality conflicts. This is the way things should have been here all along. Okie Carol has completely trained me up on Area 51’s power supplies, instrument chassis, and final assembly. Final assembly is where the whole box comes together. I’ll get into that step in the process and describe everything else I’ve learned here later on. The one job I’m hoping to avoid getting stuck with is building RF decks. That shit gives me a headache.

Things have been so smooth that it seemed just too good to be true. I had a bad feeling an unforseen problem would creep out of nowhere and sabotage everything and sure enough it has happened. Management has made the decision to move our line to another location in the factory and effectively integrate us into a larger department. That department is Sources. The reason why upper management wants us to move is because Sources has an automated test process and they’re hoping to shoe-horn our instruments into it to save loads of money. Most likely it’s some bottom line dollar bullshit invented by a beady-eyed bean counter in finance that caused this to happen. Jerks. Currently our test process is mostly manual meaning testers and technicians wheel boxes around on the shop floor and hook up each unit individually for calibration and tuning. The automated process is controlled by a few robots that run the boxes around from station to station 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Nobody in Area 51 is happy about the move because we will lose our autonomy, our group will probably be polluted with deadbeats, and the technicians are fairly certain our older Signal Generators won’t be very compatible with the Sources department automated testing process. The techs have been trying to fight against the decision but it looks like they’ve lost the battle even though they have some solid arguments for us not to go. It seems management’s ears are closed to common sense, as usual.

Personally I’m not too thrilled about working in Sources either. I’m most concerned with how many screwups are roaming around loose in that department and worried about getting some of them dumped on us in Area 51. That’s gonna bite fiercely. We will also be subjected to a different style of supervision there. With Squirmy we only report in to one manager who is hardly ever around. In Sources we will have a team of a half dozen supervisors mucking up the works while trying to babysit us. I can’t wait to see what kind of stupid shit they end up trying to foist upon us once we’re settled in. On the plus side, for me Sources will be a haven, a safe zone if you will. Sources is the one department I can count on to never see Potatohead ever again. Sources was where he got himself kicked out of and from what I’ve been told Potatohead will never be allowed to work there again in the future. The rest of that department’s management team has effectively blackballed him.

We move to Sources this coming week. Packing up and relocating from building to building is a real drag. It’s one of my least favorite things to do at work. It’s a total hassle to pack everything up tech bench by bench, every single test rack, account for and organize all the tooling and such, then put it all back together again. Inevitably shit seems to evaporate into thin air which means even if we’re only moving down the hall we’re going to end up having a few bad headaches getting things set up and back to normal. We’ll also be down for at least 24 hours as soon as we move. There’s a rule here that anytime test racks are powered down there’s a mandatory 24 hour warm up period after turning them back on before we can start any production testing.


~ by factorypeasant on November 19, 2005.

4 Responses to “Sources”

  1. Clearly, the robots are taking over. Humankind is doomed.

    “That department, is Sources.”

    Should be no comma in that sentence.

  2. yeah. the best analogy i can give you Wad is bowling alleys. back in the 50s and 60s college kids used to reset bowling pins by hand after each ball smashed through them. then the machine that reset them automatically was installed and all those kids lost their jobs.

    that kind of automation can be cleverly applied in all sorts of places you might not expect it. in our work environment we used to have employees that acted like trained monkeys pushing units around from test station to test station hooking them up and running the processes. now, we have robotic systems that do the bulk of that work round the clock every day of the week.

    the people who previously did that kind of work lost their jobs.

    from an employer standpoint though it’s a boon. robots don’t need time off for vacations, they don’t get ill and have to take days off. they don’t have to change their schedules around to pick up kids from school or whatever and they don’t require a retirement pension.

    with our current corporate culture i’m certain if management could automate everything we do they would have done it by now. the next best thing is sending everything to China. that’s where we’re at today.

  3. I had a friend that worked at the bowling alley in the Canal in San Rafael back in the Eighties. I’m really not sure what he did, maybe hit the machines with a wrench when they jammed up, but the noise was deafening back there by the pins. I guess I want to believe that as the menial and repetitive jobs become automated, the people that used to do them will find more challenging work to do. Could be a good thing.

    I have mixed feelings about outsourcing as well. Obviously, I want my fellow citizens and I to have meaningful jobs that allow us to contribute to our social network, but if another country can deliver the goods for less than we can, why shouldn’t they be allowed to step up? Over time, everyone should be able to compete. If the Chinese score all the jobs, eventually their quality of life might approach ours, and then they will demand more pay, and then someone else will be cheaper, and so on.

    We’re seeing some pretty high-profile companies squeal like little girls because the pension plans they promised their workers when the shit was on fire are too much for them deal with now that shit’s fizzled out. These are the same companies that shipped so many jobs over-seas many years ago, so why should our government give them a pass? I have no sympathy for anyone who makes a promise they can’t keep, particularly really wealthy and well-connected people. If GM folds and all those people lose their jobs and their pensions, it’ll suck, sure. But that’s no reason to coddle a small group of fat old white guys.

  4. That’s pretty much my views too 🙂


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