Ramp Up

Pressure from upper management to shift instrument production from the United States to Malaysia has been heavy. In order to stay competative in the global marketplace they say we have to ship boxes out of Malaysia. Management’s song and dance on this point is rapidly becoming stale. Currently there are a number of high profile initiatives and projects running full-tilt in order to make this transfer of technology happen sooner rather than later. We’re all pretty stressed out and spread thin as a result. There’s rumored talk and speculation many of us will lose our jobs once we’ve handed everything off to Malaysia. Honestly I don’t know what will happen. Most of the time I try not to think about it. I’m too busy to care right now.

More Malay are arriving here weekly to train with us on many aspects of producing boxes, from Material Coordinating to Engineering and everything else in between. Simultaneously, a team of technicians are building dozens of brand new test racks. As each batch of new racks are completed they are rapidly packaged up for shipment to our factory in Malaysia.

At the same time general mayhem is taking place across the factory our greedy little managers are encouraging the marketing staff and sales force to “punch up the numbers” as they like to call it. Punching up the numbers means go out and sell everything you can no matter what it takes to convince someone to buy, even though there is no possible way we can realistically deliver finished instruments to customers on time. When a customer places an order with us we give them a quoted standard time from the moment they place the order until it is actually shipped. From start to finish a Signal Generator could take months to complete under normal circumstances. I know what they’re doing. Management is just trying to make the books look good for end of quarter financial results. They’ll get customer orders on the books, bury us under a huge backlog of work and leave us scrambling to figure out their mess.

In production a section of shop floor has been cleared for the storage and assembly of workbenches from a company called GWS. GWS makes killer production workstations for use in electronics. We’ve been buying their stuff almost exclusively for the past few years and I really like them. I wouldn’t mind having a GWS bench at home in my garage, actually. They’re that good. Expensive though, a standard workstation has a price tag in the thousands of dollars. Adding an electric motor to a GWS bench so an operator can raise or lower the work surface easily adds over another grand to the cost. That’s way out of my price range. Anyway, someone around here put together a group of guys to build all these new workbenches. We need those benches here for the short term to help accomodate Malay employees. Right now at each bench we’ve got people doubled or tripled up which makes things cramped for everyone. In the long term once the Malay have been trained up and head home all those extra work benches will be shipped out to their factory for use on new start up instrument product lines.

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~ by factorypeasant on January 4, 2006.

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