Hangar Queen

Bottom line dollars. That’s all management and their bean counting henchmen in accounting and finance care about. The bottom line drives every single decision they make. No other consideration matters. Thanks to this kind of flawed logic we constantly shoot ourselves in the foot at almost every step of the production process. Things used to be different around here…

Bean counters have eliminated the bulk of parts inventory on site. The way we used to do business, a massive supply of spare parts were constantly being ordered. What that enabled us to do was keep a constant supply of necessary parts out on the instrument lines. Whenever a technician discovered a broken cable, connector, or other oddball part they could easily walk over to the parts bins in assembly and get a brand new replacement. It made sense to do this because if we didn’t have parts readily available it may keep instruments from shipping on time while they’re held up waiting for stupid shit. As of now we have no parts on the production floor anymore besides PC boards and hardware (screws, bolts, etc.). And there aren’t any spares in stores either. The reason why this has happened is because inventory of spare parts is taxable, and the less on hand supply of parts you have the less tax you as a company have to pay. Isn’t that smart? Sure it is!

Parts buyers are also a contributing factor to this problem. The parts buyers are supposed to be maintaining inventory levels on everything from PC board components to sheet metal. However, they are awarded individual salary bonuses based upon keeping their assigned parts levels as low as possible. They have no incentive to acquire anything more than a bare minimum of inventory. Buyers are also expected to purchase parts at whatever rock bottom price they can find anywhere in the world. We used to mandate buyers only purchase from known reliable sources. Not anymore. A further complication in our company’s inventory supplies due to this method of operation is the buyers keep paying for counterfeit components, anything from batteries to surface mounted tantalum capacitors. If it’s cheap they’ll order it no questions asked. Some employees have apparently forgotten the old addage, “You get what you pay for.” I’ll get more into that specific issue later.

Servicemen in the US Air Force are familiar with this kind of situation. They also frequently suffer from supply shortages and spare parts availability. To keep aircraft flying while they are waiting for a critical replacement part to arrive, they will steal the needed item from an already non-usable aircraft sitting in a hangar. That way they can quickly restore another plane to active service and when the replacement part finally arrives they’ll install it in the donor aircraft. They call these donor parts planes “Hangar Queens” because more often than not that plane will continue to be a parts donor allowing a number of other aircraft to be repaired and remain in working order. Replacement parts for a Hangar Queen will rarely show up in enough time to finally get it back to airworthy condition so there is sits continuously in the hangar, gutted.

The scenario here is remarkably similar. No spare parts means technicians and assemblers have to steal parts from brand new instrument chassis as soon as they arrive from the subcontract manufacturer. They become instant Hangar Queens. It’s the only way we can keep instruments moving through the test process on time to meet production goals. It’s so stupid because none of the spare parts we need are expensive items, it’s all nickel dime bullshit. As we gut brand new instrument subassemblies and chassis for parts, they are placed on a shelf somewhere in the assembly area left alone to collect dust indefinitely. Some of them have been stripped so bare the only things left in them is the aluminum frame and a motherboard. Everything else is long gone. A few of them don’t even have hardware like standoffs or PEMs. We had to swipe those too, which is truly pathetic.


~ by factorypeasant on July 15, 2006.

One Response to “Hangar Queen”

  1. rob peter to pay paul… sadly this crap was too true… feh


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