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You Can Lead A Horse To Tools…

, , , , , | Working | May 17, 2021

Part of my job is to take the complaints made by customers and prevent them from reoccurring.  This can be as simple as stopping the packing guys from dumping their breakfast wrappers in the boxes going to the customers or as complex as helping devise a new machining method to improve the accuracy of parts.

A major complaint comes in from the main customer; potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds of stock are affected by an issue that’s almost impossible to detect after it leaves us. We should be catching it, yet they are finding more and more issues. This could be serious.

I quickly find that the root of the issue is the way the guys are checking the parts. It just isn’t good enough and it’s the reason why we kept sending bad parts through. I call the team together.

Me: “Okay, everyone. We have had some major issues reported by the customer. It’s affecting potentially thousands of parts, it’s about the height of this part.”

I can see several of them not listening and rolling their eyes. One is chatting at the back.

Me: “Can we pay attention, please? If this isn’t resolved quickly, we could have a massive issue; if they send all the parts back, it could close us down!”

They begrudgingly start to listen.

Me: “The new way to check these parts is with this new tool and doing it this way.”

I demonstrate.

Worker: “That will take too long! I don’t have time for that!”

Me: “This is the new process. If we don’t do it and we keep sending scrap to our customers, you will have all the time in the world, as we won’t have jobs! Everything is described on this single page, which is laminated and stuck to the machine. I have placed a tool at the machine and with the team lead. Understood?”

They just stare at me in apathy. They don’t care that this is such a huge problem, or they don’t believe me. I decide to check on them in a week’s time.

Me: “How is it working out?”

Worker: “Yeah, okay.”

Me: “This is the old tool. Why are you not following the process?”

Worker: “The new one got lost.”

Me: “So, you didn’t ask or report it?”

He shrugged his shoulders. I found a replacement tool and removed the old one from him. 

I decided to check on him in a few days and found him using the new tool but the old way. After another few days, someone had ripped the instructions down and “lost” the tool again. 

The customer kept finding more and more issues, even on the ones that we said should now be good. The next year, the customer didn’t renew their contract, and the company slowly collapsed as no other new work came in.

I found a new job before it went completely under; some stayed to the end. I later saw a newspaper article about the company closing. The same faces were there saying they were devastated the company closed, blaming the company for not doing more, etc. Some people will find blame anywhere but themselves.