Friday, September 21, 2018

Ron Johnstone

I once worked with a maintenance electrician named Ron Johnstone.

The factory we worked in had two lines: The M System that had the newer equipment and extra redundancy and the C System that had no "back-up" capability.

Ron was the lead, third shift electrician on the "C" System respot line. Day-after-day, week-after-week the C System beat the snot out of the M System for quality and throughput and Ron was a big reason why.

His philosophy was to have his system ready to run 22 hours straight with no maintenance except for changing caps. If he or anybody on his crew was not absolutely certain that a shank or a jumper or hose would make it another 20,000 welds then they replaced it with new.

They bootlegged chemicals in the plant.  Nothing exotic; mostly toilet bowl cleaner. That was the best stuff (10% hydrochloric acid) for cleaning copper connections that were exposed to cooling water.

They also cobbled together "water savers" before they were "a thing".  They fabricated small brackets to mount proximity sensors for the handles that turned on the cooling water.  The equipment would not move if the electricians had not turned the water back on after changing caps.

They nickle-and-dimed the maintainance budget but the production guys loved them and you can buy a bunch of $20 prox sensors when each additional weld cell costs $4-to$6 million.

I took Ron's lessons to heart. Better to over-kill an installation or a rebuild and KNOW that it wouldn't need any special attention for a very long time.  After all, I suck at maintenance and I know that. Thing is, I have been told that there are many people who suck even worse...and they are the ones who tend to kludge crap together and hope it makes it one more cycle.

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