Friday, May 27, 2022

Industrial Fiction: Repair float

The try-out started with very little fan-fare.

The first set of cubbies were rolled to the line at 9:16 AM. Ganzer had already gone through them. He had set up an overhead, point light source to highlight any defects.

He did not find any. He was working ahead to get a sense of how the tryout might run.

It took the operators a little bit of getting used to to figure out the optimum place to stand when pulling the panels. Operators never like changes. It takes them out of autopilot.

The alarms were never totally consistent and seemed to come in streaks so nobody got excited when twenty, and then thirty minutes went by without an alarm.

Then one hour, then a second hour.

And then the streak ended. Three panels in quick succession were scarred. The operator went down to the station to sign the bad-boy sheet and the Quality inspector pointed out where the defects were. Ganzer was also there. He had missed the defects and wanted to sharpen his game.

Walking back to the station, the operator confided to Ganzer “I think I nicked the panels with my ring”. The panels that had been scarred were ones that had been installed “backwards”. The operator put on a pair of gloves to cover her rings and she generated no more defects.

Snodgrass stayed four hours into second shift. The operators on second shift were just as unhappy with the new, more complicated way of pulling the skins as the first shift had been.

By the end of the shift, the operators had the hang of the optimal place to stand when pulling the skins. They still were not happy about having to pay attention to the skins every time they walked up to the rack but they were very happy to not get called down to the quality station and having to answer alarms.

One sunny day does not make it summertime. Two good shifts proves nothing. The proof of the pudding would be whether Hyperopia could maintain the quality they were currently shipping.

Nobody was happier than the Plant Manager. The end of the quarter was in three weeks. If he burned unlimited repair over-time, he could have the “repair float” down to normal levels. The units did not register as revenue until after they were loaded off the shipping dock and into the back of a truck.

He would gladly take a beating for exceeding guidelines on repair over-time as long as he could ship the volume he was expected to.

Product in the repair float is money left on the table.

Next Installment


  1. Enjoying this series immensely ERJ. This is a side of manufacturing and production I literally know nothing about.

  2. Nothing to feel bad about, and 90% plus (I'm being generous) of people are the same. They think get a big building, bolt in an assembly belt, parts in this door, people walk in another, and a third door to roll the product out.
    As ERJ is showing us, ain't that simple.
    Look up videos on the WWII production of the B-24 at Willow Run airport. The complexity is amazing, but they went from a 'green field' to rolling out a functioning aircraft *every hour*.

  3. Very interesting... Positioning and habitual actions would have to change.

    1. The other thing is that the operator never would have been able to connect their rings to the damage if they had been getting so many defects from Crowe Industries. Too much mud in the water.

    2. Surprised they would allow rings with machinery. We stopped letting people wear jewelry (rings, necklaces) due the risk of them getting caught by moving machines. Long hair too.

  4. I get the feeling that this "fiction" is based on real life experience with the names and location changed to protect the innocent (and the not so innocent). >};o)

    Phil B