Sometimes I think Trump is just trolling America.
Remember last Friday’s photo of all those broken damaged pallets? Yesterday morning Waste Management showed up and collected the second of the two dumpsters full of the damaged pallets. Yesterday afternoon the usual used pallet truck showed up and collected the rest of the damaged ones that were still on the ground in the back parking lot.
I say back parking lot only because in the 70’s when the building was originally put up the original inhabitants actually used it as such, but ASCO has never let us use it as a parking area. From the three different companies that drop off bar stock and tubing, to pallet delivery and removal trucks, to the metal recycling trucks and not to forget the garbage dumpster people, there is just too much truck traffic back here, that even if they did allow parking, I wouldn’t risk it.
Like any manufacturing facility, the Valve Store brings in a lot of stuff to accomplish its mission and most of the large quantities of an item come on pallets of wood and occasionally plastic. Sometimes these pallets get damaged in some way shape or form and are no longer usable to ship our product back out the door.
That chain link fencing with the maroon slats behind that big ol’ pile is where on one side the broken ones are supposed to go and on the other the fresh new pallets get stored until needed. Almost always the broken ones just get get unceremoniously dumped next to, not in, the fenced area to await recycling. I haven’t seen the guy who comes to pick up the junk ones recently, so the pile has grown quite large. Because we are getting a visit from the President of ASCO next week, who is a stickler for neatness, somebody needs to clean up this mess just like I had to do for my desk.
Well, today Waste Management dropped off a 40-yard dumpster which the minions of shipping filled up in short order. It made a dent in the pile, but a couple hours later a truck showed up to drop off a second dumpster (and cart off the full one.) Those same people filled up the second one right after lunch. When I left at the end of today that second full dumpster was still sitting there. And scattered around outside the dumpster there looked like at least another dumpster full.
Yesterday when I pulled into the garage after work the CTBNL’s odometer read 50,002.
The President of the company is going to be visiting the Valve Store in early August and apparently he is a big proponent of 5S. So much so that he is almost militant about it. So a few months back they forwarded a PowerPoint presentation about how we can prepare our cubicles so as to look nice and neat and orderly. But very few individuals actually took it as to mean the letter of the law. My cubical neighbor to the rear was one of them1, so not to be outdone, I did too2. This morning with the visit closer on the horizon the PowerPoint presentation was re-emailed to every one. There were just 2 items I still needed to address, so I undertook them this morning.
The first was removing the white cardboard pieces I had strategically placed in the A/C vents to keep the cold air from blowing on my neck and the second was removing the boxes under my desk, one of which was my paper recycling one. With that gone I wondered how I should handling that usual gathering of no longer need paper pile. So I emailed my immediate supervisor:
In the past I kept an old box that the reams of paper come in under my desk where I would toss waste paper for recycling. I’d empty it every month or whenever it got fairly full. On the second page (which is numbered 43) of the 5S rules you forwarded4 yesterday, bullet point #6 says “No boxes, parts, etc. “stored” under the desktop, drawers, etc.”, so I have tossed my recycling box in a gray recycling cart on the Assembly floor.
I figure I have three options on what to do with paper that needs to be recycled:
- Just toss it in the trash.
- Put in a pile on the desktop (space is not an issue for this) and each day on the way out the door throw it in the big blue bin.
- Spend $8 on a dedicated recycle “waste” basket from Staples.
What is your opinion on my best way to recycle paper under our 5S rules?
When his answer back was that he was going to check with the big boss about buying everyone a blue wastebasket, I wrote back saying that not to worry about that as my letter was sort of tongue in cheek and that I was planning on doing #2. And that actually I was going to take the whole Lean thing even further by instead of waiting until the end of the day, because the large department blue recycling can was right next to the printer, I would dump my paper to be recycled every time I went over to pick up my freshly minted future recycling.
The Valve Store has always been a safe place to work. We of course have a Safety Committee made of salary and hourly employees, but it is ingrained in the culture and it shows. You can never be too safety conscious in a machining & manufacturing factory. And our parent organization, Emerson Corporation, which manufactures all kinds of gizmos worldwide, treats safety as a high priority as well.
Up until recently the company’s main safety coordinator was a dual job person, she was also our on-site Occupational Health Nurse. As our number of employees has grown, both the health portion and the safety portion became too big for one person.1 Enter, Richard. He is a nice enough guy and by all accounts a very intelligent individual. But, you knew there was something coming didn’t you? As sometimes really, really smart people are, he can be a little flaky.
The other day he came into our Fabrication offices and started to explain to our engineer that he had done a walk-thru and noticed that one of the anti-fatigue mats had a turned up corner that created a trip hazard and need to be replaced. Tom says, “Sure I’ll write up a purchase request right now.” “What size?” “It’s ahh,” he then starts to hold out his arms, moving them around in an approximation of a rectangle, “about that big.” Tom asks, “Which machine?” Richard replies, “Well, it was back there on the left side when I walked through and it is the 3rd or 4th or maybe 6 or 7 back.” The entrance to our offices are smack in the middle of the manufacturing area and seeing as there was no mention of which direction he was traveling when he came in, the offending mat could be anywhere on the shop floor. Tom sighs, and says, “I’ll take care of it.”
This is where I come in, because Tom comes over to the Arts & Crafts Department, tells me the above story and then says, “That guy has sure got some fantastic Safety Powers. Could you design me a logo for his super hero identity?” I ask playfully, knowing Tom, and knowing where he is going, “Nice SG for safety guy?” “No,” Tom says, “I was thinking more along the lines of SD.” “S for safety, combined with the first letter for a Richard nickname that is not-so common in usage anymore.“2 So I used the color green for safety, a nice round logo for center chest placement and a little extra flourish added to the letter SD to get across the point.
Richard might just try and rock a suit like that at Halloween, but I bet he’d want a cape!
On my usual route to work I pull up to a stop sign at the intersection of the 5 lanes of US-1, turn right, run most of the way through the rev range of first and second gears until it is time to signal left and to enter the turn lane for making the left onto the parking lot access road. Time to execute this takes about 6 secs. The 100 yard access road is traveled at selective speeds depending on the closeness of other incoming Valve Store employees and takes another 5 to 15 seconds.
When I take the left turn on US-1, I can get a good idea how I’ll handle this final approach. I do have to be 3/4 of the way down the access road before someone gets in it behind me, because I have to do a u-turn into the lot, stop, shift into reverse and back into that very first spot. Today there were just two vehicles headed north towards me and both were at least 1/3 of a mile back, so no worries. Wrong boy chick. Turns out the lead small pickup truck was hauling ass.
I should not have been too surprised because less than a 1/4 mile before where I spotted the traffic is a red light that catches most everyone and right past it the speed limit jumps to 55. So naturally most everyone who has to stop this one last time on the way to work, and possibly having just been sitting at the previous much longer stoplight 1500 feet before, pushes their foot to the floor and leaves it there until it is time to slow down to turn left.
So I’m only halfway down the access road when the truck hangs the left in behind me, I look back to see their new velocity and it hasn’t changed (much). By the time I transit the last half of the access road his headlights are right bright in my mirror. Now this is no big deal as I’m not militant on the backing in thing, if I don’t time have to to execute the maneuver gracefully without holding up the person behind, I just pull straight in. As the truck zips by towards the front of the lot I recognize it and I know the fellow well. I pass right by the machine he operates quite a few times a day, so I tell myself to be sure to tease him about his speed during the day. At least once.
Later in the day while walking through the shop he is standing there, so I walk over and ask if he ever looks down at his speedometer when traveling that stretch of road. He laughs and says, “Not if there no one in front of me.” “Well,” I say, “You were really moving this morning, I was kind of curious.” Then he asks, “Did you see the dead crow there on the road in?” I said, “No. How’d you? Moving that fast?” Which led me to tell him my favorite joke from Mark Turner about why you never see a dead crow on the side of the road (read it here.)
When it was time to go for my morning walk, sure enough I could see something black, fairly large, laying in the middle of the access road. I took a picture to ask him if this is what he saw. When I got right up to it I took another confirmation picture. Then when I walked back by after my walk, I showed him the pictures and told that maybe he better slow down a bit so he can really tell what he’s looking at.
The bike riding to work on Fridays continues even if only one of us actually rides all the way to the Valve Store. In the morning Donna rides to the halfway point and turns around and heads home on a different route and I continue on pedaling our old standard route to ASCO. At the end of my work day I saddle up and Donna meets me right across the street from the plant having ridden the standard route to within the last tenth of a mile. There is really no reason for her to cross the busiest road on the route only to have cross back 10 minutes later.
People are so used to us riding the tandem in together that you might be surprised to learn how many people wonder how the whole thing works now when I tell them she rides halfway in with me in the morning. “Does she have to walk back home?” “What’s it like to ride that bike with no one on the back seat?” “Ohhh, you have other bikes…”
This morning when a cubicle1 neighbor said, “I didn’t think you were here.”
“It’s Friday,” I reply, “I bike rode in.”
“Oh, I didn’t notice the bike.”
“That’s because it is half as long as the tandem,” I tell him eliciting a chuckle.
This got us talking about cycling and as it turns out he was into mountain biking about the same time as we were back in the middle 1990s. I wonder if we ever crossed paths as we talked of riding some of the same local trails and we both even had ridden the Tsali Trail up in western North Carolina. But I don’t think we were at the same places at the same time because even though it was 20 years ago Donna and I would have been hard to forget. Among all the usual pick up trucks, jeeps, SUVs and big cars, it was hard to miss a Miata with 2 mountain bikes mounted on the trunk at trail head parking areas.