In your response about engineers reviewing the part sent by the Receiving department for verification, I was reminded of a situation early in my electronics career. I ordered a medium quantity of some small earpieces what we called receivers. When my "order" came in the shipping department asked me where to ship the parts, so I naturally said my office. When told that the package would not fit throguh the office door I became suspicious and asked how many were shipped. I was told only one, because my purchasing authority had been exceeded, and they could not produce sufficient units in time. When I asked to see a copy of the transcribed shipping invoice someone had changed my item list from "receiver" to "receiving unit". Instead of being shipped 25 receivers which would fit into a shoebox, I received one satellite receiving unit with a 10 foot parabolic dish in a box the size of a U-Haul truck, and a promise to ship the other 24 within the next six months.
In EVERY former engineering community that I have been employed, a person from the Receiving Dept. brought a received item to the project engineer's office. The engineer then made the final decision whether it was the correct item or not. The engineer then inititalled the packing list to assign responsibility for the received goods. In cases where vendors shipped alternate items at their discretion, this policy was the "checks & balances" to prevent incorrect items from being installed into equipment. In my current employ, we have a totally moronic policy. When packages are received, a person from the front office checks the packing list against the part number(s) of the items to the P.O. IF there's a match, then all is well, but IF there isn't, then we got big trouble. Unfortunately, this is ineffective policy since ONLY the project engineer in charge (who most probably specified the items) is truly qualified to make the correct decision. Many times items have MORE than one identifying codes attached which always confuses the untechnical personnel.
Our company used to have one of the warehouse workers deliver incoming packages every day - it took an hour or so. In the interest of saving money, all incoming packages are now put on a shelf, and all of us pick up our own packages. Who knows how many man-hours that takes - certainly more than one. And we now regularly lose packages; usually just misplaced for a few days, but sometimes lost for good. I know of one that cost over $10K to replace. Gotta love the modern managers.......................
This story has a far happier ending than the true tale of woe that ocurred at a Nissan plant a few years back. WE were building an addition for one of their leak testing machines, and it needed to have a large cable installed to tie our new hardware in with their existing PLC. I had the cable built at our plant, complete with a quite expensive industrial strength 34 pin connector. I carefully put the terminal number tag on every lead, so that their electricians could easily install it correctly. I sent along a drawing and detailed instructions, and had the package sent to their plant several days in advance, so that it could be installed prior to my arrival to tie in the addition to the machine.
When I arrived at the plant several days later I checked to see how the installation had gone. Not only was the cable assembly not installed or connected, it was noplace to be found. I checked the paper trail and found that it had arrived and been sent to the machines location. Then I found that the next day, in accordance with a REALLY STUPID policy of cleaning up for lean manufacturing, it had been thrown away because it was not needed at that particular time by the assembly line worker following the stupid policy. Fortunately I had my copy of all the build information, and so, eor a significant cost and a days delay, was able to produce a replacement. But the delay and replacement cost were not a small deal.
From this we learn that attempting to expedite a job can be a waste of both time and money, and that often making things neat is not nearly as valuable as having things organized. And I did not mention the names of the guilty parties.
A happy ending to a story that's likely been told over and over in companies all the time. I'm wondering if years later with the advent of enterprise systems like supply chain management platforms and logistics software, a scenario like this would be as commonplace. Or perhaps, not even the most advanced automated system can get in the way of true comfort on one's lunch break.
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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