@ William K - You are correct about your assessment of the ISO 9000 mandates - just another check in the box to assure some accountant that everything is as it should be - a sad state of affairs, indeed!
I understand what you mean about doing a job so well you make it secure. However, sometimes considerations outside your control can show up. Say a vendor comes in with a way to commoditize your functions. The vendor doesn't know you or your value, but the vendor may understand your function well enough to automate it.
Rob, you are certainly correct about the loss of many of these cognitive skills in many areas. One reason is job mobility, in that many don't stay in an area long enough to learn very much.
Another big culprit is the ISO-9000 mentality, which is intent on reducing every task to a simple easy set of steps that can be done by a cheaper labor source. That is not the published intent, exactly, except that one stated goal is to assure that no employee is "indespensible".
My goal for most of my jobs has been to be valuable enough to be considered indespensible. Not that I ever "keep secrets" as a means of increasing my value, since that does not work, but that I work at providing enough value that the management can see that I am a valuable asset, to be retained, hopefully. It works in places where the management is not far separated from the process, but where the managers are isolated bean shufflers employee value means a lot less.
Sometimes those organizations do reap the grief that they deserve.
The whole notion of wandering by a mechanism and having it not sound right is slowly disappearing in plants. I keep hearing that the plant operators who could listen and hear whether everything was running right is becoming a detection method of the past. With the boomer retiring and leaving after decades, they're taking their knowledge. This is being replaced by diagnostic and prognostic tools. But some say this ability can't be replaced at all.
I had to pass on my experience a few years ago with a 3 phase problem. Our family owned a Baskins Robins Ice cream store and my problem. It was a very warm August day and we had an order for an ice cream wedding cake to serve 200 people. This is a task that requires it to be assembled in the walkin freezer. The freezer is 8 x 10' and powered by a 220v 3 phase unit. The temperature is kept at -5 F. This was three days after an ice cream delivery and the freezer was quite full, not leaving much room to work. Made a table out of stacked up ice cream 3 gal. tubs. At this temperature even with my Nan Nook of the north furry coat on you can't stay in more than 7 or 8 minutes with the blower blasting away on you. When you go in and out of the freezer the temperature rises 8 to 10 degrees and takes a few minutes to recover. (observing the freezer thermometer). I noticed that the temp. was not recovering and it was getting up to about 20 F. The blower fan was working OK, but the compresson on top of the freezer didn't sound right. Checking the fuses found one of them blown. Replacing it, it blew right away. There are two boxed on each side of the blower unit inside of the freezer, the one by the door had the low voltage circuitry. Everything looked OK there. The one in the back was just the power in connections. Opening that one up I found that one of the connections on the terminal strip had broken away from the strip and the two wires still screwed together had fallen away from the strip and shorted out against the box cover with a blackmark from the short. Some electrical tape and tying up the wires solver the problem. Powered up with a new fuse and tha compressor sounded like it's old self. Finished the cake on time.
A million years ago we had a wedding present electric clock hanging on the wall, which I knocked to the floor. I rehung it, but it refused to run, so I took the usual first trouble shooting step and violently shook it. The second hand started moving, but it was going backwards. I unplugged the clock and retried it with the same results. The clock kept perfect time, in reverse. It was kind of cool and drove visitors nuts when I could tell time, by reading upside down.
It ran that way for about a year when I plugged DC converter for a tape recorder in the same outlet. The clock made some kind of weird noise, stopped and then restarted going the right direction. I have no idea as to what happened or how to explain it, but that is what happened.
After 10 or so years the clock died a painless death and went to the big appliance store in the sky.
Man, the weird can be dangerous too. A pump that reports shorted, yet still runs make you begin wondering if the wiring is correct. If not, then all bets are off as to where that high voltage comes from.
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
The US Congress has extended an important tax credit for solar energy, a move that’s good news for future investments in this type of alternative energy and for many stakeholders in the solar industry.
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