Author Topic: A short story for engineers  (Read 662 times)

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Offline Baloo

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A short story for engineers
« on: February 02, 2012, 12:08:51 PM »

A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes,
without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was
set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell
you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timings so precise
that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time.

Small variations in the environment (which can't be controlled in a
cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks
smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to
the supermarket don't get pissed off and buy another product instead.

Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory
got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new
project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve
their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too
stretched to take on any extra effort.

The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor
allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million)
later they had a fantastic solution - on time, on budget, high quality and
everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using
high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights
whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should. The line would
stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it,

A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project:
amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the
scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were
gaining market share. "That's some money well spent!" - he says, before
looking closely at the other statistics in the report.

It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after
three weeks of production use. It should've been picking up at least a
dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed
a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back
saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren't picking up
any empty box's at that point
Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory, and walks up to the part of
the line where the precision scales were installed.

A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty
boxes out of the belt and into a bin.

"Oh, that," says one of the workers - "one of the guys put it there 'cause
he was tired of walking over... "every time the bell rang".

Offline fabr

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Re: A short story for engineers
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 12:41:39 PM »
I just had had a similar discussion on another board. If it weren't so true it would be pretty damn funny. Well,it's pretty damn funny anyway. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
"There can be no divided allegiance here.  Any man who says he is an American,
but something else also, isn't an American at all.  We have room for but one
flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is
the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a
loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907

"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots" Albert Einstein  (IT'S OFFICIAL THAT DAY IS HERE NOW!)

Offline Nutz4sand

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Re: A short story for engineers
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2012, 05:41:11 PM »
I cannot help but read that and smile.

Can you say "overeducated" like so many engineers seem to be?

I know 95% of the ones I used to work with at Chrysler were total idiots. 
Your mission isn't to dive feet first into hell, but to make sure its crowded when you get there.

Offline BDKW1

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Re: A short story for engineers
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2012, 08:31:21 PM »
I deal with them daily. Very few have a fxxking clue........