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Full Version: The $500,000 Solution to a $12 Problem
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http://www.productivity501.com/why-collaborate/9454/

INTRO: John was the CEO of ACME Toothpaste and he was always looking for ways to make his factory more efficient. One of the areas he was looking into was the problems caused when an empty box somehow made its way to a store without containing a tube of toothpaste. When a large box packed with individual boxes of toothpaste arrived at a store, the store would check in the big box and then unpack the individual boxes onto the shelves. If one of the individual boxes was missing a tube of toothpaste, it caused a lot of inconvenience for the store and the company because of the amount of time it took to straighten out the accounting, refunds, etc. On top of all that, empty boxes made the toothpaste company look bad to their customers.

John knew he could improve their efficiency and bolster their relationship with stores if they could make sure they didn’t ever ship out a box that was missing a tube of toothpaste. A high priced consultant was brought in who studied the assembly line and installed a laser system that would shine on the side of each box as it came down the line. If there was no tube in the box, a faint red glow would show up on the opposite side of the box. A sensor could detect this, stop the line, and set off an alarm to notify workers that the box needed to be removed before it got packed. If a tube was present, the sensor wouldn’t see the glow and the box would continue normally down the line.

The system was expensive and by the time it was all wired into the controls and the consultant was paid it cost over half a million dollars. Still, the CEO was satisfied. It worked well in all their tests and the cost of dealing with even infrequent empty boxes was high enough to justify the investment.

After the system had been running for over a month, John was pleased to see in his monthly report that they had not shipped a single empty box. Happy that everything was working as designed, he continued going through the report but was confused when he got to a new line on the report that indicated how many times the system had detected an empty box. There were a few detections the first week the system was installed, but none in the last few weeks. This was unusual and he assumed that something wasn’t reported correctly, so he went down to the line to take a closer look at the laser sensing equipment.

Everything was still there and each box was correctly illuminated with the laser. Starting up the line to get an empty box to test with, his foot crushed an empty box. Looking around he saw a handful of other boxes strewn randomly across the concrete floor–all empty. Then he noticed a desk fan on the opposite side of the conveyor belt blowing toward him.

About that time, the line manager came over to see what he was doing. “Why are all these boxes on the floor?” asked John.

“Oh sorry about that,” said the line manager, “the new system kept stopping the line and setting off an annoying alarm.” After the first two or three times, Bill had gotten tired of the interruptions and had brought that fan over from his desk and set it up to blow the lighter empty boxes off the line so he didn’t have to deal with taking each one off and restarting the line. The line manager said, “I guess I should get a bin over here so we can reuse the boxes instead of dumping them on the floor.”
Reminds me of a time when a friend who had his natural gas service disconnected because of a safety issue with a natural gas water heater. The heater had a draft hood on it which permitted flue gases to be exhausted up the chimney. A draft hood allows for house air to enter the flue vent and help propel hot exhaust upwards and out. When it works in the opposite direction it’s called a spill and could be dangerous to a person’s health especially if the unit is making CO during combustion process. IOW nat gas equipment with a draft hood is supposed to exhaust outside not inside the house.

Two contractors had tried to fix problem to no avail. The home owner was frustrated because it had cost him over $300 dollars so far. I went over and took a look. In less than a minute I’d solved the problem. About six feet away, quietly turning, was a small fan aimed directly at the draft hood. As soon as I moved it away the spill problem vanished. I always use the KISS principle....keep it simple stupid.
(May 9, 2019 01:16 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: [ -> ]Reminds me of a time when a friend who had his natural gas service disconnected because of a safety issue with a natural gas water heater. The heater had a draft hood on it which permitted flue gases to be exhausted up the chimney. A draft hood allows for house air to enter the flue vent and help propel hot exhaust upwards and out. When it works in the opposite direction it’s called a spill and could be dangerous to a person’s health especially if the unit is making CO during combustion process. IOW nat gas equipment with a draft hood is supposed to exhaust outside not inside the house.

Two contractors had tried to fix problem to no avail. The home owner was frustrated because it had cost him over $300 dollars so far. I went over and took a look. In less than a minute I’d solved the problem. About six feet away, quietly turning, was a small fan aimed directly at the draft hood. As soon as I moved it away the spill problem vanished. I always use the KISS principle....keep it simple stupid.


LOL. I know I've surely got some gems buried in the back of my mind from the past, but as usual nothing easily surfaces from the cloud stirred-up by all the noise, chaos, and multitasking going on outside of these intermittent two-minute breaks of vainly trying to piece something long and half-sensible together.
Not sure if many companies have policies that reward employees for money saving ideas or even possible inventions that make work easier and less costly. The corporate attitude now seems to be anything worthwhile an employee has to offer becomes Intellectual Property. A pat on the back and get back to work.

Was my experience that the longer someone works in a specific task or field, the more likely they were to develop a cost/safety/efficiency idea. Not rewarding employees results in many great ideas not being heard or seen. IMHO
All combustion heaters that rely on hot air rising are increasingly becoming an invitation to the next world. To save money on heating people are sealing up the draughts - them drafts is where the air came in so there was air available to go up the chimney to carry the combustion products away. Seal up the draughts and you get condensation. So let's fit a fan in the bathroom. When you turn on the fan in the bathroom the air that was supposed to be going up the chimney in the kitchen changes direction and starts heading for the bathroom.
(May 12, 2019 01:11 PM)confused2 Wrote: [ -> ]All combustion heaters that rely on hot air rising are increasingly becoming an invitation to the next world. To save money on heating people are sealing up the draughts - them drafts is where the air came in so there was air available to go up the chimney to carry the combustion products away. Seal up the draughts and you get condensation. So let's fit a fan in the bathroom. When you turn on the fan in the bathroom the air that was supposed to be going up the chimney in the kitchen changes direction and starts heading for the bathroom.

People are actually insulating their homes to the point where replacement air can’t get in for ventilation (i.e. draft hoods), combustion, wood burning fireplace etc fast enough. Nothing like telling a home owner who just spent a fortune tightening up his house that he needs to punch a hole in it. Many of today’s gas appliances with power vents still need air, so to get around hole punching, the exhaust and intake piping runs directly between appliance and the outside(same pressure zone), no contact with inside air. When the house goes negative because air can’t be replaced then you start running into problems that a service provider( ie local gas distributor) will frown on. You may end up with gas service curtailed or die (worse case scenario). All most air tight homes need is an air opening equivalent to a dryer duct or slightly larger. If you have a wood burning fireplace and you notice it doesn’t draft, usually accompanied with a damp haze, then just open a window until chimney gets hot enough to draft combustion products.