Tuesday, April 24, 2018
I was the laser operator at my last job. I loved that job.
It was a small factory that made indutrialshocks. Some were huge. Those were most often used in the rides at amusement parks. If you ride a dropping type ride chances are the shocks that make the ride stop without crushing your bones was made by us.
The smallest are used in microsurgery. Microsurgery allows a doctor to do the most intricate work as he/ she views it through a microscope.
There were all shapes. Some were about an inch in diameter and maybe 8 inches long. These were used to stiffen Batman's cape in Batman movies.
Some were as wide as they were long. Some were heavy, some not so much.
Each shock had to have the company name, the number assigned to that particular size, and the manufacture date marked permanently on them. That was what I did.
I had a small room that no one could enter unless I allowed them in. The reason for that is that if the laser was operating anyone in the room had to wear special goggles to protect their eyes. I was alone in there for 8 hours a day. I did not have to deal with the disagreements and pettiness that so often happens among people who work together all day.
I had a computer that set up the program on the laser. After I set it for the size and style of shock I woul place the piece in the laser, push the correct button on the keypad, and wait for the information to be burned into the shock. Then they were ready to be assembled and shipped to the customer.
There was only one laser. It was quite old and there were a lot of problems with it. When it would break down there were 2 people in the whole place that could repair it. Those were the times I would have to go out on the assembly line while it was being fixed.
Sometimes my machine would be down for a day or two. Thankfully I usually had several orders lasered and ready to assemble at all times.
Then came the day that there was a major, major breakdown. It happened on Thursday. There was a rush order that had to be shipped no later than the following Tuesday. It would be at least a week before the parts needed to repair my machine would arrive.
The company needed the parts lasered by Monday at the latest. We had a problem.
The owner of the company contacted a company that did similar work. They also lasered their own parts. They would allow me to come to their shop to laser the parts on Saturday. Time and a half for me.
Friday we loaded several runs into the back of my pichup. Using my vehicle meant I also was paid milage. Saturday I went to that shop.
Oh my. I have to tell you I have never seen such a factory.
It had a workout room complete with all the exercise equipment you would find in a gym for the employees who wished to use it after hours. There was a shower near the lockers so they could go home clean after a hard day's working.
Everyone who worked there had to punch in and out, including the owner. His thinking was that the employees had the right to know if he was putting in a full day's work. They had a uniform service that provided clean work uniforms for each day of the week to be collected and cleaned once a week. Paid by the company.
The uniforms were kept in a locker assigned to the employee so the service could dimply go in and collect them and drop off the clean ones.. Then there was another side to the locker where the employee kept regular clothing and personal items. That side was locked.
There were 5, count them 5, microwave ovens in the spacious and immaculate lunchroom. No waiting to heat you lunch. There was an area right outside the lunchroom for anyone who wanted to eat out there. There was a beautiful view. There was actually a nature preserve right next to the factory grounds.
Inside the factory it was also immaculate. The floors were so clean I would have allowed my children to eat food placed on them. There was no dust, no greasy places. It looked brand new.
There were several work areas... maybe 6 or so. Each work area had a supervisor who would oversee all of the work in that area. Each supervisor had a snall office to keep any papers needed for the day and a small desk. There was no door on the office. The supervisor was expected to work with the rest of the employees unless there was something else that had to be taken care of. The office gave him a place ro answer the phone away from noise.
Each area had a coffee pot, tea and hot water, instant hot chocolate. All free for the employees. The best feature was the full sized refrigerator full of bottles of water available at all times. Each area also had a bathroom so no one had to walk forever to answer a call of nature.
It all seemed so open and large. All the aisles were wide enough to easily move a hilo with a pallet of merchandise and have room on either side. And clean floors.
The company had an intern program for high school students who were interested in that type of work. If they were interested there was an exellent scholarship program for college.
Most of the interns took full advantage of the program. When they completed their studies they returned to work at a more specialized position. Most of them stayed because the conditions and pay were so good. A lot of them had been there for 30 years or more.
Their laser was newer than mine and much easier to operate. I was finished shortly after lunch time. I did not think I would be able to do them all even if I stayed all day.
I went back to our grubby factory on Monday. Everyone who had ever been to the other factory rushed to ask me what I thought of the place. We were all impressed.
I think all employers should have to tour a factory like that. Their employees would be much more content. Content employees tend to stay where they are and do better work.