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Unconfirmed Short Story For Engineers

Discussion in 'The Lighter Side' started by Mrs Glockrunner, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. Mrs Glockrunner

    Mrs Glockrunner

    May 19, 2009
    Likes Received:
    South Carolina
    Engineers appreciate this story..............

    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 hacked 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, pressing
    another button when done to re-start the line.

    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 defects, because all boxes that got to that point in
    the conveyor belt were good.

    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."
  2. Haldor

    Haldor Formerly retired EE.

    Oct 22, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Central Arizona
    Funny story.

    As an engineer who designs scales including in-motion check-weighing scales, all I can say is, my designs have a reject output that automatically kicks off product that is out of spec (stopping production to deal with a rejected product would be a major fail).

    Course we are also checking for more than a missing tube. Inaccurate fill weights are a much more common problem than an entire missing tube of product.

  3. MrsUzi4U

    MrsUzi4U Hmmm

    Feb 12, 2012
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    :rofl: Thanks for passing that along.
  4. janice6

    janice6 Silver Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Likes Received:
    That's a fun good story.