A Funny Engineering story

Discussion in 'Jokes' started by R_W_B, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    You know sometimes it's the most simple things that stop everything. With today's prices on repair bills many of us are faced with fixing what breaks ourselves instead of just sending it to the shop. I am always learning new things from the various forums I belong to, (believe me there is a forum for just about everything, not just bikes). And I've learned a lot of great troubleshooting technics and processes from more experienced guys like Tquention, Brian, Hoople, Glider, Jack, HDDon, RedfishJoe, Breeze and his half brother Bubbie and too many more of you guys to list.

    However from all these guys I always see the element of the simple things first, or as we used to call in Surveying work, Redundancy. By eliminating the simple things first, many hours and dollars can be saved. Checking and cleaning the grounds, fuses, wiggingling the wires or even just being a little creative and outside the box looking for a solution.

    So on this subject I want to share with you a funny story my brother-in-law from Kansas sent me email this morning.
    Engineering solution story.
    A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside. You know the little individual boxes you take the tube out of when you bring it home. This was due to the way the production line was set up. People with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timing so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time. You must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket don’t get ticked-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 hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem.

    The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $1 million) later they had a solution — on time, on budget. 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 closer look at the project's amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory since the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share.

    However as he investigates closer "all" the statistics in the report. He notices something very strange. The first 2 weeks into the operation of the new equipment scales the reports showed line stoppage and alerts at least a dozen times a day. But then all of a sudden after the first 2 week period, there are NO recorded occurances of line stoppage anymore.

    The CEO thought maybe there was something wrong with the report. He launched an investigation, and after some work, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren't picking up any empty boxes anymore because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were now all good product filled boxes.

    Puzzled, the CEO traveled down to the factory, and walked up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed. He then saw a few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing any empty boxes off of the belt and into a bin. He inquired about this fan.

    “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. SixPak

    SixPak Junior Member

    Haha, The simple things!!
  3. Breeze3at

    Breeze3at Well-Known Member

    That's a good story with a good message. I always try to remember the old story of how NASA spent several million dollars developing a pen that would write in the zero gravity of space. When a NASA scientist was proudly showing it off to a Russian, the Russian said "we just use a two cent pencil in space". :s
  4. dbmg

    dbmg Experienced Member

    And what about that story about common sense???:yes
    Or so smart that their stupid.......:newsmile058:
  5. Dr. Dolittle

    Dr. Dolittle Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    That's great - I just forwarded it to my daughter and her boyfriend, both recent grads from Georgia Tech with engineering degrees. Hope they'll see the humor AND learn something.
  6. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    A saying that we had in the army stays with me now K.I.S.S. keep it simple stupid
    this looks like one of those simple solutions that works well just because it is simple

  7. Redfish-Joe

    Redfish-Joe Senior Member

    We had an engineer at DiGiorno Pasta in Birmingham who decided that the old mechanical pasta cutters that came from Italy were obsolete. I mean, 8 thousand cases per shift, 2 shifts per day 5 to 6 days a week for 10 years. They were totally bullet proof. Never broke down and needed little attention.

    OK, lets put in a water jet cutter system. You know the type that cuts steel plate. That will cut pasta!! Half a million dollars and 5 months later he called a department meeting and told us how disappointed he was in us for not making the unit productive. Read: Us making it work.

    We changed the lines back over to the original cutters. Production picked back up. Maintenance went down.

    Got to love engineers.

    No reflection on you Don!! :D
  8. geezer

    geezer Senior Member Contributor

    Great story Dave. :D
  9. Trek

    Trek Junior Member

    Great story. I'll be sure to share that with my engineer friends. Thanks.
  10. SledDog

    SledDog Senior Member Staff Member Moderator

    Was the engineering firm that got paid the million Hazen and Sawyer? Sounds like them.. They proposed a complicated solution to a very simple problem. Millions to research and impliment.

    So instead of installing a "new valve", that required installation of 100' of pipe, to modulate our outgoing reuse water pressure, we installed a 2000 dollar VFD to modulate pump speed.

    They weren't happy that we solved the issue without needing their engineering assistance!