November 18, 2016

Fire drill

Read more about the challenges manufacturing engineers face on a day-to-day basis, and how they react to them.

a fire alarm button and an instruction poster of how to operate the button

You stroll into your office on Friday morning at 8:10 AM, looking forward to hopefully getting out of work on time.

You have dinner reservations tonight.

As you settle into your tasks for the day, the plant manager helps himself into your office to inform you that production is way behind schedule for this afternoon’s shipment.

”Fix it. Now.”

You drop everything and head out to the shop floor. Might as well cancel that dinner reservation too.

You’re responsible for end of line operations, moving product from the line to shipping. You walk over to the loading area to strike up conversation with the guys loading pallets, taking mental note of how long it takes them to stack and wrap each one.

Everything seems to be all right.

You find the shift supervisor and ask if he’s noticed anything different.

No absences last night. Nothing unusual reported.

As you walk back towards your office, you spot the problem. Two forklifts backed into a corner, clearly under repair.

When did that happen?

If you worked at almost any other manufacturing facility, this would be an easy fix. Unfortunately, you’re responsible for end of line operations of a very complex production.

You’ll have to talk with the other manufacturing engineers to see if they can make some adjustments to their lines. You won’t be able to hit your production targets, but at least you’ll prevent a huge inventory buildup.

Then, you’ll have to re-calculate the whole production output, and convince your plant manager you’ve got this under control.

That should be fun.

Fortunately, there are tools that can help you respond to and even prevent these types of fire drills. In our next post, we’ll tell you more about how 3D manufacturing simulation software can help.