I have been commuting on a weekly basis for the past few weeks to a custome
r in the deep south (hint - I've been drinking Jack Daniels in the evenings
). This is an older factory (50+ years) and much of the equipment is of tha
t vintage. The plant is under new ownership and my task is to bring the con
trols on these machines into the 21st century (make them work like they sho
This was the root of my hydraulics questions (will be addressed this week)
and my billing for travel question (worked out well with the customer).
I spent last week removing two five-gallon buckets of excess wire and relay
s from an assembly machine and replaced it with a single PLC. In the proces
s, I also removed probably another five pounds of accumulated grease, oil a
But that's not the point of this post. Here's something that I saw down the
re: In bringing this factory up to date, they are installing a new bonderiz
er line. This is a rather large (~50' long, 20' x 20' cross-section) tunnel
that treats metal parts with various solutions and temperatures in prepara
tion for application of its finish (paint or powder coat).
The cost of this machine and its installation is well in excess of a millio
n dollars. I spoke with the crew (welders, mechanics, electricians and plum
bers) that was doing the installation and found out that they are busy doin
g new installations of various metal finishing machines across the country,
pretty much all the time. They have taken off a week in the past six month
I'm no economics expert, and I don't really follow general manufacturing tr
ends - except as they directly influence me and my work - but it would seem
to me that the busyness of this crew indicates that the state of the metal
parts manufacturing business in the US must be pretty healthy in order sup
port this sort of equipment procurement.
By the way, this factory has a sign on the employee's entrance prohibiting
guns and knives in the building, and another in the men's room prohibiting
the spitting of tobacco juice on the floor. You wouldn't think you'd need s
uch a sign, but apparently...
Also, according to Google Maps, I could drive there in 9 1/2 hours and slee
p in Hotel Scion, but my customer pays for me to take an Uber to the airpor
t and fly there, and to sleep in a fairly nice hotel. I guess the differenc
e must be that I'm putting a factory together while the Econoline guy is ta
king them apart.
- posted 5 years ago