Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The End of Industrial Training

Okayy... I know it has been a few ice ages ago since I last blogged but heres the thing...

THERE WASNT MUCH TO TALK ABOUT AFTER THE FIRST 4 WEEKS OF INDUSTRIAL TRAINING!!! WHAT THE HELL COULD I BLOG ABOUT? e.g. This week was a routine week. I went to the production line and with my trusty stopwatch and clipboard and measured the cycle time.... every day i measure the production lines cycle time.... after work i would key in this data in to Excel spreadsheets blah blah blah.... NOOOOOO I DUWAN TO WRITE A BLOG LIKE TAT!!!

Ahem.... Now that i have cleared my throat a little on that issue, let me try to summarize as much as I can think about the final 7 weeks of my 11 week long industrial training.... Hmmm lemmme see.... Well there was an endless pile of spreadsheets, there was the final presentation in which for the first time in my life, i didnt know what to present in front of the whole line up of engineers on the production floor leaving them with an impression that I SUCK at presenting but the truth is there was nothing to present at all as all I did was collect data by pressing the stopwatch and recording it on paper and transferring the measured data to Excel spreadsheets, wrote my industrial training final report in the final few days there, and the last day of work was spent looking at the engine testing department giving the S80 engines a full power run and approving documents.

Within the final few weeks though, there was this interesting "training" on Volvo's image rebranding which basically sums up why Volvos couldnt sell as well as Mercedes or BMWs. In this "training" we were told that Volvos problem was its brand image as it wants to be a premium car brand but couldnt seem to succeed in doing so. Failing to do so, it is sandwiched in a really unfavourable position where it in the middle of nowhere, not premium but not cheap.... A bit of a more expensive Toyota Camry price range but much cheaper than BMW. As it is not perceived as a premium car brand, it is naturally crossed off the list of cars to consider when buying a new car, as in when you buy a car, even before you think about how big of a car you want, you would first decide on whether or not to buy an expensive car, or just settle for a cheap car right?

So during this decision process making, you would cross out Volvo right after you decided you wanted an expensive car as Volvos arent premium and expensive cars. And if you decide on cheap cars instead, you would still cross out Volvos as they are kind of expensive. Hence being in the middle of both classes would really put a company in a disadvantageous and even possibly dangerous market position where your products would get crossed out of the list of possible choices to consider when buying a car.

For example, lets say you have RM 200,000.00 and you want to buy a car with that money. Which one you would rather have? A Toyota Camry / Honda Accord or a Volvo S40? And if you are in for expensive cars, choose between S80 (Volvos Camry sized sedan) or a BMW 3 series or a Mercedes C class. Which one would you want?

This is clearly a problem for Volvo right now, hence the rebranding of its vehicles to make them more desirable and placing them in the premium car market. Lets hope Volvo succeeds as I would feel that it would be a loss to the industry if they were to lose their leader in vehicle safety innovations right?

Well, here is my honest confession... I stopped taking the production line cycle times for real from the 7th week onwards.... Why? Well my cousin Fred gave me an invaluable piece of advise... "Work smart boy... Give your boss what he wants lah... Learn to work like them la.... Just enjoy your Industrial Training while it lasts". That was indeed a great piece of advise as it gave me an idea. I should make good use of my strengths la! I can visualize and imagine pretty well when it comes to moving parts i think... And I have been observing the vehicle assembly process long enough to actually imagine them assembling the car in real time quite accurately. Combining these traits, I tried measuring the cycle time of the assembly by measuring the time to assemble the car in my imagination and then comparing the imaginary times to the actual measured time.

Those times came to within 10% error and from then on, my cycle time measurement became more of a stand there at the production line, observe carefully how the car is being assembled, go back to the CMM Machine room, sit down comfortably on the table behind, imagine the process and measuring the imaginary times. This method was far more efficient than actually measuring it for real and about 80% of the job was completed within these 3.5 weeks of "imaginary measuring". Dont blame me.... The actual process of cycle time measurement is to video record the operator at work without him knowing and then measuring the time by analyzing the worker's actions from the video. Since no camcorder was available to me, I made do with my eyes and memory and just stood there with out my stopwatch and clipboard, telling the operators that I am just looking... Not cycle time measuring... They were more than happy to see a trainee that seemingly want to learn about car assembly more than just wanting to finish his project and sometimes they even let me try it out by allowing me to assemble a few parts of the car.

So that was the wrap up of my industrial training... Besides learning about cars, I actually learned some KL roads and had quite a blast lepaking in KL larrr... Overall pretty good compared to other companies that pay twice as much as Volvo pays (RM 250/month) and I got to know about Volvos inside out!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Latihan Industri Hujung Minggu 4

Week 4, another bland and simple week. More time measurement. More of the hot and humid assembly lines with no engine sub assembly in sight. And more Excel data entry. This week proved to be a very long week as it is the second week I have to endure this ceaseless boredom with out a Friday lay off day. Well, at least there IS an end in sight as my time as a trainee here is quite short indeed.

This week while i was at work at the sub assembly lines where small bits get put together in to bigger pieces of the car e.g Dashboard, Engine, Axle etc etc, I found some really nice people. They were willingly cooperating with me in my attempt to measure the cycle time of the sub assembly lines. For instance there is this uncle at the radiator sub assembly whom is in his late 40's who would tell me his cerita2 lama and do the operations step by step so that i could catch up and note it all down on the list. The mute guy and gals would also do the same and they even paused a while and pointed to me which step in the list they had just done and waited for me to write down the time and then only continuing. I wished the rest of the ppl at the assembly line.
That would help me a great deal and I would've had the complete data by now. But no~ they just did what they pleased and made life so difficult for me on the main assembly line.

To the ones who were of great help to me, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to these nice and helpful people! YAY and now to some of the more humourous things i found during week 4 of industrial training. The following picture is the product of a "dialogue" that i had with one of the mute workers at the sub assembly line called Syafinas. Very helpful person who signalled me when she started a process and signaled me to stop the stopwatch when she is done with it and points out which item in the list was it. She asked me what I was there for and i answered that i was there to take the cycle time for the dashboard sub assembly.

She then told me that she is doing the S80 dashboard sub assembly just in case I didn't know in line 2 and then i asked her whether she is also in charge of the door panel sub assembly in line 3. In line 4 she claims that she not do work. Hmmm.... Is this the confession from a worker that she slacks off during work? Hahaha i hope not...

The following picture is a material requisition form (obviously) that my colleague asked me to send to the stockist to acquire the listed items. What instantly caught my attention was the units for the items in the list.

WD40 for those who have never heard of it or used it, is an aerosol lubricant that is sprayed to loosen rusty metal such as your pad locks, nuts and bolts. So naturally, they come in CANs right? But it seemed that my colleague got it slight wrong by determining that WD40s should be punished and "disebat" 3 kali untuk sex offense against women.

I finished the week with quite some data and am quite pleased with the nice people whom showed their invaluable cooperation to aid my data collection.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Latihan Industri Hujung Minggu 3

This week is the week where my industrial training got from kinda boring to BBBOOOORRRIIIINNNGGGG.........

Yes its the week of boredom for me in Sweedish Motor Assemblies. On Monday i printed out a 3 inch thick stack of spreadsheets that I have painstakingly prepared throughout the first 2 weeks of my industrial training. It took me a whole damn day to print out these spreadsheets as the printer was acting up, printing only the first column and moves on to the next page to pring the next column and so on.

After wasting the whole morning messing around with the printer settings and getting the print outs right, it is already time for tea break. I went up to the cafeteria to grab some "char bee hoon" and Nescafe (really sleepy waiting for the bublejet printer to get along with its business of printing) and then went to the toilet to take a leak. Out of curiosity, I ventured in to another cubicle and found some more interesting artwork done by grownups which I included in this post below for your viewing pleasure:

The artist seem to have a deep liking for the female body, especially the breasts for that matter which can be seen by the art piece on your left but the poor fellow's artwork got defiled by other busybodies whom think that the picture wasnt complete and added stuff behind the female. On the right are artist impressions on what happens to breasts if they are fondled with too much and the depictions of breasts sagging along with the before and after labels show how much sagging the artist thinks breasts would undergo.

This one is a horizontal view of 2 people having penetrative sex. I am unsure about who this "Zaiton" is but i have a hunch taufik here refers to the senior HR Manager in SMA.

So after spending the rest of the day printing out the spreadsheets and sorting them out, it was time to staple them together. Problem was, some were more than 25 pages thick
too thick for a normal stapler to staple together. The next problem is there aint no big staplers in the whole factory!! OMFG!! We are talking about a factory that prides itself with its ISO 9001 and ISO 14000 certification here and it turns out, they did not have one of those BIG staplers that we usually c in the photocopy shops. This factory has more than 5 photo copy machines and still no sign of BFS (Big F***in Stapler)

I had to resort to brute force. Went to the tool shelf and got the hammer out! Hammered the stapler quite hard to cause successful penetration and then hammer the ends of the staple down to strengthen the tie. This process is repeated 3 times in parallel direction to increase tie strength, hence creating a durable booklet to endure the ravages of the production line.

In one of my trips to the office, I met up wiht my supervisor's boss (my boss oso la) and she asked me to go see her the first thing the next morning. And so i did as she told me right after morning stretching. Sadly the reason she asked me to see her was to make me photocopy the Operational Sequence Summary for 2 trucks that are going to be produced on contract here in SMA.

Hence i spent the half a day by the photocopy machine and the other half of the day at the table stamping the "Controlled Document" stamp on the documents and then filing them up accordingly.

After this rather unamusing day of easy labour, I continued on with the cycle time measurement for the rest of the week feeling rather lost trying to keep up with more than one person at the same station who not only does the assembly a few steps at a time, they seem to even share jobs as well making it a real mess to measure the cycletime.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Latihan Industri Hujung Minggu 2

Second week of industrial training in KL and I was all alone at home as my causin went to Shanghai with this Girlfriend to visit his mother there. I know this is kind of late to post this but i was kinda busy over the weekend so heres the round up for week 2 of my industrial training....

My week started off as usual with my supervisor (Azril) asking me to hurry up with the OSS (Operational Sequence Summary) list that I have been painfully updating since day 2 of the training. The whole weeks worth of working days were spent in the cold but cheerful CMM (Computer Measuring Machine) room labouring away the hours as the OSS list slowly reaches completion.

This week was particularly nice as it has a public holiday (Labour's Day) as well as Friday lay-off day, hence reducing the total working days for this week to a meager 3 days of work!! WOOHOO!!! SUPER LONG WEEKEND!!!

In theory, this is supposed to be syiok giler la rite? But as it turns out it was a really taxing weekend. When I habis kerja, I made my journey home (where else la..) and when I got home, I quickly ran upstairs, flinging my bag to a side and went in to the shower. My old class mate who is still studying at Taylor's College had bought tickets to Iron Man at 8pm. Reached Sunway Pyramid at 6.30 pm and met up with him and Teoh and we had McDonalds for dinner after a lengthy, undecided, unsure and confused discussion on what to have for dinner. Used some coupons and got a free Fillet O' Fish together with my McValue BigMac... Nice and filling.....

Iron Man was nice and exceeded my expectation (was expecting the usual cheesy Marvel superhero mambo jumbo) as it turned out to be quite intresting. Hope they do not screw up the sequel though... After the movie we parted ways and I headed to Sungai Long to watch Chelsea vs Liverpool or was it MU vs Chelsea??? either way they are the same to me as it was so boring i fell asleeop at the mamak stall and they had to bring me back to Julian's house and continued watching there.

When i woke up the next afternoon, we had Dominos Pizza for lunch and played some PS2 games. I went home in the evening and had dinner with my aunt. After dinner I bathed for the first time in 24 hours and started work on the OSS lists again. Feeling too tired and bored from all those senseless numbers, I ended up chatting online and went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, after having ample sleep, I smsed Julian and Teoh whom were already working on friday morning to taunt them and got to work on the spreadsheets finishing them around 12am that night.

I started packing up some clothes to attend the Incovar Graduates Camp (I know i havent graduated yet! You dont need to tell me that!) and thats when Teoh called me and asked me if he could bunk in at my place for the night as it was nearer to get to the camp rendezvous point the next morning.

I will leave the details on how he got lost and then I got lost in KL and ended up reaching home at 2.30am. All I could say was, the camp was really informative and tiring as the camp schedule was really jam packed like some intensive training.

When the camp ended there was no crying or hugging due to the hectic camp schedule that reduced human interaction. Had dinner with some friends (that I have already known before the camp) and reached home a tired person. Chatted with my causin about his Shanghai trip and then went to bed.

Intresting, informative, intensive, tiring and inspiring weekend. Nice.... Looking foward to my next weekend here and the escapades that are possible as my causin will be in Singapore to see his girlfriend the whole weekend....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Latihan Industri Hujung Minggu 1

After I checked in for work on the second day, my supervisor discussed with me the details of my industrial training activities. Because Swedish Motor Assemblies Sdn. Bhd. is an assembly plant and does not involve themselves in the manufacture of plastics what so ever, all my knowledge of polymers arent of any use there. So he gave me the suggestion that I should do what all the other trainees do when they come to SMA..... (No not sit there, wander around and rot) I am going to do a small scale project alone, to gauge the manufacturing cycle time for 3 Volvo models, namely the S80, XC90 as well as the S40.

So he gave me a stack of files that I am supposed to work on by the end of the week. What I am supposed to do with those files then are to use them to update the PII list of the cars. The PII list (it is p i i not p 2) is a list that specifies each step a worker who assembles the car should do in order at each station. So the idea of this project is to time the time taken for each of the steps to be completed. Once that is done, the times used for each process can be used to streamline the assembly line in a process called "line balancing" which is to ensure that all the produciton lines finish the required steps at a particular station at the same time.

Basically, sometimes all the stations are already done with their work but the assembly line couldnt move foward because one station still has yet to complete the given set of tasks. This is a major wastage of labour as all the other workers are idle while waiting for that particular station to complete the task at hand.

With the data on the time used for EACH and every step involved in the assembly process, the tasks can be divided equally amongst all the 10 stations or so. This would not only streamline the process and increase efficiency, it would also mean that all the workers have the same amount of work to do, hence they wont get grumpy that they are doing more work than the others.

The first step in this project, is to update the PII list as I said earlier. This meant that i have just spent the first week of my industrial training doing Exel spreadsheet after spreadsheet of lists pertaining the code of each step in the assembly process. This is certainly a boring task i must admit, but I am glad for the air conditioned office that i get to work in, the linient supervisor and the other friendly colleagues in the office. Well it isnt exactly an office strictly speaking. Its called the CMM (Computerized Measuring Machine) department, room that holds the CMM machine, 2 Dell pcs and a host of people who work there who makes quite a bit of noise to relieve their working stress. A lively bunch of people then. Work aint that bad with them around. And since the boss of the Audit and Engineering department (the department which I am stationed at) is in the office beside the production line, she doesnt come by to breathe down my neck to make me work harder and faster than what I already am doing.

Truth be told though, I think 3 big 2 Horse power air cons to cool one CMM room is kind of overkill. I am not really afraid of cold weather. I could walk around the Genting Theme Park in my bermudas and t-shirt. I go for movies in that too. But my supervisor has even greater resistance to cold (in fact he likes it cold) always switches on all the other 2 air cons to full blast when he enters the room making it a chill room. I put on my jacket in the office while doing the spreadsheets as the cold is slightly more than i am capable of bearing.

A whole week of spreadsheets have passed along with some side activities such as attending the training that is conducted by the Audit and Engineering department head which the power point slides were prepared my yours truly and some wandering around to explore the factory (really liked the engine assembly section and the testing section) to kill boredom. But the one thing I found intresting is the male toilet.

I thought offensive graffitis was a high school toilet thing but apparently i was wrong. As the adage goes, boys will always be boys, I included some photos in this blog that gives you a sample of what one could see if we just steped in to the pang sai cubicles of the male toilet at SMA.

This picture is a picture of the back of the cubicle door. Some self explanatory racist remarks enshrined there and I dont think I need to explain much about this one..

This one is kinda amusing as he calls him self "bohjan tua" which i think means scandalous old man or something in Bahasa Melayu... Any one who knows the exact meaning of this please tell me in the comments section

Now this one is really a rendition of high school toilets where pictures of penises and vaginas adorn the school toilet walls. The picture above is depicts a woman getting penetrated by 2 penises that has been collaboratively depicted by more than one artist apparently, though I must say that too many cooks spoil the soup, too many artists produces inconsistent and bad looking art

This is a picture of a common genre of graffitis in the high school male toilet walls (football club superiority arguements) though it this photograph was really taken in SMA itself

This one is below the graffiti of the football club comment. The whole graffiti was actually "pergi hisap konek itu keling pariah" (go suck the cock of that keling pariah)... Racist, vulgar & offensive but strangely amusing if u consider the fact that this is the work and mentality of grown up guys

This one is a cross blaming and calling each other stupid in which makes them all stupid at the end of the day

Amusing isnt it? How grown up men in the factory still behaves like the typical form 4 high school punk. Ahh.... boys will always be boys......