With interest rates rising and our Inflation rate in Australia still sitting at 7% things are not looking the best. Even with my recent 3% union backed enterprise bargain agreement pay rise, I definitely get the feeling that we are in a downward spiral. Luckily we live quite simply and can still get by.
Unfortunately, it is just not the dollars that are getting harder to manage, the working conditions seem to getting worse as well.
"It is broken, fix it!"
Boy have things changed over the years since I have been around. I suppose it makes me feel old but I am not a stick in the mud, I have tried to adapt and integrate within this everchanging modern world.
I have watched and seen the changes of a big multi national company over 17 years at which I had been casually subcontracted too.
Endless cut backs year after year. Different owners and managers. For a long time I was one of the few consistent things as people got chopped, changed or left. Basically somebody still had to do the work.
High level management changed with the different ownership. Middle management got replaced with cheaper university graduates. Programmed maintenance and trades people got reduced or sub contracted out. Machine and plant operators are slowly getting replaced with robots and casual labour hire staff.
If there was any waste, slack or inefficiency it was found and cut. The problem being with these cuts, that saved lots of money, is that lots of good things were lost too. Experience, local knowledge, spare parts just to name a few.
I still help out at the factory that I was at for 17 years but I also visit other places now too and they all seem to have gone through the same thing.
I show up for a breakdown on a machine that I have never seen before. After a painful site induction and sign in process, someone shows me the broken machine. I am lucky if the operator is still around, they have either been sent home, assigned to another task with production targets or have such poor English that I struggle to understand what the problem is.
With my experience and knowledge I have a pretty good understanding of electrical and mechanical machines but nowadays it is impossible to be up to date and across everything.
This particular steel bending machine pictured, took me hours to understand what it was doing and what it was actually supposed to be doing. Basically the machine was just not stopping in the right place. Then it was a process of testing out each step and function of position and limit switches, Programmable Logic Controller inputs and outputs and making sure everything was adjusted right. Eventually I concluded everything seemed ok and I would have to start dismantling things and get right inside and see how the brake on the main drive motor worked.
Once I had isolated the dangerous energy sources and got a few covers and guards off, it became clear. The braking system bolts had sheared off and were hanging loose. Basically the break was not clamping on to stop the machine motor in the correct position.
In the old days I would have had to remove the motor and take it to a repair shop straight away and/or find a replacement but today this customer needed some time to work out their next step. Maybe the machine is too old and they might be better off with a new one. So I got to head home for an early knock off, job done.