Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Same Messes Different Relationships

My official current position is as an MRO – Buyer. I wear several hats on top of this, but the basic premise of what I do, is that I order supplies that have to do with Maintenance, Repairs and Organization. It’s that third word that becomes all encompassing, but the basics are that I and the Parts Room Manager take care of what we would call critical spares, the inventory of, the acquisition of etc. A good parts room will have everything necessary to repair any equipment that could go down and create down time. This is how a manufacturing environment runs well.

I won’t bore you with all of the details of what goes into organizing these things, other than to say it takes an inventory list of some sort, shelves, space, and a decent relationship with the people that will be using the things you are ordering. A good relationship with the people you order the items from doesn’t hurt but it isn’t always possible, and again I am not speaking on that issue either. No the organization is what matters to someone who is trying to run a good ship and it is something I take a strange fascination in.

My workout requirements have me out of the house every morning between 2 and 3 am, and that just so happens to be a pretty dark time of the day. Aside from the moonlight and perhaps a street light now and then, I can often see into the other manufacturing facilities along my route to the gym. Often I take a good gander at what would appear to be their parts rooms and “judge” them based on how I would run them. Trust me it is pretty scary to have a mind like this that has nothing better to do than process information at 3am, but this has been something I have wondered about. The overall purpose is to get your business done, and I haven’t seen any parts rooms that compare to how good ours is. Our business is obviously getting done and I like that.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen a thing here or there that I would like to implement in the critical spares process going forward here, but the constant change and improvement are part of what I have been on the entire time. Before I was given this position that is a common position within my company, it wasn’t a position that existed in the company we were before we were acquired. We did have a parts room, but it was the dumping ground of every other department. I see other parts rooms during my drive that remind me of those days. I smile when I think that those days are behind us, but still something you have to keep up on. That’s how our business is getting done.

I wonder if these other places have a person like me that had to learn interdepartmental relationships. It wasn’t as easy as saying, “this is your crap, deal with it,” and was more of a process of, “your crap is in our way, let me help you deal with it.” A lot of days it is still having to say, “Just because we have our crap together, doesn’t mean we should be put in charge of your crap,” and as blunt as it all sounds, I want to remind everyone that there are different languages in different parts of any company. I also had to learn the difference between “other people’s crap” and “our golden trophies” and the only real difference is which pile you are standing next to. The most important thing I have learned though is that separating everyone’s “crap” leaves a lot less excuses when business isn’t getting done.

When I was young, this never would have been anything that would have interested me. Actually when I had become old, I didn’t think any of this would interest me, but I take pride in what I do. I took pride in cleaning toilets when that was my job, and because I took pride in that they decided that I would take enough pride in dealing with these different types of crap, and gave me this job. Many days when I am out of my head busy and someone catches up to me and asks, “How you like the new position,” I still have to joke, “Same amount of messes, different ways of dealing with them,” but at least I know how to get the business done.