- November 22, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management, manufacturing
This month’s blog posts seem to be all about remote work. And this week isn’t any different because I was thinking about my friend, Bob Blair. Bob is a retired industrial engineer, who only ever came out of retirement to do some work for me and Robroy. Otherwise, he spends half the year in Canada and half the year in Florida.
Industrial engineering is almost a lost art today because it’s somewhat overshadowed by robotics and automation. But the real role of industrial engineering is based around people’s performance and how to improve their performance on the factory floor, as well as improve their quality of work life. In other words, it’s not about how to get the job done, but to get it done safely and efficiently, while still treating the employees well.
Over the years, whenever we had a new piece of equipment or system installed, Bob was always there to help train, coach and mentor the first line supervision, as well as management. His brief was not just the project, but to also provide training for the people around him, so there was continuity.
Bob wasn’t just a “set it and forget it” engineer. He would spend a few weeks in Gilmer every time we needed him, making sure everyone understood the new system. He even made sure he was available for further training as people moved on and new people came in.
Even though Bob may have cost more than, say, hiring a full-time industrial engineering professional to manage our systems, it was always worth it. With him working in our operations, he helped create savings of up to 10 percent of manufacturing costs over whatever system was already in place.
A lot of that was because Bob was in a different part of the world, working on several different customers’ projects, and keeping up with the latest technologies and seeing the different ways other companies were doing things. He amassed all this knowledge and brought it to bear on our own projects, which not only made him a better engineer, he made our company a better company. He brought an independent, objective perspective that made him a perfect industrial engineer for our company, which is what made Robroy a leader in the industry.
I wasn’t the only customer Bob or any of my other freelance specialists had, but it was up to me as to how well I treated them as, and that determined whether I got preferential treatment and better value for my money. I always made sure to treat them very well, which ensured I got the best work from them too. It was a win-win for all of us.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Alexander Dummer (Pexels, Creative Commons 0)