Divide and Conquer With Your Workforce

When Henry Ford came out with the Model T, it wasn’t the car that was the big innovation. It was the method of building it. Specialization and assembly line methodology resulted in producing a car every 90 seconds.

Initially, it doesn’t seem you can apply Ford’s model to electrical work. But let’s look at two principles, specialization and division of labor.

Suppose you have a big wiring job with two crews of six running feeder and branch circuits, connecting transformers, and terminating in panels. You can’t roll the building down a conveyor line, so how does Ford’s production method come into play?

Try to keep your Master Electrician(s) and Journeyman Electrician(s) doing work only they are qualified for. If you have a small, specialized crew labeling wires and terminations (at a lower labor cost), you won’t pay electrician rates to have most of your skilled electricians stand around while two electricians do this work.

Instead, your electricians move on to the next wire pull and termination phase. Going behind them is your label crew (with the training and equipment to do the job right). Other tasks such as setting up lighting, cleaning up spilled lube, prepping the wire pulling apparatus, etc., don’t require the whole crew.

Typically, the whole crew waits while two or three people perform these tasks. Divide the workflow so another lower-paid crew does these things on a parallel path. The work gets done just as well, just faster and cheaper.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

Lights Don’t Last Forever; What Are You Doing About it?

The typical electrical service firm waits for a customer to seek bids on a lighting project. But the typical customer who needs a lighting replacement or upgrade doesn’t know that.

You can find equipment life expectancy numbers in various industry standards, such as the IEEE Gold Book. Do a search until you can cover every component of a lighting system. Some components show substantial degradation after 10 years, and some are just worn out after 30 years.

  • Supply transformer.
  • Supply panelboard(s).
  • Circuit breaker. If you offer free breaker testing, you can expect to find half the breakers need replacing at age 10.
  • If you offer free cable testing, you may find the existing wire is already shot even if it’s only 10 years old. Use more than one test, not just an insulation resistance test.
  • Light fixtures other than LED typically last about 20 years.

If you put together an assessment plan based on equipment life expectancy and can show the relevant industry standards backing those numbers, you can make a compelling pitch for a lighting project the customer wasn’t even aware needed to be done.

Did you notice something about the list of components? Except for lighting fixtures, the entire list consists of items used everywhere throughout the facility. Your lighting project could become the entry point for a series of projects.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

Protecting Your Back, Part 1

Back pain can be very miserable and is often debilitating. Proper lifting technique alone doesn’t protect against back pain. Chronic poor posture, for example, guarantees you will have back pain.

A typical cause of back pain is when some small bones of the spine move from their normal position, thus creating painful pressure on the disks or nerves associated with them.

Along with connective tissues, muscle contraction helps lock the many small bones of the spine into place. It might seem from this that doing exercises for your lower back is the perfect solution. However, that’s only a partial solution. Much of your spinal protection comes from the intra-adominal pressure the abdominal muscles provide.

So do hundred of sit-ups, right? Wrong; sit-ups primarily work the hip flexors and they bend the spine in a way that can lead to back pain. You can do exercises such as the Roman Chair and hanging leg raises if you want those washboard abs, but for back protection you need to focus on strengthening the transversus abdominus.

How do you do that? Just listen to any military drill instructor scream, “Suck in that gut, soldier!” and you may realize the military figured this out long ago. If this muscle goes slack, the load usually shifts to the lower back muscles where the overload on them can cause excruciating pain.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

Does Suspending Training Make Sense?

When there’s a financial situation such as the company needs to hit its quarterly profit target but revenue is below target, the bean counters often look to raise quick cash by cutting expenses. One area that’s often targeted for deferment is maintenance training.

The word “deferment” here is really code for code for “You can’t do it this quarter, we’re saying you can do it next time but we’ll find an excuse then too since we got by with it this time.”

Now, let’s see if we can follow the “logic” here. Using some typical numbers, there’s a strong chance of incurring a $90,000 production outage, compared to a $5,000 training spend and the $90,000 loss is somehow going to boost profits. Shipping orders late will somehow improve sales so that revenue dip doesn’t happen again even though some customers will cancel and go with a competitor.

Or you might wonder if the sales targets were missed due to deferring sales training to meet a previous quarter’s target. That’s probably what happened.

When the budgets were set forth, a lot of thinking presumably went into allocating limited resources in an optimal manner. It’s not a normal business practice to budget stupidly and then just cut essential expenditures to meet a profit goal.

So when does it make sense to suspend training? That would be some time between never and absolutely not. Make the case to defend your training budget if this issue comes up.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection