Dangerous Travel

September 28, 2011 - 1 Comment

I recently had the opportunity to fly out to HQ and while this was not my first opportunity to do air travel this year (refer to my blog about Alaska) I did make some observations about business travel, and trust me, they relate to Manufacturing. By the way, and I do this totally tongue in cheek, part of the trip was to record some new videos to give you all more reason to see me and make fun of me. So hang on! That’s my plug to come back.

First, what is it with these body scanner machines? At one airport they insist you have “absolutely positively everything” out of your pockets. At the next they say, no you can leave your cash and Boarding Pass in your pocket. My first experience here, I had a cough drop in my pocket and had to go through the pat-down, even though I showed them the cough drop. So, in Milwaukee they want you to hold your cash and wallet and Boarding Pass over your head, but in San Jose they want the wallet in the briefcase and my cash could have been in my pocket, and they were most concerned about the bracelet I had on my left wrist. In Canada they didn’t even care about taking my watch or shoes or belt off. How are we supposed to know from airport to airport? And each time I have to stand (with my feet on the symbol, for sure!) to wait for someone to “approve” me or ask something else.

Here’s the tie to Manufacturing: OPEN STANDARDS make you profitable and speed your Operations. I am NOT arguing against security screening. I am NOT arguing about how to fix it. But for Manufacturing (and yes, Machine Builders too!) an OPEN STANDARD way of communicating is exactly that key. In the body scanner example there are several gateways: the person that blocks me from getting into the scan machine, the person that gets to scan me, the scan machine itself, and the person that has to stand there and talk through the walkie-talkie to find out what person 1 or 2 wants to see more of. And it varies from airport to airport! And the process can vary from 3 minutes to 5. While people are queuing behind me!

In Manufacturing we need to eliminate the gateways. Plug and play, just like my HDTV, BLU-RAY, sound and cable system work together. I can even get one remote that controls them all. Cisco and our technology partners like Rockwell Automation provide that interface in manufacturing, don’t you want that same common operation in your plant?

Second, what is it with people with backpacks or wheeled computer bags that think they can run and cut in front of us? There should be a license with a backpack that says “Hey! Realize your body envelope just got bigger!” Or maybe we need a training guide that whacks the backpack wearer in the head every time they turn until they wise up and slow down. What I love is the guy that kinda sorta trots while pulling his bag behind him at a diagonal. “Oh, excuse me. I’m kinda sorta running, so I should take precedence over you. Never mind that I tripped you on my bag”. Really? If they drove like that they would be dead. Why are they so self-centered just because they hurry? Maybe if the body scan was faster they could slow down, huh?

In Manufacturing we worry about safety. Worker safety. Machine safety. Productivity. The Plant and Factory are well organized, and it is that way for a purpose – to be efficient and safe. We need that efficiency to survive in this new global economy where banking challenges in Greece or Italy can disrupt operations in the US. Where a Board of Directors can be so totally disconnected with their operations that they don’t know what their company (that we pay them to run) even produces. Peoples’ lives are at stake every day!

Third, really? The airline industry goes to reduce cost so they let us carry food and drink (certainly purchased after that body scanner thing) so passengers juggle egg sum goo yung or roast meat bbq with their backpacks and papers while they drop their food on us? I say this because I had the window seat leaving San Jose recently, and the lady on the aisle was so excited, maybe the seat between us would be vacant because she had three papers to read and her full cup of coffee was there. (I just wanted to sleep). And guess what, she spilled her coffee all over the middle seat!

Now she did ask a Flight Attendant for napkins, and they were delivered (bear in mind I was already well en-route to sleep) but still, it was a 2 hour flight. Is that seat going to dry? Will the person boarding in Denver get a wet seat? What would a manufacturing company do?

They likely would have contained the spill once it happened, but this fits into the safety/security from above. Manufacturing companies are so particular about what can go into their factories (due to government and socio-political requirements) that they may NOT allow an extra cup of coffee into their facility. Plus they would likely frown on someone juggling food/drink while carrying tools or other equipment – many factories have strict regulations about food and drink in the manufacturing area. So elimination of the potential spill is paramount in the workflow.

This all feeds to knowing your environment, being responsible, being knowledgeable about your impact, and being a safe, secure Manufacturer.

Cisco knows how to help. Check out our Manufacturing Solutions today and let us know what you think. Thanks for listening!

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  1. Hi Mark – funny blog! You’ll be happy to know that some of our best minds are working to alleviate airline frustration. Here’s an article in The Economist about airplane boarding queuing research: