For those few of you who read me at all, I apologize for being away. I’m in the middle of a rather busy summer. My work sent me to India with a team whose goal it was to start operations at a new manufacturing plant. The good news is that this plant will be serving Asian and Middle Eastern markets. The units built there are not for US import. My company has a commitment to serve the North American market with our US-based plants. While some of our larger competition has sought to move North American operations out of the US to capitalize on lower labor, we have been able to keep costs down, improve quality and take care of our associates.

So anyway, the trip to India was good. I even got to visit a local pastor who has a solid strategy for planting churches in the Bangalore area. I have many photos. Here are a few:

 
Here’s the team, minus Keith Smith who is taking the photo. Keith is the VP of manufacturing. I’ve know him since he was a lowly manufacturing engineer. The rest of us, from left to right:

– Jack Muncy in the blue shirt – maintenance expert.
– I’m in the burgundy shirt – I developed the Excel-based MRP system we’re starting the new plant on and understand how to establish a flow of information in a manufacturing operation that is meaningful for every area of planning, scheduling, tracking and decision-making.
– Jimmy Scardo in the red shirt is our resident product designer and understands the design of the new hybrid line we’re starting the INdia plant on.
– Boyce Henderson in the white shirt is a long-time leader in our weld department. We couldn’t have accomplished our task without him.
– Ed Adkins is in the plain tan shirt – he is the manager of manufacturing engineering in our metal plant and a general expert in CNC machinery of all kinds.
– Kevin Carroll in the tan Timberland shirt is our press brake master craftsman.

And here’s Keith and I.

This is the old plant. Actually it’s not as bad as all this. This is a storage area that was added to the front of the plant. They only did assembly before this and outsourced the fabrication of components. But sales are exploding and we needed to get them in a better facility. So we decided to bring all fabrication in-house with this step.

This is the new plant. The front isn’t paved yet and there’s still some work to be done even yet. Nevertheless, we got the operation up and running in two weeks.

They also put us up in a VERY nice hotel. Here’s my room:

Every day they had a different way they’d arrange the pillows.

Here’s my desk in the hotel room. On the left and right were a fridge and fully stocked snack pantry and bar. Yes, that’s a top-line high-def flat-panel TV. And the DVD player took my region 1 DVDs! We had wired and wi-fi Internet access – not that we had a lot of time there at the hotel to be surfin the web.

Apparently, Indians don’t have too much of a problem using the toilet in front of other people. I thought that the idea of a glass bathroom was novel. (It was kind of cool to be able to watch the TV from the bathroom.) However, when we got to the plant, saw that the bathroom doors had windows, and that there was no men’s and women’s bathrooms… and that the urinals were out in plain view …well, the glass bathroom at the hotel didn’t seem so odd.

Here’s one of the toilets at the plant. I’m sure the Indians think western toilets are as odd as we think theirs are.

Here I am in one of my first training sessions with the Indians. Note the really old computer. They got us a new one a few days into it.

Once they got the idea, I had them take over. The two guys standing are Human Resources people. They are making sure we have enough to drink. Saju, the head of the finance department is sitting next to me. He’s a Christian from an area in India that is predominantly Christian and traces their tradition back to the apostle Thomas who they say brought the gospel to them back in the first century. Mahesh is the head of purchasing. He’s the one you can’t see pointing at the monitor with his bottle of water. Ragavendra is the manufacturing supervisor and is sitting at the keyboard.

Once I had them trained on setting up bills of material, we had to quickly build a database so I could show them how to run an order. However, the database necessary for casework can be extensive and I needed to create thousands of records. So I sent them away and programmed some tools to make the job much quicker. I had the bulk of the base items entered in two days and was able to create bills for the finished items for our first customer order.

For a hint of some of the next post of India photos, this is the view from the hall window of the hotel. These are not out buildings. These are homes. These are working-class people. There is absolutely no hope for them to improve their lot in Indian culture. The contrast between our lives and theirs is stark.

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