Optomechanics – How to Overcome Resistance from Management

Colleagues:

There is so much more to optomechanics than meets the eye (or ear or touch, even).  I learned a great optomechanical engineering lesson from a Quality Assurance engineer!

Gene was recruited (and offered a “bounty”) by a major manufacturer of lasers for printers to improve the quality of their products, ~1/3rd of which were failing in the 1,000 hour burn-in test.  Gene, in turn, called me in to supplement his electronics industry experience.  (Full disclosure:  We had worked together at one of our previous employers.)

We ran into resistance from both the Mechanical Engineering management and the Factory management.  The mechanical engineers would not let me “review or analyze” any of their design work and the factory would not let me “observe” their operations during working hours.  Hmmm….  Both Gene and I were dumbfounded.  But, I must say that Gene was a resourceful Devil.

He invited me to coffee at a nearby bistro and swore me to secrecy.  Then he laid out his plan:  He would dress me in a white QA smock, give me a clipboard, a jeweler’s loupe, a marking pen and spools of red, yellow and green adhesive dots.  I’d spend most of the day in his office but I’d go out to the factory floor on coffee breaks and lunch times.  I’d cruise the floor, stopping at empty work stations and pretend to inspect the stations, one at a time, applying the loupe and the colored dots (annotating a few, especially the red ones) while making notes on the clipboard.  At the end of each break I’d return to Gene’s office and hide-out.  It took about three days to cover each of the work stations twice.  Then he released me telling me to “disappear.”  I went back to AEH and made myself busy elsewhere.

The next I heard from Gene was a phone call from Norwood, Massachusetts.  The plan worked spectacularly, he had collected his “bounty,” left that company and moved with his family to more stable employment in Norwood.

The laser manufacturer is gone and I think Gene would approve of me sharing his secret with you now.

The lesson?  I think you got it.

Summer’s over and it’s downhill to the Great Pumpkin .  . Shhhhhhhhh!

Al H.
9-13-16

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