Gary Rinsem

Something Different

I've done more than whine about my lost loves... it's unimportant.

I often write about work, but I seldom save those journals. I know why. Work is not very important to me. I like the challenges that some jobs provide, but the work just isn't important. So today I'm writing about work and I think I'll save it just because... if there's ever anyone else in my life I'd like her to know more from reading my journals and diary, than just the tragedies in my love life.

The Apollo Fab is a manufacturing process that I'm... satisfied with. I guess that's the right term, satisfied. It is the result of many limiting factors which prevented it from being a truly great engineering success. I had to make a hundred compromises due to time constraints. While attending to my regular duties, I designed the entire manufacturing process in four days, Monday thru Thursday, and spent Friday issuing purchase orders. That's the timeline the owner requested. He wanted it producing product in 90 days. It seemed impossible, but there were no budget limitations. He never once mentioned the cost of building it because it would easily pay for itself in a month. Time to completion was the only concern.

Before I went to work there, they'd spent a great deal of effort trying to get a new fab built. Several of the major vendors in the US had given quotes, all over 1.5 million dollars and all more than a year to completion. In a year it might not be needed. In a year it will have lost the revenue from 40,000 cycles per shift, multiplied by three shifts per day and 365 days. How much is that? At 85% utilization it's 37 million dollars. The process should make about a dollar per part. Cell phone manufacturing is VERY profitable, as long as it lasts. Everyone knows it will all go to China soon.

I built Apollo as a clean room style fab, in exactly 90 days. Near as I can calculate, it only cost about $225,000. The initial trial run was 5,000 parts with a fallout of less than 0.01%. Most fabs doing this work have fallouts of several percent. For the three months building it I still had to attend to the needs of the Stockton and Fort Worth plants. I wasn't even in the Tempe plant much of the time, supervising construction over the phone.

I guess I'm proud of the accomplishment, even if I'm not so proud of the actual result. It produces as well as the other fabs, but in a much nicer setting for the workers. They have an air conditioned clean room to work in while sitting in chairs, instead of standing in a loud industrial environment next to big steel machinery. I especially like the part of the design that makes it a nice place to work. They're mostly non English speaking immigrants who make more than minimum wage because the work is awful. It's hell to stand on your feet all day while constantly performing a repetitive motion. Sitting down in a comfortable environment makes it less hellish for them. I seem to be the only person in management who cares about those people. Everyone else thinks of them as disposable. They come from the staffing agency and get replaced immediately at the slightest sign of a problem. At shift changes they pour in and out the front door of the Gemini building, looking happy to have work. I think I'm the only person who cares... including them.