If you run any type of production operation sooner or later you have one of those days where everything seems to go wrong at the same time.   Recently my operation had one of those days.  We deliver large pieces of capital equipment that require a large amount of test and calibration time.   Normally our customers will come in for a factory acceptance test prior to delivery.    It is during this test that Murphy’s law usually becomes a factor.

During the day in question one system that was just about to begin its acceptance, plus two that were being tested the next day all came down with problems that were not easily solved.  Plus another minor product that was schedule to ship that day came in from a sub contractor with some problems that needed rework.   

What happened next was a PR piece for cross training and motivated employees.   After a brief huddle, the production team divided into groups and each group attacked a particular issue.  Communication between teams was rapid and aggressive.  Based on experience and skills,  they performed numerous reshuffles of who was focusing on what problem.   At one point the production team went to the Bull Pen and asked for relief from some people who worked in our repair cell.  The employees from the repair cell although not normally involved in system level repair work, they focus on spare parts and field returns, were very experienced in some specific pieces of work that needed to be done to repair the systems.  The production team knew that the repair cell could help them with these tasks and reached out to them for assistance.

At the end of the day all of the systems were repaired, root cause analysis and documentation completed, and customer acceptance tests being performed to the customers stated schedule.  This relatively small team was able to accomplish this because of cross training, mutual respect between groups and motivation.   They all knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and were able to focus their efforts accordingly.