This quote is also from my addendum (supplement) to my first report. An update to the below quote on the subject of mechanics reading plans and drawings:
Years later than the below quote, I witnessed an exchange between the shop lead and a mechanic on the 737NG EBU (Turbofan Engine Build-Up) line. The mechanic was filling in from another engine line because someone was absent that day. The mechanic was reading the job he was working and unfamiliar with and looking at drawings. The lead came up to him and told him to stop looking at the job and drawings, and to just install the parts like the lead had told him to install them, or he would get another mechanic to take his place that would do so.
This was on the "leaned out" 737NG EBU line, where apparently all time to read to plan and drawings and specs had been leaned out if the build process, at least per the manufacturing lead in question, who should know, as he was fearful the mechanic wouldn't get his part of the build done in order to "push the garbage out the door" that day, as one of my colleagues described it.
I had a similar experience with a manufacturing lead when I was working 747 Body Structures in Everett in late 1993. We were getting the 41 section (the forward section of the airplane that contained the flight deck) ready for shakedown. The lead was walking around the flight deck showing me things that he thought needed fixing before the shakedown. At one point he pointed to a frame of the section and told me to drill a hole where he pointed and install a 1/4" rivet. There was no pilot hole there or anything to indicate a hole or fastener should go there.
He left, and, rather than just drill the hole and install the rivet to a guesstimated edge margin, I went down to the drawing area to get the drawing for that frame installation to see what the edge margin should be, what specific kind of rivet to install, and whether a fastener was shown on the drawing there at all. New to the area, it was a learning experience, as the drawings were on aperture cards instead of computer scanned and indexed. There were so many changes to each drawing sheet it was extremely difficult to find the drawing that was effective for that unit for that area.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I don't remember specifically if I ended up installing that rivet or someone else just winged it like the lead wanted me to do. I think it was the latter, as I was taking too much time looking at drawings, the same thing that I described above that occurred to the other mechanic over a decade later.
Things never seem to change much at Boeiug as far as things like that go. Still Schedule (Delivery) trumps Cost which trumps Safety (not safety of the airplane, but safety of the workers--in Boeing management speak, the "Lost Work Day Case Rate," which tracks worker's injury time off and relates to labor costs and other costs, not necessarily any concern for the injured worker's health, which why it is listed right after Cost in importance) which trumps Quality which trumps Morale, in my experience.
Which is last to Boeing in importance--Quality or Morale of the workforce is pretty much a toss-up.
The extremely low level of morale I witnessed in my years there makes me list it last. Boeing has shown it cares little of anything for worker morale with all its outsourcing and immediate use of layoffs if the industry so much as "sneezes," among other things.
Anyway, Boeing calls this QCDSM, and states that is not necessarily the order of importance of those items to the company, which is true. Quality coming before Cost and Delivery would be unprecedented at Boeing, but would be the way to go if your are building airliners and military aerospace platforms for troops, I think the vast majority of people would agree. Enough rambling, and on to today's quote:
Something happened at yesterday’s (2/27/02) crew meeting that really pulls everything I’ve told you together. Remember, in my original letter when I said how (line inspector's name) said to me, on two separate occasions, "I’m roller stamping, that’s what they want"? Well, he nearly went "postal" in the meeting on the subject.
The subject came up about shop reading their plans. (The noted line inspector) said that if a mechanic on the 737NG line stopped to read their plans, that three Manufacturing Supervisors, including General Supervisor (name) would be out there breathing down their necks in no time to get back on the engine.
He said that all those three supervisors did was to push garbage out the door as fast as they could. I interrupted. "And you’re helping them." I said. He answered, "If I don’t stamp it, they’ll just get someone above me to stamp it."
He was right, of course. This exchange pretty much put in a nutshell everything I told you on the sad subject of how this EBU is thrown together, "shook down" for "conformity" in thirty minutes (a maximum of seven minutes for some "inspectors"), and forced out the door.
I knew the whole process bothered (this line inspector) deeply, as I’ve told you, and this only proved it. Witnesses: Everyone on our crew, including our QA supervisor, Tom Nakamichi, unless someone I don’t know of was absent from the meeting.
The Last Inspector