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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's Make a Change

Yesterday I was moved by a conversation I listen to during one of our breaks. The topic was Performance Appraisals. The subject was related to the inability of certain operators not being able to produce the numbers that management has set. This made me think a little of how closely tied moral and the level of frustration our Operators have been subjected to the last 8 years. I say 8 years because we have seen a great deal of deterioration and negligence in the equipment during that time. Normally I stay neutral in many of these discussions, but this time, I some how related the frustration that these operators have with a race car driver that is asked to win races, but is given an inferior car to perform the task. Can you imagine being in a race with a car that is consistently breaking down as a result of poor maintenance, or being blamed for losing the race after your car broke down four times during the race. John Force would be mad for all the right reasons.
The solution to this agonizing problem is very simple, yet upper management will never pull the trigger in making this happen. The reason is very simple, money. Any competitive team will tell you, that in order for anyone to remain competitive you must have an edge that the other team does not have. And that edge takes money. Unfortunately somewhere along the line someone decided that the best option for our future was to simply cut spending on the maintenance of our equipment, not realizing the detrimental effect that would have in the future. By ignoring the fact that we needed to keep our PM’s up to date we saved a few dollars in exchange for poor running equipment. We took shortcuts that other fortune 500 company’s would frown at. Any good executive worth his weight in GAS, would have seen this coming, and would have made an executive decision to upgrade the Olympics facility equipment to brand new Presses, packaging equipment, and other relevant tools to make the Operators jobs easy and pulled the trigger and do away with SFV and OC at the same time. This would have been the correct path for long term relevance. This would have also ensured that with reduced press capacity we would at least be depending on brand new equipment and not wonder if that 25 year old car will make it Vegas and back on a short notice.
I for one, give our operators a tip of the hat for doing what they have done with what they have to work with. Let’s follow in the footprints of the New York Times and upgrade our equipment so we can run 60k+ per hour, and not worry about packaging not being able to sustain that speed for the entire run. We are too big, and too important to Southern California to not have the ability to meet the needs of our customers. This includes a quality paper, on time, and not some rag that has color registration issues all over the map. Let’s call it what it is. We have a race car that is old and not being maintained in a manner that is indicative of the demands that many of our advertisers demand in today’s competitive market. Let’s take the bull by the horns and call it what it really is, we need new equipment. If we a going to have any relevance in the paper industry for the next 10 years then we need to make that change. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and put our money where our mouth is. Let’s take the nick and dime approach away from our practice and make real fundamental changes that can be sustained with new equipment. This way there is no one to blame but our own performance. If not, let’s do the noble thing and pack our trailer and stop racing with the big boy’s. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but it sure sounds right.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ed , the company is not interested in upgrading our equipment. All the money is being invested in online. I would settle for the 3rd world equipment we have to just be repaired.
Close OC ?? Well ok, how do you propose we print ALL the papers?? Last week OLY printed 11,000,000+ papers and OC printed 8,000,000+. If you close OLY how are you going to print 20,000,000 papers a week?? When will that leave time to print the Wall Street Journal, OC Register, possibly New York Times??

MR.OC

Anonymous said...

Huh.......

Even when they were “NEW” you couldn’t make them run! Why do the people in the Oly pressroom always point their finger at someone else. If one crew can do it why can’t you all! Let’s face it nothing has changed in the Oly/downtown pressrooms for the last 40 years... it’s always been someone else’s fault! Come on... step up to the plate and take responsibility for your own job skills and work ethic!!!

Ed Padgett said...

Colleagues,

If you note, this post was written by Wolf, and not by Ed. Yet, I do tend to agree with Wolf on many points.

In the past we had two individuals calibrating our page packs, this is a device that controls the flow of ink to one of the eight columns on a single page, but in order to save money we stopped this preventative maintenance procedure. What we now have are many page packs out of calibration, the ink values reflect zero at the computer, yet the ink flows like the ink is set to twenty percent, making it rather difficult to set the gray bar.

Here at the Los Angeles Times, one shift cannot be compared to another, simply because each shift produces completely different products with varying degrees of difficulty, with the second shift by far the most challenging of all the three shifts.

Remember the equipment at Olympic is almost twenty years old, which brings to mind the Ferag’s and the high amounts of waste due to dropping newspapers. On Friday mornings it’s not uncommon to drop between four thousand to five thousand newspapers, really does a wonder for an operators waste figures.

But I realize, it’s my fault the equipment is failing.

Anonymous said...

My apologys for directing my question to Ed.
My questions are for you Wolf.....

Anonymous said...

Yup... I guess you are right!

grandspud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Who has ever wanted to face the fact that, in many cases, the Times hired the wrong people into the shops? In addition, management never designed or implemented REAL and sustained technical training on the Goss or Ferag equipment. To make matters worse, one particular former SVP thought that we could get along without parts and supplies for five years. We even had to use our own money at Home Depot.

I always thought it would be interesting to have maintenance managers from the NYT come out and
evaluate our shops and maintenance programs, and we could send a few of our guys out there. As if...

Anonymous said...

Wolf
Im sill waiting for your response...

MR.OC

Anonymous said...

grandspud ... and how was this " washing the pipes" suppose too happen ??.. between linning up the press cleaning up the ink
spills , fixing the " snakes" roll changes ( as well as line up )maybe you should come uot on the floo and show us how to get it done ??..after all mangt. is all talk and no action

grandspud said...

Wolf said,
"...someone decided that the best option for our future was to simply cut spending on the maintenance of our equipment..."


What role should press crews play in maintenance of their own machines, and their own success?

None, if you ask the union. Wasn't the simple act of washing blankets (god forbid twice) met with an unfair labor practice filing?

Wolf said...

Mr. OC.

Most of the chatter that I have been listening to is a "promise" of printing all of the products you just mentioned. With that said, I have yet to see those runs. My statement was in retrospect, on how we should have done things and not how we need to do them now. However, with our ever dwindling circulation numbers, I don’t see why we would not be able to produce all of the paper in one facility, especially if we decide to go to a single zone. That would save the company real money. Also, it’s not like OLY has not done it in the past, there has been numerous times when OLY has run OC product. So to say that it is not possible is simply a lie that many people want to keep going. I hope you didn’t forget that CCN has picked up the slack for OC many of times, and for a fraction of the cost. Don’t they print the Sunday Comic’s? Thank you.

Wolf said...

By the way Mr. OC last I checked 11M + 8M is equal to 19M.

Anonymous said...

"Also, it’s not like OLY has not done it in the past, there has been numerous times when OLY has run OC product."

And it's not like OC has not printed LA product in the past...... By the way when has Oly printed the complete 2nd Daily draw for the Times?

Anonymous said...

"Don’t they (CCN) print the Sunday Comic’s? Thank you."

OC printed the Sunday comics on a retroliner before the new CCN faclity was built because it saved money. Once the facility was up and running it was always the plan to move the comics from OC to CCN to save even more money. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Wolf so bright of you. I put the "+" on both figures without boring you with exact amounts. Total is over 20,000,000, thats is why I said that number.
Apparently you are unable to answer the question I asked of you.I am not surprised, save us with your drivel...

Anonymous said...

Simply put: How does Pharaoh expect us to make bricks without straw?

Anonymous said...

btw the anonymous guy in post 2 is management, if you haven't figured that out .

Anonymous said...

that is right. press guys are so busy they do not have time to do any thing more except bust out.

what a laugh.

Anonymous said...

“btw the anonymous guy in post 2 is management, if you haven't figured that out .”

Why is it whenever someone takes exception with the “finger pointing crowd” that blames their lack of skill and work ethic on someone else, they are deemed a part of management?

Every person on every crew knows who holds up their end of the job and those that are more interested in a “bust out” than doing the best job possible!

Oh, and by the way.... have you ever seen a dirty race car? Maybe if you guys cleaned up your own equipment after you used it and made it “race ready” for your buddy and yourself, you would get better results!

Think about it....... It’s not really that hard to do, but you would have to work a full shift every day of your work week!

A little elbow grease could have amazing results.......