Manufacturing guy-at-large.


Added on by Spencer Wright.

Over the past few years I've become fond of defining manufacturing as follows:

Manufacturing is just people
doing things
again and again
in a predictable way.

One of the main reasons The Public Radio exists today is that it's an effective instrument for honing our skills at manufacturing engineering & management. We've seen our volumes jump an order of magnitude a few times now, and each time our manufacturing skills have needed to evolve. But to a large extent those evolutions have been incremental, whereas upgrades to our logistics have followed a step function.

As suggested in the definition above, manufacturing is (perhaps more than most people believe) mostly about people; logistics is similar. But logistics, being transient, requires trust among parties that will never fully get to know one another - and that, by their very nature, are separated at great distances.

 Two TPR shipments make their way into the US.

Two TPR shipments make their way into the US.

Logistics also requires tools that aren't common in a shop (maps, week-of-year calendars) and is subject to delays that are often incomprehensible in their complexity (port labor disputes, weather, harmonized tariff schedules). And worse yet, logistics companies often impose strict firewalls between customer service and operations - making one's own self-eduction all the more frustrating.

That said, the magic of it - planning out a three month long production cycle and seeing it come together at the end - is remarkable. 

(He wrote, as he waited for packages to show up from around the world...)