Fix-it Man

Over the last five days, I’ve been having some trouble at work with a certain piece of equipment that’s integral for getting my job done more smoothly.  When I came into work on Thursday, I discovered there was a problem with this particular piece of equipment that had started the day before, and it wasn’t going to be an easy fix.  After trying a certain number of things that had worked before, it was still not working correctly.  Our only recourse at this point was to use it for what it could do, but it was unable to successfully tag the products with a price.  That had to be finished at another manual machine, thereby doubling the amount of time in order to put items on the shelf for sale.  I contacted the assistant manager and informed him of the issue, and he said he would make a call for service.

The main issue is, our location is very remote, and the likelihood of a quick service call was also going to be unlikely.  We were aware of this when the piece of equipment was brought to us, and the person that was sent along informed us that service was going to be spotty.  Too, getting supplies for this equipment is problematic, given the distance it has to be delivered from.  Generally there’s only one other of this type of equipment nearby, so shipments have to be doubled and delivered to one central point and our store has to pick it up from there.  Naturally, since we have to drive there, there’s no compensation for gas to get it, so someone ends up getting shafted on that.  It can’t be helped, just the way it is.

At any rate, for the last six days, we’ve been doing this convoluted way of pricing product.  It’s been getting very annoying, and yesterday our assistant store manager called the service place again, as when he checked with us to see if we’d heard anything from them, the simple answer was ‘no, we hadn’t.’  A few hours after he called, we received a call from their technician, asking what the problem was.  Fortunately, I was able to be in on the call and was able to give him in detail what it was supposed to be doing, and what it was actually doing.  Of course, being that my frustration level was about at the nth degree, I gave him probably more information than he needed.  Though, as I expected, his reply wasn’t very comforting.  Issues where he is necessitated that he couldn’t promise a quick fix, or even a service call anytime soon.  So basically he was telling me we were SOL (Shit Out of Luck) for the forseeable future, and we were essentially on our own.  Could be weeks before there was a solution.

Today, I finally got fed up and did a little investigating on my own when I had a free moment.  I remembered what I was told on Thursday morning, about when it started to misbehave.  Using that as a starting point, I went over the part of the machine that wasn’t working correctly and started to see if there was anything unusual there, anything that completely stood out as being incorrect, or out-of-place.  I was just about to give up when I saw it.  There was a rubber roller underneath where the tags are dispensed and it had several blank tags rolled around it, and one of them was slightly sticking up, exposing its glued backing.  That had to be the problem.  I only state this because it had happened on the other side of the machine, where there’s another tag dispenser, and removing the rolled up tags had remedied the situation.  Only it’s in a very inaccessible location, so it took me about ten minutes with a very sharp boning knife to cut the tags free enough to unwind them from the roller.

Once that was done, I re-threaded the tag roll, and re-set the machine.  Crossed my fingers and sent a few packages through.  Success!  It worked.  Wanting to be sure, I did a few more packages and then went through like it had been doing it accurately all its life.  Boom!  I was stoked.  I informed my manager what I had done, showed him what the problem was, though I cautioned him that the machine still needs a tune-up since there are other issues that need to be addressed.  So cancelling the service call would be a bad idea.  But for the time being it’s working the way it was last week before the tags got caught up and it started misbehaving.

So this, and the successful repair of the roto-tiller.  Two for two.  I’m pretty pumped about this.  I can’t fix everything, but I did pretty well in this instance.

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