I love the smell of machine oil. I love to hear the clanging and clanking of machinery in operation. I love the banging when one machine hammers away at a piece of metal to form it into something new or the high-pitched “whir” of a loom or spinner in operation. And I love the way huge apparatus groan and creak, as if they are alive and straining under the pressure of the heavy load they are bearing.
I especially enjoy watching the people hard at work creating things that other people will use. To watch an inspector strain under a magnifying glass or microscope to make sure the product is to specifications; or the whizzing around of the forklifts and the occasional and unique “beep-beep” to let them know they are coming through; or the machine operators as they watch the mechanical monsters that are their charge toil away; precisely, steadily, relentlessly.
Indeed, there is nothing like walking around a shop floor and just observing man and machine.
A person can tell a lot about a business’ operations, culture and its health just from walking around the shop floor. When I walk a shop floor (or warehouse) I can almost precisely predict which companies are destined for success and which ones are bleeding cash or on the “morphine drip” – on the path to their demise. In Lean, we call walking the shop floor by a person in management, a “Gemba” walk; or walking “the real place”.
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