Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about fictional character Maggie Benson and her company to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly.
Andy and Sue were going to Mexico in two weeks to audit the factory that Maggie and John were looking to buy. They had secured their passports and were practicing their Spanish. They had agreed to only speak Spanish to each other for the past few weeks.
One night before their trip, Andy’s dad approached him and handed Andy an envelope.
“Son, Mom and I haven’t really done too much since high school as far as offering to help you pay for college or anything else,” he said. “Even without that help, you have accomplished a great deal and we are proud of you. I mentioned before that your girlfriend is one in a million, so Mom and I want to give you this to help pay for an engagement ring.”
Andy was a little choked up as he opened the envelope from his father and saw that it contained $2,000. Andy’s family was not the hugging type, but he immediately gave his dad a big bear hug. If an observer were to look closely, they might see tears in each man’s eyes.
The timing was excellent as Andy planned to “pop the question” to Sue before their trip to Mexico. With the $2,000 he had already saved, he now had $4,000. As Chuck Tower was now like a big brother to him, Andy decided to ask him where he might find a good engagement ring.
“You know, Andy, I got Tanya’s ring and John got Maggie’s ring from Professor Coleman’s father-in-law,” Chuck said when Andy chatted with him later at work. “He deals in gems and might be able to get a good deal for you.”
“Yikes! Chuck, I could never ask Professor Coleman for a favor for something like that,” Andy said, sheepishly.
“Let’s ask Maggie and see what she says,” Chuck responded.
“Even that’s scary,” Andy said. “Maggie is our boss.”
“But she’s our friend too,” Chuck added as they walked together to find her.
“What can I do for our two greatest superstars?” Maggie said with a warm chuckle as Andy and Chuck approached her.
“Andy needs to get an engagement ring for Sue, and he is afraid to ask for Professor Coleman’s help,” Chuck replied.
“Andy, it’s about time,” Maggie said, teasingly. “Someone told me there was a pool started on when you would ask Sue to marry you. Professor Coleman is very kind and welcoming. I’m sure she would be thrilled to help you.”
Maggie offered to email Professor Patty Coleman and ask if she would help Andy. Of course, Patty agreed to help, but she wanted to meet Andy first, so he made an appointment and was off to Ivy University.
Andy had never been so nervous, with the possible exception of when he and Sue talked to her parents. Sue and Andy had discussed getting engaged but asking her parents for “permission” was scary. However, they were very surprisingly supportive. Andy was pleasantly surprised as he still thought Sue outclassed him and he felt extremely fortunate that she would be his fiancée.
Andy walked in the hallowed halls of Ivy U’s engineering school and up the stairs to Professor Coleman’s office. “So, you are the young lad who needs an engagement ring for Sue March,” Patty teased as Andy entered her office.
Two days later…
Patty has called her her father-in-law, Dan, who is in Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world.
“Hey, Dad, I have a deserving student who needs an engagement ring. Do you have anything?” Patty asked.
“Perfect timing. I just got a beautiful sapphire ring with diamonds on the side. How much money does this young lad have?” he answered.
As soon as Patty said $4,000, she knew it was a mistake to mention the amount of money.
“What a coincidence, it cost me $3,500, so that gives me a little profit,” Dan responded.
“Dad, you’ve done this before. I’ll bet it cost a lot more,” Patty lectured.
“Well, okay, maybe a little more…” Dan sheepishly replied. “Dad…” Patty admonished.
“Okay, it was a lot more, but Patty, I just turned 70 years old, and it makes me feel good to help a deserving young couple,” Dan confessed.
They chatted a bit more, but when Patty saw a photo of the ring, she almost gasped. Clearly that ring was worth multiple times more than $4,000. Well, at least there will be one happy young couple, she thought.
A few days later, Patty asked Andy to make a return visit to her office…
“Well, here is one my father-in-law found for $4,000. What do you think?” Patty said as she showed a picture of the ring to Andy.
Figure 1: Sue’s new engagement ring.
It could not be said that Andy knew much about gems and engagement rings in general. However, even he knew that this was no $4,000 ring.
“Professor Coleman, that sure looks like a much more expensive ring!” Andy exclaimed, as Patty replied, “Well, my father-in-law often gets good deals. So do you want it?”
“Sure, wow!” Andy gushed. The ring had arrived, with expedited shipping, to Andy’s house in three days.
Since Sue and Andy had discussed the engagement, Sue had only one request: to have an engagement party with both sets of parents invited. At this party the ring would be unveiled. The party was scheduled and during the event, the ring was revealed to everyone’s astonishment. Both sets of parents applauded when Andy slipped it on Sue’s finger. In a few more moments, both mothers were crying.
A few days later on a flight to the electronics circuit board assembly factory in Mexico…
Figure 2: Sue and Andy on the plane to Mexico discussing their plans for the audit of the factory.
“Hey, Romeo, let’s see if we can come up with the five most important things we should look for in our evaluation of the company,” Sue suggested.
“Well, as we have discussed many times, assembly line uptime is arguably the most important single metric. So, that will be No. 1,” Andy said.
“Agreed,” Sue said. “How about whether they collect defect data and plot it in a Pareto Chart and have a continuous improvement plan (CIP) to address the defects?”
“That’s a great No. 2,” Andy responded. “What about line balancing for No. 3?”
“I’ll buy that if you go with training and staff competence as No. 4,” Sue teased.
“Hmmm, so maybe we should develop a quiz in Spanish?” Andy said.
“I’ll take some of the quiz questions that we had when Maggie and John took over and translate them into Spanish,” Sue said.
“So, what about No. 5?” Andy asked and Sue replied, “How about the quality of the solder paste? Remember all the issues we had with poor response-to-pause and other performance issues?”
“Let’s agree, too, that the general appearance and quality of the facility and the equipment is important,” Andy added.
“Okay, then that’s No. 6,” Sue suggested.
“Since you are writing out the questions for the staff, I will write down these six areas to investigate when we get there,” Andy said.
It was quiet for a while as they both attended to their agreed upon assignments. Sue was always better at math than Andy in the many classes they took, so he had worked hard to find some math problem he could stump her with. Finally, he had a candidate.
“Sue, how would you calculate 71000 with only a simple scientific calculator?” Andy asked with a little teasing in his voice.
Sue took out her phone, opened the calculator function, entered 71000,and ended up with an “Error” on the screen.
“Wait, why doesn’t it give an answer? Oh, I think I know—the answer is too large,” Sue said.
“So, what do you do then to get the answer?” Andy asked. Sue thought for quite a while (she hated being bested by Andy in math).
“I’m not sure,” she responded.
Want to know the answer? Stay tuned for next month’s column.
This column originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.