Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 21 December 2009

Are we all born to lead?

Industrial efficiency reaches its zenith on a car production line. Robots move heavy objects, spot-weld body parts and spray-paint the body, pneumatic wrenches are set to to tighten nuts and bolts exactly, components come in small batches (“just-in-time”) to eliminate inventory problems, the car body is raised and lowered automatically to prevent line workers suffering back strain. But there’s a price: mind-numbing repetitive work for the humans. Can the price be reduced?

Volvo has a small plant where teams of four assemble wheels and tyres in the correct sequence of sizes and colours for four daily deliveries to the main production line. The tasks involved in this work are rotated to create interest and the position of Team Leader is also rotated after a set period. Trust the Swedes. Except that some people don’t want to be Team Leader. What’s the solution? Better education, or may some people be hard-wired to reject that form of responsibility?

Prezzies from Prague. Because of restrictions about fluids at the airport check-in the beer had to be bought in the duty-free. It’s a dark and I’m hoping the super-beer-knowledgeable RW (zS) will be able to tell me whether I’m in for an enjoyable experience or not. The Salami Minis (now a distant memory) were real hotsy-totsies and thereby delicious. And label on the peanuts – Clever – made them irresistible.

Novel progress 22-23/12/09. Ch. 8: 4094 words (finished but not edited). Chs. 1 - 7: 33,000 words. Comments: Over past three days suffered a small attack of writer's block, the most boring malady known to man. Discovered a cure, wrote through afternoon then returned to the keyboard at 1 am and worked until 2.45.


The Crow said...

Seems the robots may be turning us into automatons. The folks at Volvo have a good idea.

Your prezzies look good.


Julia said...

Kozel is my favorite dark here! Its name is a play on goat, hence the sipper on the label. Best is to mix Kozel with a light beer and make a half and half. Yum!

(Strangely appropriate, my word verification is phylsin. How could blogger know?)

Plutarch said...

When I visted what was then a new Volvo plant designed to over ride the numbing effects of automation, it was significant that the groups of workers were reluctant to make decisions when they were offered choice eg what colour they wanted the cell where the group worked; what music they preferred? The speed at which the conveyors brought them the parts which they were to assemble. The idea was then in its infancy. You I imagine visited the factory later than I did. But it seems that there are still problems when you try to defeat the effects of automation.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ah, a bottle of Cerný. I'm not much of a Lager drinker, but when, then a black lager. A friend brought me a bottle of this once, and upon seeing the label, I first thought I was about to experience a Bock beer. But it is a dark lager, different from the German black lagers such as Köstritzer in that the carbonation level is lower and it is much maltier. I have to admit that I do prefer a bit more hops, but the herby, raisiny notes in the Kozel were interesting (which is why mixing it with a lighter beer the first time you try it would be a shame). Although I agree with Julia about a tasty half-n-half!

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: In fact, robots save the production line workers' bodies. But the point I hoped to make is that we now need to find ways of saving their minds.

Julia: I'm a great fan of good darks (eg, Leffe dark).

Plutarch: Yes, my visit was several years' on from you. But I think we have to accept that many people are terrified about making decisions and paternalistic companies aren't doing them any favours by making their jobs more intellectually challenging.

RW (sZ): I knew I could depend on you. As I read your comment I could easily have transcribed it into a short dissertation by me on burgundy. I suspect my palate isn't as refined as yours when it comes to bottled beer; I have rather more sophisticated tastes when it comes to draught. I would only have tried Julia's recommendation if I had two bottles - as it is I shall drink it neat.