Sunday, May 20, 2007

Factory maintenance

At the end of last month, the tile factory closed for its annual maintenance. Because I've just been signed on full-time (After 2 years working there on contract) I didn't have any accumulated leave, so I had to come in during the closure and help with the maintenance.
I was assigned to The Greaser. He's an old boy who wears a surgical stocking on one leg and his job is to grease and oil the machines. He works day shifts, and you can see him pushing his cart which contains a 300 litre drum of oil, an empty 300 litre drum for recieving the spent oil, various cans and rags.
When a machine is not running, Michel (for that is his name) will stick his grease gun onto every available nipple and pump blue grease into all the bearings. He may also drain the oil out and refill.
My job during the maintenance was to change the oil on every gearbox in the factory. Anywhere where there is an electric motor, for driving conveyor belts, forks, lifters, whatever, there will be a gearbox next to it. I had to put a tray under the box, drain it down, suck the oil out of the tray into a big drum, and then pump in new oil until it flowed out of the "level" hole.
There were 80 gearboxes to do. many of them were underneath machinery and I had to crawl about on my hands and knees in the clay dust and crap and oil. It was a filthy filthy job.
Often the gearboxes were up high and I had to put on a safety harness and climb up by the rafters. Trying to undo stuck bolts at height is not fun.
Plus side, I got to see much of the factory taht is normally closed off behind safety barriers, and got to know the mechanics a bit better.
The kiln takes 4 days to cool down to the point where workers can enter it, and 2 days to reheat.
The bosses were pleased because they had over 100 external contractors in stripping the presses and replacing parts with no accidents. Given the potential for harm in an environment like that, its no mean feat.
Luckily, my shift cycle had me in the 4 days of rest when the factory restarted, so wasn't involved in the mess of adjustments to get everything working again.


At 5:25 pm, Blogger King Aardvark said...

Wow, sounds like a crappy crappy job, there. Makes me happy to be stuck in my drab grey cubicle. On second thought, no. I hate my cubicle.

At 7:49 pm, Anonymous Blognor Regis said...

Interesting stuff


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