Author Topic: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?  (Read 1810 times)

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Online treez

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Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« on: April 14, 2019, 03:59:39 pm »
This is a  true story of An  electronics company in UK,    designing and making SMPS’s. It  happened a few years back. Occurences  similar to the below, but not quite as bad,  are quite common, I have found. The company does not exist on my CV.

The big question  that I am sure arises from the below…..is who pays for these kind of farce’s  to go on?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

…So, I was contracted to help a company that  was developing SMPS….
The director had declared that the work was not getting done quick enough, and so re-inforcements, including myself, were called in.

It turned out that the company's three electronics  engineers were “larking about” and not working, for at least 60% of  every  working day !!!

Nobody could see them larking about, because they were in an enclosed lab, away from the other staff and managers. The director could tell that the work was not getting done  quickly enough, and so every month he would insist that the three engineers would work an entire weekend unpayed, every month, in order to try and catch up. The three engineers hated this unpayed overtime…but after every such unpayed weekend, they would simply  return to work on the  following Monday and just start off larking about all over again…and continue thus….until  the next unpayed  “punishment weekend”….and so it went on….

So, There was a chief engineer who had  designed 2 SMPS’s, and there were   the three electronics engineers who were “bringing them up”. These three engineers worked in the  small lab, along with an assembly girl who did soldering etc for them. I was at first contracted into this enclosed lab for much of the time, and did some work for E1, to lighten his load.

From now on, I will use notation to refer to the staff as follows……..

The three electronics engineers are “E1”, “E2” and “fatty”
The chief engineer , the company ‘s SMPS designer , is “CE”
The Engineering Manager is “EM”
The Director is “DIR”
The Assembly Girl is “AG”
The Test Engineer is “TE”

On one Monday, following one of these “punishment weekends”, the DIR approached fatty in the lab and addressed him…..stood right next to him as fatty sat at his bench…but fatty just totally ignored  the DIR, and the DIR then just shrugged, and walked off.

The larking about in the small lab involved fatty constantly distracting E1 and E2 from their work. He would constantly invite them into “banter sessions”, and make them feel anti-social if they tried to continue working. The engineers E1 and E2, were actually of the inclination to “get on with their work”, but they constantly felt inclined to enter into larking about with fatty. 60% of every  working day was spent larking about.

One of the common ‘bantering modes’, was for fatty to swear foul at AG, in front of all of us in the lab……..he would refer unkindly  to intimate  parts of her body and would liberally  use the “C” word and the “F” word at her. AG was 30 years old and never laughed or complained about this, but just kind of ignored it. Admittedly, the abuse  was more in the vain of an  obnoxious kid than  a threatening man, but it was still pretty vile. I told AG’s friend (in the office)  what was going on, and insisted I make a complaint to the DIR about the foul language directed at this woman …however, her friend told me that AG was  taking a soldering exam in a few weeks time, and that after she achieved that qualification,  AG was going to leave the company, and work elsewhere……I was told by  AG’s friend not to make any complaint until after  AG had passed the soldering exam.

I did notice that fatty  had quite a close relationship with CE. They seemed to be pals. CE would often enter the lab and take fatty into the corner and they would appear to be having a quiet chat together. They seemed to be “as thick as thieves” with each other. On one occasion, a new electronics graduate was sent into the lab, and I overheard CE saying to fatty about the new graduate……”if he gets too keen, punch him one”.
I did wonder whether  or not CE was actually  encouraging fatty to engage E1 and E2 in larking about, so that they were thus not pestering  CE  to join in  and be involved with his (probably lucrative) SMPS design work. E1 and E2 were actually, as I said, the type of people that normally,   would want to “get on with their work”, and progress in their engineering  careers….however, as discussed, fatty was constantly distracting them. The fact that fatty  obviously had a close relationship with CE, gave fatty quite a bit of power and influence within the company. I presume this made E1 And E2  a little wary of upsetting fatty.

One day  in the company, fatty  was away on holiday for a week. On  one of these  days, E1 told me that  the SMPS boards often had certain microcontrollers on them which needed  very simple  programs. Fatty used to write all of these simple programs…and if a smps board needed programming, fatty would do this. E1 told me that fatty would not allow E1 or E2 to have anything to do with programming or writing code for these microcontrollers. E1 told me that fatty had actually refused to even show E1 or E2 how to actually program the microcontrollers…ie how to blow code into them using pickit2. Fatty disallowed E1 and E2 from even touching the pickit2.  Due to this, when fatty was on holiday,  and an SMPS  board needed programming, nobody could program the boards, and the work just had to stop until fatty got back from holiday.

However, with fatty being away for a week, E1 and E2 were frantically trying to use their lunch hours to learn how to program PIC microcontrollers. They ordered demo kits from farnell, and I actually helped them in writing simple programs for the PICs, and showed them how to program them in MPLAB and blow code into PICs using the pickit2. We did this whilst fatty was on holiday. When fatty was not on holiday, he would stop E1 and E2 from doing any such work in their lunch hours….and would insist that  in the lunch hour they played cards with him, or play shove-haypenny. E1 and E2 reluctantly engaged with fatty in this…as I said, fatty was quite influential in the company , due to his obvious close relationship with CE.

When fatty was back from holiday, on  one day, AG was taken upstairs by the company’s trainer  to do an initial preparation session, ready for her soldering exam….some type of “IP” qualification. Anyway,  fatty decided that AG should not be doing this, and insisted that she stop the prep, and come down and do some soldering for him instead. AG did as she was told. Shortly after this, myself , fatty and AG were in the lab together, and there was some kind of verbal exchange between fatty and AG…….the next second , AG had left her seat, was shouting at fatty,  and aggressively walked towards him. She stood over him as he sat at his bench…she twice shouted the words…”are you going to hit me are you?”….and then stormed off out of the room. This was extremely uncharacteristic of AG, who was usually very mild mannered, and had never uttered a word in defence when she was previously sworn at by fatty, on  numerous previous occasions.

After this outburst, AG was then   sent  to work in the main production area.
Whilst AG was out of the lab, I heard fatty saying to E1,  “has AG cheered up yet?”.   E1 replied ironically, “you’ve just made the mildest mannered girl in the company loose her temper”. Then on one day, AG was brought back into the lab and told to do some soldering when fatty was not there. CE then entered the lab and started speaking very oddly to AG……he was liberally using the “F” word as he spoke to her, in a kind of threatening kind of way…he  was saying that “there was F….ing work that needed doing, and  that it needed to be F…ing well done……and I need people to F….ing well get on with it….” Etc etc…ranting on and on  like that at AG.

…It did seem strange that CE was talking to AG in this way…specially  since  AG was a very good worker, and  always got on and did her work very diligently anyway.  The CE didn’t seem to feel it  was inappropriate to use the “F”  word to a woman in this way. During this “chat”, AG  had just looked very worried, and sat silently listening to the “F…ing”.

Some years later, E1 had left the company and worked at a different company , again with myself at this new place. I found E1 to be a real professional, not larking about at all…he was very competent.
Also, I learned that years later, fatty had left the company, and that E2 had actually become the company’s Engineering Manager.

Incidentally, during my time at the company, another contractor aswell as myself had been there, and he had been designing a low power flyback SMPS. I later heard that shortly after I had left the company, this contractor had been sacked for attacking the Engineering Manager……one day things had got heated between them and the contractor had grabbed the Engineering  Manager by the  collar. (I have no idea what this was about).

Also, a few years later, I spoke to a Director of a different company, who told me that  he thought little work ever got done at the company I’ve spoken of here…..and that an  engineer had told him that the engineers used to spend the days  flying model aircraft about.

Another guy told me that when he used to work at this particular company, they used to spend the days blowing  capacitors up, and playing football with rolled up pieces of paper.

Anyway, how do companys like this survive?, and who pays for it?

By the way, E1 and E2 are exonerated from any wrong doing whatsoever  in this.........they were in fact, sympathetic to the AG being abused, and acted as good freinds to her when fatty was not in the room.


« Last Edit: April 19, 2019, 10:38:50 am by treez »
 

Offline ElectronicSupersonic

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2019, 05:11:16 pm »
TL:DR? :)
 
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Offline capt bullshot

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2019, 05:40:17 pm »
:popcorn:
Safety devices hinder evolution
 
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Offline floobydust

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2019, 06:40:21 pm »
>Engineers, co-workers getting abused
>Only concern is how the company survives
 
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Offline station240

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2019, 09:26:01 pm »
…So, I was contracted to help a company that  was developing SMPS….

Fiction starts at the very first line.
No one in their right mind you pay money for your technical skills, plus help implies improving things.
 
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Online treez

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 05:20:44 am »
Quote
>Engineers, co-workers getting abused
>Only concern is how the company survives
Well im glad to hear of your concern for the staff.
As it discusses, i did try to report the incidents  with the woman getting abused, but her freind stopped me, at the instruction of the woman herself.

But the main way i helped the people there, was to show them all how to program and code microcontrollers....which stole "fatty's" fire...and made him less valuable to the company......i beleive , possibly leading to his departure.

One of the good situations was their test engineer, who had been using a sig gen with a test jig instead  of just using a small micro.....i taught him how to do it with a micro, and he picked it up really quickly...like a duck to water........he then also helped to teach E1 about micro coding, who was his close pal, and E1 and E2 were pals anyway......so with fatty now not being the only guy who could program micro's, this made the director less dependent on fatty......as you can read, the director was rudely  ignored by fatty.....and surely the main reason the director tolerated him was his knowledge of micro's.

But if you read the top post, you can see that "fatty" is actually likely fully supported , (and indeed 'sponsored') by the Chief Engineer...which makes it very difficult for anyone in my position to do anything.

The chief engineer, as you can imagine, was an extremely powerful man in the organisation, with several decades of power supply experience  behind him, ...the director , who was non-tech, didnt know that many of the others of us could design power supplys, and so felt absolutely dependent on the chief engineer.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 05:34:27 am by treez »
 

Online treez

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2019, 07:06:03 pm »
Quote
Fiction starts at the very first line.
I assure you it’s a true story.  Some way similar  things happen in other UK electronics co’s.
Admittedly, this was the worst place.
I regularly remember “fatty” standing next to some belittled member of staff, with his elbow drawn up high as he presented his fist at some person, with his sneering grin shining away as he  snidely threatened to  slam  his fist down  into the staff member’s face.
But the one good thing, was the sight of the  snide grin literally dropping off fatty’s face  like a sack of spuds as I showed him the code that the test engineer had written whilst fatty had been on holiday….and him knowing that E1, E2,and TE  could now code micro’s just like him. His face literally went deep red/purple.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 07:07:47 pm by treez »
 

Offline dmills

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2019, 08:41:52 pm »
Treez - Noun, One who excels at finding completely dysfunctional companies to work for.

Please people believe me, MOST of the UK electronics industry is actually reasonably competent and a fair chunk of it is even run by actual adults.

Regards, Dan.
 
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Online tggzzz

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2019, 08:57:06 pm »
Treez - Noun, One who excels at finding completely dysfunctional companies to work for.

Please people believe me, MOST of the UK electronics industry is actually reasonably competent and a fair chunk of it is even run by actual adults.

Yes, and most of the companies have clever and pleasant people in them, and are fun places to work.

(I also realise that political developments may make people think the UK is full of people suffering from Dunning-Kruger syndrome. Possibly such people feel comfortable in the company of other such people, or "recruit in their own image" in both technical and political spheres).
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 
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Online Kjelt

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2019, 09:16:53 pm »
To try to answer the question: the customers pay for it.
Usually these small (family owned ?) companies made a succesfull product(s) in the past that is slowly fading out (see the marketing BS product lifetime graphs) unless there are no competitors.
The remaining sales keep paying for it.

BTW you have some weird hyrarchy mindset, if a director comes and stands next to your desk and says nothing what should one do? Stand up in military pose and salute while clacking your heels/boots ?  ;)
Unpaid involuntary weekend overtime? Sounds like slavery, I always wonder how screwed up organizations start, usually top down ;)
 
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Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 09:21:45 pm »
I assure you it’s a true story.  Some way similar  things happen in other UK electronics co’s.
Admittedly, this was the worst place.
I regularly remember “fatty” standing next to some belittled member of staff, with his elbow drawn up high as he presented his fist at some person, with his sneering grin shining away as he  snidely threatened to  slam  his fist down  into the staff member’s face.
But the one good thing, was the sight of the  snide grin literally dropping off fatty’s face  like a sack of spuds as I showed him the code that the test engineer had written whilst fatty had been on holiday….and him knowing that E1, E2,and TE  could now code micro’s just like him. His face literally went deep red/purple.
You don't happen to be this "fatty" character in this story, do you?
 
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Online tggzzz

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 09:24:57 pm »
if a director comes and stands next to your desk and says nothing what should one do?

That was institutionalised in Bill and Dave's HP, as MBWA, management by wandering around. It was an excellent way for the hierarachy to understand what was actually going on at all levels, and not to fall into the trap of minions only reporting what they thought their managers wanted to hear.

So, in answer to that question, in that HP the answer was "have a good honest fun chat".
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 
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Online coppercone2

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 10:14:26 pm »
I never saw a lack of design skills from Treez. More like insane specifications. The lack of skill treez has is not realizing that its a insane task. The industry sounds cooky.
 
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Online coppercone2

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2019, 10:17:46 pm »
To try to answer the question: the customers pay for it.
Usually these small (family owned ?) companies made a succesfull product(s) in the past that is slowly fading out (see the marketing BS product lifetime graphs) unless there are no competitors.
The remaining sales keep paying for it.

BTW you have some weird hyrarchy mindset, if a director comes and stands next to your desk and says nothing what should one do? Stand up in military pose and salute while clacking your heels/boots ?  ;)
Unpaid involuntary weekend overtime? Sounds like slavery, I always wonder how screwed up organizations start, usually top down ;)

Say Hi, whats up. Do you need something from me? Are you just observing? If its obvious he is just watching you to see if your working then just say hi and keep working. Like everyone at the company the director has job responsibilities too. You are actually allowed to ask what he is doing. He is allowed to observe to see if your working of course, since he is part of managment. So just work and let him observe. If you feel that uncomfortable around a high ranking company officer it means the company culture is toxic. No reason you can't ask the CEO or whatever whats up. He might talk to you about whatever for a while.

'I noticed you standing there. Are you just observing my work performance or do you need something from me? If he does not respond then tell your co workers you think the director was acting strange. Usually there is someone that wants to replace him and such so he has to act civilized.

The answer to treez question should be contact human resources immediately that there is workplace intimidation and harassment going on and that you feel uncomfortable being around abuse. If human resources is compromised then its basically up to you if you want to develop other means of operation or quit.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 10:30:19 pm by coppercone2 »
 
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Online treez

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2019, 08:39:59 pm »
Quote
BTW you have some weird hyrarchy mindset, if a director comes and stands next to your desk and says nothing what should one do? Stand up in military pose and salute while clacking your heels/boots ?
Sorry i should have elaborated...by "addressed" i mean he said "Hello [Name]" in a polite way.
(but fatty just ignored him.)
 

Online Gyro

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2019, 08:56:38 pm »
It's going to be a looong holiday weekend, it'll certainly feel like it anyway!  :popcorn:
Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 
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Online Kjelt

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2019, 09:22:48 pm »
The answer to treez question should be contact human resources immediately that there is workplace intimidation and harassment going on and that you feel uncomfortable being around abuse. If human resources is compromised then its basically up to you if you want to develop other means of operation or quit.
Although I agree with you on this, it is still a sad fact (at least in our country) that whistleblowers are paying the consequence. Unless the whistleblower is perceived as a true victim that could not help it, if the whistleblower is an observant so not the victim it mostly does not end well,  verbal  force to withdraw the complaints, to even jobtermination. Very sad.
 
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Online coppercone2

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Re: Who pays for Electronics companies like this?
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2019, 01:09:25 am »
The answer to treez question should be contact human resources immediately that there is workplace intimidation and harassment going on and that you feel uncomfortable being around abuse. If human resources is compromised then its basically up to you if you want to develop other means of operation or quit.
Although I agree with you on this, it is still a sad fact (at least in our country) that whistleblowers are paying the consequence. Unless the whistleblower is perceived as a true victim that could not help it, if the whistleblower is an observant so not the victim it mostly does not end well,  verbal  force to withdraw the complaints, to even jobtermination. Very sad.

I don't know about that, if its harassment of women the Me2 movement fear should take care of that
 
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