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Not willing to change

shovelhead88

Plastic
Joined
Feb 1, 2023
Hey, I'd like some input. Recently started working at a new job as a programmer. The shop I started at has been around for a long time as we have guys on the floor that have been here for 30+ years. That said, we are still processing jobs like its 30 years ago. We have pretty nice equipment and pretty new equipment. Some of the guys are totally open to change or at least trying something, others its nope, this is the way we run it and this is they it needs to be. While I do understand that they do know the jobs better than me, some ways they go about stuff is just horribly bad. How can approach these guys that wont change to try new things or show that yes this works but there could be better? I have also said to them that if this doesnt work its on me. Any advise would be great. Thanks!
 
That said, we are still processing jobs like its 30 years ago. We have pretty nice equipment and pretty new equipment. Some of the guys are totally open to change or at least trying something, others its nope, this is the way we run it and this is they it needs to be.
I can see the face of the moron who removed the Renishaw system off their brand new machine because "I can do that faster and better with a wiggler."

This will read like one of those platitudes our parents told us about bullies or whatever but, my experience has been that deep-down, those people are dinosaurs and fighting off their own extinction. It's often not their fault. As I've preached elsewhere, this whole industry has morphed in the past 30-40 years to something completely different.

If someone started on manual machines in the 1980s, they didn't have to know squat about computers. If they remained in the industry and their employers never trained them on CAD or CAM, or they never had a knack for computers, CNC machines and technology are terrifying things. It's easier for them to keep that monster out of the shop, lest it devour them. Even if they learned to hand code, modern CAM software is intimidating to people who don't have that gift.

In comes a person who likes computers or kept up with the industry and suddenly, you're the Trojan horse that's going to bring the conquering technology. You have a few guys around you who get it. Nobody says anything because the old guys have two choices: shut you up or get rid of you.

Your choices depend on management. If management sees and wants to continually improve, they need to manage. They need to provide a graceful way for the old school people to move on to new or different roles, or to retire. Ego plays a big part here and managing personalities without blowing the place up is the hard part. Maybe they need to be moved to doing inspections. Maybe there are other roles they've been good at but, didn't have the time to dedicate. They need to be moved to something else and allowed to keep their dignity or it will all go to hell.
 
Some people, no matter how old, enjoy learning new things. Others don't. If you have any of the first type mentioned, go to them with the changes. Let the others see just what a big difference new tools and processes can make. If things are still being done as they were 30 years ago, you have so much low hanging fruit around to make you look like a production God.
 
Some people, no matter how old, enjoy learning new things. Others don't.
Yep, very much this.

I spent about five years doing corporate training on engineering computer systems: 3D CAD, finite element modeling, 2D drawing and design, configuration management, etc. Something I noticed is not everyone has that computer knack. Even new-hires, fresh out of school with engineering degrees varied widely. The distribution is what you'd expect:
  • A few were done with their book exercises early and bored out of their skull. I had to show them advanced uses of the software to keep them from mentally checking out.
  • Most were somewhere in the middle. They picked up the material and accomplished the exercises in the expected time.
  • Some didn't understand how it worked, no matter how many different ways you tried to present it. Age was sometimes a factor but, not always. There were people who came from drafting boards who didn't like computers. That's very much a parallel to the manual machining world. There were young guys who couldn't properly mate two parts in 3D space, no matter how you pitched it. The organizations somehow still found work for them to do.
 
The last day job I had, the place was running like it was 1985.
They programmed and set up like it. They even had one guy who wrote EVERYTHING long hand and wouldn't even use a drill cycle on a VMC.
Mind you these were all short runs. Longest was about 100 pcs.
Some of the CNC guys were superstitious to the point of really getting the jitters when you even discussed doing anything different.
When I called up a probe on the Haas they had, you'd think I conjured a demon...
It took a while.
Eventually they came around.
 
---those people are dinosaurs--
Just remember, even dinosaurs get nice places in museums.
I spent most of my time on manual machines, though I did a trick on the machining centers (remember the old K&T 200, with the "A" control?). I went back to the toolroom and the manual kit 'cause the processes were so locked down, and the programmers were a closed guild.
I'm still of the opinion that the automatics make money when the spindles turn, and the prototypes were best done on the manual machines.

As far as computers go, I wonder how many folks would be lost on a machine that doesn't run Windows? An EE out of the lab once tried to show me how easy VB was, my response was I could do the same thing in a two line wish (TCL/TK) script. I'm not a systems programmer but I can get by, though I don't do assembly.

now back to the museum and the recliner
 
(remember the old K&T 200, with the "A" control?).
Certainly do, but with a D they were nice. I love the d control ... way better than that jap crap :)

But while we're here ... I s'pose it's a feature of regular guys but, ummm, if you are not a manager or owner ? It's none of your business. If you want to run the place, get your own. Otherwise, just get along. Maybe offer a suggestion once in a while but otherwise, shut up and do your own job the best you can.
 
Hey, I'd like some input. Recently started working at a new job as a programmer. The shop I started at has been around for a long time as we have guys on the floor that have been here for 30+ years. That said, we are still processing jobs like its 30 years ago. We have pretty nice equipment and pretty new equipment. Some of the guys are totally open to change or at least trying something, others its nope, this is the way we run it and this is they it needs to be. While I do understand that they do know the jobs better than me, some ways they go about stuff is just horribly bad. How can approach these guys that wont change to try new things or show that yes this works but there could be better? I have also said to them that if this doesnt work its on me. Any advise would be great. Thanks!

If you really want to implement changes you need one of them in your corner. Preferably a lead guy or a shop foreman. Even then, you might still be fighting a losing battle.
 
You can't survive without innovation,

BUT

You also have to remember that they've lasted this long for a reason. I'm a big proponent of 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it', and also if there is a problem, fix it from the inside out. Make friends. Find the good in the old ways. Look for opportunities to implement new things that are a sure win and be humble about it when it works. You'll never get anywhere with an attitude that says everyone's stupid and people need to do things the new guys way. I've been around too many scenarios where someone wants to do something the new way because old is stupid, and when the new way totally bombs, they no longer have any initiative to fix things and start the finger pointing game. You have to strike that balance and remember who's really in charge in the end. If the boss wants to run his shop into the ground, that's his right. Look for new employment and make the best of things while you can.
 
Baby steps, change 1 thing, let them see the improved results, then onto the next one.

I sometimes have a hard time changing my own processes and trying new tools, usually it does work out to be a good change but there's always the time and ROI factor and making sure the quality either stays the same or improves, and there's the occasional " I should have done this 10 years ago ".
 
There's a seven-item checklist to follow if you want people to adopt some change. It has the acronym "FACTORS."

1) Familiarity. Describe what you want to change in simple terms. You might give us an example of what you want people to change..

2) Advantages. Describe the advantages of the change. Not to you - what makes your job easier. Not to your company - what makes it more profitable. These are advantages to them. If you don't have any of that kind of advantages, create some. Automation has a zillion classic cases where a machine operator, doctor, office worker etc. has to spend more time filling out some crap form to ease someone else's job downstream. Way better if you start making their job easier, more fun, with positive customer or co-worker feedback, better paid, etc.

3) Compatibility. Spend the time to make it look and feel like what they already know how to do to the greatest extent possible.

4) Trialability. Give folks an easy way to try the new approach without feeling or looking stupid in the process. Adult learners hate to look stupid - especially if they're already really good and respected for what they know.

Confronted with new tech, a lot of companies start with the young guys and hope the old ones will catch on later. That often sets things up for failure. I've learned it's better to take the old guys offsite, get them up to speed in a can't-fail way, and then bring the young early-adopter types up to speed. Otherwise, the respected old guys will be like John Henry, dying if need be to prove your new steam-driving thing wrong.

5) Observability. Create some sort of feedback mechanism so they can see for themselves how much better the new approach is working for them, the company, and your customers. You can't learn anything without feedback. What makes video games near addictive is the immediate feedback. As a trivial example, not all that many people wanted to drive a Prius when they first came around. By simply putting an MPG indicator on the dash, lots of drivers became hooked.

6) Responsiveness. You've said it's on you if it doesn't work, which is a step. Watch closely what happens and be there to make sure every glitch is immediatelly addressed.

7) Sanctions. At this point, you may have most of the old guys on board, people delighted with seeing their performance improve (and the promised personal advantages delivered). Maybe 80% are using the new approach. There will still be holdouts. For them, you need sanctions. One is social and aspirational. Enlist the 80% to make the new thing cool. Another is mandated (which will require your boss to be on board). Decades ago, as an example, Edson Gaylord (CEO of Ingersoll Milling Machine Co) wanted people to use CAD rather than paper drawings. The last step, after proving it worked for the 80%, was making it company policy.

I'd add that most technology improvements promise an ROI in a year or two, and a whole bunch of them take five years to never in full implementation. If you have a decent plan for all seven of these People FACTORS, you're far more likely to succeed - and years sooner.
 
Certainly do, but with a D they were nice. I love the d control ... way better than that jap crap :)

But while we're here ... I s'pose it's a feature of regular guys but, ummm, if you are not a manager or owner ? It's none of your business. If you want to run the place, get your own. Otherwise, just get along. Maybe offer a suggestion once in a while but otherwise, shut up and do your own job the best you can.
This is a good point, do you have any authority?, usually you need to be a manager but more so a manufacturing/production engineer to make these changes.
Not just the new programmer.
And I mentioned this in another thread but, a lot of people in our field have fairly narcicistic ego's, talkin bout I know better, I have found the reality is less than 3-5% of people actually do.
Not saying OP doesn't, but cant assume either.
 
I took a job in a toolroom making vacuum forming tooling for the plant. We used Mastercam so I asked the toolroom manager where they stored the templates. He opened the drawer and pulled out a pile of handwritten sheets. I introduced them to layers and selecting geometry based on colour etc. Showed how you saved a file as a template and write protected it then imported your new geometry and saved it in the job folder. All pretty basic stuff and he was a good 20 plus years younger than me. Bought high feed tooling and showed them how to use it. After I left I was speaking to the GM and asked how the improvements were going. He said the manager had gone back to his old ways. Mind you this was the same guy who refused to do anything when I reported the manager for theft. Did I lose any sleep over it, not a wink. When the manager asked would I be a reference I said sure. First caller for a reference I said you are only allowed one question and the question is "would you hire him". Question was duly asked and answered " no fucking way". No explanation offered and I'm sure he won't be asking me to be a reference again.
 
But while we're here ... I s'pose it's a feature of regular guys but, ummm, if you are not a manager or owner ? It's none of your business. If you want to run the place, get your own. Otherwise, just get along. Maybe offer a suggestion once in a while but otherwise, shut up and do your own job the best you can.
If you really want to implement changes you need one of them in your corner. Preferably a lead guy or a shop foreman. Even then, you might still be fighting a losing battle.
I am in a similar situation as the OP. Close enough to where I truly thought the first post was written by one guy at my work. But the username doesn't make sense to be him.

That mentality here includes the foreman. That really puts a damper on progression. And in that case it does become my business. It's slowly changing as they have hired another guy that is of similar mentality as me (and the programmer) and all of us have come from the outside, instead of everyone else in the shop that have been here since the non-cnc days.

@Donkey Hotey really hit it on the head for me about the cnc being new and scary. A mentality that I just do not understand but is so prevalent here. Why would you not want to progress and learn? One of the many things I've learned from reading forum posts here is that there are guys in their 50s and 60s that are keeping up with the times in terms of machining and it's really comforting to me (age 34) to know that those guys ARE out there.

What is increasingly unsurprising is finding that the older guys that are unwilling to change carry that mentality through every facet of their life. Whether that's work, politics, cars, personal health, anything. It's as if their brains progressed to 30-ish years old and got locked down like a fortress under attack.

EDIT: After reading through a few posts I missed - I have been in arguments about how a better way to do it would be. Begging to let me JUST TRY it the way I'm suggesting and being shut down. Which ends up with me just doing it my way without asking on the next job. Then receiving surprise (never praise, haha) when my parts are done twice as fast and to the same, or better, quality/finish.

I remember vividly a disagreement that started to get heated with my foreman when he insisted that I "flip the parts around like on a Bridgeport to square them up" instead of hanging onto .250 of the part and facing and profiling it. "There is no f**king way you can do it faster by profiling it", he said. Then, after showing him that it took 7.5min to do so, I got "yeah, ok. We'll see."

Things are slowly moving along but boy, what a process.
 
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Certainly do, but with a D they were nice. I love the d control ... way better than that jap crap :)

But while we're here ... I s'pose it's a feature of regular guys but, ummm, if you are not a manager or owner ? It's none of your business. If you want to run the place, get your own. Otherwise, just get along. Maybe offer a suggestion once in a while but otherwise, shut up and do your own job the best you can.
he finally admits he loves the D... :o
 
I worked at a shop with this very same issue. 25+ year employees definitely aren't eager to learn new ways so tread lightly. Eventually some will learn newer faster ways and some will just dig their feet in and protest. And unfortunately those are the ones you may have to let go.

Bottom line, systems and processes need to change if you want to keep up and make money..
 
My advice: if they are operating like it's 30 years ago, there is no way for you to make meaningful change. Company culture is set from the top. Obviously those who are at the helm do not value a culture of improvement or efficiency. You will just be swimming against the current if you try to change their way of doing things.

First place I worked at after finishing uni was a small company that made a line of niche tools. Their way of doing production was 1 vise per machine, running 1 op at a time, all programmed by hand at the control. Material was mostly aluminum and they did material removal with a 1/2" 3fl EM at 5000 RPM and 40 IPM, 1/4" depth of cut and 10% stepover... 1 guy per machine just standing there waiting for the cycle to finish to change the part.

After both machinists quit in the span of a month, my boss sent me down from engineering to figure out how to keep everything running. Instantly I saw how inefficient thing were. I implemented the basics: CAM, multiple vises, started using the Renishaws, etc. I was easily doing the work of the two guys before me, plus keeping up with my main job.

After a while I went to work for a different company. Last I heard, they are back to their old ways at my old place. One of my former coworkers says that now they run all the machines at 50% rapids to "not wear them out" and that most of the high volume stuff was outsourced to a machine shop in China.

So in summary: the culture is set by the guy who steers the ship. At best, you can try to make incremental changes but there is no guarantee that anybody will buy-in.
 
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What was discussed when you interviewed? How much authority do you actually have? Have you talked to your immediate superior? A lot depends on what was communicated during the hiring process. If you was told that "we need to get this place up to date" or "we want you to bring your idea's and improve our process's and efficiency", then you have a chance . just make sure you are communicating your ideas with management and the employees. . As far as people not wanting to change, if you have the authority, and management is behind you, move them. They are a piece of cheese. I know a lot subscribe to the if it ain't broke don't fix it and sometimes I agree, but the Model A Ford wasn't broke, yet I really like my power steering and air conditioning. There is a difference between being broken and being outdated.
 
Start recording what you think is inefficient, do a study and write a report with your proposed changes. Do you have ideas that will increase the bottom line, what’s the ROI of these proposed changes. Build a business case in a clear and concise manner.
Power points are a good thing, start with one job. The last slide should show dollars and cents of the projected savings.
You’ll be successful if your ideas have merit and you present them clearly that is in a format management appreciates.
 
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