Company surplus - a rant.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by tindel, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    I was going to post this in this thread but thought it was a bit off-topic, so I decided to make it its own thread

    The original: http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&noquote=1&p=590333.


    Rant on:

    This is the sort of c**p that infuriates me. It used to be that my company would surplus things to the employees that they no-longer needed or they didn't want to pay to fix, or they'd toss them. So someone in the company would buy the stuff or pick it out of the trash, fix it, and either sell it or use it. Either way - in my mind it's a win-win for everyone. Why? Because the engineers or techs are learning something without the company paying them and the employees are getting gear they either couldn't afford otherwise or are making some extra cash. But somebody got mad because someone was making some extra money or earning some decent gear, so they started surplussing stuff to people that don't give a darn, and are reselling in one form or another anyway. Thus, damaging the company in the long run.

    Now-a-days, if I even pull a cardboard box out of the trash for a moving box - it's an offense that could result in my termination.

    I know if I owned my own company I'd want all of my engineers to have a decent used scope, function generator, and multimeter in their home. I'd want them living and breathing electronics - especially the junior and mid-level engineers. And if they fixed things I was throwing away, then good for them! It's more in their 'ammo box' to use when they start designing something for me.

    I'm convinced that a junior and mid-level engineer will learn more repairing a scope in one week than most engineers will learn at work in an entire year. In fact, I'd bet someone $20 that 75% or more of the EE's with 5 years or less experience out of school has no idea about how the attenuator stage of an oscilloscope works. I know I didn't until I started studying the analogue scopes I own. The attenuation stage makes perfect sense once you know how it works - and it doesn't take but 2 minutes looking at the schematic to understand it. And if you thought about it, it might take you 5 minutes to realize how it works.

    95% of the engineers I work with think an oscilloscope is magic device that just puts traces on a screen and they don't need to know how it works. They don't understand the first thing about grounding a scope, how a scope works, the difference between a differential and single-ended probe, or they freak out when their 100kHz signal looks like a 10k signal on their nice new digital scope that is just suppose to spit out 'the answer'.

    Of course, I had to learn all of these things too, and I've been fortunate enough to work with good engineers that have taught me these things without thinking I'm stupid - and each time, I've gotten smarter. I still have more to learn about oscilloscopes - in fact I'm trying to decide what probes to buy for my scopes. I'm learning doing that too, making me a better engineer at the end of the day.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  2. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    Rockwell had a similar policy. They discontinued it because they caught people scrapping perfectly good material, so they could buy it on the cheap.
     
  3. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    Where I currently work, I was able to get free old inventory all of the time. I still have a couple of old monitors and a laptop that they replaced with new equipment (we used to replace everything every two years if it needed it or not). Many people even went home with old laserjet printers.

    We have since increased the replacement period to 4 years and printers almost never get replaced (they are now those huge do it all office printers).

    But nothing goes home with anyone anymore. The reason is fear of prosecution under environmental laws and private company information going out on old PCs.

    Once the equipment leave the company, there is no telling what will happen to it. That hard drive might not get wiped properly and wind up in the hands of some crook who now has several thousand customer's social security numbers. It has happened many times before.

    Electronics can also wind up in land fills. If the serial # can be traced back to the company, they could be in huge trouble.

    With all of the laws and liability issues anymore, companies are just not willing to take the chance of releasing anything to employees.

    I used to work for Texas Instruments. They used to have a surplus store for employees. My biggest regret is not buying a surplus nose cone to the Harpoon missile. I used to work on Harpoon.
     
  4. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    That's the reason they gave me at Lockeed for not allowing me to get good stuff from the trash bins.
     
  5. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    I've heard that argument too - those people just need fired... they are unethical and I wouldn't want them working for me. Why let one persons stupidity rain on everyone's parade.
     
  6. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Rise and decay of corporations.

    Rise phase: employees are enthusiastic, bring in their own stuff + money, make overtime, new markets

    Life phase: customer base exists, administration expands, responsibilities shift

    Decay phase: Restructuring, spin-off, many new policies, original teams leave, markets decline, employees are laid off. At some stage there are many people in the management who don't understand much of the technology they are selling.

    Normally all the equipment belongs to the engineering team doing the research. They use it for the best of the company. They know everything about it. Inventions on the other hand don't become property of the engineers. They do it for the sake of their company.

    Or maybe it is government funded. You have to apply to an administrative department for new equipment, to explain it to office ladies with little to no understanding of the technology, and to wait a long time. Result: Far too much money is spent and after all, most of the stuff is not fully used.

    If the company made millions to billions with the final product, why should they bother about the original equipment used for that? If it has served it's purpose, it remains property of the people who worked with it. They may use it for their own purpose when it is no longer needed, or even sell it off to someone who has a use for it.

    People trying to bail out the business by saving on peanuts- that's a symptom for decay phase. Restructuring and spin-off's are on the doorstep.
     
  7. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    Allowing employees to take surplus home has nothing to do with the way companies are treating employees and everything to do with litigation, environmental laws and security / theft prevention.

    And the fact that the equipment belongs to the people that worked with it is pure garbage. It belongs to those that paid for it. They will do as they please with the equipment.
     
    Wendy likes this.
  8. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Maybe you should read "Made in Japan" and perhaps, become less assertative.

    Anyway.

    After it's founder no longer is among us, you'd encounter the decay.

    I had two Sony Ericson mobile phones.

    Application support was a joke. There was a website, but even given the fact my model was not cheap, it was not to be found.

    The website was broken too.

    Recently the joint-venture was cancelled, I have heard. No wonder.

    Did I write production equipment belongs to the employees? I don't think the same normally would be sold off by employees. The one's who paid for it would have leased it anyway, or they'd know who wants it and has a use for it when it is no longer needed.

    It is the attitude rather to destroy property then to have people let use it. Destroy agricultural overproduction, because transport is too expensive, or market price is too low.

    Such decisions are made by people who no longer have a direct connection to the stuff they are dealing with.

    We have countless shops here with second hand mobile phones. I never saw just anyone walking in, and buying one of these. A matter of time until this fake economy collapses.
     
  9. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    In many ways this has to do with some of our stranger policies at AAC too.
     
  10. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    You maybe don't get it right. I do not mean actual legal ownership.

    I mean a right to deal with the stuff in all aspects, including to sell it off.

    I was not suggesting either this would happen without documentation.

    Of course I understand, there are these companies, I could consider to celebrate my last day even if I move that box or testing equipment from it's original place, open the case or something like that.

    So what is the solution? No order equals do nothing. Do anything but don't be creative.

    Such problems are also a sign of bad communications.

    This was one of the reasons why SEGA closed doors in 2001. They did not call it bad communications directly, but something like that.

    After all many people hoarded the cartridges, but did not play them much.

    I read a rumour the original creativity they once had became lost at some point of time.

    Anything that is not used anymore should be sold off immediately, if it is worthless, why not giving it to employees?

    Employees scrapping stuff on purpose to make a bargain are actually stealing.
     
  11. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    I certainly agree that this is the state of how things are operated. But at what expense? Don't you think your employees would work harder for you and be better engineers and techs if you let them take some of the gear home? Don't you think if you let employees bring some swag home that they'd be responsible enough to take care of it and dispose of it properly. I know I would!

    In today's culture when employees hardly ever stay at a company more than three or four years, wouldn't it be worth it to retain some of your expertise by letting them take some gear home once in a while? Companies use to invest in their employees - they don't do that anymore. And they wonder why they can't retain employees.

    I was talking to a grey beard the other day and he told me a story about being a young engineer who had moved to the area to take a job. He was forced to write a letter to his supervisor saying that he had to move back to his old home because his house wasn't selling in the city he used to live in. The next morning he had a signed letter from the president of the corporation saying that the company was going to buy his old house. You think that was an investment in that young engineers life? You bet it is! He retired with 40+ years of service, and is still contracting part-time today!

    Today - I can't get the company to buy me books that will help me do my job better or my yearly membership to IEEE. Hell, they closed the library last week! I can't even borrow books that I'm interested in anymore. These perks used to be common place 20 short years ago.
     
  12. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    They do. But policies are set by the legal department.

    I highly doubt when a PC needs to be replaced, my CEO of 60K employees is the one to make the decision on what to do with it. Rather he directs the Chief Counsel to make sure the company is operated in a safe manner. He then directs his staff to develop appropriate polices. Those policies are followed by people like my boss when it comes to disposal of the equipment. If policy dictates that it is OK to take equipment home then there it goes. But that is not going to happen in 99% of today's large companies that are trying to cover their butt, Most times policies go overboard but that nasty downside of alternatives is reporting a disaster all the way up to the CEO.

    There are lots of idiotic policies that I need to follow every day just because once some moron made a stupid mistake so the answer was just enact more policies.
     
  13. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    One law suit or bad press from environmental dumping and all that investment in good faith goes out the window. Just see my post above. Their are people in the company looking to cover their own fuzzy butts because they don't want to have to walk into their boss's office and explain how an old piece of company equipment got into the wrong hands.

    If everyone you worked with acted responsibly then it would not be a problem but the only way to guarantee it is to deny the privilege to everyone.



    We have the same issue here. No more seminars onsite training etc. But the suits can fly off to some far off place to go golfing. Go figure.

    But it is just the way it is.

    And it seems to change from day to day. Just the other day, my boss's,boss's,boss's,boss's boss (a guy just under CEO) told my boss he would like to see an increase in what we spend on training. I just wonder how long that will last. But I do not like the CBT anyway. Nothing beats having a good, qualified instructor in the classroom. In class your learn from the instructor but also other students, an instructor can really help in the labs. That doesn't happen in CBT.
     
  14. debe

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 21, 2010
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    My last employer invested in me by sending me to just about every training course, & paid for it all including travel. Could also borrow special equipment for my own jobs. The only requrement was you didnt do after hours work on potential customers. I stayed untill i retired as a happy worker. (obsolete equipment was yours if you wanted it)
     
  15. gerty

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 30, 2007
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    Where I used to work, Carrier Air Condtionig, nobody was allowed to take home scrap anything. We did however have auctionns once or twice a year. All the surplus/scrap items were placed behind the plant and covered with plastic.
    On auction day you could end up with just about anything. We used Amp machines, they would cut, strip, and terminate a wire. The terminals came on spools of 5,000, the spools themselves were made of cardboard.
    Sometimes the edges of the spools would get deformed and they wouldn't even bother to put them on the machine , knowing it wouldn't feed.
    At one auction a coworker bought 200 of these spools(shipment got wet)
    for $40.
    By the time I found out about it he had sold them all to a electrical supply house. I don't know how much he got for them, but the store was selling freezer bags full for $4.99.
    The event that caused the auctions to stop was when an employee bought a roll of aluminum sheeting, which is used to make the evaporator coils, and sold it to a scrap dealer 2 miles down the road. Somehow that made management mad, and that was the last auction. Surplus or salvage after that was thrown away.
     
  16. tracecom

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    Apr 16, 2010
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    All you have to do to know what most companies think of their employees is to look at the name of the department that deals with employees: Human Resources. Companies have fiscal resources, tangible resources, and human resources. They have the same attitude toward all three; get as much out of them as possible and then discard them.

    I remember when "Human Resources" was called "Employee Relations" and before that, when it was called "Personnel." It's clear that the department's name has been depersonalized just as the company's attitude toward its employees. That makes it so much easier for them to treat people like used furniture. Use it and toss it.
     
    strantor, JohnInTX, gerty and 2 others like this.
  17. spinnaker

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    And many outsource their HR. My guess in an attempt to depersonalize it even more. There used to be a day when if I had a certain issue with paycheck benefits whatever, I would make a call and problem solve. Now it is almost impossible to get anything done. It is like trying to call ebay to resolve an issue with a purchase you made.
     
  18. maxpower097

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    Feb 20, 2009
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    I was working at a company that was producing a product and in reality we needed to be able to product 15-20 units a week. We had to pay for the tooling for all the abs pieces, but since we were charging $1400 a unit, everyhing else in the device could have been made on the fly including PBC's, we could of bought batteries, etc.. We have paid for all the big items and have a couple hundred grand in the bank. Our manager/boss then proceeds to order 16,000 Lead Acid batteries that would be obsolite in negative 4 years. paid $15k for a bunch of brass fittings? and bought a bunch of other stuff for the devices before it was even out of RnD. Turns out we didn't need half of it. The batteries all went bad by the time we actually started to need them in volume. Sometimes management is just clueless.
     
  19. DerStrom8

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    Feb 20, 2011
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    Last year the University where I work was cleaning out. They replaced dozens of HP function generators and were cleaning out the old component stashes and replacing them with new ones. I was the main one doing this, and I really didn't want to throw any of the stuff away. They were even going to chuck the old, though perfectly operational, function generators. I asked my boss if it would be possible to salvage them (not even for profit), and they gave me a very rude no. I had to throw away literally thousands of WWII vintage capacitors and resistors and benchtop equipment that could have been donated to clubs like IEEE or to needy students. I would even have been happy to take some of it off their hands, but I was told I couldn't. Even though it went directly into the trash bin, I could have been fired if I was caught taking a single piece. I was infuriated that they would make such useful stuff go to waste.
     
  20. maxpower097

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    Feb 20, 2009
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    We had tyco come out and train us on our SMT line for a week. The teaching tech said tyco quit or lost their Mirrea pick and place contract because they had to buy say 1000 units a year reguardless. They were selling like 100 but had to buy 1000 to be the US dist. So after they ended their contract he said at the Tyco plant you could go to the dumpster and get $50,000 pick and place machines they were just throwing away since they weren't selling em, or supporting em. He said they threw away nearly 100 in brand new condition. And these were $30,000 on the low end $150,000 on the high end machines.
     
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