Monday, 23 September 2013

Disasters in Concrete

It's scary how fast things can go from calm to complete chaos within the span of half of an hour. This has become very apparent as I spend more time in job as a dispatcher for concrete. I can definitely see why some people would find this job stressful and why it isn't exactly the most desirable position. In fact, a lot of my coworkers wonder if I'm stressed out.

I'm not. I'm just very tired and haven't been sleeping well lately.

And someone keeps drinking up all the coffee in the office.

An example of this is Thursday. Everything is going well, sure some trucks are a bit late, but everything is going fine.

Suddenly we are informed that one of our 4 major plants has run out of a crucial material needed to make concrete.

In the middle of the day.

After a meeting about warning people about running low on supplies.

So now we need to run reroute all trucks and jobs out of the dead plant to our remaining ones. The trucks need time to travel to a working plant, load up, and travel again. This is A LOT of wasted time spent traveling. All the jobs coming out of that plant are delayed by an hour AT BEST. Remember, labourers are not cheap, and with some projects, they need a continuous flow of concrete, otherwise they need to rip everything out and redo it.

Later that same day, a different plant suffers critical computer failure. Concrete is unable to be produced for a different reason now. All trucks and jobs need to be rerouted AGAIN as we try our best to make the best of a bad situation. Slap another half an hour delay. My supervisor is losing his mind beside me as we try our best to deal with the disgruntled customers and our bad situation.

Also I forgot my lunch and had to eat a disgusting instant noodle cup from a vending machine.

Later on my Saturday shift it looks good. Everything is calm and serene. It looks like it'll be a quiet shift. Did you know that we also rent out trucks to companies to pump concrete? It's true. All we have to do is make sure the pump drivers are notified of their respective jobs, details, etc..

Then we get a phone call asking where the pump truck is.

No one told the guy he had a job to go to.

Normally, not such a big deal. Except this was for a major client. Who was working via a permit that limited how much time he could use workers. He would now be idling for at least 3 hours as we scrambled to get the driver onsite.

To make matters worse, this is one of those instances where it is partially my fault as a dispatcher. Even though I'm still a junior and I don't have the scheduling responsibilities yet, it's my job to catch little errors like this and stop them before they happen.

And this error is one of those mistakes that will cost the company tens of thousands of dollars, and quite possibly the client. It's these kinds of mistakes that can cost people their jobs.

I think I'm safe though. Still not looking forward to the "meeting" with my supervisor.

Oh. And then we had the day where I walk into the office. I notice that there are an abnormal number of trucks outside the main plant and my supervisor looks more distressed than usual. I ask why.

"Well Damian, it be because we currently have 9 trucks that are down to due mechanical errors".

Losing even one truck during peak season can result in people getting concrete half an hour late. Imagine what 9 trucks would do to us first thing in the morning. Imagine how that affects the rest of the schedule for the day.

"Oh and the reason why there are so many trucks out front is because the main plant has shut down. We had a major blockage with a special mix of concrete for a client."

Great, we now need to reroute trucks again. Find and use a plant that has the materials to make the special concrete, and apologize to customers for late deliveries. By noon, the main plant is back online and we have lost a dozen trucks in total (though some have been repaired and are back on the road by this point).

Oh, and for anyone curious, this all happened in the time since I made a post about my job. And these big events are littered with small events such as computer crashes, truck drivers getting lost, concrete being rejected by clients, etc. etc..

A lot can happen in a week.

Don't worry. I mean it when I don't get stressed easily. I'm taking most of these events as best I can, making the best of a bad situation. My lack of stress could be because I'm not as experienced or laden with as many responsibilities as everyone else yet, but I like to imagine I have a better tolerance for stressful situations.

In the meantime, it's another day of work tomorrow. I hope it rains. So many people cancel their concrete orders when it rains. Maybe it won't be a hectic day for once.


  1. A good tolerance for stressgul situations is the key to a happy and heelthy life my friend. It's a good thing that you have that.

  2. LOL wow, you are sure getting a crash course in a crap storm, being tired pays sometimes, no stress

  3. In India labor is very cheap

  4. The joys of employment. Be careful you aren't the scapegoat.

  5. It is impressive seeing how quick you sound like the expert. Hopefully the first mistake will not be taken into account.

  6. Sounds like a cool job, though. But I bet you get pretty suspicious when those guys from the Mob always seem to be stopping by.

  7. I guessed when you said before how much things can hang on a balance of precision in work that problems could happen as easily as success but I hope things calm down for you and soon buddy, I know stuff like that can be stressful.

  8. Yikes...that's a rough day. Hope the rest of the week is smooth sailing!

  9. Ugh dude. While working manufacturing, I routinely dealt with similar stuff, but on a much smaller scale. But hey, sounds like you're still going strong!

  10. That does sound kinda stressful. I think you're just not feeling it because it's soon, it's a lot in a short amount of time, and when that starts piling up you start feeling it, BUT it sounds fun. Like, I'd actually give it a go. Pat yourself on the back every time you have a normal day and such.

  11. All of that since the last post? Holy shit. I hope it rains for your sake.

  12. With that humour and that attitude, even a bad day is not so bad.But lets hope for the best!

  13. They can teach you all kinds of things in school, but they can't teach you how to manage your stress levels. As long as you've got that down, you're golden. My dad always told me never take your work home with you. It'll ruin your whole life in a hurry. Good words to live by.

  14. It sounds like you have the perfect temperment for the job. I bet that will be appreciated above all else!

  15. Wow, how do you keep cool? Although after 8 years in IT supporting traders and all...I am pretty stress proofed myself.

    The one thing that would annoy me is no coffee and crappy instant noodles...get on that!!!

    I wish you a lot of rain but not too much so you have flooding...a nice moderate amount of rain!

  16. Stay cool Damien,this job cant take away the optimism in you.Like your postive attitudes toward this job :)

  17. Ha ha wishing for the rain for a relaxed work day is not bad :)

  18. You coped wonderfully!! Phew!! Hope the week just gone wasn't too chaotic! Take care