Sunday, August 24, 2008

My poor truck

I am grieving for my truck this morning. I took it in to the local Toyota dealer for what I though was a simple repair. Silly me. The estimate came back at over five thousand dollars.  A short had caused a small electrical fire which ruined a wiring harness.  The harness alone runs four thousand dollars.

After a intense afternoon I was pleased to find that my insurance will cover the repair. They will also pursue the issue with Toyota because they feel the problem falls under a manufacturing defect.

I visited a wiring harness factory in Acuna, Mexico a few years ago.  I was consulting on an Oracle problem. As part of the visit, I was given a VIP tour of the manufacturing facility. Inside, there were ten thousand people standing shoulder-to-shoulder under one roof. Automation was limited to a wire cut off machine and a circulating rack that held the wire bundles as they moved through the factory. The wires moved down the assembly line at a slow but constant pace. A worker would have a few feet to move along with the harness as it progressed to through the assembly process.  Workers have a single job, they crimped, wrapped, cut, or routed during their allotted time with the harness. The process never ended.

I was offered a chance to work the line. I manned a station for 20 minutes while the woman whose job it was to wrapped tape around a bundle of wires looked on. She smiled, but underneath I could see she was worried about my skills. I did 10 harnesses in 20 minutes. I'm sure one of them ended up in my truck.

When Toyota told me my harness had fried, I flashed back to the manufacturing process used to make it. I knew only a expert could repair it. Even then, a repair would introduce new problems. I opted for a new harness. It's make to order. I hope nobody else stands in while it is made.

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