Elon Musk of Tesla and His Expeditors Deliver Respirators to Treat COVID-19 Patients As Promised
Earlier this week, Tesla's Elon Musk stepped forward to offer what help he and his many companies could in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He promised masks and said that in addition, he was planning PAPRs and ventilators to help. Here's the positive news update.
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Elon Musk's Expeditors To The Rescue
In every manufacturing company I have worked for (5, including Thermo Fisher Scientific) in an engineering or marketing role, one of the hardest jobs at the corporation was that of the "expeditor."
An expeditor is a person whose job it is to make deadlines move forward. Think of a situation where a customer suddenly wants something that you make or provide. Be it a medical device, a vehicle, or even a service. Your company can do the job, but not in the time required to earn the customer's business. Making the end product is not the problem. Your company has the capacity to do the part that they themselves perform. The problem is always the widget that is part of the machine. It comes from Upper Scubbobia and there is just one supplier. The normal lead time is 6 weeks, but to earn this big order your company has to have it in 3. Including transit.
At this point, the managers, owners, and engineers have done what they can do. It's time to let the expeditor work his or her talent. In every company I worked for, that person was a woman. Sharon, Barbara, Jean, and a few whose names I shamefully have forgotten.
The expeditor is the purchasing agent usually who sources the components and has built a relationship with the folks at the widget company.
In some cases, the widget company actually owns yours. They supply the key ingredient in a pie you make as their "value-added" agent or their local market joint venture partner. So threats are not the best course of action. Rather, persuasion is. The expeditor will be asking the contact at Widgets R Us to bend some rules, or to ask workers to stay late or add a shift. Or they will be asked "Rob Peter to pay Paul." In other words, to steal away an order already ahead of yours and move that allocation to your company. In some cases, there are even monetary exchanges to make that happen. In others, it is a "favor" that is asked. "We will help you next time if you help us now."
Bloomberg has reported that California Governor Newsom has said in a media briefing, "Elon Musk: how about this? I told you a few days ago he was likely to have 1,000 ventilators this week. They arrived in Los Angeles and Elon Musk is already working with the hospital association and others to get those ventilators out in real-time. It’s an heroic effort."
Tesla did not produce the ventilators. The ventilators were purchased from a company and shipped from China. A place where the Coronavirus is having a big impact. Yet, those important machines were shipped away from there and into the state of California. Maybe it was Elon Musk who made all the calls to get those ventilators out of a country that needed them. Maybe it was Musk and a team of assistants who did the job. Or maybe it was a single person who worked her talent. Regardless, it was not Tesla or SpaceX or The Boring Company's engineers and machinists and fabricators who delivered those machines. It was a person acting in the role of expeditor who did it. As we give thanks for Elon Musk's successful effort, let's not forget the folks at manufacturing companies who really make it happen when the crunch comes. The expeditors.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.