The best laid plans of mice and men … I’m not sure Robert Burns ever made it to China, but his comment rings true, for as he concluded (in Scottish) “An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!” You can work that out for yourselves. Don’t fret though, I’m taking all the grief and pain … and you will get your “promis’d joy!” (albeit a little later than I had hoped).
(And before anybody comments that John Steinbeck wrote of Mice and Men – he acquired the line from a much older poem by Robert Burns called “To a Mouse”. Burns’ actual phrase was “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men)
Let me start with two short cultural information pieces. One of a general nature and one related to The Gentle Roller.
China has many little nuances. When people in Guangzhou go to a restaurant they always wash their dishes before they will use them. They do it at the table, by pouring boiling water into their bowl or glass and rinsing their chop sticks, a spoon, a glass, a cup, a bowl and a plate, before pouring the ‘waste’ water into a communal large waste bowl in the middle of the table. They do it despite this variety of crockery arriving in sealed sterilised packaging.
Here is a very quick excerpt of the crockery washing:
However, the local café, 1 meter from the road, trucks chugging by, dust blown everywhere, plastic stools and chipped wood or cheap Formica tables, where a meal costs 12RMB ($US2), is considered differently. Meals are brought to your table ready to eat, in a bowl with a set of cheap wooden chopsticks. There is no standing on ceremony. No washing of bowls or chopsticks at the table.
No one knows why they clean their bowls in restaurants and it’s usually explained away as a ‘cleanliness thing’, but it’s actually lost in its origin.
Another nuance, not particular to Guangzhou, is that tomorrow doesn’t necessarily mean the day after today (at least not when it comes to a production schedule). It could be in 2 tomorrows, or 3, or maybe even 4.
My PU roller supplier was giving me the ‘tomorrow’ treatment. B, let’s call him, is in another town about 3 hours away. I took a trip to visit him, and after much pressure, B started a 12 day production build (already late and having caused an expensive one week extension to my trip).
My arrival encouraged him to start building stock. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay more than 2 days.
Back at my ‘base camp’ I’m dealing with all sorts of minor and not so minor issues – but slowly dragging it all into place. Most of the externally sourced components have arrived and been placed in my office/workspace. My assistant and I have done several trips to the market (a collection of a hundred hardware stores each specialising in something from screws, to paint, to light globes) to buy needed hardware parts. And all the critical in-house parts have been signed off and are underway.
Meanwhile, B delivers the first quantity of PU idle roller parts as planned. Good news. We are not on my original target, but we are making progress.
Two days later B’s second delivery promise is missed – it doesn’t turn up the next day either. A quick WeChat (Chinese SMS type service – a great App for your phone) discovers that B is suffering a labour shortage and he pulled my PU roller job. It’s come off the assembly line as quickly as it went on!
The latest promise is that half my quantity of PU drive rollers, which were due tomorrow (Wednesday 21st), are arriving next Monday 26th. That makes it impossible to complete any production before Tuesday 27th and it’s a 3-day scheduled build for all orders. At best the air freight company will start pick-ups on Thursday 29th.
I’ll get as much of the assembly work done as possible before Monday, but my hope of shipping the first lot on the Monday 26th March has been delayed – I’m hopeful it’s only a few days, but maybe it’s a week being conservative.
I just thought it fair, as we are closing in, that I give you the latest “heads-up”.
So, “Christmas” is delayed, but not for too much longer. By mid-April you should all be merrily experimenting with your new machines.
Meanwhile, we will be loading the first 2 or 3 of the detailed tutorial videos in the next 24-48 hours … stay tuned.
And below are some pictures to keep you going – more following later in the week.
Assembled Motor Housings
Your new Fulling Drum on final testing
Fulling Drum closed
Fulling Drum open