Saturday, September 18, 2004

Helping out at the Cannery

Earlier this week I went to help out at the Cannery in Denver.
There were a lot of people there and we got a lot done. In about 2 hours we canned over 100 cases of salsa.
I was a little apprehensive about going since I have heard of lots of horror stories of only a few people showing up and it taking 5-6 hours to complete the assignment. This time we had lots of people, too many really as some people ended up waiting for something to do from time to time.
The Cannery guys did a great job getting us basically organized and they did a great job at the canning station, they had one person putting jars on the conveyor belt, another filling them from a hose, a person to top off under-filled jars, another to push the jars into two lines where the lidding group was, about 8 people putting lids on the jars as fast as possible, there were also a couple of people getting more lids and jars and one running the cookers. And one person putting date stamps on the labels for the jars and cases.

I found that the rest of the operation was less organized, by creating impromptu little systems things sped up immensely. Just remembering what Henry Ford did with a similar situation make a big difference. Opening the cans of tomato paste and diced tomatoes went a lot faster once we had one person pull the cans off the pallets to the canning station, another to open the cans, another to dump the cans in the pots and return the cans to the canning station upside down so the can opener could pop off the bottoms, so the cans could be crushed by the person who pulled the cans off the pallets and placed in the trash. Took three people and it went a lot faster then when one person was doing it all. For the boxes where the jars of salsa ended up we started with a bunch of people folding boxes and taping them and putting in the dividers by hand. I again found that be borrowing some of Henry Ford's wisdom worked great, four of us divided into box folder, taper, divider inserter and stacker got 100 boxes done in less then 10 minutes or about 10 times as many boxes as we had done before we got organized.

The Cannery is a noisy, messy job and I am proud of the people who are called to do it, My wife's parents are running one, too. It is challenging, you end up with a lot of people who have never done it before. And trying to get things happening with minimal downtime is hard.

It's funny, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a reputation for being organized. If this is organized, I pity the other guys who are disorganized, because at times this looked like the Keystone cops where more organized then we were.

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