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Topic: Job related events - Part 1


I was hired at Universal Instruments in August of 1980, as a Field Service Engineer. After a week of orientation, I was turned loose to go on service calls. The first place I was dispatched to was Heathkit in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to work on a very old sequencer. When I worked at a TV factory in Tennessee, I maintained and programmed a sequencer just like the one at Heathkit. It used a tractor headlight as a light source to read punched tape. I was very familiar with that vintage of sequencer. We went to lunch and the maintenance department supervisor sat down across from me. He asked me how long had I been with Universal, and I looked at my watch to see what the date was. He about had a heart attack, thinking I had only been with Universal a few hours. That afternoon I was able to troubleshoot the system and get it running. The problem was in a module that they had added to the sequencer.

A sequencer is a machine that drops parts onto a moving conveyor in a certain order and are then re-taped. The result is fed into an insertion machine that puts the parts into a printed circuit board.

Tom Everett and the Interview

In 1976, I had been working at Warwick Electronics in Reynosa, Mexico, almost one year, when the handwriting was on the wall once again. We were living across the border in McAllen, Texas. The handwriting was familiar as Warwick had closed the factory in Tennessee where I had worked for five years. I had heard by the grapevine that Dick Davila, who was the plant manager of the factory in Tennessee, was looking for an automation technician at Electra in Indiana. After talking with Dick, I flew to Indianapolis for an interview with Tom Everett. Tom was in charge of the Manufacturing Engineering group. During the interview, Tom got around to that age-old question, "What do you want to be five years from now?" I looked him straight in the eye, and said,"Employed." He thought for a couple of seconds, and busted out laughing. He said,"I wished I had thought of that, because, if you're still employed in five years, that means you've been doing your job." I got the job.


Th Floor Cleaning Guy

It was November. I had been at Harman/Becker for a few years, working as a Manufacturing Engineering Technician in the AME Lab. One morning, one of the engineers, Mike Adams, commented that he thought he smelled cigarette smoke in the lab. His theory was that someone on second shift was sneaking in there at night to smoke. We decided to set up a sensor across the doorway and link it to an Opto controller. The controller was programmed to record time and date of any beam interruptions. We started the system running just before quitting time on Friday afternoon. When we came back to work Monday morning and checked the controller logs, and intrusion was recorded around 6 AM Sunday morning. That was a mystery as no one was supposed to be in there at that time. We acquired a camera that could be interfaced to a PC, which came with crude surveillance software, but it worked just fine. I put the camera in a box next to the PC, and set it up to look through a small hole in the box and record any movement. That was on a Friday afternoon. When I went back to work Monday morning, the box was opened and the PC had been shut down. I started up the PC, and looked for the video surveillance files; they had been deleted from the hard drive. Luckily, the files were on the D drive. I knew that the files weren't really deleted, but they could be corrupted if something was written to that hard drive. I made sure that that hard drive was not written to. I was able to go to the Internet, and download an un-delete utility to recover the deleted files. After little bit of effort, we were able to get a picture from the video of someone looking right into the camera. We printed the picture, and took it to the person in charge of security. When we showed him the picture, he commented that we had done everything just right, including not even telling him. The 3rd shift guard identified the person in the picture as the person that came in early Sunday mornings to clean the floors in the factory. Problem was, the Lab was not on his list. He was using his key to get into the Lab and get on a PC to surf the Internet, or so he claimed. The surveillance video showed him coming in and looking at the top of Brian's desk, as if he were looking for something. The person in charge of security called the owner of the floor cleaning service that the floor guy worked for, and requested that that person not be allowed to work at Harman/Becker. The floor guy had worked for the floor cleaning service for seven years; the fact that he had tampered with a company PC by deleting files cost him his job. He picked the wrong Lab to go surfing in. That was the start of my secondary job at Harman/Becker, setting up surveillance.


Sticky-fingered Guard

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During the month of May one year, the cafeteria manager at Harman/Becker suspected money was being stolen from the vending machines. One of the contracted security technicians set up a tiny camera about half-inch square in the venetian blinds of the cafeteria manager's office. The camera's field of view included all of the vending machines. I set up the surveillance software to record any movement at certain times, and to mask out plant leaf movement, which was caused by the air conditioning turning on. The leaf movement was enough to trigger the software into recording. The system was set up to run over Memorial Day weekend. The resulting videos included anyone going through that area, making the video files rather large. The video files are in a proprietary format that cannot be edited; however, the software does have an export function that generates AVI files. I was able to take those files home and edit them on my PC, using Ulead VideoStudio. I recorded the edited file to a couple of DVD-R's, and presented them to Human Resources personnel, who couldn't believe what they were watching. There were 33 recorded events of the night shift guard unlocking the vending machines and taking the cash. He had somehow figured out where the key was, even though it was well hidden. To avoid prosecution, he agreed to pay the money back. Whether he did or not is unknown. And needless to say, he lost his job as a guard.

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