My Love/Hate Relationship with Shipping Projects

My Love/Hate Relationship with Shipping Projects

I am going to try not to make this blog be about work too often. But, work is what is going on with me this week. I have a project shipping next week. This has caused me to be reminded of how I both love and hate shipping projects out at work.

For those of you who don’t know, I work as a Project Engineer. My company makes packaged compressor systems that are installed into power plants and oil refineries. My job includes customer communication, documentation creation and editing, and making sure that our final product meets the customer’s specifications. I generally work on two or three projects at a time. Each project lasts on average between a year and a year and a half. The end result of that is I ship a project a couple of times a year.

I love shipping projects. Shipping a project is the culmination of everything from the year or more since the customer issued a purchase order. All of the work, all of the frustration, all of the long hours, come together in a rush of emotion. Shipping the project means that you are done, at least for now. There will be other work. Documentation will need to be closed up, and starting the system will bring its own set of problems. Yet, there is something about seeing the system on the back of a truck, on its way to customer. It is a major milestone. The excitement is difficult to put into words. I love it.

At the same time, I hate shipping projects. It is frustrating. Somehow things just seem to go wrong at the last minute. Sometimes it is my fault. If my project needs 32 of a particular type of valve, and for some reason I miscount and only purchase 31, it will get caught when the shop reaches for the 32nd valve and find that it isn’t there. Sometimes it is the shop’s fault. One one of my previous projects, someone on the shop floor accidentally dropped one of the pressure gauges. Either way, it is still my issue to fix – to order the necessary part at the last minute. Sometimes the issue is easy to fix – the pressure gauge that they think they are missing was ordered on a separate purchase order and is sitting in Shipping and Receiving. Sometimes the issue is harder to fix – the lead time on the part is longer than the time left until shipping. Sometimes it requires bringing in a vendor to fix something that isn’t working right. Whatever the issue, there is always an urgency, often bordering on “we need this fixed yesterday.” Any delay in fixing an issue could result in a delivery delay. It is stressful.

So there you have it. I simultaneously love and hate shipping projects out. Once I get past shipment next week, the “love” feeling will probably win out. Unfortunately I have to get there first. For now, I have issues to solve.

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