Maggie Benson’s Journey: An ‘Engaging’ Conversation

Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about fictional character Maggie Benson and her company to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly.

Andy and Sue were going to Mexico in two weeks to audit the factory that Maggie and John were looking to buy. They had secured their passports and were practicing their Spanish. They had agreed to only speak Spanish to each other for the past few weeks.

One night before their trip, Andy’s dad approached him and handed Andy an envelope.

“Son, Mom and I haven’t really done too much since high school as far as offering to help you pay for college or anything else,” he said. “Even without that help, you have accomplished a great deal and we are proud of you. I mentioned before that your girlfriend is one in a million, so Mom and I want to give you this to help pay for an engagement ring.”

Andy was a little choked up as he opened the envelope from his father and saw that it contained $2,000. Andy’s family was not the hugging type, but he immediately gave his dad a big bear hug. If an observer were to look closely, they might see tears in each man’s eyes.

The timing was excellent as Andy planned to “pop the question” to Sue before their trip to Mexico. With the $2,000 he had already saved, he now had $4,000. As Chuck Tower was now like a big brother to him, Andy decided to ask him where he might find a good engagement ring.

“You know, Andy, I got Tanya’s ring and John got Maggie’s ring from Professor Coleman’s father-in-law,” Chuck said when Andy chatted with him later at work. “He deals in gems and might be able to get a good deal for you.”

“Yikes! Chuck, I could never ask Professor Coleman for a favor for something like that,” Andy said, sheepishly.

“Let’s ask Maggie and see what she says,” Chuck responded.

“Even that’s scary,” Andy said. “Maggie is our boss.”

“But she’s our friend too,” Chuck added as they walked together to find her.

“What can I do for our two greatest superstars?” Maggie said with a warm chuckle as Andy and Chuck approached her.

“Andy needs to get an engagement ring for Sue, and he is afraid to ask for Professor Coleman’s help,” Chuck replied.

Lasky_Nov22_Fig1_cap.jpg“Andy, it’s about time,” Maggie said, teasingly. “Someone told me there was a pool started on when you would ask Sue to marry you. Professor Coleman is very kind and welcoming. I’m sure she would be thrilled to help you.”

Maggie offered to email Professor Patty Coleman and ask if she would help Andy. Of course, Patty agreed to help, but she wanted to meet Andy first, so he made an appointment and was off to Ivy University.

Andy had never been so nervous, with the possible exception of when he and Sue talked to her parents. Sue and Andy had discussed getting engaged but asking her parents for “permission” was scary. However, they were very surprisingly supportive. Andy was pleasantly surprised as he still thought Sue outclassed him and he felt extremely fortunate that she would be his fiancée.

Andy walked in the hallowed halls of Ivy U’s engineering school and up the stairs to Professor Coleman’s office. “So, you are the young lad who needs an engagement ring for Sue March,” Patty teased as Andy entered her office.

Two days later…

Patty has called her her father-in-law, Dan, who is in Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world.

“Hey, Dad, I have a deserving student who needs an engagement ring. Do you have anything?” Patty asked.

“Perfect timing. I just got a beautiful sapphire ring with diamonds on the side. How much money does this young lad have?” he answered.

As soon as Patty said $4,000, she knew it was a mistake to mention the amount of money.

“What a coincidence, it cost me $3,500, so that gives me a little profit,” Dan responded.

“Dad, you’ve done this before. I’ll bet it cost a lot more,” Patty lectured.

“Well, okay, maybe a little more…” Dan sheepishly replied.  “Dad…” Patty admonished.

“Okay, it was a lot more, but Patty, I just turned 70 years old, and it makes me feel good to help a deserving young couple,” Dan confessed.

They chatted a bit more, but when Patty saw a photo of the ring, she almost gasped. Clearly that ring was worth multiple times more than $4,000. Well, at least there will be one happy young couple, she thought.

A few days later, Patty asked Andy to make a return visit to her office…

“Well, here is one my father-in-law found for $4,000. What do you think?” Patty said as she showed a picture of the ring to Andy.

It could not be said that Andy knew much about gems and engagement rings in general. However, even he knew that this was no $4,000 ring.

“Professor Coleman, that sure looks like a much more expensive ring!” Andy exclaimed, as Patty replied, “Well, my father-in-law often gets good deals. So do you want it?”

“Sure, wow!” Andy gushed. The ring had arrived, with expedited shipping, to Andy’s house in three days.

Since Sue and Andy had discussed the engagement, Sue had only one request: to have an engagement party with both sets of parents invited. At this party the ring would be unveiled. The party was scheduled and during the event, the ring was revealed to everyone’s astonishment. Both sets of parents applauded when Andy slipped it on Sue’s finger. In a few more moments, both mothers were crying.

A few days later on a flight to the electronics circuit board assembly factory in Mexico…

Figure 2: Sue and Andy on the plane to Mexico discussing their plans for the audit of the factory.

“Hey, Romeo, let’s see if we can come up with the five most important things we should look for in our evaluation of the company,” Sue suggested.

“Well, as we have discussed many times, assembly line uptime is arguably the most important single metric. So, that will be No. 1,” Andy said.

“Agreed,” Sue said. “How about whether they collect defect data and plot it in a Pareto Chart and have a continuous improvement plan (CIP) to address the defects?”

“That’s a great No. 2,” Andy responded. “What about line balancing for No. 3?”

“I’ll buy that if you go with training and staff competence as No. 4,” Sue teased.

“Hmmm, so maybe we should develop a quiz in Spanish?” Andy said.

“I’ll take some of the quiz questions that we had when Maggie and John took over and translate them into Spanish,” Sue said.

“So, what about No. 5?” Andy asked and Sue replied, “How about the quality of the solder paste? Remember all the issues we had with poor response-to-pause and other performance issues?”

Lasky_Nov22_Fig2_cap.jpg“Let’s agree, too, that the general appearance and quality of the facility and the equipment is important,” Andy added.

“Okay, then that’s No. 6,” Sue suggested.

“Since you are writing out the questions for the staff, I will write down these six areas to investigate when we get there,” Andy said.

It was quiet for a while as they both attended to their agreed upon assignments. Sue was always better at math than Andy in the many classes they took, so he had worked hard to find some math problem he could stump her with. Finally, he had a candidate.

“Sue, how would you calculate 71000 with only a simple scientific calculator?” Andy asked with a little teasing in his voice.

Sue took out her phone, opened the calculator function, entered 71000,and ended up with an “Error” on the screen.

“Wait, why doesn’t it give an answer? Oh, I think I know—the answer is too large,” Sue said.

“So, what do you do then to get the answer?” Andy asked. Sue thought for quite a while (she hated being bested by Andy in math).

“I’m not sure,” she responded.

Want to know the answer? Stay tuned for next month’s column.

This column originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.

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2022

Maggie Benson’s Journey: An ‘Engaging’ Conversation

11-30-2022

Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this month's column, Andy and Sue prepare to take two journeys—one to Mexico to tour a facility that Maggie is interested in buying, and one of a more personal nature that will mean a more permanent union between them both. It's an exciting time in the lives of these two young professionals.

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Maggie Benson’s Journey: Melancholy Endings and Exciting Beginnings

10-18-2022

Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this installment, Maggie's employees Andy and Sue finish teaching their pre-calculus class, then get "called into" Maggie's office where Professor Patty Coleman and others are waiting. What they learn truly comes as a shock and something they never expected.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Solving for 'X'

10-05-2022

Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this episode, Maggie's employees Andy and Sue continue to quiz one another as they prep to teach the company's SMT 101 workshop. Their discussions include some of the basic math and assembly concepts that are needed in today's shops.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Teaching About Solder Paste

08-30-2022

Indium Corporation's Ron Lasky continues this series columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate the continuous improvement in SMT assembly. In this installment, Maggie and her fiance John note the positive changes at Ivy-Benson Electronics and attribute the change to two employees who really stepped up to the challenge of learning.

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Maggie Benson’s Journey: Breaking Down the Math

07-27-2022

Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this column, Ivy Benson employees Andy and Sue continue to quiz one on another on algebraic equations that they need to know in PCB assembly. While Andy feels outwitted by Sue, his own knowledge is improving. Will they make a good team?

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Learning the Basics

06-27-2022

Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this column, Ivy Benson employees Andy and Sue continue to test each other on the basics of surface mount technology as they prepare for certification. Lasky points out there are no sources of material to help a technician or engineer new to electronic assembly to learn the basics.

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Maggie Benson’s Journey: Take Your Assembly Skills to the Next Level

06-01-2022

Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this month's column, two of Ivy Benson's young employees respond to Maggie's challenge to improve their assembly knowledge and skills. Does it have the desired effect?

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Report and Verify

04-27-2022

Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Dr. Ronald C. Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this episode, Maggie and John meet with her grandfather, who sold the company to Maggie, to talk about how it's going.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: A Tale of Two Perspectives

03-16-2022

Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. In this installment, the new owners have improved the facility and improved morale, but previous owner Ned Price isn't sold on the changes, and has a lot to say about it.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: A Buying Strategy Primer

03-02-2022

Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. The last column concluded with these questions: Will BE buy Ivy Electronics? What will the price be? What is in the action plan? What is 5S and the 8 Mudas?

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2021

Maggie Benson's Journey: The Power of Pareto

12-15-2021

In this fictional account of Maggie Benson, Indium Corporation's Ronald C. Lasky explores continuous improvement themes. This month, after reviewing the company's success with improving uptime, he introduces the idea of a Pareto chart which shows the yield fallout by failure mode types.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Taking a Team Approach

11-24-2021

Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly. Maggie was working in her office, deep in concentration, when she was startled by the phone ringing. It was her mentor, Professor Patty Coleman from Ivy University. Maggie reached to answer the phone. “Hi Prof…,” Maggie started, “Patty.” “Well, Maggie, we still need a little work on you calling me Patty,” Patty said, chuckling. “I am calling to thank you again for taking my family to Mount Ascutney to view the Milky Way. Rob, our boys, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t consider that the new moon might be the best time for viewing. It was also neat to see Venus. I was unaware that Venus is in the Western sky after sundown because it is closer to the sun than the earth.”

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Maggie Benson's Journey: The Law of Exponential Profits

10-27-2021

Ronald Lasky continues his series on continuous improvement through this series with fictional character Maggie Benson. Here, he explains that with increased productivity, each unit produced is cheaper to make and you have more of them, so profits increase exponentially.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Making Progress on Uptime

09-15-2021

As the story continues, Maggie meets with Professor Patty Coleman, and finds something new to chat about. Back at Benson Electronics, the team is meeting about uptime on the line. What's new there?

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Maggie Benson's Journey: What is Your Uptime?

08-11-2021

In this fictional account meant to discuss continuous improvement methods, character Maggie Benson reviews the urgency of improving uptime on the lines with one of her employees.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: SMT Process Optimization

07-12-2021

In this fictional account, Maggie Benson's time on the golf course with her professor leads to important improvements at the factory.

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Maggie Benson's Journey: Part 2—Making the Announcement

06-03-2021

In Part 2 of Dr. Ronald Lasky's fictional account of Maggie Benson, Benson Electronics learns of the change in ownership, while Maggie and John evaluate making some changes.

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Maggie Benson’s Journey: Setting the Stage for Continuous Improvement

05-05-2021

Indium Corporation’s Ronald C. Lasky has launched this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly.)

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