How Many Men...

...you remember the schooldays maths questions about digging trenches?

Not in any way to denigrate my local authority for attacking the pothole problem, but I had to watch workmen on a narrow road last week -

The driver sat in the lorry on his mobile

The two men with the stop/go boards

The man with the clipboard

The man with the wheelbarrow

The man on the back of the lorry shovelling the asphalt 

The man with the vibrating plate

The man with the watering can

The man with the can of tar sealing the edge of the repair

Honestly, really, for a hole about 18 inches square and 3 deep.

Of course they were economising, because one of them must have been the driver of the van parked behind the lorry and someone must have cleared the loose bits out of the pothole.

Original Post

Sounds like there’s a man missing......who’s making the tea before the job starts, again half way through and that final brew to celebrate a job well done? 

Unless of course it’s the man with with the can of tar, as he’s the only one that’s been on the course and got the certificate to say he can handle hot liquids? 

A couple of years or so ago, there was a feature on TV about a couple of gents who'd designed a machine to fill in potholes. A vehicle was equipped with cutting equipment that cut out around the pothole to a predetermined shape, dependant on the pothole's size, and then would automatically select the corresponding prefabricated patch from its on-board store, which would drop in perfectly and be automatically bonded in place. The whole operation took seconds to complete, with a two-man crew, and the result was far more durable than the usual bodge carried out, with practically no traffic disruption. A real win-win, except...As usual, as far as I can tell, the idea's gone the way of so many other schemes that require an initial extra investment, yet offer considerable potential future benefits. Shame.

tonym posted:

A couple of years or so ago, there was a feature on TV about a couple of gents who'd designed a machine to fill in potholes. A vehicle was equipped with cutting equipment that cut out around the pothole to a predetermined shape, dependant on the pothole's size, and then would automatically select the corresponding prefabricated patch from its on-board store, which would drop in perfectly and be automatically bonded in place. The whole operation took seconds to complete, with a two-man crew, and the result was far more durable than the usual bodge carried out, with practically no traffic disruption. A real win-win, except...As usual, as far as I can tell, the idea's gone the way of so many other schemes that require an initial extra investment, yet offer considerable potential future benefits. Shame.

A terrible idea - taking work away from honest working men.  Good Grief!  It even sounds like women could do that job.  Whatever were they thinking of?  And if it's so quick, what's the guarantee that other holes will appear fast enough to provide sufficient work?

A couple of roads near me are particularly bad, with huge, deep potholes, in one case a small ravine right across the road (burst my tyre on that one last weekend).  They recently sent a mobile work crew round to a couple of the roads, but they only filled a select few of the holes, didn't bother with the rest, including one huge sunken bit.  Fortunately they did fill in the grand canyon one, but there are loads of other holes they didn't bother with.  But we are a rural area, and so don't really count.

notnaim man posted:

...you remember the schooldays maths questions about digging trenches?

I do indeed.  I used to think that the answer they gave to the question "if it takes one man to dig a hole in 5 hours, how long would it take 2 men" was wrong.  It would certainly take 5 hours, and possibly longer because they'd need more tea breaks, chat breaks, discussions about the best way to go about the job, what happened in the football last night etc.  Plus, of course, if the hole is not big enough to get two men in at once, then we could be talking 10 hours.  I was told that I over-thought things, but I claim it was just plain observation.

 

Reminds me of a few years ago travelling in Rajasthan ... we drove up to a toll booth on a highway... no automatic credit card controlled barriers here ... after a short wait queuing in the plaza shared with elephants, monkeys and all sorts of humanity.. it felt like the  Mos Eisley space port on the planet Tatooine.

1) a man beckoned us to the available booth

2) another armed man watched over us from across the other side of the barrier

3) a man came to the car asking for payment

4) he returned to a booth / office where as far as I could see there were two other men

5) one of the men in the booth/office signalled to another man to open the barrier and to the armed guard

We drove through and were on our way... although it took  6 men to take payment and open the gate... it did seem to run quite smoothly....

Reminds me of when I bought my vinyl copy of The Pixies' "Trompe Le Monde" from a record shop in Moscow. Having spotted this album in the rather sparse rack, I went to pick it out but a stern lady assistant left me in no doubt that this wasn't the correct procedure. I then had to join a queue, and when it was my turn, another lady followed me to the rack and lifted said LP, which she took back to her counter. I was then presented with a small piece of paper, which I had to take to a pair of ladies at the till. I duly presented my little docket, and paid (in US dollars. Well, one anyway, for which I received some small change). Another piece of paper was presented, which I then had to take back to the other lady. But wait, there's more...

I had to join another queue, LP in hand, to have it carefully placed in a paper bag, before I could leave the shop, presenting my receipt to another lady at the door before I could get out. Good LP though.

Yes, and maybe good to mention that the QA engineer of our local team will visit the Naim owners of the street to ask if the sound quality has been improved since the pothole was repaired. It seems that the vibrations caused by the pothole affect the Naim owner not having a Fraim. It is expected that the ones using Mana stands will hear the largest improvements.

Cbr600 posted:

Thqts the public sector for you

Well, then that's in HH territory. I've no doubt he can explain/justify the efficiency that the OP was fortunate enough to observe.

OTOH, they might have just been a bunch of "rip-off" Romainian contractors, bleeding the LA dry for all they are worth, operating as part of a cartel of Black Stuff men, based on phoney tendering.

Still, once we have a Hard Brexit in place and JR-M in charge, things will be much better..........no time for slacking, and TonyM's Magic Machine will have all them potholes filled in no time and no need for imported man-power...........

.........ah! what a lovely future !

When we visited the Soviet Union back in 1984, we noticed that there was a little old lady sitting in the corner of every room of every museum. If you got too close to the artwork, she would holler "Nyet!". In one case she scuttled over and smacked the hand  of a guy who was pointing at a painting from too close in. We called them "nyet ladies", and figured they was part of the SU's vaunted 100% employment.  On a later day, we had a get-together with "Soviet youth", who were junior Komsomol members. They asked us about differences we saw between the SU and the West. We brought up the nyet ladies. They seem a bit offended, but--they asked.

JRHardee posted:

When we visited the Soviet Union back in 1984, we noticed that there was a little old lady sitting in the corner of every room of every museum. If you got too close to the artwork, she would holler "Nyet!". In one case she scuttled over and smacked the hand  of a guy who was pointing at a painting from too close in. We called them "nyet ladies", and figured they was part of the SU's vaunted 100% employment.  On a later day, we had a get-together with "Soviet youth", who were junior Komsomol members. They asked us about differences we saw between the SU and the West. We brought up the nyet ladies. They seem a bit offended, but--they asked.

Not just in museums, also in lifts and in hotel corridors when I was there in 1979.

G

JRHardee posted:

When we visited the Soviet Union back in 1984, we noticed that there was a little old lady sitting in the corner of every room of every museum. If you got too close to the artwork, she would holler "Nyet!". In one case she scuttled over and smacked the hand  of a guy who was pointing at a painting from too close in. We called them "nyet ladies", and figured they was part of the SU's vaunted 100% employment.  On a later day, we had a get-together with "Soviet youth", who were junior Komsomol members. They asked us about differences we saw between the SU and the West. We brought up the nyet ladies. They seem a bit offended, but--they asked.

There were little old ladies who sat at the end of the corridors on each floor of the hotels we stopped in, who had kettles and would make you a hot drink at any time of the day. I was thinking they were also there for security, until on a couple of occasions, in the middle of the night, a pair of strangers wandered into my room, a man and a woman, I guess for the purposes of a bit of hows-your-father. Very disconcerting.

Cbr600 posted:

Thqts the public sector for you

You can be virtually certain that the highways maintenance is outsourced to the private sector. Assuming that the company is profit driven you’d expect it to undertake the work in as efficient a way as possible. I’m no highways maintenance expert and I suspect none of the rest of you are either. 

With the huge squeeze on local authority budgets it’s the ‘discretionary’ services such as highways that take the hammering, as statutory social care services must be protected. So it’s only going to get worse. Where we live the roads are so full of potholes at the edges that cyclists are forced to the centre of the road, making cycling more dangerous and increasing congestion. It’s a nightmare. 

So rather than snickering, effort might be better spent in lobbying for proper funding of public services. 

notnaim man posted:

...you remember the schooldays maths questions about digging trenches?

Not in any way to denigrate my local authority for attacking the pothole problem, but I had to watch workmen on a narrow road last week -

The driver sat in the lorry on his mobile

The two men with the stop/go boards

The man with the clipboard

The man with the wheelbarrow

The man on the back of the lorry shovelling the asphalt 

The man with the vibrating plate

The man with the watering can

The man with the can of tar sealing the edge of the repair

Honestly, really, for a hole about 18 inches square and 3 deep.

Of course they were economising, because one of them must have been the driver of the van parked behind the lorry and someone must have cleared the loose bits out of the pothole.

For how long did you watch them? 

How long did the job take in total?

Were all the men there for the whole job?

Had they been doing anything in the hole or was it just a pothole repair?

Was it a team moving between possibly bigger jobs?

 

Easy to criticise, and the criticism may be valid, but the full story needs to be known first.

Cbr600 posted:

Thqts the public sector for you

Probably not... probably some private contractor which is employed at great expense by the council having been forced to make all their road “guys” redundant, then ending up paying more for the job than when it was done by directly employed staff.

Now this is impressive efficiency...

(though I did also read there was some further subsidence a few days after the repair).

When I was about 12 or 13 years old I used to wonder how many men (or people) you needed for a transatlantic boat or ship.  At the time there were various single-handed trips going on, so obviously 1 person is the minimum.  But really, you need more than that for any degree of comfort and safety.  So maybe you need a navigator and a medic.  But if you have one or more passengers, you really need a chef.  And perhaps a captain.  And perhaps a radio operator.  Now you might think that you could manage a few more passengers - so you need a purser, possibly a cook, a steward and really you need an engineer and/or carpenter.  So you need more people working in the galley - cook's assistant, someone to wash up etc.  But really you need to be able to stand watches, so 2 or 3 navigators, radio operators, lookouts, people to swab the decks, chief engineer and engineering crew. Someone to stand in for the captain when he/she is asleep. So many people - you need more in the galley, etc.  Pretty soon you have quite a large complement, and of course a larger boat, which needs more crew to run it, and so more crew to support them.  And so it goes.

Sorry, I have been doing other things so was not ignoring some of the comments or questions.

The LA only has a small direct labour complement, the team I observed were contractors. I posted part out of frustration, part in humour. The road was just two lane wides, a rural route. The lorry and van were parked on the good/undamaged side of the road alongside the pothole, so I was there for 15/20 minutes. The thoughts that go for logic in my head suggest that if the lorry and van had been parked on the other side of the road before and after the workmen, they might have been safe and the stop/go men could have let some of the traffic by. Yes, all the men were there for the whole period and yes as I drove on the evidence suggests they had completed another ten or so hole fills along the next mile of road. Because I recognise the company name, I am reasonably satisfied they are not Romanian and that they undertake pothole repair.

No, I am not an expert, but my boss many years ago told me never to be one because the word translates to a has been (ex) under pressure ('s'pert).

I remember the days of demarcation disputes (the song quotes - how about the TV series The Rag Trade - "everybody out!"), so this finely honed specific task played out before me seemed slightly comic.

I would welcome suggestions about lobbying for reasonable spending, suffering a damaged wheel and tyre, involving the garage, insurance company, The AA, local authority and MP. How much more can I do?

tonym posted:

Reminds me of when I bought my vinyl copy of The Pixies' "Trompe Le Monde" from a record shop in Moscow. Having spotted this album in the rather sparse rack, I went to pick it out but a stern lady assistant left me in no doubt that this wasn't the correct procedure. I then had to join a queue, and when it was my turn, another lady followed me to the rack and lifted said LP, which she took back to her counter. I was then presented with a small piece of paper, which I had to take to a pair of ladies at the till. I duly presented my little docket, and paid (in US dollars. Well, one anyway, for which I received some small change). Another piece of paper was presented, which I then had to take back to the other lady. But wait, there's more...

I had to join another queue, LP in hand, to have it carefully placed in a paper bag, before I could leave the shop, presenting my receipt to another lady at the door before I could get out. Good LP though.

Nice story Tony.

Back in the 1980s I was in the old Soviet Union, and buying anything (when there was anything to actually buy) was a huge headache.

Soap, for example, was sold by weight. So you had to tell a shop assistant that you wanted to buy soap. They would fetch someone who would then cut the required amount of soap off a block. This would then be weighed. Once it was weighed, you were given a chit which you had to take to a counter (this inevitably involved queuing), and you would pay. Then you would be given another chit, and you would queue yet again to pick up your (misshapen) bar of soap, wrapped in brown paper.

When shoes came in, they were dumped on a counter or a big box. If you liked a particular shoe and it was your size, you had to hunt around for its mate. Often it wasn't there. And if you did find it, there was the purchase system to negotiate. Often if you were a non-Soviet, you'd get a lot of questions about why you had roubles and why you weren't at a Beryozka (state-owned tourist shops that sold goods - often not available to ordinary Soviet citizens - for foreign currency).

Of course you could go to a Beryozka but hell, where's the fun in that?

I remember being in the famous GUM department store just by Red Square once. This store was spectacular and was one of the very few in the USSR which actually had stuff to buy in it. Consequently there were queues everywhere (especially given the agonisingly slow purchase process). That wasn't a problem - Russians seem to be good (almost as good as the British) at queuing , and there were never any problems.

Except for the day when a large consignment of Polish-made bras came in. My girlfriend of the time, Ludmilla, used to say that the bane of Soviet women's lives was the lack of decent, comfortable underwear. Soviet-made bras were apparently particularly uncomfortable - always ill fitting, badly sized and with straps and bands that snapped or wires that would stab you. Polish bustenhalters were not great either, but better than the Russian ones.

On this particular day, a large delivery of the Polish ones came in. They were just dumped on a big table and there was a mad scramble for them. It degenerated into quite a fray - I'd never seen so many women scrapping so violently before.

Ludmilla managed to grab one - it didn't matter that it wasn't her size, she could swap it for one that was, or sell it on the black market (the black market on the USSR in the 1980s was enormous).

Yep, shopping in the USSR was certainly an experience.

I remember going to the Melodiya record shops (all state-owned of course) and having similar experiences to you, although I only bought classical and Uzbek and Kazakh records. Surprisingly, the records were of very good quality, and I still enjoy the LPs I bought out there more than 30 years later.

JRHardee posted:

When we visited the Soviet Union back in 1984, we noticed that there was a little old lady sitting in the corner of every room of every museum. If you got too close to the artwork, she would holler "Nyet!". In one case she scuttled over and smacked the hand  of a guy who was pointing at a painting from too close in. We called them "nyet ladies", and figured they was part of the SU's vaunted 100% employment.  On a later day, we had a get-together with "Soviet youth", who were junior Komsomol members. They asked us about differences we saw between the SU and the West. We brought up the nyet ladies. They seem a bit offended, but--they asked.

Did they still have the ladies who sat at the bottom of every escalator in the Metro stations?

And shopping in the Beryozka had added benefits  for the avid coin collector, the joy of receiving (having paid in £ or $) your change in a random selection of coinage from just about every country on the planet!

notnaim man posted:

No, I am not an expert, but my boss many years ago told me never to be one because the word translates to a has been (ex) under pressure ('s'pert).

Just to help out here, an ‘ex’ is a has-been, and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure!

Beachcomber posted:
tonym posted:

A couple of years or so ago, there was a feature on TV about a couple of gents who'd designed a machine to fill in potholes. A vehicle was equipped with cutting equipment that cut out around the pothole to a predetermined shape, dependant on the pothole's size, and then would automatically select the corresponding prefabricated patch from its on-board store, which would drop in perfectly and be automatically bonded in place. The whole operation took seconds to complete, with a two-man crew, and the result was far more durable than the usual bodge carried out, with practically no traffic disruption. A real win-win, except...As usual, as far as I can tell, the idea's gone the way of so many other schemes that require an initial extra investment, yet offer considerable potential future benefits. Shame.

A terrible idea - taking work away from honest working men. 

They can work in the company that produces the machines that fill in the potholes automatically and make a lot of money. They buy more cars and the number of holes increase. Many machines go to the market and they make more money.

 The machines become expensive due to high labor costs. To maintain market share the Company decide to use Chinese parts and assemble locally, some workers loose their jobs.

Prices continue increasing, company decide to design locally and manufacture in China, workers move to  replacing units and customer service to make money.

Company decides to add new features (to acquire new customers) and  continually make changes to firmware, machines begin to fail more and more workers go to customer service...

Customers begin to trust again in the classical solutions?

More realistically, the road repair workers having been made redundant and find other jobs if they have a ‘work ethic’ or soon become good-for-nothing layabouts and sink into the underworld and crime. Some of the automatic repairs fail, and the machines replace them with bigger patches while repairing new potholes. The rate of failure increases rapidly until the machines can’t keep up. The problem is that the machines were only designed to cut out and fit a patch, and did nothing to fix the void beneath that had been caused by water penetration through the original pothole, leaving the patch and often a surrounding area not properly supported. As the roads sink into in a worse state, than ever they abandon the machines and set about employing teams of people to manually repair the roads - but find no-one wants to work for the measly pay offerered, either having found better jobs or making more out of drug trafficking etc, so they seek to recruit from overseas - but Brexit has happened and no-one from the EU will come and work in Britain, so they seek workers from further afield such as traditional sources like India and China. But workers there are hard to tempt because their economies have boomed as a result of........

My understanding is that when a Gov Body (LA, Network Rail, Highway Authority or whatever) decides to "outsource", the would-be redundant workforce is TUPED into the first successful contractor's organisation, complete with pre-existing terms and benefits including "Golden Pensions" et al.

The new contractor then has to "persuade" this new intake to accept new terms and conditions, more in line with its own pre-existing workforce. Very few are made redundant straight away.

Nonetheless, it is largely the original Gov workforce that is leaning on shovels with a new contractor's name on the back of his hi-viz.

hungryhalibut posted:
Cbr600 posted:

Thqts the public sector for you

You can be virtually certain that the highways maintenance is outsourced to the private sector. Assuming that the company is profit driven you’d expect it to undertake the work in as efficient a way as possible. I’m no highways maintenance expert and I suspect none of the rest of you are either. 

With the huge squeeze on local authority budgets it’s the ‘discretionary’ services such as highways that take the hammering, as statutory social care services must be protected. So it’s only going to get worse. Where we live the roads are so full of potholes at the edges that cyclists are forced to the centre of the road, making cycling more dangerous and increasing congestion. It’s a nightmare. 

So rather than snickering,effort might be better spent in lobbying for proper funding of public services. 

I had hoped you were going to say that effort might be better spent in finding more efficient ways of delivering public services.

hungryhalibut posted:

It’s magical thinking to imagine that efficiency can fix things. While there are always tweaks to be made to processes, it’s underfunding that is the real issue.

I disagree. A lot more effort needs to be put into efficiency. Both in our Public works and many of our private enterprises.

Private enterprises don't have much choice if they are to survive, their output has to deliver a better product or more for the same price. It's all too easy for Public Services to lobby for more funding. This needs to be more ruthlessly explored before lobbying for more funding.

If you’d worked in local government you’d know that there has been a huge focus on efficiency improvements for many years. There simply isn’t the capacity to make sufficient further efficiency savings to offset service cuts. It’s a case of more money or worse services; it really is as simple as that. 

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×