This July: the July of 2021, I complete ten years as a professional. From graduating as an engineer to becoming a professional automobile engineer, this journey as a car doctor has been an enriching one.
Working with machines is every mechanical engineer’s dream, and I have been fortunate to have lived it through. To give a peek into what I did during the last 10 years: I handled after-market quality issues in all Toyota & Lexus cars that are manufactured in India. So, this largely involved travelling to dealers to diagnose problems in customers’ cars (clinic), testing them and taking suitable countermeasures (hospital) through investigation (Read here to know more about my work).
This has been one of those rare jobs that helped me to couple my passion for travelling along with opportunities to learn new technology and science. From the paddy fields of Fatehgarh Sahib to the casting foundries of Aranmula, my work has taken me to the remotest places that I had not even imagined. With dealers and suppliers located across India, it was a unique opportunity to experience different cultures from across my country. Culture not just in terms of traditions, customs or cuisine, but also the culture that influences the habits of people using automobiles. Every state in India offers diversity in terms of their purpose and intent of using a car, I believe is unique to India.
After 10 years, it is now time for me to hang my boots…. Or the stethoscope, should I say! Although I will still continue to serve the same hospital, I will be taking over newer responsibilities: in car forensics! With a decade long experience spanning across functions in the organization and technical areas like plastics, paint, glass, fabric, electricals, rubber and metals, I will now be wearing the hat of a specialist in metallurgy. More on this, some other time!
For now, it’s time for this car doctor to hang down her stethoscope and take a chill pill. Let me find the hat of an investigator and try to get my hands on that magnifying glass!
So, we finished our exams in March (Read- Annual appraisal). There’s an ongoing worldwide pandemic. And our summer vacation began (A nationwide lockdown in India). We were not allowed to go out anywhere to spend the vacation. All we had to do was stay indoors for the entire period, until school (Read- workplace) re-opened. Until when? That was indefinite!
But yeah, typical of any Indian schools, they would not let their pupils enjoy their summer vacation just like that. So, load them with holiday assignments. (Yes, I worked from home. From Monday to Friday!)
But believe me when I say that even without leaving home, this was the BEST summer vacation ALL my life. As a matter of fact, we have visitors in our house almost on 360 out of 365 days in a year. And when our family of four decides to take a vacation, it is either one person short or we have a tag along. It has NEVER been “FOUR” of us. And this has been the story of every vacation and every summer for as long as I remember. On the contrary, we are glad we lived this NEW normal. Chilling at home with JUST family was the most luxurious vacation EVER. (How we chilled staying indoors, that’s for another story- Click here to read further).
Come May’20: It’s result time. Performance card didn’t look good (company & market condition is bleak, thanks to the global pandemic).
Come June’20: India unlock 1.0 begins. My summer vacation ends. And the school re-opens…. 08-June-20, I’m asked to report for work.
Typical scenes on a night before first day at school: Pull out the uniform from down under the shelf. Press them to perfection. (Yes, my workplace has a uniform). Find the school bag from the upper cabinet (yes, I carry a backpack to work). Pack the essential books and stationary (oh, they’re called laptop, electronic gadgets and their accessories). Set an alarm so that I catch the school bus on time, the next morning. (Yes, I travel in a company provided bus/ transport). I have barely slept that night. I’ve checked my phone every half an hour to know if the alarm was working fine.
On the morning of 08-Jun-20: Hell yeah! First day, after summer vacation. Gobbled down the breakfast in a jiffy, packed lunch (just to avoid mass gathering at the company canteen) and happy feet (wearing a training shoe for the first time since lockdown). Off I go!
Did I forget something? Remember, a handkerchief was always pinned up to your uniform bib? My mum came running after, this time with a facemask (Times change, man!) Dad pulled out his favorite friend from the garage. He has mostly continued his tradition of dropping me off on first day of school, this time too. Mom stood waving a bye from the portico. I waved back at her while riding away on the pillion seat…
Butterflies in the stomach. I’m going back to school after summer vacation. The only difference now, I go back to the same classroom. I’m not promoted. Again, this year too!
Toyota is a brand that the world recognizes for high quality standards. The Toyota Way of doing things is something that the rest of the world still fails to match. These 7+ years of my incredible journey with Toyota may have helped me grow personally and professionally, but here are four key things that I always associate my travel sojourns with.
4. Nemawashi: is the process of discussing problems and consensus building on potential solutions. This will allow to collect ideas of those involved in the event and get agreement on a way forward. I don’t mean that you need to get consensus from many people on your travel plan, but what I mean to say is- Discuss, Talk more to real people! Instead of depending on internet for information(Which are many a times paid articles for promotions), Talk to different people. While you are planning- talk to people who have been there before and take their experience based opinions; while you are on the road- talk to the localites and take their suggestions. You will eventually end up doing, eating, exploring something new and that’s unknown to most people. This way, you can create your own experience based stories.
3. Yokoten: This is something I have been hearing day-in and day-out. Toyota believes in documentation and standardisation of best practices so that these can be used as references by others. Yokoten means to copy/implement good practices from one process to all other similar processes. Also, I guess talking to other travelers let’s you pick and decide what’s good and bad for you during your travel. So I guess, that’s what I have been doing through documentation of my travel stories in my blogs.
2. KeshiGomi: It literally translates to ‘Eraser’ in Japanese. But what they use this for is quite relatable for a traveler. Japanese are strong followers of the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) in all things that they do. As an important part of their planning, they always make a ‘KeshiGomi sheet’ which is a simple ‘things-to-do list’. Keshi here refers to striking off the activity after it is completed for better visualization of activity status. So, how is this related to a traveler, you may ask??? So that’s where I call it a ‘Bucket List’. Its always good to have a bucket list of places you want to see and things you want to do. Whether it is accomplished or not comes second, but it is a great motivation to chase those things!
1. GenchiGembutsu: Literally translates to ‘Go & see’. One of the most important rules that the Japanese follow is to go to the place and understand the case by self rather than depending on facts narrated by others. The facts may be moderated or altered when it is passed from one person to another and is usually based on somebody else’s perception. So stop imagining about how a place could look and get your bums out of that couch, go travel and experience it all firsthand!
Do you have any such weird places from where you derive inspirations? Let me know through the comments below.
If you are new on my website, WELCOME! If you have been following me for sometime, you may be already aware that I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and soon after graduation, I was recruited by one of the LARGEST automobile manufacturers in the world! It is every mechanical engineer’s dream to be able to pursue a job in the same field that we studied. I was lucky to have JUST that.. My first job gave me an opportunity to work closely with cars with a sort of freedom that I had seen only in documentaries or on episodes of Top-Gear on BBC.
But, Since there are SO many things I involved in my roles and responsbilities in this position, that I often find it difficult to explain it in a ‘ley man’s’ language. The simplest I can call myself is a ‘Car Doctor’. In this post, I would like to share what I do (apart from writing travel articles) on a daily basis, in my first job at the car hospital.
<14-Sept-11> I’m on the mezanine floor….
A cap whose colour is forgotten behind the thick layer of oil & grease, a pair of knitted white gloves which now look like dark leather ones with the dirt, black heavy leather shoes with metal cover for the toes, newly introduced punk looking helmets which make me look like a cyclist, arm covers, wrist guards, goggles- the deep sea diving types…. These are my safety gears at work… and I’m all set for some action..!!!
I’m told that there’s some problem with the shoulder joints(the front door hinges) and he needs a physio- so I ripped both the hands(the front doors) apart.. His eyes (headlamps) were flickering.. And I checked for some electric signals that the brain sent across.. The MIL(Malfunction Indication Lamp) was glowing.. So I removed the eyes out of the skull. Even then, the MIL was on. Now, it was time to pull out the nose and dig deep into the nostrils (the hood and everything under). Then, the spine (the steering column) came out. It was then time to shave the head off (the dashboard/ Instrument panel covers) and I directly pulled out all the nerves (wiring harness) that I could catch in a grab. The signals continued… I removed the medulla (immobilizer ECU), cerebrum (theft warning ECU), cerebellum (injector drivers) and the current flow still continued.. I have removed out every possible source of these signals and now I know the source is “the Master Control- The engine ECU”. It is in my hand right now. Yes, the blinking has stopped!
My job doesn’t end there. In fact, it starts only now.. So, there I am.. Investigating which Neuron (circuit on the PCB) lead to this current outburst.. I broke open a few capacitors and relays. The resistors were already ripped apart.. and finally found the culprit… Unbelievable but true- a tiny ant had pee-d on one of the soldered circuits which lead to corrosion which in turn caused the malfunction of the brain. Hmm…
But my work continues… I will now send the part to the supplier(literally..!!) and follow up with him to identify the root cause and take countermeasure on priority..!!!
OKAY…!!! So, I’m Dr.Neurologist cum dermatologist here… I work with the brain(ECU) and nerves(all electrical and body parts)
But there is a cardiologist too.. My colleague-friend: He treats all heart related ailments (Engines).
And there’s an orthopaedician too- he treats the limbs (the chassis, suspension systems etc.)
We are the soldiers guarding the Siachen border- We have complete freedom to rip a person apart- part by part and win accolades for it.. Destruction gives us all a complete sense of accomplishment.
We are rarely idle. But, when we think we are, we put back everything and go for a long drive.
And then, we are back for yet another postmortem..!!
Ofcourse, I have MUCH better pictures of my patients going through even worse treatments.. But, I had to rely on this internet photo for confidential policies 🙂
Picture courtesy: Google images
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