Factory assembly line :: Assembly

Factory assembly line

The small town I grew up in was surrounded by factories and existed for the sole reason of supporting the local paper mill, which employed most of our residents and brought people in from outside cities. In the surrounding areas there were numerous paper mills and medical supply factories. Everyone in my immediate family worked in a factory at one time or another; some still do.

Factory jobs—when available—are relatively stable, and provide good wages and benefits. Some are in clean environments and don’t require much manual labor. As far as jobs that don’t require higher education go, working in a factory can be quite a good option.

One summer during college, I took a position at a local factory working the night shift at a medical supply factory in upstate New York that produced medical equipment and tubing used in hospitals. The factor environment was sterile and clean, and there was air conditioning. The factory employed workers year-round and assembly line workers got to sit for some of their shift. The demographic was mostly women because of the working conditions, and for the time, the wages were very good. We were also paid extra for working night shifts.

Because of the night shift schedule, this workweek took some getting used to; the week started Sunday night at 11 p.m. and ended Thursday morning at 7 a.m. We had weekends, Friday & Saturday night off, but I couldn’t quickly switch back to a normal schedule for those two days. Toward the end of the summer, the factory had several mandatory overtime weekends, and though the money was great, the nonstop workweek was exhausting.

We were assigned a machine at the start of our shift and remained there for the rest of the night. Assembly line positions for each machine changed every 30 minutes. According to employees who had worked at the factory for many years, this 30-minute period was new. Some remembered sitting at one position for their entire eight-hour shift, and it was later shortened to changing positions every four hours, then one hour, and then to the 30-minute period during my time. Even though you’re still doing repetitive monotonous activity all night long, breaking it up into small sections was certainly helpful. There were bells that sounded for each shift, position change, and break time.

We were allowed two sanctioned breaks: A 10-minute break at 1 a.m. and a 20-minute lunch break at 4:30 a.m. These were both signaled by a bell, but you could not leave your position unless you were relieved by another worker.

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