Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recent "Kevin sighting" in Hammond Indiana

Many of you who may know me, perhaps know that it can be a difficult thing for me to do to sit completely still for too long at a time. Indeed, unless Zelda or a really good book is involved, I've got about a 2 hour time limit before I develop a twitch and have to get up and move around.

So, of course, I've taken an internship this summer that sits me in a cubicle to 8 straight hours a day! I've developed several ideas to combat having my rear (and my brain) fall asleep, so I can still be productive - my most successful being my watch. I set it the timer to repeat every hour, and when it goes off, I go out to the stairs and walk down to the parking garage then back up to my floor. Walking down then up 7 flights of stairs helps get some blood moving and I find I can focus better and do more than if I were to sit still and wait for my cerebrum to slowly find its off-switch!

Well yesterday, I finally had a chance to get out of the office and into "the field". I was glad to the chance to get outside, move around, and of course not wear a button-down shirt! Another intern and I drove out to Hammond Indiana (about 1 hour without traffic, 2 1/2 with), to the Unilever production plant. This is where the majority of their bar soaps are produced (Lever 2000, Dove, Caress etc.) and shipped out.

My job was to spend all day on the production floor with a tape measure, to verify and update the existing CAD drawings that are on file for the plant. It was fun walking around, dodging the other workers and the machinery forming and packaging all the soap. It was fascinating. I imagine I was like a little kid window shopping: most of the machinery with moving parts capable of separating stray fingers from bodies, are protected with Plexiglas boxes, and many times I could be found with my face pressed up against the glass watching each sequence in a line that spit out 5-6 bars of soap a second. It was so cool. I thought it was like watching a life-sized Rube Goldberg machine; all that was missing was the mouse running the wheel! My favorite was this wheel with four arms poking out, and each those arms had a little suction cup that would spin around the arm. the suction cup watch attached to a little air hose, and as it spun, it would pick up a box off of a pile, spin it around to a line where a machine would simultaneously unfold the box then push the waiting bar of soap into it. This little arm would spin at some 350 RPM plopping the boxes into place, and believe me, it was so entertaining that I caught myself watching it for some 6-7 minutes (before moving on to the next, equally cool piece of machinery!)

One interesting thing that occurred while I was there was a rather tragic incident involving a bunch of construction workers working on a Casino right next door to the plant. Luckily no one was seriously injured, but I'm guessing it was scary nonetheless. I only even know about this incident because as I walking from building to building at this production plant, I noticed as many as 5 or 6 news helicopters circling over my head, not 500 ft off the ground. I amended my original thought that they were there trying to film me (what?! Is a picture of me in and of it self not newsworthy?!) and tried to find out what was going on. Here's a news report of the incident:,2933,388561,00.html

Anyway, it was a fun project, and according to Naomi I smelled very good when I eventually got to come home!


Naomi Hanks said...

I'm glad you got to do some work finally and I really enjoyed your soapy smell when you got home! Maybe you'll get to go to a lotion plant sometime and then you'll smell even better! Who knows.

Brian Hanks said...

I want to know when they're going to send you to the M&M plant. THEN you'll smell REALLY good!

How many more times to you have to drive to Hammond? Was I right? Was travel part of the work day?