August 2020 (3 years ago)

Interning at Crown Equipment Corporation

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6 min read (1082 words)
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Projects

I did a few projects while I was here. One of them was the QuickPick Remote, a way for lift truck workers to move alongside their truck, pick items off the shelves, all while controlling the truck with a remote and having it move forward. For privacy reasons, I’m only including the finished render that approximates it rather than pictures of the internals and casing.

However, the quality of 3D Printing for casings (this was even back in 2020) surprised me a lot. They were running laser sintered printers by HP, and it seemed like it was already commercially viable.

QuickPick Remote
QuickPick Remote

CAD with the remote
CAD with the remote

I did a little bit of CAD modeling here, mainly around surfacing a silicone sock to grip and hold the remote and another metal piece that was mounted on a lift truck with a team working out of New Zealand, which was surprising. I put together a presentation in KeyShot to visualize how the remote fits together as well. KeyShot is a very user friendly software that makes applying materials and lighting easy, producing high quality renders in little time. I became aware of this 3D modeling tool called a SpaceMouse, which as also very cool.

HP Printer
HP Printer

I also did a comparison of different lift trucks by putting together many different spec sheets in Excel. Though at the presentation with my boss and the director, what was most interesting to them was the pictures of other trucks rather than the numbers themselves.

Besides that, I ran a few errands around to different plants and things in the area. There’s a Honda plant around 20 minutes drive away from New Bremen. There was also this paint/label shop that was 30 minutes drive away as well. I found it to be quite a hazardous working environment compared to white collar work: the air smelled of paint, there were big bays for trucks, and it was generally messy inside. The two-tiered system in engineering between those who manufacture and those who manage was not something I particularly enjoyed as well, which was a repeated theme I saw at BMW. Hence I switched to Computer Science and now write about engineering rather than doing it.

Experience

Regionality

When I look back to the summer of 2020 in rural Ohio, I’m struck by how real, significant work comes not from being in the presence of well-known coastal cities but rather hard working people of any political disposition working toward making something significant. Although the commute to work lined with TRUMP 2020 flags didn’t culturally suit me, I never felt any outright hostility when I was out there.

It’s more like they just stare at you and don’t speak to you because you’re different, which happens in both the South and Northeast at times.

The more I travel the more I believe that there aren’t significant differences between people in the United States, yet the division is so pronounced when I talk to people about the “other.” I think about how there’s a large portion of people in middle America who are desperately looking for an alternative to a college education that might teach lots about how to think but not the hands-on doing.

Lift Trucks

I also end up seeing lift trucks everywhere now. I go to stores and I see lift trucks everywhere now. Crown lifts are everywhere at Costco. For some reason, the Costco north of Boston uses Raymond rather than Crown. Go to Lidl or BMW and I see Jungheinrich. One of the managers at the company explained something to me about startups: they often come and suggest some sort of partnership or revenue sharing, but they don’t actually have any source of revenue nor does the large company need that partnership when they could do things in-house. Because I read a lot of Paul Graham essays at the time, I wondered if lift trucks would be “disrupted” as per Silicon Valley. I looked at storage robots such as Autostore. Now that I’m older and slightly wiser, I realize that isn’t likely. There isn’t any quick replacement for lift trucks in warehouses.

Also something of note: Crown forklifts are black on the bottom because it keeps them ‘grounded.’ How might black shoes and black pants ‘ground’ a person’s outfit? Industrial design brings in small details like this.

Forklift with a black bottom
Forklift with a black bottom

Ohio

Spent some time around Columbus. Walked around this old neighborhood called German Village, a foreshadowing of what was to come. I really liked it. It’s a shame it used to be so run down, and then people realized too late we should keep these old places and refurbish them instead of destroying them to build highways.

House in German Village
House in German Village

The Midwest and Northeast strike me as having developed in an older time. You see it in the Dayton skyline: stone buildings but not much newer buids of glass like in Atlanta. There was a two-level bridge in Cincinnati, which you also see in the northeast.

Reflections

Also something that was mentioned to me: a lot of parents seem to still go to parties as if they were in high school. I saw an instance of this once in Atlanta. Is there something up with that generation and how they raised their children?

The importance of trends should not be understated: the growth of Amazon, Walmart, and other systems also allowed Crown to grow.

Looking back, if I had the same interests I did today regarding food, I would’ve been more curious about how farming worked. I literally saw corn grow over the summer. How did that happen? What sort of feeds and fertilizers did they use? I won’t be hard on myself because at that age, I was just getting used to living alone and barely learning to cook.

Although it was a good, well-paying, white-collar job, I felt like that if you’re not from that area, you might never fit in due to the town being so small and being family owned.

I wasn’t wholly mature coming out of high school. I wanted to get to get to the coastal cities and “well-known” places as fast as possible. I had trouble relating to people and wanted to explore Europe rather than understand what was around me. I had communication problems. Reflecting back on my life in high school, I don’t know how such a thing would’ve been fixable. Maturity of children often depends on the parents and milieu.

I’m thankful to the people I met during my time there. I think the right attitude to have is to be curious and understanding about whatever circumstance in life you find yourself in, to fully experience and understand what things are.