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Monday, June 27, 2011

Marvels of Technology

When I got to work today, we had no power due to power outage caused by severe storms that ripped through Kansas City in the early morning hours of Monday June 27, 2011.
Our corporate headquarters is located in Hazelwood, MO.  That's where the main computer system for the company physically resides and the phone service is out of.  I don't entirely understand how the system works but if one side is down and the other is up and running everything as far as computer orders, phone calls, etc. flips to the other side.  So our St. Louis side was swamped essentially doing double duty with phone calls for their order entry department and computer orders being stored by the computer system.  When out lights were finally restored just before 11:40AM, half a day's worth of orders came rumbling off our printers and we had the entire warehouse standing by to do nothing but pull orders and stage them.  By 12:30PM when we cut orders off for our afternoon deliveries and were answering our own phone calls, we were essentially caught up.
The system was designed this way in case one side isn't busy but the other side is overrun with calls that the stuff flips over to let either side pick up the other side's overflow.  I don't know if they realized that this redundancy would provide this same function in a power outage to help save sales and orders.  A lot of our customers never realized we had any problems today except that they maybe spoke to somebody different on the phone than what they are used to.  Mean while we were literally sitting in the dark by flashlight waiting for the power to be restored.
Potentially this benefit of today's technology saved this company in excess of ten thousand dollars per hour from seven until eleven, when the lights came back on.
I remember a time long ago when our power was going to be down for an extended period of time that we went and rented a large construction generator parked it in the parking lot and ran an umbilical cable from the generator to the main fuse box where an electrician hard wired the cable to the box to power just the bare minimum of equipment and lights for our office so we could operate at a limited capacity during the week with no power.  How many companies would do that?
There is a sign which hangs on the wall in the back of my office that reads, "The difficult we do right away, the impossible just takes a little longer."  This was the Motto of the Strategic Air Command which existed from the nineteen fifties until the Reagan Administration.  If there was ever an alert from NORAD over our countries air space and they needed to scramble air planes to get them off the ground in case of nuclear attack, it was the Strategic Air Command that would ensure within minutes over ninety percent of our countries military aircraft would get off the ground and into the air.  My father was very proud to be part of SAC during his time serving in the United States Air Force.


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