19 August 2017
LESSONS FROM BUILDING A HOSPITAL IN PERTH
The recent debacle at the yet to be opened children's hospital in Perth is another reminder about the necessity to know what you are going to get before you buy. In the case of the hospital, it is running months (it is almost time to start counting in years) behind schedule and is plagued with problems including asbestos found in the building materials and lead in water supplies and most recently, below standard brass plumbing fittings. I am sure there was a rigorous process to ensure that West Australians would receive "value for money" as well there being a fine building delivered at the end of the construction process, but somehow the desire to make a profit has resulted in a lot of short cuts occurring, and a lot of materials being used which the average citizen thought we had stopped using last century.
It is little different in the organ world. Many successful companies have come and gone. In fact, the list of companies that once produced organs but are no longer in existence, is probably longer than the list of companies that currently produce organs. And, more importantly, how and from what is the instrument constructed? What materials are inside that console and where did they come from? Is the timber in the console from responsibly harvested sources? Can the electronic parts in the organ be easily repaired or replaced if they fail?
A good place to start researching this information is to spend 10 or 20 minutes watching videos produced by the Allen Organ company about how they manufacture organs. An Allen organ is completely built in the factory in USA. Unlike the majority of computer equipment, the electronic circuit boards in an Allen Organ are not imported from Asia — they manufacture and test them all in their factory in USA. They even wind their own transformers and coils. They bend and powder coat sheet metal to make assemblies such as power supplies and amplifiers. They engrave drawknobs and tab stops in house. They build their own consoles from the ground up in their woodworking shop. They do all the woodwork — sanding, routing, drilling, assembling, painting and finishing. The final step is the assembly and this is undertaken by one person.
The result is better quality control, the ability to build better assemblies at a lower cost, providing more flexibility to customise, and enabling an Allen Organ to have a 10 year warranty on parts. I wonder what warranty the new children's hospital in Perth will come with? Hopefully, the warranty will not have expired before admissions start to occur!
Here's where you can check out how an Allen Organ is manufactured: