In Tinplate R&D getting your monthly report contributions done on time was an essential part of the job of being a Team Leader. What was even more important for your rankings in the team leader listings was to be able to produce a highlight for the monthly report. If you weren’t able to produce one at least every other month, you could be sure that your star was on the wane, and your part of the research programme was not seen to benefit the business.

Quite often, producing a highlight for the monthly report was hard work, making sure that you had sufficient major projects on the go so that every month at least one came sufficiently to the boil so that it could be considered for a monthly report highlight.

Then came the project run by Swinden Labs to investigate various ways of how steel could be used in blast-proofing buildings or vehicles. This was the time when IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were causing a lot of carnage in Iraq, and presumably the MoD wanted to see whether they could improve on their current protective shield.

One of the items under investigation was the use of DWI cans made into a protective wall, for which we supplied Swinden Labs with several boxes of steel cans. Some time later I attended a one-day conference which summarised the outcome of various systems under consideration. Turns out that the DWI can wall outperformed all of the other proposed solutions !

This was too good a result to miss for the monthly report highlights, and so I did. No sooner was it accepted did I receive (fairly good-humoured) flack from the other team leaders: “How did you manage to get this item accepted in the highlights when you’ve hardly lifted a finger in its execution?”

Fair enough, but was I going to complain ? I knew there could be a lot of question marks over actually using real drinks cans in a protective wall, but surely it highlighted the principles that would contribute to producing a proper functioning blast-resistant device. I can only assume that’s what made it into a highlight, rather than the amount of work spent in creating the product.


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