Saturday, 15 October 2011

The data is out there; the episode of the nibbled chainsaw

So; this is the sorry sight that greeted me as I deployed the tools for some light hedge trimming this morning. For those unversed in garden machinery lore and wizardry, what you see here is the result of a rodent nibbling on the carburettor primer pump of a chainsaw. Since integrity of this small plastic component is vital for it's correct operation - Mr Rat has quite effectively, and probably most efficiently, sabotaged my weekend's "hedge trimming"; however, he's not that smart as we can narrow down the suspects - this guy is clearly into solvent abuse.

How to find a replacement part? Of course "to the Internet" and surely the trusty search engines will pop up a suitable supplier. So I did learn there is a forum for "International Chainsaw Collectors", whether you are expected to have chainsaws from two or more countries to join in is unclear, but there I did find the user manual (scanned by some kind soul) although sadly not a parts list. Search did find several plausible components that "looked similar" but at no point could I verify that the offered parts would do the job. The manufacturers website grudgingly started to appear in the lower ranking of the searches and with sinking heart I thought I might as well try the manufacturers website...

The reason for my (soon to be justified) gloom was that this has been a recurring pattern; it's been a bad year for domestic appliances in the McAuley household (probably due to climate change) but from memory so far: boiler, cooker, fridge, washing machine, lawnmower, laptop, vivarium thermostat, camera,  and now chainsaw - each time I have gone to find information about a product at the manufacturer's website I have found nothing - lots of their new products, often animated with the latest and greatest web technology, but if it is not on sale anymore, it's pretty much invisible.

I exited the digital and went old-school - trip to the local garden centre and associated lawnmower maintenance facility. A brief check in their stores turned up about 5 close candidates but not an exact match, so, much to my amazement, with oil under fingers and pencil behind ear, lawnmower-repair-man jumps on his rather grimy PC and pulls up a vector graphic exploded view schematic of carburettor assembly for the chainsaw in question, zooms in, clicks on the part, clicks on "add to shopping basket" and reports to me that I can collect Tuesday. Beautiful manufacturer supplied data integrated into a purchasing system.

I returned home and having clocked the name of the supplier went to their website; why had they not shown up on the search engines? Was it the deep web? No - in large friendly letters it says "trade only" and "login required". So it's a supply chain conspiracy;  a classic closed v. open argument to protect existing business relationships.

So the hedge is still 9ft tall but at least I've got another supply chain anecdote.