A tour of the factory


In this lesson, we meet two companies: Keypoint Security (UK) Ltd and Midland Furniture Limited. Midland have just bought a factory in the South Midlands of England, about 150 kilometres north of London. It is in an industrial area where there are many other factories and offices. At the moment the building is empty. Midland have asked Keypoint to look at the building and to make sure that it is safe and well protected before they move in.


Sarah Street is Marketing Director for Keypoint Security Ltd.
Receptionist at Midland Furniture Ltd.
Irena Phillips is Client Services Manager for Keypoint Security Ltd.
Jeff Jones is Production Manager at Midland Furniture Ltd.
Peter Jackson is a management trainee at Keypoint Security Ltd.

All of these characters are British.


Vocabulary Factories and offices; what the different areas inside a building are used for; words for describing and measuring spaces and areas.
Skills Dictating; greeting somebody; introducing yourself; introducing somebody else.
Structures As you ... know ...; Do you know ...; estimating figures; a/an/the.
Documents A memo; a factory plan; architects' instructions; a report.

Visiting a factory

1.1 Listen and read

Sarah Street is Marketing Director for Keypoint Security Ltd. She is dictating a memo see the meaning. Listen to what she says, and write the words missing from the typed memo below.

From Marketing Director
To Irena Phillips, Client Services Manager
Peter Jackson, Management Trainee
Date 10 (a) 1992

Subject: Midland Furniture Ltd

I have arranged with the Managing Director that you will make a preliminary survey see the meaning of the new premises see the meaning on (b) 13 March. Please report to Mr (c) , the Production Manager, at the Crumley Road site see the meaning at (d) p.m.


1.2 Listen and read

Peter Jackson joined Keypoint a few days ago as a management trainee see the meaning. He is with Irena Phillips, the Client Services Manager, on a visit to a client, Midland Furniture. Listen to what they say. How do they greet each other? How does Irena introduce Peter to Mr Jones?

RECEPTIONIST Good afternoon. Can I help you?
IRENA Good afternoon. My name is Phillips, Mrs Irena Phillips of Keypoint Security. My colleague and I have an appointment to see Mr Jones at 2.30.
RECEPTIONIST Thank you. I'll tell him you're here. [She telephones Mr Jones's office] Hello. I have Mrs Phillips, of Keypoint Security, in reception. Thank you. [To Irena] If you'll take a seat, Mrs Phillips, Mr Jones will be right down.
IRENA Thank you.
JEFF Mrs Phillips? How do you do. I'm Jeff Jones.
IRENA How do you do, Mr Jones. Can I introduce a colleague of mine, Peter Jackson.
PETER How do you do.
JEFF I'm pleased to meet you, Mr Jackson. Yes, Mr Irving told me you'd be coming. Well, welcome to Midland Furniture! Shall we go straight round to the new premises? I'll tell you more about them on the way.

1.3 Speaking practice: greeting people

Listen to this conversation. When you hear it the second time, there will be pauses. You speak the part of the man.

RECEPTIONIST Good morning. Can I help you?
MAN Good morning. My name is Wilson, David Wilson, EMC Electronics.
MAN I have an appointment with the production manager.
RECEPTIONIST Mrs Smith? That's her, over there. I think she's coming over.
MAN Oh yes, I see her. Thank you.
WOMAN Hello! Are you looking for me?
MAN Yes. Mrs Smith? I'm David Wilson from EMC Electronics.
WOMAN How do you do, Mr Wilson. Susan Smith.
MAN How do you do.
WOMAN Let's go to my office, shall we? Did you bring the report with you?

1.4 Listen and read

Jeff Jones drives Irena and Peter to the new premises. He tells them about the company. Listen to what they say. What are the advantages of the new site? How many buildings are there on the site?

JEFF As you may know, the company is planning to expand its sales overseas, so we had to find a bigger factory. This place we're going to, on the Farm Lane Industrial Estate, isn't, in my opinion, ideal, but it's quite big, it's got good access to the motorway and it's fairly cheap. From the security point of view see the meaning, though... well, I'll be interested to see what you make of it see the meaning.
JEFF OK, here we are. We've got this large building that you see in front of you, plus a separate, much smaller, building round the back.
PETER You said it was built in the 1930s?
JEFF Round about then, yes. It's old, but it's in good condition.
IRENA Do you know who owned it before you?
JEFF It was a printer's for about twenty years, but they've just gone bust see the meaning. That's why it was cheap, and the board reckoned see the meaning we could afford it. Right, if you'd like to come along with me, I'll show you round the site.

1.5 Structure practice: giving and asking for information

Jeff Jones says 'As you may know, the company is planning...', to Irena and Peter (1.4) because this is a polite way of giving people information when you are not sure if they do or don't already know it.
Rewrite the sentences below, using 'As you ... know, ...' and one of the words from the box. Notice that you do not use 'that' in this structure.

1 We have just bought a new factory.
As you may know, we have just bought a new factory.
2 We're going to look at the site.
As you know,
3 Keypoint specialises in security services.
As you know,
4 Midland Furniture is planning to expand.
As you know,
may might perhaps probably

Irena says 'Do you know who...', because this is a more polite way of asking people for information when you are not sure if they will know the answer. Rewrite the questions below using the more polite form.

5 When was the factory built?
Do you know when the factory was built?
6 How old is this building?
Do you know how old ?
7 Where will the trucks enter?
Do you know ?
8 What does Midland Furniture make?
9 Which countries do they export to?

Walking round the factory - 1

1.6 Listen and write

This is an architect's plan of Midland Furniture's new factory. It shows what each part of the building will be used for. As you listen to the rest of this unit (1.7, 1.9, 1.11 and 1.13), make a note of where on the plan of the factory Jeff, Irena and Peter are standing as they are talking - A, B, C or D. (click to enlarge)


1.7 Listen and read

As they walk round the factory, Irena and Peter comment on some of the security problems. Listen to what they say. What problems do they see? Remember to note where they are on the plan (1.6).

JEFF Now, if I can just find the right key. Ah! There we are.
PETER These gates are really massive, aren't they?
IRENA Yeah see the meaning, but you're going to need a good strong fence as well.
JEFF At the moment of course the whole building is just an empty shell. This is where the trucks will come to load and unload.
IRENA That's a point see the meaning. There'll be a lot of trucks going in and out. Will they refuel here?
JEFF Yes. The garage and the fuel store are round the back.
PETER There are a lot of outside pipes, and outside doors. You'll need security guards on duty here twenty-four hours a day.

1.8 Find the word

The directors of Midland Furniture have instructed a firm of architects to design the inside of the new factory. This is an extract from their instructions. Look at the plan opposite and find the words missing below.

The existing factory is of single-storey construction, except for the office (a) , which is on three (b) , with a basement beneath.

The ground floor see the meaning of the office block is to be used as a reception area and staff (c) . There will also be a first-aid (d) , rest room and (e)

The basement below the office block will continue to house the boiler (f) and air-conditioning plant see the meaning. On the first floor we require a boardroom and at least four (g) for senior executives.

Floor space in the factory should be allocated as follows:

Store (h) : 900 m2
Machine (i) : 2000 m2
Paint shop see the meaning: 380 m2
Packing (j) : 400 m2
Total: 3680 m2

1.9 Listen and read

Peter and Irena ask Jeff questions about how the factory will work. Listen to what they say. How does Jeff show that he is not giving exact figures? Remember to note where they are on the plan (1.6).

PETER According to the plan of the factory, this is going to be the store room, is that right?
JEFF Yes, the sawn timber will come in here, through the unloading bay - it'll be checked in and stored on racks until it's needed.
PETER How long will it stay in the stores, on average?
JEFF Not long. Just a few days, normally. Stock turnover's very quick. Timber's expensive stuff these days, you can't have it hanging around see the meaning.
IRENA And what's likely to be the total value of your stock, roughly?
JEFF Well, very roughly, three, three hundred and fifty thousand pounds, I should think.

1.10 Speaking practice: estimating figures

Read the questions below, and write down your answers. You don't need to be exact. Use the 'estimating' words from the box and information from this lesson in your answers. Then listen to the questions, and speak your answers. Don't worry if your figures are not exactly the same as the ones you hear.

1 How old is the building? - About sixty years.
2 What's the length of the corridor between the boardroom and the offices?
3 How far is it from the garage doors to the road?
4 What's the size of the boardroom?
5 How many cars could you get in the car park?
6 What's the total value of the timber in the store room?
about around approximately roughly

Walking round the factory - 2

1.11 Listen and read

Irena and Peter continue their tour of the premises with Jeff Jones. Listen to what they say. How do Irena and Peter show that they are uncertain about what they are saying? Remember to note where they are on the plan (1.6).

JEFF This will be the machine shop. We're putting a lot of money into new equipment, computer-controlled, everything automated see the meaning.
PETER A sort of assembly line see the meaning?
JEFF Well, not exactly. It's all going to be organised on what they call the 'just-in-time' system. We only build furniture that people have ordered.
PETER I see. So you won't have to keep a lot of surplus stock. And everything's going to be assembled by robots, I suppose?
JEFF Oh no. All the finishing's done by hand see the meaning. We're very proud of our tradition of craftsmanship. Although actually, our new range of furniture is all flat-pack, self-assembly kits see the meaning.
PETER I imagine they're easier to transport.
JEFF Precisely!
IRENA Mm, I'm sure it'll all be very impressive. Could we have a look at the office accommodation now?
JEFF Yes. You see those big windows overlooking the factory floor? My office is up there, so that I can keep an eye on things see the meaning!

1.12 Structure practice: a, an and the

You can use 'a' or 'an' with nouns which can be counted: 'a factory', or 'a table'. These are called countable nouns, and they are usually marked [C] or [nc] in dictionaries. They can be used in the singular or the plural: 'He is making a table' or 'He is making tables'. But many nouns in English cannot be counted: 'He is making furniture'. Nouns like 'furniture' are called uncountable nouns, and are usually marked [U] or [nu] in dictionaries.
You can use 'the' with either countable or uncountable nouns, when you want to refer to something you have already talked about: 'The table is finished' or 'The furniture is finished'.
Write the words missing from the text below. Use 'a', 'an' or 'the', or nothing. If you are not sure whether these nouns are countable or uncountable, check in your dictionary.

Midland Furniture have recently bought (a) new premises in Crumley Road. It is (b) large site, which they will use for making (c) furniture.
They will bring in (d) plant from their other factories to set up (e) assembly line for (f) furniture.


1.13 Listen and read

Jeff shows Irena and Peter round the offices. Listen to what they say. What offices and rooms does he list? Remember to note where they are on the plan (1.6).

JEFF Well, down on the ground floor there'll be the reception area, staff canteen, toilets, rest room and first-aid room. Upstairs, here on the top floor, there'll be a big open-plan office for all the secretaries and computer operators.
PETER There's a splendid view from up here. You can see the whole site.
IRENA Yes, it'd be a good place to put a closed-circuit TV camera see the meaning.
JEFF Then on the first floor, the boardroom, which will also be used for management meetings, sales presentations, Christmas parties, you name it see the meaning. On the other side of the corridor, as I showed you, overlooking the machine shop, will be my little place, offices for two other department heads, and the boss's executive suite see the meaning.

1.14 Writing practice: a report

On Monday morning, Irena is back in her office preparing her report. First she writes down the headings for each paragraph. Then she makes notes under each heading, and finally she writes the report. When it's been typed, the introduction looks like this:

Client: Midland Furniture Ltd

1 Introduction
On 13 March 1992, following the Marketing Director's instructions, I carried out a preliminary survey of these premises with Mr Peter Jackson of Keypoint Security and Mr Jeff Jones of Midland Furniture. This report is a summary of my first impressions. It does not attempt to consider the security requirements of the site in detail. However, it raises a number of points that Keypoint Security and the client may wish to consider before proceeding further.

The notes below will help you draft short paragraphs for the rest of Irena's report. Each paragraph should be presented in a businesslike way, but remember that good business English can be quite simple and informal.


2 Location and general description
Read sections 1.4, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8 again. Say where the site is, and what the buildings are like.

The factory is located
There are two buildings


3 Proposed use
Read sections 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 1.11 and 1.13 again. What will the factory make? What actions will happen inside the factory and in the grounds?

The factory will be used for


4 Security: strong and weak points
Read sections 1.7, 1.11 and 1.13 again, and make a list of all the strong points and all the weak points in the security of the site. Remember that when you present a list, all of the points should be listed in the same way. You can number your points, and you can write them as phrases or as full sentences, as long as they are all the same. This makes the list easier to write and easier to read.

Strong points:
massive gates
Weak points:
poor fence

5 Recommendations
You now have to decide what recommendations to make. Look again at the plan in 1.6, and at the list of security points you made above. Again, you can list your recommendations:

5.1 The property should be surrounded by a strong fence.