Never do this just before leaving a project site

Automation System Integration blog advises not to hurry to check off the last thing on a project list before leaving the site, especially late on a Friday. (When you're in a hurry, if a device can be incompatible, it probably will be.)

05/06/2013


Have a plan, and don't hurry at the end, advises Callisto IntegrationAfter a long but successful week on site, it’s hard not to crave that feeling of satisfaction that comes from completely wrapping up a checklist for a system. Every to-do item taken care of, everything documented, everything just done for the weekend. But with that feeling, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that some to-do items probably shouldn’t be tackled right before you head home. 

As an example of how things could get challenging, Anthony Baker remembers a Friday evening experience where one remaining to-do item was to set up automatic recovery for a device network. Unfortunately, it was slowly discovered that the recovery system wasn’t compatible with a few of the devices on the network. This meant that the troublesome devices would need to be researched; manufacturer’s support lines would need to be called; new tests would have to be planned, etc. 

A story like this is probably something most controls engineers have encountered in their past. It’s a lesson that can be learned the hard way, by getting past a “point-of-no-return” (and spending a long time simply trying to get back to where you started), or more gently by thinking about the “worst case” scenario for each to-do item, and how long it could take to resolve. 

It’s a matter of guessing just how long something could take, based on past experiences and tribal knowledge, and deciding whether that’s time you’re prepared to spend now, or wrap up and tackle the next. It’s not always an easy guess, and the feeling of knowing you can work through any challenges only makes it harder to turn down. Sometimes it just takes a little self-discipline to know that at the end of the day you aren’t at your best anymore, and some challenges just aren’t to be tackled that day. 

It was ultimately found that the devices were incompatible with the recovery system (or any standard recovery system for that matter), and the previous control system was actually custom coded to restore the devices in very individualized ways. Sound like something you’d want to tackle late on a Friday night? Didn’t think so! 

Please consider adding your bit of related advice, a comment, or question, using the feedback tool at the bottom. 

- The Control Engineering “Automation System Integration” blog is written by Anthony Baker, a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration. The blog provides Callisto Integration advice in plant-floor controls, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and manufacturing consulting, from the factory floor through to the enterprise. See additional posts at www.controleng.com/blogs.

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