Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Really Tough Past Few Days.....

The heart of the Stuart plant would be the refiner. The refiner is a HUGE grinder that takes wood chips and shavings from local sawmills and other sources and grinds them into a fibrous material that is suitable for the manufacture of particle board. It consists primarily of a 1000HP 2300Volt electric motor. We ordered a control panel to handle the logic required to operate this piece of equipment from a company in Pennsylvania.
I interpreted their drawings as well as I could and had the refiner wired and ready to start on Monday. The company that provided the control panel had a field technician scheduled to be here on Tuesday to assist in the start up.
On Tuesday we discovered a few problems in my software, as well as a few problems in their software. I immediately corrected my problems, then began troubleshooting the problems with their cabinet and PLC programming. The “Technician” they sent down arrived with a tool kit that consisted of a pink flashlight. That’s all. A Barbie pink flashlight. I did all of the electrical troubleshooting for him, since he was not capable of it. He had my mechanical guys do all of the mechanical changes required since his flashlight was not the appropriate tool for changing flow switches or thermal switches. It did work well for pointing out where these devices were located, though.
One of the first problems identified was an extremely minor programming change in the logic software of his system. I pointed this out on Tuesday, and even explained how to fix it with the software code. He requested that I make a change in the physical wiring instead that (in his mind) would resolve the problem with his code. Knowing that it would not fix the problem, I made the wiring change. When it did not resolve the problem, he still stalled on making the programming change. I began to suspect that he did not know how to make the required changes to their program, but he never admitted as much to me. We worked all day Wednesday on some mechanical issues, and he still balked at making his programming changes which we both knew were required.
Today, (Thursday) he did not show up at the site until 10:00AM. I “gently forced” him to make his required program changes. He then went into “panic mode” and spent the next two hours on his cell phone with the home office, essentially learning PLC programming via long distance. That is when my suspicions about his programming skills were confirmed. Five hours later, he had made the required changes to two lines of code. Then we discovered another change that would be required in his company’s code.
He was informed that his time for today would not be chargeable until the software was corrected.
Finally at 5:00PM, even though his code was still not correct, it was determined to be usable to test with and we attempted to apply 2300 Volts to the machine.
That was when I discovered that I have a problem with the switchgear providing the high voltage to this system. Arrrgh. I should have started this motor on Tuesday. I may get to start it on Friday. I am extremely irritated with a certain “technician” from PA.

I love my job!

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