Author Archives: Evan Barnett

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Communication in Isolation: How Calls Can Build Community

Over the last few months, pretty much all of our daily work routines  were disrupted.   We’ve been forced to adapt and create new ways of successfully completing projects. While making the best of a bad situation, I have picked up a few skills and techniques that I will apply going forward. One very positive change has been an attempt at more open, direct communication with customers and coworkers as opposed to impersonal email exchanges.
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Don’t Forget the Operator! – The importance of proper training with new systems

Recently, I was at a customer site for a project startup. As I watched the operators going about their day (interacting with both our newly supplied HMI and some preexisting screens that we hadn’t developed,) one incident really caught my attention. An operator pressed a button on screen to open a valve. Nothing. He pressed again. Nothing. After a third attempt, with the same results, he walked over to the valve and opened it by hand. He went on to explain that this was a relatively common occurrence- the button had always seemed to be temperamental. I began investigating their code to see how this button actually went about opening the valve. It turned out there were 6 different conditions, at least one of which had to be met, for the button to have any effect. I could find nothing on the screen, however, that gave any indication this was the case. The button looked and behaved exactly the same way, whether the conditions were met or not. When it didn’t work, there were no messages indicating why. As far as an operator could tell, it was just a software glitch.
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The Learning Curve: Some Ways to Make It But NOT Fake It

Approaching my 1st anniversary at Avanceon, I was thinking about all of the new things I had learned over the course of the year. Nearly every day, I encountered new challenges. There were technologies that I had never worked with before and new programs that, at first seemed so foreign, the thought of mastering them seemed impossible. But here I am today, confident in my abilities to handle any sort of situation that may come my way. So, how did I get here? Did I just throw my hands up, walk away, and quit whenever I was stumped? Of course not. I’m an engineer. We’re problem solvers. So, for the next new engineer who comes along, I thought I’d put together a list of tips to help you get your bearings, by telling you what I did to find mine.
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