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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 Challenges of Project Commissioning

Start-up and commissioning is the point where a lot of people start to get excited about seeing equipment and processes come together to operate in unison. As an engineer, it marks the culmination of many hours (or perhaps days, months or even years depending on the size and scope of the project) of hard work. You’ve tested and re-tested, made tweeks, changes (both small and large) along the way. You’ve witnessed and verified results to ensure your Go Live is seamless and meets the customer’s specifications. Recently, my team completed the first in a series of Wonderware System Platform upgrades for a large multi-site water distribution/treatment company. As with many projects, we faced a number of challenges. Some were typical, such as a lack of standards and documentation supporting the existing software. Others were more complicated, such as the health and safety concerns around testing at a plant that delivers water to the public. And, as with any project involving software changes, operator acceptance was a major concern. The overall success of the project would hinge upon a successful commissioning at the first site.
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Building a Culture of Continuous Learning – Part 1

Over the years, whenever a conversation would turn to topics like continuing education, I would always get a chuckle in response to my standard answer: “The most important thing I learned in school is never to go back.” Looking back, it wasn’t terribly funny, and the laughs were probably just polite.
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Let Us Know, Let Us Know, Let Us Know!

For your entertainment (and ours) we have our annual holiday song parody of a classic favorite. From all your friends here at Avanceon, wish you a Happy Holiday and prosperous New Year! See you in 2020!
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Six Steps Towards Eliminating Obsolete Controls Equipment

“It’ll keep working as long as we don’t look at it!”
 
Everyone has that control panel lurking in the back of their minds.  Each time it’s opened, something breaks, so naturally don’t open it!  Don’t look at it or even breathe around it!  That’s the impression I get when I visit a lot of manufacturing facilities, and there is a big problem with this mindset…mainly that it won’t work forever. There is a reason why people don’t drive cars from 1985 every day and expect them to keep on chugging along forever, the same goes with the equipment we use to run our manufacturing facilities.
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