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#PlantLife – To Beard, or Not to Beard

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must grow a beard. Within Avanceon I primarily work within the food and beverage business unit, but since Good Manufacturing Processes frown upon exposed body hair, a conflict with the aforementioned call to the wild presents itself.
 
So why beard? To some, facial hair is more than a style; it is a rite of passage. To others it is an act of self-expression. The act of not shaving also saves precious morning minutes. Above all else, though, it keeps my face warm during brutal winters. I’ve been growing an annual winter beard for the 3 years I’ve been at Avanceon (a previous employer disallowed any facial hair, blasphemers). I typically like to grow into a lightly manicured lumberjack beard, just enough insulation to protect from icy gusts of wind while not long enough to be mistaken for any cast member of Duck Dynasty. The perfect balance.
 
So why not beard? Good Manufacturing Practices must be executed while working in food and beverage facilities, which requires proper PPE, hair nets, and for those with facial hair to don a beard net. Beard nets, while protecting the quality of the product, can be irritating. Unlike the hard hat/hairnet/safety glasses, you never forget that you’re wearing a beard net. On more than one occasion I’ve sat down for lunch at a restaurant while wearing my safety glasses and hair net, simply forgetting that they are on. Such is not the case with the beard net. Other cons of the beard include food crumb accumulation, babies pulling on them, and the one month embarrassment period known as the “proto-beard”.
 
In the end, it’s all a matter of preference. Personally, I get more benefit from the warmth giving of the beard during winter months, so I tolerate the beard net. Once the weather warms up I reject the beard net and sport a naked face. How do you beard?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love InBatch

Do you remember the now classic scene in The Lion King where a group of hyenas are saying the name of the king, “Mufasa,” to each other and the mere mention makes them shudder? “Ooooh! Do it again!” In my experience, there is an automation product that has the same effect on engineers and customers alike. What product is that? Wonderware’s  InBatch! No other software product has made my friends and colleagues shiver and shrink.
 
So why does InBatch instill “Mufasa” level dread? Oddly enough, the main reason InBatch is feared is the same reason it’s worthwhile. It’s powerful. InBatch is an incredibly flexible product that can do just about anything imaginable in automation and recipe management. But the only way to make it so powerful is to make it incredibly configurable. And that means that InBatch requires a pretty steep learning curve before that potency is accessible. People just don’t know how to use it. And when they try, their efforts often go poorly. It has taken me years and multiple projects to really get my arms around this software and figure out all the ins and outs and how-tos and what-to-dos. And now I feel like I am there. I am on board. The power is mine!
 
Over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on multiple projects with one of our partners who has had a long history with InBatch and has solid standards regarding how their installations operate. Their standards are highly integrated with System Platform, InTouch, and all the other Wonderware products. Their visualization approach prominently presents what is running and how efficiently without having to use the standard Environment Display tools. And the best of all, it works really well.
 
So for a year and a half, I’ve been living and breathing InBatch. I’ve been leveraging what we’ve done in the past. I’ve been learning from what our partner is doing. I’ve been adapting what I know for new project challenges. The thought of the next InBatch project no longer fills me with terror. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to use this powerful software.
 
So do you fear InBatch? Tell us about your experience!

 

Reduce & Manage Unscheduled Downtime

Throughout my years working in systems integration – technician, engineering, management and owner since 1976, I have experienced the many downfalls of downtime and the snowball effect it causes for everybody involved. I have worked extensively in the Life Sciences industry providing validated designs and installations, unscheduled downtime no matter what industry can be frustrating and expensive.
 
Unscheduled is the key here…as most production systems experience some form of downtime (both scheduled and unscheduled).  The big killer in the unscheduled downtime is the reaction time to notice the issue, diagnose the problem and solution and then to mobilize to correct the problem.  In scheduled downtime the solution is usually defined and the mobilization is planned before the system goes down, thus the unproductive time is minimized (= less lost revenue).
 
Whether a downtime tracking program or a manual means of listing the typical downtimes is used, the goal is the same:  predict the types and occurrences of unproductive machine time, allowing for the preparation of shorter and less chaotic machine interruptions.  This all equates to higher productivity from the same resources and a more consistent quality product.
 
Here are some other ways to eliminate unscheduled downtime, link .
 
By: Duane Grob

Just How Important is Cyber Security in Control Systems?

NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) held its second grid security exercise, or GridEx, over a two day span. During this exercise, nearly 10,000 electrical engineers, cybersecurity specialists, utility executives and F.B.I. agents wrestled with an unseen, virtual “enemy” trying to disrupt the electrical infrastructure in the U.S. It included simulated computer viruses, line and equipment damage and even first-responder deaths in an effort to understand and evaluate participants abilities to understand, communicate and neutralize a multitude of simultaneous threats.
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Fielding a Winning Team with Home Grown Talent

Writer: Nic Imfled
 
 
I love baseball. There is nothing quite like cheering your team toward postseason success. But success isn’t easy. Teams have to be built. In order to achieve the ultimate goal of a world title you need a healthy blend of veteran players and home grown talent. The same is true with successful companies. Over Avanceon’s 30 years in business, we’ve sought to build and maintain a team with the proper blend of seasoned veterans and developing all stars.
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