As an automation engineer at Avanceon, I spend a lot of time visiting customer facilities. These visits include a wide range of activities: sales visits, site inspections, project meetings, commissioning, etc. Because of the frequent time spent away from the Avanceon headquarters, my laptop bag has become my mobile office, packed with everything I need on or off site. Here are some of the items that I always keep in my bag, to be prepared for whatever #PlantLife throws at me:
– Notebooks: I keep a full sized notebook for meetings, and smaller pocket notebook that is perfect for impromptu notes/sketches.
– Screwdrivers: I always have two handy. A trusty 6-in-1 for big jobs such as opening panels, and a smaller terminal block screwdriver to help me troubleshoot wiring. PROTIP: Screwdrivers less than 7 inches in length are TSA approved for carryon luggage (such as a laptop bag).
– High Vis Reflective Vest: Some projects require personnel on the plant floor to wear a high visibility reflective vest (typically in construction areas). I always keep one in my bag so no time onsite is wasted tracking down a spare.
– Earbud headphones: Perfect for taking private calls, or listening to music on a flight. I prefer the earbud style since they bundle up small and don’t take up valuable space.
– Jabra USB Speaker/Microphone: Nice to have on hand for calls/meetings with more than one person in the room. The laptop speakers and microphone just don’t cut it.
– Small Power Strip: Oftentimes electrical outlets are hard to come by and they tend to be in demand if a commissioning includes multiple people. A small power strip allows everyone to plug in and peacefully share the power.
– External Hard Drive: Loaded with Virtual Machines containing specialty/legacy software. Having this handy has saved me in a pinch.
– Ethernet Patch Cable: Not all devices are connected to wireless networks; sometimes I find myself connecting directly to machines on the plant floor.
– Serial/USB converter: Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you need to connect to some seriously old equipment. Serial ports are rare on modern laptops, so a USB converter is almost a requirement.
– Extra Boot Laces: You never think you’ll need a spare boot lace until you actually NEED a spare boot lace.
– Carabiner: I use this for clipping my hard hat to my bag. It saves space in my luggage and allows me to keep a hand free. The carabiner I use has bonus functionality as a bottle opener, for those oh-so-important hotel beers.
I don’t always need each item on every trip, but the above equipment gives me peace-of-mind to walk into any situation feeling ready. What are some of the must-have items in your bag?
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