#PLANTLIFE: Preparing for your First Solo Start Up
During the early stages of your career as a controls engineer, many hours are spent at customer sites. And a good majority of that time is spent with other engineers who are teaching you the ropes and helping you get a feel for field work. Eventually, at some point there will come a time where you will be on your own, which can be pretty nerve-racking. These few tips can help ease some of that anxiety to get you rolling for a successful solo site visit.
Know the Objective
What is the overall goal for the visit? Planning the objective of the visit is the first thing that should be done before a solo trip because it makes every other step easily fall into place.
Know the Scope
To address the full scope of a project you should list the project goals, deadlines, deliverables, etc. Knowing the scope well will prevent you from veering off track during the site visit. It will also allow you to determine when change orders are needed if the customer wants another sizeable task done that wasn’t part of the original scope.
Pre Site Visit
Sometimes there are tasks that can be completed remotely beforehand. One of the most common things that can be done is making sure their environment is ready for what is being brought in and commissioned. Importing new objects, code downloads (if possible), and importing new windows are all examples of things that can be done remotely. Anything that can be done remotely should be done before being on site when possible.
When the objective is determined, you should know what kind of work needs to be done. With this knowledge you can prepare accordingly. Some the basic necessities are a good backpack/carry case, Ethernet patch cable, wireless mouse, a multi-bit insulated screwdriver, PPE, etc. If the site visit requires plane travel, make sure you know what can be brought on the plane with you.
Prepare a Plan
You know the objective, know the scope, have all your gear ready and you’re about to go on site. It’s time to devise a plan to complete that objective. A well laid out plan will go a long way on a solo trip. However, sometimes it’s impossible to prevent problems that may make you deviate from your plan. When this happens, you need to regroup, rethink, and discuss an updated plan with the customer. It’s okay to get support from engineers who are not in the field with you when needed. Site visits can be overwhelming at times so it’s important to remember to remain collected and professional. Panicking can cause even more problems if you’re flustered. Take a deep breath and ask for help when you need it. Checking off all the topics above will help minimize the possibility of having issues on site. All in all, being prepared is the key.
Image Source: Macrovector
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