Lessons from a neophyte

Over the past year, I've developed a new, deeper respect for what plant engineers go through on a regular basis. I've been going through a major remodeling project on my home. It's been a little more than a year since we started, and we're nearing completion. What an education! My hat is off to any plant engineer who deals regularly with major projects, outside contractors, barely competent s...

05/01/2001


Over the past year, I've developed a new, deeper respect for what plant engineers go through on a regular basis.

I've been going through a major remodeling project on my home. It's been a little more than a year since we started, and we're nearing completion. What an education! My hat is off to any plant engineer who deals regularly with major projects, outside contractors, barely competent suppliers, undisciplined designers, etc., etc.

I know plant engineers have to deal with these kinds of challenges on an almost daily basis. And conversations with many of you lead me to believe I've had it easy. So, I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here. Nevertheless, let me toss out a few lessons I've learned — or already knew, but didn't pay enough attention to.

Never assume anything. It's not that people are out to get you; it's just that well-intentioned people can, and often do, make mistakes. Whether they're careless mistakes or honest errors, they cost you time, money, and aggravation.

Double check all drawings and specifications— especially if they include existing facilities/equipment. Make sure that dimensions on the drawings match what actually exists.

Make sure that what you think is being ordered is actually what is being ordered. Part numbers get transposed. Direct replacements sometimes aren't. Exact matches sometimes don't.

Inspect all deliveries. The bill of lading may be correct. The package labels may be correct. But what's inside may not be.

Track down all subsequent changes that may result from a single change. Nearly every change calls for another change somewhere else — or at least creates the opportunity for a change. Investigate all the possibilities.

Do the math. Get the "hidden" costs out in the open. Compare your numbers with your suppliers'. Work the schedule (e.g., does "a week" mean seven calendar days or seven working days?).

Keep good notes and records. The best memory is the one that's on paper.

Remember that a good contractor or supplier is a resource to be cherished. Alliances and partnerships are almost trite expressions these days, but real ones are worth developing and preserving.

And one other principle I've learned to appreciate more than ever: Problem prevention is the best way to save time, money, and stress.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
Safety standards and electrical test instruments; Product of the Year winners; Easy and safe electrical design
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Diagnostic functions for system safety; Specifying industrial enclosures; Effective decision support for a crisis
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me