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December 2009

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Another Day With The Idiot Brigade...

Well, I am back at work, and on my first day back in the plant, the idiots have struck again. This time, they work for someone else. Y'see, we're having VFDs* installed at my place, and I arranged for someone to be there first thing today to get them in and configured. First, they show up late. Secondly, they show up woefully underequipped. I had to tell them where to go to buy the things they should have brought with them in the first place. (We're talking basic stuff here for electrical installation -- wires and conduit, for the love of little apples!) Thirdly, a trip that would normally take thirty minutes at worst took this crew two and a half hours!

What took them so long? Well, they weren't sure if they could actually buy anything. This in spite of the fact that they had company credit cards and a job to do. This also in spite of the fact that they had me around and I would have been happy to go get the stuff (since I'm going to be charged for it anyway, why not?) Apparently, they sat in the parking lot of the supply house for two hours waiting to be told what to do.

Finally, they made it back, supplies in tow, and get to work. Basic installation of the panel was easy. We got that knocked out in a little over an hour. Then came the fun part -- interfacing the new VFD panel with my existing electronics. It turned out that the man who came to see me in October either didn't take proper notes or misread what he had; there were no clear instructions in his drawings to tell the installer what to do.

We spent the next two hours poring over ladder diagrams to try to figure out what had to be wired where. Just when I thought we had it worked out (hey, I was happy with the setup and I still think it would have worked! -- power would have gone where it needed to go and done what it should have done, and everybody would have been happy) the tech decided he was going to fax the diagrams to his home office, quit for the day, and wait for them to tell him what to do.

Here's what I want to know -- what has happened to initiative and personal responsibility? If my training and experience tells me a possible solution to a problem is going to work, I am going to go ahead and do it. I don't see the need for a "Mother may I?" from the home office. If you are the kind of person who is so unsure of yourself as to need some long-distance handholding, I don't think I want you in my plant handling my jobs.

* VFD stands for variable-frequency drive. It's a controller for a three-phase AC motor that allows it to run at different speeds.  It does this by varying the level of the voltage (from 0 to 460 volts) and its frequency (from 0 to 60 hertz), hence the name.