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Old April 26th, 2018, 08:14 AM   #16
LoganB
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But I do envisage such a feature creating plenty of "work" for a lot of us regulars here on the Forum.

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Old April 26th, 2018, 08:15 AM   #17
cardosocea
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@G.

I'm curious as to why the concept of function is so alien to the people working with you. Are any of them, apart from the RS5000 training, trained in general programming concepts?
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Old April 26th, 2018, 11:21 AM   #18
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Sorry for the delay...busy, busy...

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Originally Posted by cardosocea
@G.

I'm curious as to why the concept of function is so alien to the people working with you. Are any of them, apart from the RS5000 training, trained in general programming concepts?
Quick answer, no, not really. Their idea of function is relative to their idea of process knowledge. Beyond that, they really haven't a clue, but certainly think they do.

While I can't get all into who's who and does what with regard our company - we have zero proficient programmers here, except myself. Certainly no Control Engineers. Again, I'd be the closest to that by a long way. We've had a raft of retirees in the last few years which has left a bit of a void. We now have new Electricians and Process Engineers who are only 2-4 years here. The Electricians get "official" programming training so they are certified, and then they are suddenly all experts. They mainly fault find and do some PM's and a small amount of project work. The Process Engineers have no such limitations though - they can do "everything". As "Electrical Coordinator", stroke everything else, I'm here to keep things grounded (pardon the intentional pun) and progress their learning at a suitable pace. Too often their eagerness far in exceeds their ability. My laptops kept disappearing off my desks and onto the floor. I had to put an abrupt stop to that.

Also, the fact that I am not an Engineer, whereas some of them, coming and going, are, does not help matters. Some tend to think they always know better. I also believe they are actually told to presume to know better, as they are Engineers. But I have something they do not - a lot of knowledge and experience, even more common sense, and oodles of patience. That is in no way a knock on the many excellent Engineers out their. Just on some of ours.

If I take it up a level - my supervisors to managers are (some at least) also know-it-all's. I often ask "why do you pay me so much for my expertise only to then ignore it?". It doesn't make much sense other than their sense of "they know better". So I'm used to these scenarios, and usually, in the end, or when it's too late, they'll see common sense (that thing that's not too common). Next week, while I'm trying to commission this production line, where only I know it intimately at the software and controls levels, they, the Process Engineers, will be trying to essentially run it on top of me, and my supposed and promised "controlled" test environment. I will be told what, when and how to edit the program, what to add and what to take away. If I say I can't do something via the PLC they'll start trying to look at the screen in an attempt to doubt you and see can they do better. You would be afraid to leave your laptop open here and go for a leak. You all know the types, I'm sure. But amidst the muddle, I carry on plotting a straight line. That's what I'm good at. Calm in a crisis.

I know my profession as well as I can and I know our business, certainly from a controls point of view, better than any of them. That is just a fact. What others know or do not know around me, I can only try to be aware of and teach or advise accordingly. They should not presume to know better than me when making certain decisions without consultation, but it happens all too often. "Who wired the new lamp on that machine without consulting me?"..."It's just a 24VDC lamp to give the Operators an indication for that fault"..."That may be fine but you do realize that 40 year old machine is using 24VAC and not 24VDC?"..."Err?"...

I don't mind teaching people who are both receptive and willing, but also patient and professional. That I love. What I do not like is trying to teach arrogant know-it-all's -

Arrogant Al: "What's that switch you're at for?"...

Gorgeous George: "That's an over-travel switch"...

Arrogant Al: "Oh, right, over-travel, yeah"...

Gorgeous George: "You know what it's for, right?"...

Arrogant Al: "Sure"...(but doesn't explain)...

Gorgeous George: "Yeah, that's an over-travel interlock switch to tell you when the machine has been running for too long" ...

Arrogant Al: "Yeah, I knew that"...

Gorgeous George: "Well OK then, but why did you ask?"...

A saying of mine I often like to use with such people:-

You can teach the ignorant, but not the arrogant.

Yeah, most days it's more like dysfunctional here, than functional. But I do love a challenge!

G.
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Old April 26th, 2018, 01:27 PM   #19
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Certainly no Control Engineers. Again, I'd be the closest to that by a long way. We've had a raft of retirees in the last few years which has left a bit of a void. We now have new Electricians and Process Engineers who are only 2-4 years here. The Electricians get "official" programming training so they are certified, and then they are suddenly all experts. They mainly fault find and do some PM's and a small amount of project work. The Process Engineers have no such limitations though - they can do "everything". As "Electrical Coordinator", stroke everything else, I'm here to keep things grounded (pardon the intentional pun) and progress their learning at a suitable pace. Too often their eagerness far in exceeds their ability. My laptops kept disappearing off my desks and onto the floor. I had to put an abrupt stop to that.
As someone that has gotten their arrogance wiped out a couple of months out of University, I feel sorry for you. It truly is bad when your skills and experience gained knowledge are ignored by idiots with a piece of paper.

Luckily, I inherited something similar... but the company realised that process engineers are bad at anything electrical/automation and got me to reign in on their's and our contractors wild dreams.

Is Ireland also having a lack of controls people, but with low salaries? Compared to the UK, that is.
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Old April 26th, 2018, 04:26 PM   #20
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Please don't feel sorry for me. They pay me well to laugh at their arrogance. They're not all bad. Just a couple of them. I have one younger Lead Process Engineer and he is excellent. He is a great listener and while he wants to understand all the "wonderful" things I do, automation-wise, and asks loads of questions, he does not cross any lines that he shouldn't. He knows his place in the company and serves it well. He can also learn about the process from me as I understood it long before he arrived. He's clever enough to know to professionally "use" me to improve his knowledge and understanding.

That is in contrast to the couple of others who I feel are only out to make a name for themselves. Heroes. They think they don't need me or my guidance and forge ahead, bypassing or railroading me. They resent the fact that I have extensive knowledge of the business model, the process, and the control architecture underpinning it all. They foolishly choose not to "use" me as that doesn't earn "them" quick brownie points.

After only 3 months in the job, one of them started taking an RSLogix 500 workstation laptop on their evening shift and trying, unsuccessfully, to connect to SLC and MicroLogix controllers on the floor. Knowing absolutely nothing about which cables to use, DF1, DH-485, or protocols for that matter. Often leaving the laptop open at a machine and walking off only for me to find it after searching for it the next morning. No respect, or cop on.

For our multinational company, I am more the exception. They don't actively seek out controls professionals. I was originally taken on in 2010 as a Shift Technician with good fault finding and project experience. The previous contract automation experience I had wasn't so important to them until I started pointing out what we could be doing to bring the plant into the modern era, and that I could do a lot of it myself. It was a hard sell at first but to be fair it's now our standard. I got off shifts ater a couple years and started into our extensive migration plan (Siemens S5 to AB everything). We're doing our third production line upgrade now out of 5 and it should be back in production next week. The heroes are nowhere to be seen during this busy 1 month project. They're far to busy focusing on the running process right now, all when it suits them. But they'll be back to dispense their untold wisdom once this line has been professionally upgraded and commissioned.

There are plenty of good automation specialists in this country but they are mostly employed by big companies either full-time or on retainers. The automation type graduates (controls/instrumentation) tend to get maybe 2 years experience on low pay before leaving for Dubai and everywhere in between. There is probably a shortage alright, going by the automatic job offers I'm receiving on LinkedIn every week. What is very thin on the ground here are specialists in Rockwell/Allen Bradley like myself. My company pushes us in that direction so it's why I'm heavily invested in RA/AB. It's a growing brand over here but still mainly a minority one. Siemens still being top dog. So it is a feather in my cap, to a fair degree. Most contract programmers you might get in can comfortably paddle the surface of the Logix sea, but few can deep dive it's abyss.

G.
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Old April 27th, 2018, 04:48 AM   #21
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After only 3 months in the job, one of them started taking an RSLogix 500 workstation laptop on their evening shift and trying, unsuccessfully, to connect to SLC and MicroLogix controllers on the floor. Knowing absolutely nothing about which cables to use, DF1, DH-485, or protocols for that matter. Often leaving the laptop open at a machine and walking off only for me to find it after searching for it the next morning. No respect, or cop on.
Obviously you'll know which battles to pick, but this is something I would battle to kick the guy into his place or out of the company.

Hopefully, you have the PLC keys locked somewhere safe.
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Old April 27th, 2018, 06:28 AM   #22
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Well, experience, and the "teacher" within me, tends to let so much slide before I'll professionally pull rank, or go to the Plant Manager, who in fairness does listen and try to help. But it has to be very serious before I'll go that far. I'll give them enough rope to tie themselves up in a bit of a knot, but not so much that they can hang themselves. I try to be patient and advise and guide them. Let them make that wrong or right decision themselves. That way you can better gauge their general approach to carrying out their duties, and then step in to stop or advise where you see fit. I won't hold hands though. If a couple of stern warnings go unheeded then it escalates.

That one new Engineer had the Lead Engineer and myself sit him down, again, and warn him not to touch anything automation related. This time I made sure that it was made clear to him - do not touch anything, full stop. And by that I do not mean - do not touch unless you consult me first. I mean you have no business near anything your are no where near experienced enough on, yet. Train and trial first...

I told him there is the test equipment setup to teach yourself or with my guidance. Even then, when you figure something out, you still do not take that knowledge and attempt to use it on a live system. Follow me, watch me, and ask lots of questions. Read, read, and read some more. And that's just for the automation side of things. With regard electrical modifications - do not modify anything. If you have a mod or solution or improvement idea then consult me. I'll decide if or what, if anything, will or should be done.

Another issue is management or senior Engineering personnel want something carried out - an improvement or correction. They task a young Engineer with it and off they go. You hear about it later and how they've ordered some fancy technology and are going to do X or Y with some machine or part of the process. They may not be doing it properly or you could already be investigating another option or have half a project ready from another time when the issue had arisen - no consultation.

Drafting up full PM sheets for the entire plant when I already have them here in the filing cabinet for years - no consultation.

Ordering certain spares and parts that are not our current standard or we are changing away from soon or upgrading - no consultation.

Organising external contractors that you have dealt with for years to come in for work you haven't heard about. They then ring you asking what's going on? - no consultation.

It's not that I'm controlling. I need assistance for sure. But there has to be a viable structure in place - a chain of command. University to shop floor graduates are so inexperienced in so many ways that even respectfully dealing with people who are much more experienced than them is beyond a lot of them - not all, but many. Our very important but potentially dangerous work environments are simply their next college project.

Experience and wisdom rises over the years. It has depth. It does not lie flat on a piece of paper.

G.
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