Downtime During Overnight Support: What to Do, What to Do?

Though downtime always seems like a good thing, there may be better ways to spend your time that can optimize operations and ensure that no other issues are arising.

Daniel Cobb is a project engineer at Avanceon.
Daniel Cobb is a project engineer at Avanceon.

Most of us have been there. Three in the morning, sitting by yourself on the plant floor listening to machines hum away without any issues. After so much hard work, it’s great to relax, right? Or could this idyllic scene actually be a bad thing?

Perhaps. Make the most of this time! Now is a prime opportunity to approach the plant personnel who will be dealing with the system once you leave with any questions you may have, like: if there are any issues in the past couple nights I should know about, if anything holding us back from hitting shift targets, or what else can I do to make things run a little better? These are all great questions to ask the shift lead or operators if you find yourself looking to stay busy.

What about all the little things that could possibly add up if you wait till the last moment to complete them? Are all the checklist items filled out properly? Is the code correctly documented? Are the rung comments complete? What about those units on the screen that everyone sees? Are those correct? If not, now is the perfect time! The last thing you want is to give a customer an incomplete product.

Maybe you want to stretch your legs? Why not walk around the system you’re supporting or the parts of the plant you can access? Keep an eye out for anything that can cause an issue now or down the road, this is a great way to identify other issues that you might be able to help the customer with.

Just because someone is assigned to overnight support doesn’t mean the time shouldn’t be used wisely. Make the best of the time that is left on the project. Put a nice shine on the finished product.

Daniel Cobb is a project engineer at Avanceon, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Avanceon, visit its profile on the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange.

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