Before You Install
“Think before you install” should be the motto of every maintenance department in the manufacturing world. It only makes sense to take into account every possible installation failure when installing any type of equipment. Whether it’s your first time or you have maintained production lines for many years it is always important to know what and how to accurately install your production equipment. Researching before you install can save you many headaches in the manufacturing world. In an attempt to prevent these mishaps from happening I have spoken with my technicians to give me examples of how installing can contribute to failures in manufacturing. Failures are not always contributed to bad equipment it can also be attributed to bad decisions.
My first ever repair sale in this business is a great example of what not to do when you re-install equipment after repair. I was very excited to make my first repair sale in this industry. A customer in Nashville, TN sent in a 125 HP AC drive for repair. The drive was obsolete so the OEM did not support any questions or concerns my customer may have had regarding hookup schematics. We were able to repair the drive and fully load test it in three days. When my customer received the unit back he installed it. Upon installation the drive blew immediately. Needless to say I received a panicked call asking what we did to make this unit fail immediately. I convinced my customer to send the unit back to us for evaluation. When the unit arrived we noticed it was as he said blown. It was so damaged that we deemed the unit unrepairable. To help our customer we had a refurbished unit in stock that we had tested and knew was in exceptional working order. We sent one of our technicians with the drive to help install in Nashville. When our technician arrived he observed the electrical wiring. He asked the maintenance supervisor to show him how he installed the drive that blew upon installation. Here in lies the reason the unit blew when installed. The maintenance supervisor did not mark the connection wires on the drive. He ended up wiring the unit on to the production line backwards and blew the drive. My technician proceeded to show them how to install this drive and it worked perfectly. The moral of the story is to never assume installation procedures before observing how the unit was taken off line. Taking the time to mark the wires and where those wires should be connected can save you and your facility a lot of heart ache and down time.
Recently, I caught one of my technicians speaking with a customer regarding another drive we repaired. The unit was having communication errors. The technician walked the customer through installing the drive over the phone. Not only did he go over the installation with the customer he even explained how to upload the firmware for the unit. The customer became very frustrated when the drive did not work upon installation. My technician assured the customer that we repaired the drive and fully load tested it before it left our facility. We asked the customer to send the unit back in for evaluation, once we received it the technician felt that the unit was in optimal working order. Then he started examining the communication error the customer told him about over the phone. The communication card for the drive was not the same communication card that came with the unit when it came to our facility for the initial repair. The wiring pin configuration for the communication card for the original repair was a 4 pin configuration. When the unit was returned the communication card had a 12 pin configuration. The customer in his attempt to upgrade certain parts of the drive replaced the communication card thinking it would not have any effect on the operation of the drive. Essentially, it shut the drive down. Two things we can learn from this situation. One, don’t swap components on your equipment unless you are completely sure of the effects it will have on your production line. Secondly, always be upfront with a technician when making changes to your equipment when it can affect the operation of your manufacturing production.
The final installation issue that is common in the industry has to do with firmware. When a drive fails because of a spike in power or not enough power to the unit it might lose its firmware. When the unit is sent in for repair we would not upload the firmware unless requested. When it is requested it is vitally important that the firmware that was originally installed on the unit should be the same when re-installed on the unit. We received a call about a repaired drive not working. We knew the drive was repaired and fully load tested it before we had returned it to our customer, but it failed for them upon installation. The customer assured us that they installed the programming correctly. After further evaluation the technician observed that the firmware was different from the firmware that was originally on the unit. We spoke with the customer and he said that he had downloaded the updated firmware for the updated version of this particular drive. Unfortunately, this program was not compatible with the older version of this drive. This is how the OEM’s convince customers to buy the latest and greatest equipment by not supporting their older obsolete equipment. Always back up your firmware on a flash drive or computer. If the OEM deems this unit obsolete you always have back up firmware if it is ever erased from the drive by unforeseen circumstances.
In this era where we do not want to take responsibility for failures during installation it is always wise to double check every part of the process of install. No one wants to admit that they made a mistake, but the sooner you admit to the mistake the quicker the problem can be resolved. When it boils down to saving time and money sometimes you have to walk through your installation processes step by step slowly and carefully. Always think before you install in order to be successful. You will save your sanity and be happier in the long run. However, when a mistake happens, we are always here to help!!!
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