186. War Stories with Chris and Adam Transcript

00:00 Chris: 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. All right. We’ve been asking for the war stories and you came through, and this is going to be a fun episode. Okay. We got from behind the curtain. We got him out. So you can actually see his face. The man, the myth, the legend Adam Sheets have welcome, Adam, how you doing brother?

00:23 Adam: 

I’m doing good. Thanks Chris. 

00:25 Chris: 

I’m so excited. So excited. So Adam and I, we worked on every EECO Asks Why episode. From the beginning. He’s been in my right-hand man. Tell me when I screw up, telling me when I do good ,when I screw up more often than good, but anyway, so we’re having the war stories. We’ve been asking them and we made a rule that I wouldn’t read them, so I will get them. And I just sent them straight to Adam and Andi shout out to Andi. We love you girl. And they would take the war stories and they were just holding them. And we’re gonna put a couple of these episodes together. So this is the first one.

So this is my first time hearing a lot of these, and Adam’s going to share them with me. And we’re just going to have some fun going through some of these war stories that you all submitted to Adam. Who’s up first? 

01:11 Adam: 

All right. So this one is from Bobby. Who’s an automation engineer with a system integrator. And so his story starts out this way. It was 4th of July in 2007 in a very popular Nonwovens textile factories calls him and the call goes something like this. Our plant is down. This plant is located in San Antonio, Texas. It’s a prophibus issue. We need your help get on the plane, come over. He had just gotten to his parents’ house, which was in Virginia. And he was in finally enjoying a holiday off for once. And so he spends a couple hours on the phone chasing down these issues, trying to do the best that he could troubleshooting it from that perspective. And in doing so kind of fast forward to the end of the story, they actually fixed the problem via some connectors and some resistors being moved from a wrong spot and back and forth. So they’re able to get this machine back up and running. They thought that it was all the same issues and he actually has an anecdote in here. This is why it comes back to actually giving good fault diagnostics when you build a control systems.

But nonetheless, 5:00 AM 4th of July, 2007. He has to get on an airplane from Tennessee and fly to San Antonio, Texas, and walk in and start dealing with the touch screens. So I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced any of this, Chris, but you know, being as a distributor, do you have any personal experience of running into these types of issues where everything goes now?

02:47 Chris: 

Yeah. I mean, I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve been on the other side of the phone from a distributor standpoint, supporting that engineer, that system integrator, who, you know, the heat’s on. Right. I mean, you’re in. The spotlight is shining and there is no way you can get out from underneath it. You know, I’m just thinking about a story right now, where it was an engineer that I work for at EECO, he shall remain nameless. It was something with the PLC program. And when a code actually ran for the first time, it shut the process down and like the mill went down. He went outside. I think you threw up. I’m pretty sure he did throw up. He went back in and fixed it, but I mean, he, you know, in those moments, when you get those phone calls, it’s on you, I mean, you got to step up and own it. It sounds like Bobby and this, in this case, in this scenario he got that phone call and he had to step in. 

03:39 Adam: 

That’s right. So I’m picking back up the story here because we’re not done with it. So he gets to the HMI’s starts evaluating the problems. The safety won’t reset. They got prophibus errors from the alarm history, not active alarms. I think they were confusing alarm history and active alarms. So another side note, HMI developers make that clear. Don’t put them all in the same historical alarm area, make two different ones, history and active alarms. Please. A little trick. He very much emphasized that. 

Anyways, in doing all this, he walks around to the hopper and he opens the door. And he looks at the safety switch because the safety will reset at this point. Then although the door will crank in via the Acme, screw it’s bottoming out, but you can still push the door. And so then he says, there’s no way that safety switch is making. So he opens it back up and he looks at the acme threads and he sees that there is non-woven fiber. Around the threads that is causing the screw to bind up and not tighten all the way. So he takes out his ballpoint pen, cleans the threads of the screws, pushes it back in, hits the button. That clears it. 

05:02 Chris: 

That cleared it.

05:03 Adam: 

That was it. That was the problem. 

05:05 Chris: 

That was a problem. That was an expensive, trip to fix it with the ballpoint pen. 

05:14 Adam: 

That’s right. I mean, he even goes on to say that the production manager comes out and says, what did you do? What did you do? I mean, keep in mind, he’s been there less than 20 minutes and he’s like, guys, I just cleared all the alarms, cleaned out the screw then it cranks right back up. So he goes around and keeps, you know, making sure everything’s okay because he’s there. And what was so frustrating, he says is that this production manager, when he was on the first phone call to tell him to get on that plane, he said, we’ll pay whatever it takes to get you out here. And then he finds out it was a fiber in the screw. I just think that’s hilarious. 

05:53 Chris: 

That is a hilarious man. I tell you what I mean that’s lessons learned the hard way. You know, I’ve heard stories too, where motors trip at a saw mill. I got a lot of saw mill stories, but anyway, and it kept tripping and this was after our outage, by the way, assessing important part of this one and the motor kept tripping. And they got so mad. They’re like, why won’t this motor run it’s supposed to run. Like, but it kept tripping out. And so they finally went out and they looked at the load. And what happened was they were doing maintenance on the carriage during the outage. And somehow the chain had got welded to the frame.

So did literally, it was like, you know, it was a mechanical lockdown position. They’re like, it won’t go on anywhere. So the motor man, you could’ve put a thousand horsepower motor and that thing is still would’ve locked up. Right. The point of that, why that story came up is because it’s the mechanical issues. Like in this case that there’s so many times the finger pointing happens, it’s mechanical electrical it’s, you know, sometimes it can be either. You know, you `need to really take troubleshooting and validate each step. So that great story there. Thank you, Bobby, for sending that one.

07:02 Adam: 

Yeah, for sure. And it, just goes to show too, in a pressure situation, you have to take a second and just breathe and go through all the little things. Cause it took Bobby coming in with a fresh set of eyes and not having as much of that panic. That’s right. I’m sure everybody else feeling there, so that’s right.

Well, that was a great, that was a great story. Thanks Bobby. So here’s another one. I got one from Polo. He’s a channel manager at a major manufacturer. And he says earlier in his career, when he was a sales engineer up in Ohio, he had a customer of his in the food and bev industry call them after hours, 6:30. Says, hey, our injection line is down and we need to serveo. So he kicked it into high gear called the distributor account manager. And you know, he jumped in his car and drove out to the customer site to just be physically there to see how he could help. By the time he got there, he saw the president of the company under the machine trying to fix it. Now he continued to do his thing. He was on the phone with the coordinator. He was of the motion specialists and technical support. He was trying to orchestrate everybody but what he wanted to take away from this major piece is even though they got everything up and running and fixed he was so impressed by the president of the company, turning wrenches, try and fix this thing. And he says that really speaks to the leadership of just servant leadership. And so that’s what he wanted to call out. 

08:36 Chris: 

First thing that comes to mind when I heard that story again, this is the first time I’m hearing these Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership, and he’s he speaks about directly you know, being an owner and owning it from soup to nuts. And it sounds like to me, this was a, the president of the company, that’s pretty like he’s up there. Right. I mean, and now, you know, complete humble. You know, serving others and getting down and making it happen. So, I mean, that is what manufacturing is all about. I mean, you got to strip the titles away at the end of the day, you know, the company that, values its people and recognize, Hey we gotta make the best. The most competitive, you know, all the things that are working against us and we come together and I tell you what, another thing, that’s a pressure packed situation. And he could have handled that so many different ways, man, like that could have went really bad, but like this, that shows the character of that person. That for sure. Yeah. 

09:43 Adam:

Well, the only thing that stands out to me is, you know, we’ve interviewed over a hundred guests now through our podcasts and everything that I’ve heard talking with both end customers, people who started out as a customer and have now gone to the other side of, you know, either in manufacturing or distribution or whatever. What has always stood out to me is how it’s very much a family atmosphere. When something goes down, it’s all hands in and everybody just does what they need to do in order to make it get back to the right state. So that really stands out to me. I’ve just speaks to the industry. 

10:20 Chris: 

It does. It does. I did see something the other day though, that said, you know, manufacturing is more like a community, actually pointed out, not family because you know, there’s could be a lot of dysfunction in the family. That’s right. But just community pulling all together, all hands on deck. I mean, but that’s a great story. And it sounds like that company is definitely got the right leadership and the leadership sets the culture and the vision and where are they going to go? And I’m sure they’re going to be doing wonderful things in the future. 

10:55 Adam: 

All right. So the next one that we have here is from Tim Wilborne at TW controls. He submitted a video. So what we’re going to do is we’re gonna play that for those of you who are watching those are on audio. You’re not missing much, just a few little funny graphics that he has across the screen.

So I encourage you to look at that if you can, all right, Chris, I’m to take it away here. Okay. 

11:14 Tim: 

I want to put a tractor trailer on its roof with a jumper wire. And while it wasn’t as dramatic as this, it was still very dramatic and very scary. And there’s an important lesson to be learned here. So it started out like so many projects, you know, I had the components sitting on the table and I wanted to do some testing and I said, oh yeah, I’ve got a jumper wire and I’m jumping over. And it’s like, okay. Yeah, it works. Yeah. It works. Try to work my code. And then we mounted all on the machine and now we have actual switches and buttons and things that we’re supposed to use. But I left my jumper wire on there just in case. So this machine was supposed to clamp the cab and rotate it 90 degrees.

And you hit the button, clamps come down, rotates 90 degrees, you hit another button and it rotates it back down. I saw something that was concerning when it rotated one of the times. And instead of hitting the button, like I was supposed to make it do the whole automatic process, I still had that jumper and I reached over there and just hit that jumper. And that cab started rotating up. 

12:13 Adam: 

Where do you think it’s going?

12:15 Chris: 

No where good. I’m wondering what’s Tim is getting ready to say here.

12:24 Tim: 

And when it got to about 70 degrees, that’s just like, something feels wrong about what’s going on here. And I realized, oh my goodness, I forgot to clamp the cab down. And so I killed the e-stop and the thing is about here and it just slowly ticked over and then it crashed out on the ground. Now it’s a funny story, but I use the story in my class a lot when I have somebody eager with a jumper wire, because if somebody had been standing there, I would have killed them. So watch out for those jumper wires.

12:59 Chris: 

First of all, if you’re listening to this and you’re not following Tim, stop what you’re doing right now and go follow Tim. I mean, that’s number one, like TW Controls, the stuff that he does, industrial sorcerer. He is amazing. That story. I mean, have you seen, I don’t know if you’ve been to any plants or manufacturers who have that type of process, like have you ever seen a tractor trailer being unloaded that way?

13:21 Adam:

No I’ve personally gone to more manufacturing sites. And so I’ve seen some of these massive machines, you know, stamping and all that kind of stuff. 

13:33 Chris: 

But it’s like when you see like a tractor trailer, like he’s talking about, cause I’ve had several pulp mills and things like that. I’ve seen them, chip mills and that’s how they unload the trucks. And like, I’ve always thought about like, what if the dude left his Mountain Dew and the cup holder? Cause that truck literally goes 90 degree. I’m like no way in the world, you know? It just, it’s pretty amazing when you look at it. But I mean, to Tim’s point, you know, first of all, do your simulation, do your testing, you know, do all that stuff up front. There’s so many simulators out there, but you know, extra due diligence when it comes time to actual implementation, you know? And I also think that may be a good point. Like he’s mentioning to having another set of eyes behind you and looking through, you know, some of that as you’re going through never hurts. I mean, it’s a great story. Glad nobody got hurt, but I mean, it sounded like the way he sets up all his videos just captures your eye right out the gate. Flip the truck with a jumper wire, you know, like. Oh, I love that guy. Love that guy.

14:40 Adam: 

So we have another one here from Jackson. He is an instrumentation and automation controls technician. And he said we were having a trouble with a drive and it would randomly stop, but we didn’t see any fault. Weeks would go by and eventually I noticed an inverter thermal overload factory limit fault. Now that’s a mouthful. 

15:07 Chris: 

So it was getting hot. 

15:10 Adam: 

Yeah. It looks like it. We made some adjustments by calling the manufacturer and they helped him do some motor tests. He changed the parameter and we stopped getting the fault.

Another week goes by and it happens again, at this point, they’ve already changed the drive. And so they decided to change the encoder. After doing that, they noticed an issue with the cable. The cable is then fixed and the fault goes away, but the drive is still having issues. So he decided to call multiple people from programming, contractors to people within the company, no one had a foolproof plan, so he calls the manufacturer back and they helped to a point, but they would get stuck again with no progress. This had turned into a 12 hour day of no production. Yeah, that doesn’t sound good. So they changed the motor and they went back to the original drive just to see if they were missing something right. Still nothing worked. So he called the manufacturer again and it turns into a four-hour conversation.

And he was speaking directly with the manufacturers engineers at this point. They noticed parameters didn’t look right. And they would make some changes and they were constantly stating that stuff didn’t look normal and things are happening, but they’ve never seen it before. Finally, they ran some more tests remotely on his computer to the drive and boom just starts working. 16 hours of downtime and trying to get this thing back and going. And that’s what it was. So he was asking them, what was it? And he’s this to this day, he still literally doesn’t know how it was fixed and he was terrified that nobody could fix it, but it’s working again. So, scary stuff, but he was glad that nightmare is over. 

17:14 Chris: 

I guess I’d rather be lucky than good, right? I mean, wow. I mean, it’s, you know, and I’ve been on that where you’re talking to technical support and you’re trying to figure it out, whether it’s a PLC, HMI drive, you know, whatever that piece of equipment is and it can feel like you’re, it takes forever. And I know that a lot of times those technical support, you know, they ask a ton of, kind of elementary questions because you got to rule out the basics first, there’s logic to troubleshooting, you know, and unfortunately for Jackson, it doesn’t sound like at the end he knew what that logic was, but I mean, I’m glad they were able to get it. I mean, sounds like it was definitely something with some of those parameters that just got way off. And then when you start making that many changes, It can really be hard to stay on top of where, you know, where you were, you know what I’m saying? 

18:01 Adam: 

I mean, I think that did a great job of going back to the original and see if they could push it through, because it didn’t matter what they were putting in. It was still causing the same issue, but still it doesn’t seem that he ever got to know what, what was going on. 

18:15 Chris: 

Yeah as an engineer or as someone that’s just naturally inquisitive. That can be frustrating. Right? I mean, you wanna, I mean, that’s how we get better. We take a look back, we learn from our mistakes.

We make those adjustments, we move forward and you know, when you don’t have that data to look back and say, okay, here’s what we did to fix it. That can be challenging. That was a cool story though. I mean, I’m glad he got it going. Sounds like he has a good experience at the end. It just took him 16 hours to get there.

18:47 Adam: 

That’s scary to see how, you know, that’s a full production day right there. 

18:54 Chris: 

Day and a half. So Adam, they were four great stories, man. I, we were definitely hoping to get some good ones we definitely did. So, you know, I can’t thank the listeners enough for people who submitted them. And if you’re listening to this right now, we’re still working on more war stories. I mean, we want to have more of these out there because this is where the rubber meets the road. You know, manufacturing isn’t always perfect things happen, but that’s okay. You know, we learn, we can share, we can laugh. We can grow together. And that’s through sharing these war stories. I think that’s where the growth happens. Check out the show notes. There’s links there. You can connect directly with Adam, with me to give us those submissions to Andi. We’re all right there. You can connect with us directly and we really want to hear them.

I mean, think about the stuff you tell that a dinner party or you going out and you sitting around, you know, in the summertime by the pool. And you’re thinking about something funny, that happened. That’s the stuff we want to share. We want to get that out there. So check out those show notes. And for that. And if you like an EECO Asks Why and the stuff we’re trying, you know, we’re trying to straight talk, we’re trying war stories. Of course we have the ideas, the heroes, we had the panel discussions, let us know what you like, but then also share it out. You know, Adam puts a ton of work. Andi puts a ton of work. They really spent a lot of time making sure that we’re providing everyone out there value. So share that with your friends, with your neighbors. Give us a five-star rating. Give us that review that makes all the difference in the world. And just remember to keep asking why.