Making an Integration Project both Pretty and Functional

Oct 25, 2016 2:03:01 PM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

Presentation sometimes takes a backseat in the heat of a project, but it’s worth considering because how something appears on the outside has an effect on the customer and their impressions of the work and care that went into creating the final product.

makeitpretty.jpgMAVERICK, like many companies, starts meetings with a safety moment. Recently, we've added the practice of having a quality moment as well, and in one recent case, it delivered an unexpected teaching moment. A coworker was asked to give a quality moment. As a joke, he said, "Make it pretty." He was kidding, and we knew that. Then we started talking about it.

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Converting Control Systems: Don’t Forget Strategy Improvements

Jun 8, 2016 11:30:00 PM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

strategy.jpgConsider investing the time to write a scope that includes control strategy improvement and open the door to taking advantage of the functionality provided by a new control system.

One of the most frustrating specifications I see in scope documents is, “Convert the existing control system as-is. We will leave control strategy improvements for later.” It’s painful because if I’ve learned anything during 24 years in systems integration, later never comes.

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Creative Teamwork

Aug 26, 2015 11:02:42 AM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

In order for the whole project to be successful, each part of the project must be successful, and all the parts must work together. In that way, there really is only one team.

Last night I dreamed about St. Isidore of Seville.  In my dream he explained, “I’m here to give you a look at the afterlife.”  I replied, “I’m glad to meet you, St. Isidore. You’re a good choice of guide for someone in process automation!”  He laughed and said, “True, but I almost couldn’t make it, there’s a bad computer virus going around.” 

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Still learning about process automation

May 13, 2015 4:33:00 AM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

No matter how long someone has been a part of the process automation industry; there is always something new to learn and new strategies to employ.

Earlier this year a colleague surprised me by complaining about needing to learn a new control system: “I’m 48 years old. I thought by this time in my life I would know all I needed to know about my profession.” What an amazing idea! That may be possible for some fields, but it’s not the case for process automation.

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Hazards of the technical solution

Oct 15, 2014 10:16:00 AM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

Proper documentation of a solution can be the key to improving future operations for your control system and your colleagues.

During the French Revolution, a doctor, a lawyer, and an engineer were scheduled to be executed. The doctor was taken to the guillotine, saying his last prayers. The blade dropped, and jammed halfway down. After some discussion, the guards and officials decided to let him go. The doctor went away rejoicing, planning to open a clinic for the poor out of gratitude. When the lawyer was taken to the guillotine, again the blade jammed halfway down. He was also set free. He left happily, planning to devote the rest of his career to pro bono work. As the engineer was led to the guillotine he looked up at the device and said, “You know, I think I see what’s wrong with it.”

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Identifying a clear scope, target to increase achievability

Sep 3, 2014 4:56:00 AM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

After 24 years of implementing controls projects, I’m something of a control freak. I have this expectation that I’ll know what I’m required to do for a particular project. It’s not always a realistic expectation.

Some projects I’ve worked on have had the (unofficial) scope of, “We’re going to do stuff! And make the plant run better!” On one level, this is very appealing. It’s a scope that can almost certainly be met. Failure is unlikely, if not impossible.

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Enhancing piping, instrumentation diagrams to fit your needs

Aug 27, 2014 3:50:42 AM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

Process overview documents don’t always include everything you may need for a project, so don’t be afraid to add your own grubby little sketches.

When I start work on a project, the first thing I do is get an understanding of the process that will be controlled. Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) are a useful resource, but they are multi-purpose documents. They may include piping codes, vessel specifications, and construction notes. A process usually covers multiple P&IDs.

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Converting control systems: Take the time to improve control strategy

Aug 5, 2014 10:24:05 AM | Posted by Mayann Stroup

Consider investing the time to write a scope that includes control strategy improvement and open the door to taking advantage of the functionality provided by a new control system.

One of the most frustrating expressions I see in scope documents is, “Convert the existing control system as it is. We’ll make control strategy improvements later.” It’s painful to see. In my 24 years in systems integration, I’ve learned that later never comes.

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