Posts tagged 'Work'

Vampire Overalls

I was asked to join some others on a site visit today to look at an upcoming job. As a control engineer, it is very rare that I have to ware overalls and do site visits, most of my time is at my desk, in the control room or in …

Missing Training

I attended a training session today on compressors, turbines and how they are controlled. It was specifically looking at the advanced control schemes used to avoid surge, while maintaining smooth operation and maximising the operating range of the machines.

While the specifics of the algorithms used were interesting, it was …

How Do You Know If You Understand Something?

The best way to find out if you really understand something is to explain it to someone else. I haven't found any other test that is as rigorous and certain to uncover the truth.

I was reminded of this today. I knew that I wasn't completely up to speed with …

When You Know the Answer

There is phrase associated with quizzes: All questions are easy when you know the answer.

I noticed today that it can apply to many problems, not just quizzes. In quick succession, I ended up being presented with a number of problems, each one of which I had either come across …

One Day Work Week

It may have been a Friday, but after two days off, it definitely felt like a Monday. I actually found it a bit disorientation. Luckily, I don't think I have to worry about the week getting shortened to one day for a while yet.

I'd Love to Help But

Just as I am shutting my computer down at the end of the day, one of the other members of my team walks over to talk to me.

Projects want to test a new piece of equipment tomorrow morning but I am off tomorrow.

He then starts to explain the …

Reading the Manual

I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to fix a graphic. Most of the day felt like a waste as I tried different settings and menus, but I didn't manage to fix the problem. Then, just as I was about to leave, I found a set of pdf manuals …

Working While Cycling

I attempted to get on with some deep work today, trying to get my head around some concepts and work out what the best way to approach a certain problem is. I don't manage to get very far. Despite several attempts to focus on the problem, my brain wasn't having …

Background Noise

The job I spent most of today required a fair amount of focus. It wasn't a particularly difficult task, but took quite a while and was pretty repetitive.

I had lots of errors on lots of files, and I just had to work my way through each one fixing them …

Happy with my Position

Last night I attended a "networking mixer" by the Edinburgh University ChemEng Society. A selection of alumni were invited along to give some short talks about the companies they work for, what their career has been like and advise for those that are looking to get a placement or graduate …

Is it Worth the Time

There is a great XKCD comic, is it worth the time, that displays the maximum amount of time you can spend on a project before the payback is more than 5 years, depending on how often you do it, and how much time you save each time you do it …

Which Plug?

I had my laptop plugged into a bank of 4 sockets in a meeting room. But which socket was I plugged into? I don't want to unplug the projector by accident. Following the cables is harder because they were threaded down the back of the desks, keeping things nice and …

Hosting Quick Meetings

Early in my career, I had a duty to occasionally host a daily meeting. I was always worried that I would make a mess of it, that the meeting would drag on, that we wouldn't get round to covering all the necessary items. It turned out that it wasn't a …

Entering the World of Work

Ten years ago I started my first "proper" job. My first job after graduating, in the world of chemical engineering. I, along with about 20 other recent graduates, arrived at a conference center in the middle of the countryside near Peterborough to start working for British Sugar.

When I first …

Complicated but Clear

I had to describe the details of a project that I have been working on for the last year. It is quite a large project that touches on lots of different systems. I needed to explain all the systems that are affected in the clearest way possible.

I spent a …

Managerless Meetings

Last week my wife mentioned that she had had a day full of meetings at work. But unlike normal, all the management team were off at a different set of meetings. As a result, the meetings actually ran smoothly and painlessly.

Today I had a similar meeting. All the managers …

Customer Acceptance

Sign directing 'To Customer Acceptance Centre'
Acceptance Centre
Sign directing 'To Customer Acceptance Centre'
Acceptance Centre
Close

I know what it actually means, but when I read this sign, I had a vision of the company lining up all their customers and deciding which of us they were going to accept and offer a service to.

Two Hours: 4 Characters

Productivity can be difficult to measure at the best of times. Even more so when you are programing. This afternoon, I wanted to add a feature to a webapp I had been working on. The first step was to import some data. How hard could it be?

I wrote what …

A Frustrating Phrase

Once you have been doing a job for a while, you end up seeing some problems that have been encountered before. In most cases this is a good thing because it makes it easy to fix it the subsequent times. But occasionally a long period of time has passed between …

Back in the Office

Today was my first day back in the office after a week long break. So I wasn't able to enjoy the sunshine as I walked or cycled through the park. Instead I was inside a blast resistant building with little connection to the outside world.

And it was brilliant. Because …

ABB Presentations

Despite being on holiday this week, I attended a seminar by ABB on energy efficiency and smart sensors.

There were two presentations, the second presentation was about permanent condition monitoring devices that remain in place on each piece of equipment and gather data every hour. Then the data is collected …

Simple and Silly Pleasures

There are some simple things that can bring more pleasure than they probably ought to. During a meeting today, we were working out what the next steps were. My manager was mid way through assigning some tasks for me to do on Monday morning when I pointed out:

Except I …

Holiday Booked

I have ay last actually booked some days off work. I had great plans at the start of the year to work out when we would take time off as a family, but never actually did so. Earlier this week I realised that we are now nearly half way through …

Being a Unit of Measurement Part 2

Last month I wrote about a challenge at work where one of my colleagues had decided that he was going to weigh the same as myself by the end of the shutdown. Today was declared the last day and our weights were compared.

  • He started weighing 1.508 Alistairs
  • He …

Two Tasks

I started the day with two tasks that I wanted to complete. One, I thought would be very simple, it is done so many times, all I would need to do is find an example online and copy it, possibly with a couple of minor tweeks. The second task involved …

Same Road, Different Journey

Today I needed to go back to our supplier's factory to do some more testing, but I also had a meeting first thing at our own site first. As a result, I drove over to the other factory at 10:15 rather than the usual 07:15.

What a difference …

Spending a Bank Holiday in a Quiet Factory

I am used to the idea of working on a bank holiday. The place I work at just lumps all the bank holidays into your normal annual holiday allowance1. If you want to take the bank holiday off, you need to book it off. The places my dad and …

Being a Unit of Measurement

At the start of last month, a team member announced that at the end of the shutdown, he was going to weigh the same as me. He was going to start eating healthier and focusing on his exercise. I was unaware of this at the time, I was working off-site …

Re-examining Exams

I was listening to a discussion about a study titled “Bullshitters. Who Are They and What Do We Know about Their Lives?”. Most of the other coverage of the study has been around which groups of people were shown to be either more or less truthful while merely describing the …

Code Golf at Work

For the past three weeks, I have been at a suppliers factory testing a project prior to delivery to site. The other day, one of the managers of the other company came over to our group and gave a graduate a challenge, write an excel script to colour each cell …

More on Hats

After yesterday's post, I remembered about a time when working in Newark. I was living on my own in a flat, and had no car at the time.

As a result, any time I was outside, I would have a helmet on. I had no garden to spend time in …

Teaching Others

One thing I noticed during the regen was that I always ended up in a better mood after I had a teaching session. Anytime someone asked me about the process, I couldn't help myself and would launch into a lecture about it. I really do enjoy the opportunity to pass …

It Doesn't Get Old

During last night's shift, we were talking about the construction of the building we were in and one of the operators asked if I remembered them building it.

I knew it was a long time before I started working there but asked when it was built and was told 1997 …

A Meta Work Day

Today was one of those days that I didn't actually do much 'real' work.

By 'real' work I mean building, fixing or improving things. No today was a meta work day. A day spend talking or writing about other work.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It involved meeting others …

Caring Too Much

Back in 2013, I was the lead operations engineer for a shutdown event. It was not a full unit turnaround, however it did involve replacing the unit's reactors, which had been in operation since the unit was first built nearly 50 years ago, with new ones. On top of that …

The Easy Bit

I spent the majority of today finishing up the user interface for a simple app I am building. I have probably spent two days in total building the UI, though the program doesn't actually do anything with the information yet.

I still have to do the 'hard' engineering bit with …

Back to Play

Today was the first work day of the new year for myself. Lucky the place was mostly quiet and everyone else was catching up on their own work.

As a result I was able to hyper focus on several jobs and I got much more work done than I had …

Jack of All Trades

After posting yesterday's post, I thought further about it and though I don't need to know much more about electricity, I do know more and want to learn more. I like learning, particularly about different subjects.

My background as a chemical engineer has given me a good understanding for what …

Twas the Day Before Christmas

And all through the CCB1
Not a control engineer was fiddling
Not even me2.

This is one of those days for working offline, in the office and wherever possible, avoiding doing anything in the control room. Sure if something breaks, fixing it is the top priority. But the …

Little Tricks

One of my colleagues was having trouble earlier today with modifying a tag and asked me to help. This tag had some custom code attached to it and he wanted to add another set of custom code. Whenever he tried linking the code to the tag, he kept getting an …

Working from Home

One of the kids was ill over the weekend and needed to be kept away from nursery. So rather than completely writing the day off, I setup my laptop as a remote workstation in the dining room. The child was kept entertained by the TV and the occasional interaction from …

Safety Behaviours

At work we were introduced to an initiative that will be rolled out fully in the new year: safety behaviours.

The introduction went along the lines of: you all know how to behave in a church, and how to behave in a pub. These behaviours will be different and we …

The Purpose of a Procedure

I frequently see people make a comment regarding procedures along the lines of "monkey see, monkey do", "they take the thought out of the job" or "they treat us like idiots".

I want to take this opportunity to say that is not how I see or use procedures. If you …

Bullying Bosses

In one of my previous jobs, I did not particularly get on with one of my supervisors. This is not that surprising and to be honest, it would probably be surprising if I had gotten on with every supervisor I have encountered.

This particular supervisor was not my direct line …

My Fingerprints are Everywhere

During the Process Hazard Analysis that we are currently carrying out, there have been a number of occasions when we are referencing procedures and other documents to check how we are currently managing the various hazards.

It is always a bit worrying when you see that the document in question …

Ways to Make a Bang

It seems almost fitting that on the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes night, that I would spend the day working out different ways to blow stuff up.

Today was the first day performing a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) of the plant I used to look after as an operations engineer …

The Joy of Running a Script

I had the joy today if running a script which took about 20 seconds to run, and in that time, saved another member of my team days of work.

Of course it took me several hours to write the script, to work on the first file but once that first …

7 Years at Grangemouth

Today marks the seven year anniversary of my employment at Grangemouth Refinery. Unfortunately it has been spent at home recovering from a stomach bug.

I am sure that I managed the first few years without having to take any time off for sickness, but in recent years it has become …

Starting to Cleanup My Own Mess

At the start of the year, I hacked together a small spreadsheet that did many things that a spreadsheet is not meant to do. It was meant as a proof of concept however is started adding more and more to it. I had a few goes at tidying up the …

XML Woes

My dislike of XML has just gotten stronger.

I have been working on, and failing to succeed with, two projects involving XML.

One involved manipulating XML written by another program. The problem is that this program was not intending to share this XML with any other programs, so there are …