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#1 Jul 18 2013 at 5:21 PM Rating: Good
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Seven days ago, a machine in the factory I work in started acting very odd. It would power down randomly during a cycle. We own 47 of these machines, and I have personally never seen one of them do that in the 8 years I've worked there. I was called to the machine, told of the problem, and I started checking some things. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and I ran the machine four more times myself, no problem. Called the operator back over, they ran it twice while I watched, nothing. I walk away, talk to the supervisors, and start heading back to my office. I hear a shout, turn around, supervisor is waving me back over. Machine did it again as soon as we had walked away.

Not entirely unheard of, I mean, machines have had strange issues in the past, and things come and go. So I grab a part number, tell the supervisor that maybe this power supply is overheating and powering down because of it. Tell them to leave it off until after their break and start it up then, if it happens again just shut it down and I'll fix it with a spare part in the morning. I go home.

Sure enough, it happened again as soon as they started it up after break and ran two parts. I get in, replace the part, start it up on first shift, it runs all day without any issues. Second shift comes in, and within 30 minutes of the shift starting it happens again. I tell them to deal with it and I'll look at it in the morning. This goes on for a whole week. Each time second shift shuts the machine down because of issues, and every morning I check and replace a component in the power circuit. Each time it runs all day on first shift without an issue. The last day, I've ran out of components in the power circuit, everything has been ruled out as the source of the fault. That is everything except the operator. From the very beginning, the operator pressing the power off button was in the back of my mind, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. But they could start the machine up on 3rd shift, run all night, run all day on 1st, and only have issues on 2nd. I let my boss know of my concerns, but did not express them to the supervisors because I wasn't 100% sure.

Sure enough, last night they moved that operator to another machine, same model, etc. The original machine ran perfectly throughout the night, but this new machine suddenly had issues, including randomly powering down during a cycle. They shut the machine down for the night, and when I came in this morning, I checked it out, reset it, and it ran all day without a single issue. During the morning production meeting the President/CEO asked me what was up with these machines, and since I still didn't feel 100%, I just told him I had an idea about what was happening and would be monitoring the issue. The plant manager looks at me and kind of smiles. I figure he knows what I mean.

Second shift operator came in today, and I looked around trying to figure out what machine she was running that night so I could keep an eye on it in the morning. But I don't see her anywhere. I looked on our plant wide production schedule and did not see her active on any machine.

What gets me, is if she is sabotaging these machines, she must have at least some intelligence. But if she has some smarts, how does she not understand that we can catch her doing this sh*t? She has to realize that by doing it on the second machine she was moved to, it pretty much guarantees her being caught. And by moving her away from the machine in question, and it suddenly not having any more issues, it pretty much guarantees her being caught. There was no end to this ordeal that ended well for her. And I'm not 100% up on these laws but it seems like maliciously sabotaging equipment to cause a loss of production and money for a company can lead to some very dangerous situations for a person...

To make the issue worse, she had the 2nd shift supervisor covering her ***. In private about day 6 I asked him if he had tried another operator (made it sound like a joke to avoid accusing) and he told me "Ha, ya, I watched it happen, she was no where near the machine at the time". Which appears to be a lie now. This supervisor is relatively new (only 4 or 5 months) and he seems to have a thing for all the young attractive women that work on his shift. Including this woman. Last night I was monitoring the machine she was on before I left to see if it was having any issues. He was over there personally showing her how to clean the parts. That's definitely not his job. He's not there to train operators, he's there to supervise, there are four employees who are in charge of keeping machines running and training new operators on jobs. The only reason he was there showing her how to do it is because she was an attractive young woman. I'm actually planning to bring up this supervisor's improper behavior when dealing with certain employees on his shift to the plant manager tomorrow. Because I just know that the only reason this woman was allowed to waste so much of our time and money was because this supervisor allowed it to happen.

I'm just frustrated right now because this supervisor has always rubbed me the wrong way, but now I have some pretty damning proof of his inability to supervise affecting the business in a very noticeable way.

Edited, Jul 18th 2013 7:38pm by TirithRR
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#2 Jul 18 2013 at 6:50 PM Rating: Excellent
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People do wierd things if they think they can get away with it. She may not think there is any way you can prove it's her. I'd be sticking a hiddn camera pointed at that power button somewhere, or maybe rig something up with a spare toggle sensor and a data recorder if you have one and log how many times and when the power switch is actually pressed. If that doesn't do the trick, maybe just start a rumor that you're reviewing the (nonexistant) security camera footage to see who keeps pressing the power button, and make sure it circulates wide enough that she stops out of fear before she gets someone hurt.

I got to deal with an issue of workplace sabotage once. Two consultant workers at a certain bridge project, both working on the same aspect of the project (transit planning or something like that), both attending the same meetings, etc. One of the two people kept missing meetings, and insisting that the exchange e-mail server was either "eating" her messages, or deleting them from her calendar. So we would start diagnosing, looking at the timestamps, looking at login records, delivery, settings, what have you. everything possible to troubleshoot, and the server and her account were operating flawlessly, But it still kept happening. This went on for almost 2 weeks. Finally we set up a blind screen remote session of her workstation with a login notification so we could watch the process as soon as she logged in, as long as it took for one to dissappear to see if we noticed anything at all. Just grasping at straws. Anyways, sure enough, the very next day her account logs in, someone opens outlook, and deletes a randoim handful of appointments. Only problem being, she wasn't in the building that day. Luckily, we were. So we run over there and we find her other, apperently junior co worker, sitting at her workstation happily deleting her meetings. Needless to say he was somewhat suprised that we caught him in the act. It turns out she had unwisely given him her password at some point, and he was trying to ***** her over to win points for a promotion inside the consultant agency they were both up for. We didn't even get to fire his *** though, since he was a consultant. all we could do was send a record of what happened to his bosses, and lock out his account and key card from the facility. I hear they eventually did fire him.

Another time we had a database administrator for a Primavera P6 database delete all the tables in a fit of pique before quitting. Which inconvenianced exactly 2 people for about an hour before the table restore job ran
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#3 Jul 18 2013 at 7:07 PM Rating: Good
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I just logged into our system again to see if she was active on any job, and so far she still is not. And not surprisingly every machine is running without problems. I'm imagining she is gone. I had heard through the grapevine in the morning that she was already on the list to be let go by Friday. Seems I wasn't the only one catching on.
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#4 Jul 18 2013 at 7:12 PM Rating: Good
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#5 Jul 18 2013 at 7:15 PM Rating: Good
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I thought about making that reference...
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#6 Jul 18 2013 at 7:16 PM Rating: Good
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Just how new is that operator?

My two immediate, mundane, thoughts on it are:

If she's new, she might really just be dumb as rocks.

If she's not new, she might be reciprocating that whole "thing with women" problem that the new supervisor has.

Edit: Bah, that's what I get when I don't refresh the topic before posting.

Edited, Jul 18th 2013 9:18pm by Ravashack
#7 Jul 18 2013 at 7:18 PM Rating: Good
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Maybe it's a frame-up!

But seriously. If the machine goes down and is inoperable, does the operator get a free shift? It seems awfully silly, to be honest. I can see sabotaging the one machine, but when you get switched, you either continue sabotaging the original machine, or sabotage a different machine, right? Because the act of switching you to a different machine is a pretty clear signal.
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#8 Jul 18 2013 at 7:29 PM Rating: Good
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She was new. Started sometime at the beginning of the month I think. I had never seen her before this week.

Dumb as rocks... maybe. But she would have had to purposefully hit that big red Power Off button and not realize she was shutting off the power? I can't imagine someone being that dumb, all joking aside.

And for Spoon, if the machine is down for an extended period of time the supervisor moves the operator to a new job. If it's a short problem, the operator just cleans up their area while the fix is happening. How long exactly depends on the supervisor and how readily available or needed the other jobs are. If they have things that need to run, and are ready to run, they will quickly move the operator. Otherwise they may stand around for 15-20 minutes, take a restroom break, grab water in the 95 degree weather, etc. Or a lot of the times the person fixing the job may be talking with the operator to try and find out exactly what is happening. I usually end up talking with the operators quite a bit to try and determine why something happened, how they made it occur, etc. Trying to duplicate what they've done to repeat the process.
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#9 Jul 18 2013 at 7:35 PM Rating: Good
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I guess I'm just trying to figure out what the net gain for the operator is here. Looks like attention is the only gain, really.
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#10 Jul 18 2013 at 7:44 PM Rating: Good
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Spoonless wrote:
I guess I'm just trying to figure out what the net gain for the operator is here. Looks like attention is the only gain, really.


That's what it looks like really. She must have really liked that supervisor.

The dumb as rocks part comes in because she doesn't have a better way to do it.
#11 Jul 18 2013 at 8:02 PM Rating: Good
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Spoonless wrote:
I guess I'm just trying to figure out what the net gain for the operator is here. Looks like attention is the only gain, really.


That was my main mental struggle when first thinking about the idea she was doing it. What do they gain? Don't want to work, just want to get fired? She was free to leave at any time she wanted. Maybe it was something personal. She didn't want to, or couldn't, quit because of some reason at home, but if she could say they let her go...
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#12 Jul 18 2013 at 10:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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TirithRR wrote:

Dumb as rocks... maybe. But she would have had to purposefully hit that big red Power Off button and not realize she was shutting off the power? I can't imagine someone being that dumb, all joking aside.

If I have learned anything at my job it is NEVER underestimate the stupidity of people. I get on a DAILY basis "What do you mean by electrical cord, I have never in my life unplugged anything from a wall". And maybe her stupidity is prompting her to go "ooooh SHINY!! gotta press it".
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#13 Jul 18 2013 at 11:22 PM Rating: Excellent
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Is there any chance she was backing into the thing whilst talking with sleazy supervisor? I'm picturing in my mind one of those big red mushroom cap stop "Reactor SCRAM" safety buttons that have the hair triggers.
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#14 Jul 19 2013 at 4:05 AM Rating: Good
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
Is there any chance she was backing into the thing whilst talking with sleazy supervisor? I'm picturing in my mind one of those big red mushroom cap stop "Reactor SCRAM" safety buttons that have the hair triggers.


No, this wasn't an emergency stop button. It was a recessed power off button, located on the top left corner of a control panel, she had to reach up a bit to be able to press it.
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#15 Jul 19 2013 at 4:16 AM Rating: Good
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TirithRR wrote:
Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
Is there any chance she was backing into the thing whilst talking with sleazy supervisor? I'm picturing in my mind one of those big red mushroom cap stop "Reactor SCRAM" safety buttons that have the hair triggers.


No, this wasn't an emergency stop button. It was a recessed power off button, located on the top left corner of a control panel, she had to reach up a bit to be able to press it.


Maybe she was trying to get off by rubbing the vibrating machinery, and hit the button while trying to get a better hand hold.
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#16 Jul 19 2013 at 4:19 AM Rating: Good
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Yes, that is very likely...
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#17 Jul 19 2013 at 4:21 AM Rating: Good
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If my years of watching **** have taught me anything, it most certainly is very likely.
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#18 Jul 19 2013 at 6:26 AM Rating: Good
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Yeah, I like the vibrating machine feels good theory.

Don't give people too much credit. This she-employee may be doing something inadvertently that's causing the machine to shut off. Put your personal issues aside (your beef with the 'supervisor' is only making this matter worse for you - you sound jealous). Speak the facts as you know them, and suggest that you or someone else watch this operator run the faulty machine for a bit to see if the problem can be spotted.
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#19 Jul 19 2013 at 7:13 AM Rating: Good
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Tyrrant wrote:
If I have learned anything at my job it is NEVER underestimate the stupidity of people. I get on a DAILY basis "What do you mean by electrical cord, I have never in my life unplugged anything from a wall".
I get "Do I get to keep the gun?"
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#20 Jul 19 2013 at 7:29 AM Rating: Good
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Before I even got a chance to talk about the supervisor's behavior, I learned this morning that he has been suspended indefinitely due to certain activities that remain unknown outside of word of mouth... Seems like I don't have to express any concerns, because the people higher up already have something concrete.

And I don't know what you mean about me being jealous. You think I'm jealous that he's got inappropriate relations with his subordinates during work hours, and I don't? No.

I'm mad that I've likely had my days and nights, and important projects, interrupted because he let this woman he's got a thing for get away with ****. How would you feel being called at night because a machine suddenly stops working, only to later learn that it was very likely the operators fault, and the supervisor was potentially covering up something going on like that? Having to explain to CEOs why you can't solve a problem on a machine, spending time and money replacing components that you don't think are really bad but are the only thing wrong with the machine that could be causing it, watching a machine sit idle for over 60% of the time when there was really nothing wrong with it...

Jealous? No.
Frustrated that a couple people may have taken advantage of me, and I didn't want to blame them even though the idea was floating there in the back of my mind? Sure...

And there is nothing inadvertent that the operator can do that could cause the machine to power off. The only way for the operator to power it off in this way is if the operator pressed the Power Off button at the very top. The only button an operator presses during operation is the green one labelled "Cycle Start" near the bottom http://haascnc.com//SAPPI/documents/machines/CSMD_lg.jpg This is part of the reason why I did not want to believe it was an operator issue, because for the operator to do it, it would be very unlikely for it to be an accident. I have seen operators accidentally hit the control panel with parts, certain buttons, etc. But this particular part and button made it so unlikely to happen.
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#21 Jul 19 2013 at 7:32 AM Rating: Excellent
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TirithRR wrote:
Seems like I don't have to express any concerns, because the people higher up already have something concrete.
You should anyway. More evidence is always better, and it'll show your bosses that you were doing your job and had concerns at the very least.

Edited, Jul 19th 2013 10:35am by lolgaxe
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#22 Jul 19 2013 at 8:22 AM Rating: Good
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So it wasn't a vibrating machine leading to an uncontrolled ****** causing the operator to thrash about in throes of ecstasy to inadvertently hit the wrong button?

Disappointing.
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#23 Jul 19 2013 at 9:16 AM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
So it wasn't a vibrating machine leading to an uncontrolled ****** causing the operator to thrash about in throes of ecstasy to inadvertently hit the wrong button?

Disappointing.
Oh, it was. Even if it wasn't.


Especially if it wasn't.
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#24 Jul 19 2013 at 10:05 AM Rating: Good
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Some reliable details came out about the events. Ever since this supervisor started working, there was a large number of young women (ages 19-25 or so) who began applying for second shift. The ended up having a relatively high turn over rate, unskilled, not working out, etc. A few of us had joked about it, but never thought anything serious, because we were in a hiring boom, and the off shift was an undesirable shift and the non standard, poor quality, hires showing up on that off shift was not uncommon.

Recently it came up that some were lying about skills and experience on their resumes. When approached about it, they ratted out the supervisor, telling the management that he told them what to write on the resume to ensure they got hired, and on his shift. There were also accusations of various relations occurring in the front offices at night between him and some of these women. So there was a bit of truth to the jokes circulating the shop about how the supervisor was building up his "harem". Supervisor was escorted out of the shop by the HR Director and Plant Manager, and IT department was checking out his computer this morning.

Seems like something potentially serious for this guy. Definitely the strangest set of events that has happened here in many years.
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#25 Jul 19 2013 at 10:41 AM Rating: Excellent
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Supervisor isn't sharpest knife in the drawer. How did he expect this to work out? Smiley: confused
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#26 Jul 19 2013 at 10:49 AM Rating: Good
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Why was the machine shutting down?
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#27 Jul 19 2013 at 12:07 PM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
Why was the machine shutting down?

That hasn't changed. Still very likely that the cause was the operator pushing the power off button. Both machines have ran for over 48 hours without a single issue and the only change is the operator is no longer running them.

someproteinguy wrote:
How did he expect this to work out? Smiley: confused

Employment + Other "jobs" while doing the job you are getting paid for?

Edited, Jul 19th 2013 2:09pm by TirithRR
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#28 Jul 19 2013 at 1:11 PM Rating: Excellent
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Hey, if you have one of those CNC controllers laying around that you need someone to help test for a few years, I totally volunteer. Strictly in the interests of science and all. That is some seriously heavy duty CNC machining horsepower you got there. My little home built machine is jelous
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#29 Jul 19 2013 at 4:33 PM Rating: Good
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They are powerful, but pretty basic. Only 3 or 4 axis, single bed. We have a dozen double head, double machine bed, five axis center. The things are monsters. But also a pain in the as to work on, and all in German (or... English written by Germans). Which is harder to understand than the usual Japanese machines.

Edited, Jul 19th 2013 6:33pm by TirithRR
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#30 Jul 19 2013 at 4:37 PM Rating: Good
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Google translate?
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#31 Jul 19 2013 at 4:43 PM Rating: Excellent
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Big machines are cool.
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#32 Jul 19 2013 at 4:54 PM Rating: Good
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We have quite a few of these.



That shows both heads on one side, but it can split up and each head do individual jobs on each table (the other table is inactive off to the side in that video).
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#33 Jul 19 2013 at 5:47 PM Rating: Good
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TirithRR wrote:
We have quite a few of these.



That shows both heads on one side, but it can split up and each head do individual jobs on each table (the other table is inactive off to the side in that video).


So you make slides for a living?
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#34 Jul 19 2013 at 6:06 PM Rating: Excellent
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TirithRR wrote:
They are powerful, but pretty basic. Only 3 or 4 axis, single bed. We have a dozen double head, double machine bed, five axis center. The things are monsters. But also a pain in the as to work on, and all in German (or... English written by Germans). Which is harder to understand than the usual Japanese machines.


Well see, that's conveniant then, I read german pretty well so yeah, send me one of those? (it was worth a shot!)

An older picture of my machine:
Screenshot
The coolant collection tray exists now, and it's wired and plumbed and everything.

Just 3 Axis, Gecko G540 controller with a USB interface, and provision for a fourth control axis.
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#35 Jul 19 2013 at 6:08 PM Rating: Good
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Shaowstrike the Shady wrote:
So you make slides for a living?


That's just the only video I could find of the two head machine. I work in the automotive industry
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#36 Jul 20 2013 at 5:57 AM Rating: Good
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
TirithRR wrote:
They are powerful, but pretty basic. Only 3 or 4 axis, single bed. We have a dozen double head, double machine bed, five axis center. The things are monsters. But also a pain in the as to work on, and all in German (or... English written by Germans). Which is harder to understand than the usual Japanese machines.


Well see, that's conveniant then, I read german pretty well so yeah, send me one of those hire me a IT specialist and manual translator? (it was worth a shot!)
FTFY.
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#37 Aug 16 2013 at 6:13 PM Rating: Good
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Well, details never came out, but the supervisor in question never came back. And all the young women no longer work there. We aren't sure if they were let go following the whole ordeal or if they decided to quit themselves.
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#38 Aug 20 2013 at 2:01 PM Rating: Decent
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TirithRR wrote:
Elinda wrote:
Why was the machine shutting down?

That hasn't changed. Still very likely that the cause was the operator pushing the power off button.


Hard to tell from the angle in the picture you provided, but it looks like the EPO button isn't ringed? Could be wrong. She could very well have been accidentally hitting it. Although you'd think even someone not qualified to work on the equipment would figure that one out pretty quickly. And as you say, it's not in an obviously easy to accidentally press spot (don't know how the box itself is positioned in the workspace though.

Back in the day there was some model of tester we had (can't remember the vendor), that had the EPO directly on the front of the head (which is itself on an actuator). There was no protective ring around it, and all you had to do was lean over the machine to pick up or place a part in it, and you could easily hit it. It became a bit of a joke for new operators to see how long it took someone to accidentally power the machine off. Point being that even in such a terrible location, people rarely hit it that often once they knew where it was. You leaned in from the side. Still occasionally got a brain **** power off, but when it happened, everyone would laugh at the person, turn the equipment back on and move on.

I haven't seen an unprotected EPO in like 20 years though. ****, even datacenter EPOs have these now. They didn't for a long time, cause they're usually on a wall somewhere far far away from any equipment you'd be working on. Now the halon dump hold buttons? Not covered. Which is a good thing really.
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#39 Aug 20 2013 at 2:04 PM Rating: Excellent
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They yarded out our halon system and replaced it with a water based system in the datacenter because we might suffocate otherwise. Because electrocution in standing water is better for you apperently,
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#40 Aug 20 2013 at 2:18 PM Rating: Good
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
They yarded out our halon system and replaced it with a water based system in the datacenter because we might suffocate otherwise. Because electrocution in standing water is better for you apperently,
I think I'd rather be electrocuted than suffocate if given the choice, tbh.
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#41 Aug 20 2013 at 2:19 PM Rating: Good
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The One and Only Poldaran wrote:
Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
They yarded out our halon system and replaced it with a water based system in the datacenter because we might suffocate otherwise. Because electrocution in standing water is better for you apperently,
I think I'd rather be electrocuted than suffocate if given the choice, tbh.


Search for the video of the man in India being electrocuted after touching a live power line for a train. I'd rather suffocate.
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#42 Aug 20 2013 at 2:39 PM Rating: Good
Worst. Title. Ever!
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gbaji wrote:
TirithRR wrote:
Elinda wrote:
Why was the machine shutting down?

That hasn't changed. Still very likely that the cause was the operator pushing the power off button.


Hard to tell from the angle in the picture you provided, but it looks like the EPO button isn't ringed? Could be wrong. She could very well have been accidentally hitting it. Although you'd think even someone not qualified to work on the equipment would figure that one out pretty quickly. And as you say, it's not in an obviously easy to accidentally press spot (don't know how the box itself is positioned in the workspace though.

Back in the day there was some model of tester we had (can't remember the vendor), that had the EPO directly on the front of the head (which is itself on an actuator). There was no protective ring around it, and all you had to do was lean over the machine to pick up or place a part in it, and you could easily hit it. It became a bit of a joke for new operators to see how long it took someone to accidentally power the machine off. Point being that even in such a terrible location, people rarely hit it that often once they knew where it was. You leaned in from the side. Still occasionally got a brain **** power off, but when it happened, everyone would laugh at the person, turn the equipment back on and move on.

I haven't seen an unprotected EPO in like 20 years though. ****, even datacenter EPOs have these now. They didn't for a long time, cause they're usually on a wall somewhere far far away from any equipment you'd be working on. Now the halon dump hold buttons? Not covered. Which is a good thing really.


It's not the Emergency Stop that was being pressed, but the general "Power Off" button. Both are not guarded to speak of, but are high enough that they are not in the operators general reach for accidental operation. She was only about 5 foot tall, I'm 6 foot myself, and I have to reach up to press the buttons. Accidental operation was highly unlikely. And it has not had a single issue since she has been gone. The only one in the operator's reach is the Feed Hold, but all that does is halt the CNC cycle until cycle start is pressed again.

When it comes to guarding Emergency Stop operators against accidental operation, OSHA regulations and the NFPA are not very clear (the ISO standards are much clearer, and specifically allows for guards within certain parameters, from what I've read). It is very much open to interpretation by the investigator telling you what can and cannot be done. Most people from OSHA have cited us for having guards against accidental operation, even ones from the manufacturer that only stop bumping, but are left open on most sides and the front for easy operation in the event of an emergency. Most people in the industry say it's easier to relocation or remove an emergency stop than it is to argue with an OSHA person about using protection against accidental operation. The last one they complained about I just removed from the machine. It had three others in other locations, and that particular one wasn't used at all. Rather than argue (since we knew we were right, the manufacturers even sell the devices for that specific purpose) I just took it out of the circuit and was done with it.

Edited, Aug 20th 2013 4:46pm by TirithRR
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