Ann R. Thryft; Other than knowing the other techs were unsuccessful, I didn't know what testing they had done. I did have the advantage of more experience with that timer from running laboratory tests.
I also have the bad habit of reading manuals and instructions. Some technicians seem to believe 'real men don't read manuals'. The solution may be hidden in an unrelated chapter, or only inferred to, but many times the answer is in the manual. On the other hand, unless the manual is formatted to be printed, it may be useless. An on-line manual needs to be formatted so that it can be flipped through page-by-page. The example that I use of a poor manual was trying to find how to delete a chart in Excel. You can't 'delete' a chart. You can't 'erase' a chart. But if you already knew how to 'remove' a chart, you wouldn't need the manual.
Glenn, sounds like your predecessors didn't work as carefully or methodically as you did. I'm also a fan of reading instructions before proceeding with building, installing, or troubleshooting something, or using a new machine. First, I read through the procedures at least once to make sure I have all the tools and supplies I need, and to determine where I'll be doing a repair or assembly task: a table, the floor, outside on the deck, etc.
I wish I had your discipline, Ann. I usually just dig in and refer to the instructions when I run into trouble. I think the value of each approach depends on the quality of the instructions. I recently had a clogged vacuum. When I wasn't able to locate the area of clogging, I turned to the instructions. They were of no help. So I continued a trial-and-error approach until I found and fixed the problem.
Manuals should have a good index with cross references. What someone thinks of as a temperature sensor, someone else might think of as a temperature switch or temperature detector. So listing all three in an index helps people get to the information no matter what they call something. Indexing requires patience and thoroughness.
I find the lack of cross references particulary troublesome in software books and documents. In a C-language reference book I use often, I find two references to hexadecimal numbers and hex numbering in the index. But no reference to how to format data to display it in as hex values. In a perfect world, the index would include:
hexadecimal, printing of
hexadecimal, display of
Under the heading of printf my book's index points to pages about printing floating-point numbers and strings, but nothing about other formats such as scientific notation or octal. An index makes or breaks documentation.
One of the BEST "books" containing an index is the McMASTER CARR SUPPLY catalog. There is so much redundancy that it is almost sickening, but as was posted, one person's widget might be someone else's doohickey. Nevertheless, they both exist in that index. Sure makes life a lot easier when poring through a catalog of 5,000 + pages.
There are several other (print) catalogs that I rate very highly also, including the GRAINGER catalog, the MSC INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY catalog, and several electronic supply catalogs (MOUSER, ALLIED, NEWARK, to name a few). Mentioning the McMASTER CARR catalog was just a "for instance" moment. But, I can tell you one thing, and maybe this is because of my age, I usually get VERY frustrated searching manufacturers' wesite-based catalogs. More often than not, the format of a part number in their e-database is different from the way it is printed on the item, OR as it appears in a (print) catalog. One can be driven to total distraction because of a misplaced emdash, or other diacritical mark! And, my final "beef" is that with print catalogs, I can make notes in the margins, circle important data parameters, etc. Unless I print a page from the online catalogs, I have to make some other arrangement to store that info in the project folders.
Old_Curmudgeon: I second your complaints about part numbers and descriptions in print catalogs and online catalogs. Even the manufacturers of products screw up part numbers and call something an ABC-123 in a press release when the true part number looks something like ABC12x, where x can represent several part families and they have dropped the hyphen. This situation comes up more often than people might think.
Look! I realize that I'm anachronistic in many ways. I've been "playing" with a sidecutter & soldering iron for too many decades not to realize that I'm very set in my ways about a lot of things. I realize that this is the ADVANCED DIGITAL AGE, but I believe that there is too much emphasis on everything internet, and that all previous forms of information dissemination are totally without merit. For example, there's a local radio advertisement for a garage-door outfit that will retrofit your opener so you can open the door from your i-phone, etc. While this IS great technology, it is indicative of how pervasive & ubiquitous this digital technology has become. Now, I'm NOT saying that having this feature on your smart phone is bad, but it shows how far we've come since the Hollerith card was king!!!!
For my designing goals, having print catalogs IS the best! And, while I don't resist the internet, I find it too frustrating & time-consuming to be of significant benefit.
Rob, it's preventive medicine and hindsight. I had some experiences way back where I did the dive-in approach and was not happy with the results. Doing things over due to lack of preparation or foresight is not my idea of fun. It's much more fun and challenging to concentrate on solving the problem, or finishing the assembly, than stopping multiple times to move the project, or go to the hardware or electronics store for parts. I know some things, like plumbing repairs, by definition require multiple iterations in terms of part sizes or types. So those go to a plumber (or my husband).
I think a lot of this depends on what you're working on. In the description of the systems Jon Titus describes, instructions are critical. When I'm putting together toys for the kids, it's pretty intuitive.
You're right about that. I was thinking of more complex problem-solving and/or assembly projects. OTOH, I generally use the same approach even when putting together furniture--yes I still use those, all bookshelves--even though I'm really familiar with all the screw and connector types, and generally what can go wrong.
A pox be upon the inventor of online manuals. Maybe it would be different if we all had a second computer on which we could display the manual while trying to solve a problem with software on our computer. I am sorry, I wrote that as a collective, and perhaps I am the only one that has the problem of only one computer.
I get so frustrated when trying to do things in Solidworks and I have to keep changing screens to go back to the operator's manual. I griped and carried on so with our Solidworks provider about the absurdity of paying thousands of dollars for a CAD program and they are too cheap to spend a couple of bucks to include a manual. I always compared it to AutoCad and the extensive operator instruction manuals included with the software. Then we upgraded our AutoCad and I was very disappointed to find that we now only get the manuals online.
Tool_maker; It sounds like you have only one monitor. For CAD you should have 2 monitors. And I recently found out your first monitor can be the typical horizontal orientation, while your second can be a vertical orientation, which would work well to display a manual. And if you have Windows 7, setting up a second monitor should be easy.
You are correct in your assumption. But do you disagree with the lamentation about no manual. I have actually been known to read instruction manuals in places where I do not have computer access. I also have a much easier time reading printed pages as opposed to computer screens. Maybe it is a generational thing but I want a book.
Tool_maker; I agree that a printed manual is a valuable resource. The next best thing is a 'soft' manual formatted to be displayed page-by-page like a printed manual. Sometimes what you are looking for is not in the table of contents, or in the index, and the only way to find it is flipping through the manual page by page. But I agree, I want a book too.
I tend to agree, GlennA. I would probably prefer online manuals if the search function was more sophisticated. But I've found that many (if not most) online manuels (unless they are PDFs and function like a paper manual) have poor search capabilities, which makes it difficult ti find what you're looking for.
Ah, Nordson systems. Part and parcel of many of my nightmares. Not, let me hasten to add, due to any problem with the Nordson equipment, which I've always found to be pretty good. No, my nightmares are b/c I historically encountered Nordson units in the context of urethane application for automotive windshields and other glass (the "hardship detail" for almost all roboticists in the automotive industry), and often for customers who adamantly refused to set up the hardware correctly.
One particular Ford Motor plant (which no longer exists), was particularly bad. During the Detroit summer, the temperature inside this plant would swing by more than 40F between noon and midnight, and this plant was running 24hrs. But despite having very strict requirements for placing exactly the right amount of urethane in just the right place around the rim of the glass (hairpin corners and all), with the correct cross-section, this plant spent 10 years running their Nordson units with no temperature control whatsoever. And anyone who's worked with urethane knows how strongly temperature variations effect its viscosity. And since these systems did not have realtime closed-loop flow rate control, the end result was a system where an application that was perfect at noon would be crap by midnight, and vice versa. It was so bad, the various shift maintenance personnel took to keeping multiple backups of the robots, with different programs for the different times of day, to compensate for the temperature swings.
It would have been so much easier, and saved so much money in the long term, to simply buy the Nordson option for heating the urethane feed lines to a controlled, fixed temperature. But the money to buy the hardware came out of the budget of a different department than the department that would have gained the long-term savings, so.....
Yes. although the *real* problems were on the small triangular windows between the C and D pillars (the fixed rear-passenger windows behind the roll-down rear-passenger windows). The tolerances on those were much tighter, and the sharp corners were where the effects of the urethane viscosity variations always showed up first.
I dont' think Ford actually shipped very many leakers -- every car got 100% leak-tested in a giant power-washer near the end of the production line. But the number of windows that had to be removed and re-done by hand was, IMO, excessive and unnecessary. Just temperature-stabilizing the urethane would have made for at least a 50% reduction in rework rates, IMO. But the Big Three have a proven track record at throwing away dollars to pinch pennies.
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