CABE-- It's amazing to me how many times in my engineering career I have seen requests for "variations" when specifications were not followed. I think some people (generally management and/or unions) feel we specify components, processes, etc just to fill the day until we clock out. One thing that also scares me is product coming from vendors not on the "approved" list. I was asked to investigate a component from a "new low-cost vendor"--completely unapproved by our company, to make sure they met the specifications and had UL approval. In other words, I was asked to provide the "go-ahead" even if they were close. As it turned out, they were using child labor to manufacture the part; the part was NOT UL approve; the part had questionable fasteners from unapproved sources holding it together. I said no--I could not approve the component. In about 3 nanoseconds, I was called into the president's office. We had what he referred to as a "come to Jesus" moment. As it turned out, we had components being flown in to our facility, partial payment made and assembly lines waiting to produce. The solution--take me off the project, put a younger engineer on the job and push ahead. That's exactly what happened. I left the company about three months later.
When issues such as this (incorrect component, not following dwgs etc) arise I tell the persons involved to follow Mil-TFP-41 (Make it like the fine print for once) and let me know the results. Very often the problem goes away.
Having designed alarm, fire, and security systems, I have seen this type of work shirking in many places. Sometime they luck out, and it works ok. Then when the above story goes down, I get blamed. It's very stressful at times. Especially when the workers demand I sign off on their work.
Wow, this really is scary. Presumably there were part numbers to choose from, so the contractors chose the wrong part number--why, to save money? Or because they really were incompetent? I can envision both. This makes me wonder about the general tendency I've heard of--and many have commented about on the DN site--to get less educated, less technically proficient people, who are also cheaper, to do supposedly less technical work--like installation--that supposedly doesn't require actual engineers since no actual engineering is involved.
Amazing how many "design problems" are solved by going back and using the parts that were originally specified by the engineer...not surprising that this happened but you would think that with such an arduous task (that was a lot of wiring!) they would have checked first...
Earlier this year paralyzed IndyCar drive Sam Schmidt did the seemingly impossible -- opening the qualifying rounds at Indy by driving a modified Corvette C7 Stingray around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.