Good lessons indeed! It is always a good idea to review a subcontractors work and I am thinking that probably would have happened if it wasn't so close to a holiday. For some reason it seems that every time we near a holiday - typically competent people that follow procedure and pay attention to detail tend to lose their usual focus in their eagerness to enjoy their time off, which is simply human nature. Ill timing for that particular job to come up right next to a holiday and this story is a good reminder that a job needs to be seen to completion including a final check that it was done properly before leaving it for an extended period of time.
The second lesson of better informed operators and standing orders surprises me. I wonder if that is a product of their corporate culture - I can't think of anywhere I have worked where someone wouldn't have called for engineering assistance rather than to continually burn up all of the spare parts in stock...
People definitely get distracted, Ann. We always had company parties on site and everyone would be in a huge rush to finish up so that they could get to the party - it's very easy to overlook something that way. The parties were a lot of fun and great for employee morale though!
That's why I was wondering if it was cultural, Charles. In some cultures, thinking "outside the box" (such as calling engineering rather than following the replacement procedure which obviously wasn't working) is discouraged. For example, while two Americans may find two different approaches for solving a math problem and are congratulated on their initiative, in some cultures following the prescribed method without deviation is what is valued and they would have been chastized for using a different formula from the one being taught. Value systems and worldview affect us on levels we aren't even aware of and in ways that people from other cultures often find very puzzling.
Double checking sub-contractors is good advice. I recently worked on a job that required wiring low voltage communication and high voltage control voltage from valve sets to a main control panel. The bid job clearly stated that the control voltage and comm lines were to be seperate conduit to avoid interference between the lines. The contractor used the same conduir forboth to save time. Fortunately, we caught the error before signing off the project.
When our factory was moved to a new location the assemblers were given torque specifications for every threaded fastener because judgment calls were to be avoided in their culture. I would have product shipped to me to sample production runs and one unit caught my attention because something was rattling inside the case. When I opened it up I found that a potentiometer was loose. The nut had been tightened properly to torque, but it was cross-threaded. Certainly the assembler and inspector knew the pot was loose, but questioning authority was taboo, after all, the pot was tightened to spec.
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