This story takes place about 4 years ago. I was flying down to a customers plant in Georgia to go over some existing equipment to quote a retrofit. We had recently shipped another line to this facility, and recently got it signed off. When my plane landed at around 9pm the night before I was scheduled to be in the plant, I saw several voicemail’s and missed calls. My phone began ringing within 5 minutes of turning it back on. The call was from the 2nd shift supervisor telling me the line we had shipped was down; they couldn’t get the last station to cycle. They were told I was flying in that night, so they were begging for me to stop in right away and see if I could get the line back up. Since the plant was all of 5 minutes from the hotel, and the meeting the next day wasn’t until around 9am, I figured why not. A show of good faith and extra support before going in for a bid on something else is always beneficial. I got my rental car and made it to the plant around 10:30pm. I had a badge to the facility, so I let myself in and walked over to the line, while sending a text message to the shift supervisor. When I got to the line, I saw the red stacklight on the last station (10 manual stations on the line). I walked over to the HMI as the maintenance guys were arriving back to the cell. Right on the bottom was the flashing red and yellow alarm banner : “LIGHT SCREEN FAULTED”. Well of course it wont run if the light screen is broken! Lets see what we have. I took a look at the light screens and found that the plant’s Quality Manager had posted a quality alert with a casting issue, taped right to the light screen guard, with the paper over a large section of the light screen. I pulled the paper off, stuck it to the side of the machine, and said “Try it now and it’ll run.” as I walked away towards the door. Turns out plant personnel are not allowed to touch quality bulletins, so nobody even thought about it.

Long story short, you can save everyone alot of trouble if you just read your HMI’s alarms, the alarm history is a great resource as well!


Programmer and Controls Engineer with over 10 years experience in IT and Industrial Automation. Avid gamer and Geek with an interest in nearly all things technical.