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AV/IT Expertise: Programming Readiness

May 5, 2011 4:10 PM, By Patrick Barron

What does it really mean for a jobsite to be “ready?”

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When the control system programmer arrives on a jobsite, typically they are the last in a series of specialists who have been involved in the project. Everything else in the project—starting with equipment ordering, delivery of equipment on site, and installing and connecting the equipment together—should already be done before the programmer arrives to load and test the control system code. An often-asked question is: “Is the site ready?”

While companies vary in size and might have different number of people assigned to different roles, a normal project will involve sales, engineering/design, project management, installation, and programming. The project manager (PM) keeps track of the schedule and ensures that the sequence of events needed to happen during an installation stay on track. It is important for the PM to get project updates from the installation team. Instead if the PM asking if the site ready, the question should be: “Is the jobsite ready for final software and testing?”

If the site is not ready, the repercussions ripple across the entire project. If the programmer is not able to finish during the time allocated because the installation is not finished, the entire schedule is disrupted. The programmer must come back another day, and the installers have to come back another day to complete testing, which means they are not able to move on to the next project.

By using a checklist, we can clearly identify without any confusion if all the requirements for a site to be ready have been met. Developing a checklist that covers the major aspects of a project is an important step to ensure that the job is ready for the programmer to load the software and test the system. See the checklist.

While it may seem obvious, one key question to ask is if the equipment boxes have been opened and the equipment has been mounted in the appropriate location. Each piece of equipment in the system should be on the checklist, and the installer should mark when the equipment has been taken out of the box and installed. This step can be used an as additional check for inventory management to get an accurate list of which equipment has arrived on the job site and which equipment is still missing.

A step that can be completed in conjunction with mounting the equipment is performing a visual inspection for obvious faults. The equipment should power on without any noticeable errors. This check can save countless hours by identifying a faulty piece of equipment early in the installation process so it can be sent back to the manufacturer for repair in time to avoid a negative impact on the schedule. Few things are more frustrating than arriving on site to load the final program into a system to find out that a key component is mounted in the rack, connected with all the wires terminated, and yet it does not power on. The frustrating part happens when no one has identified this piece of equipment as being faulty and not powering on until the last day of the project. At this late stage of the project sending it in for repair is not only costly in terms of having to pay rush shipping fees, but there could be penalties for missing the deadline and you could lose out on potential future business.

After opening the box, mounting the equipment, and inspecting it visually for obvious faults, check that the cables have been pulled to the correct location, terminated with the right connector, and connected to the equipment. This is usually done early in the project, and the cables are left spooled at the locations where they are needed. Inspect each cable on both ends and check off the item to make sure that the right type of connectors has been terminated on each cable.

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