Stop Machine Malfunctions Before They Start

If You Don't Maintain Your Machines and Keep Them Up to Date, You Could Be in for a Real Scare This Halloween

By Katherine Bonfante

This month, many of you will spend time decorating your front lawns with spooky Halloween things. While you place decorative cobwebs, bats, flying witches, skeletons and tombstones all over your yard, some of your machines back at the plant floor might be getting ready for Halloween, too. Maybe they already have a white sheet covering them. Maybe they are covered by real cobwebs. On this Halloween night, when you least expect it, they will turn on, roam the plant floor, and chase after you, screaming, "BOO!"

OK, the chances of your industrial machines hunting you down are pretty slim, but if you don't maintain them and keep them up to date, they might malfunction, forcing you to shut down, and that is a scary situation in itself.

Before you find yourself in that scenario, make sure you pay attention to what your industrial equipment tells you. Don't be scared of alarms. This is how devices communicate with us. If you are scared of alarm systems going off, I recommend you follow this advice: Remain calm, follow safety procedures, and solve problems quickly and effectively.

Read my column "Scared of Alarms?," where I point you to two different white papers that can help you better understand alarms and better prepare you to deal with them when they go off.

Are you afraid of the dark? You should be, and not just because spooky things happen at midnight when the lights are off. For machine builders and industry professionals, having your equipment down due to power outages means money down the drain.

If you want to learn what you can do to prevent a voltage overload, how to select the right power supply, what the different types of power problems are, and how you can reduce operational expenditures while increasing productivity and efficiency, read my article "Don't Be Left in the Dark."

Have you ever been to a haunted house? Those are packed with unexpected surprises jumping at you — doors flying open, things falling from the ceiling or popping up from the floor. You know what is as scary as a haunted house? An unprotected network system.

In the article "The Only Evil," Executive Editor Jim Montague says that with the emergence and adoption of Ethernet, Internet and wireless technologies, linking thousands of devices worldwide, many control and automaton engineers are scared their networks and applications will be hacked and damaged. Industry professionals continually seek software solutions or hardware modules that can help them protect their applications.

Read Montague's article to learn about solutions that he suggests can protect and strengthen the security of your industrial network.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, and don't let those old machines scare you.