Faultfinding

That First Breakdown as a Qualified Sparky

I have been fortunate enough to spend some time down at the coast for a few days and as usual, my mind kept wandering back to work related thoughts. As I started thinking of the trade and my entry into it as a youngster, my thoughts took me to my very first position exactly one week after passing my trade test.

I was given a position of Maintenance Electrician in a factory and was informed that they have one Electrician already but the workload was getting too much for him. I walked in on the Monday morning and the General Foreman pointed to the back of the Factory and said “you will find the workshop down there” I walked down there with my toolbox in my hand and walked in to the workshop with a friendly Good Morning. All I got in return was the odd grunt and a very silent stare from the other Sparky. I decided to find somewhere to put my tools and the Foreman stormed in and said “Sparky, bring your tools” and headed out. I followed him to a machine and he told me it had stopped working and I need to get it running very quickly. I put my tools down next to the control board and turned around to find that the whole maintenance crew stood watching me.

Here is where the fault finding kicks in. I asked for a drawing of the machine and got handed a drawing which I folded open, discovered all was in German and folded it up again as it made no sense to me. Moved straight into logic mode and called the operator over and he very proudly explained what this machine does. I then asked him to start it for me so I can observe what happens. I stood watching the control circuit relays and made a note of how they were activating. When I asked him what was supposed to happen next, he explained with a smile and I could see how much he enjoyed being part of thisJ

My next step was to isolate the machine, made very sure there was no power on the panel and then proceeded to trace the circuit from the last relay that had activated. This lead me to a faulty limit switch which I cleaned and closed everything again, removed my lock from the isolating switch and calmly instructed him to start his machine whilst packing up my tools. He, and my audience that had gathered behind me, looked rather surprised but he attempted the start sequence and looked very surprised when the machine started and went through the sequence. We were back in production after 7 minutes

Looking back on that day, I will admit that I was extremely nervous as it was my first job as a qualified sparky with a new employer, a not so welcome atmosphere and a machine I have never seen before in my life. What I am really trying to say here is not to give in to nerves! Believe in yourself and think in a logical manner.

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