Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bad Day at Work

What a crummy day.

If you don't know, I work in a medical lab, with lots of high-tech equipment and computers and stuff. Even when things run smoothly, it can be challenging. But when things go awry, it can be insane.

Today when I got there, they were changing the tanks that purify water for our chemistry analyzers. We need our water to be very, VERY  pure, in order that it doesn't affect the analysis of the whatever's being analyzed.

So, the day starts out with me having to carry jugs of water across the lab and filling the reservoirs by hand. And those analyzers go through water by the gallon. 

And one of the analyzers was just starting to go out on me, which it proceeded to do right about the time first shift left.

And my quality control wouldn't work, so I had to recalibrate, which is time consuming.

And I kept running out of water, because I had to keep filling the jugs and lug them out and empty them. Which makes the analyzers stop cold. And to get them to work correctly again they have to be shut down and restarted. Which takes 15 minutes.

So, I had an analyzer I couldn't use, because it was starting to throw out random values, which is an indication that something ain't right. I had analyzer that kept running out of water and needing to be restarted. And my "automation" line was lighting up and screaming at me from one end to the other.

I put automation in quotes because I really don't think it's very automated when you have to keep getting up and fixing it every time it malfunctions, which is about every five minutes. I'm pretty sure the concept of automation is to AVOID doing everything manually.

And then all the interfaces went down. The lab computers couldn't communicate with the control system, which was having trouble communicating with the analyzer. Which meant, again, everything had to be done manually.

Add to that the fact that the user interface on the analyzers appears to have been programmed by a bunch of chimpanzees pounding on keyboards and it gets frustrating. The "troubleshooting" "help" is like something out of Lovecraft: If you look directly at, it you'll go mad. I'm pretty sure it's translated from some foreign language by someone who thinks throwing random English words onto a screen is the same as actually writing instructions in English.

I am usually pretty cool under this sort of pressure, but almost everything that COULD go wrong, DID go wrong. I didn't panic, but I sure was on the edge of losing it.

It was truly a testament to the fact that our second shift ROCKS that the work left for third shift was negligible, except for the analyzer that was down, which would have had to go down anyway for maintenance when they got in. I love my supervisor.

So, I hope your day/evening went a little better.

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