Chamber Rain

Training new people shouldn’t have to be an uphill battle. It all comes down to what kind of a person the trainee is. If an individual has a genuine willingness to learn and keeps an open mind things generally go smoothly. Normally I don’t have any serious problems when instructing someone about operating temperature chambers and environmental lab test procedures. A skilled trainer sizes up the situation on a person by person basis then determines how quickly and how much knowledge to divulge without leaving a trainee feeling lost or overwhelmed. That’s usually how I try to introduce someone into the area and get them up to speed.

We spend a large amount of time testing prototype instruments inside the temperature chambers at zero degrees Celsius. During those tests there are points where an operator has to open up the chamber door and manually change cable hookups. You also have to re-position power sensors, then shut the chamber door and continue running the software test executive. All of this should take no more than a couple of minutes each time the chamber door is opened at zero degrees. It is critical we try to do this as quickly as possible without busting a chamber wide open because moisture in the air will instantly freeze inside over every surface. It can build up in there forming a thin layer of ice. This isn’t much of a noticeable problem until the chamber temperature is ramped up to fifty five degrees. At fifty five all that ice cooks off and gets sucked into the chamber’s air circulation system and turns into rain. Rain and expensive prototype electronics that are powered up is a real bad thing.

I don’t know how many times I have explained this to the loopy Mexican guy, but he still doesn’t get it. He’s watched me dozens of times change sensors and cables in a zero degree chamber. I crack a chamber door open just enough to fit my scrawny self in there and work like a madman to switch everything over in a minute or less. For whatever reason he just won’t do what I have repeatedly asked him to and then told him to do. He goes up to a chamber, opens the door and steps aside letting it swing all the way out, then goes to work on cable hookups slow as hell. Five or ten minutes elapse and the inside of that chamber looks like an arctic ice shelf. Hours later he will realize the weather inside his chamber has changed to a heavy rain. He panics and rushes into the assembly line to find me. I have to power everything down on the spot emergency style. We continue to lose valuable test time while the instruments are hauled out and the chamber is cleaned up. I’m really starting to get pissed off at this guy.

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~ by factorypeasant on July 1, 2006.

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