Mayday, mayday, mayday!

By Angie Johnston  |  May 25, 2016

In other Crystal blog entries we’ve discussed what happens, or what should happen, in your system when things are going right. That’s all well and good, but anyone who has operated, maintained, or been an engineer on any kind of system for any length of time knows that getting the little lights to all be green and happy is only half of the job.

The real meat and potatoes of the job is keeping the system that way and that’s tough to teach to people because there’s a certain intuitiveness that an operator gets with their system just like the captain of a ship gets with their vessel. They know the creaks, the moans, the slight vibrations that tell the captain that everything is okay. A guest on that vessel doesn’t know them and can be quickly unnerved when one of these conditions occur.

Then there are the times where the captain is thrusting a life jacket at you and calling out the mayday. These times, even though they are the most valuable training scenarios for teaching new operators how to identify, isolate, and rectify problems, are also the most costly in our industry because content isn’t flowing. Advertisements aren’t being played out, your viewers are missing their favorite shows, and the last thing you want to do during this crucial activity is slow it down and protract it as a teaching experience.

The truth of the matter is that these systems are built of complex devices and these devices can, and do, fail from time to time. These failures don’t wait for the most experienced team member to be on-site, nor do they go away simply because the inexperienced team member is strongly wishing that it would because they’ve outstripped their knowledge of the system.

The good news, if you’ve got a Crystal NMS solution for your system, is that you’ve got something that’s keeping an eye on everything for you. Crystal can tell you if that “groan” you just heard from your HPA is something that always happens when you take the feed off of it, or if it’s about to fail. The key to utilizing it is to have that information presented in such a way that it’s useful at the time you need it. Keeping with the parable of the captain and their ship, if the ship is sinking the captain doesn’t particularly care that the air conditioner in the VIP stateroom just went out. In this sense too much, or the wrong type of, information is just as bad as too little and the captain has to spend time either collecting the right data or sorting through a pile of useless data and that could mean the difference between saving the ship and losing it.

The Crystal NMS can be configured to gather as much or as little data as you wish and store it for later recollection. Some of our clients have records going back 9 months or more for device attributes that they have identified as being important to their operations. That means that they can look back at their helix current on HPA A, for example, going back over those many months to determine if a failure is coming. This allows them to transition to a backup HPA at a time of their choosing to prevent a failure from ever occurring.

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