After a couple of days of planned downtime, the plant was ready to produce again. Except for one particular breaker that would not reset.
It was not a normal run of the mill breaker, it was a ten thousand dollar smart breaker. Those were used to control whole MCC sections. They are sophisticated units, part mechanical with a spring loading mechanism and part electronic with an on board processor and memory.
Not wanting the plant to suffer un-planned downtime, I sprang into action like GI Joe with the Kung-fu grip! I called the manufacturer. They connected me to a very knowledgable fellow in tech support. He instructed me step by step on a 30 minute procedure using a pencil to reactivate the mechanism.
Unknown to me, the plant's engineer (in title only) had already called our local distributor. They sent three contractors to the plant. When I looked in, they were trying to remove the breaker. Only they discovered that the breaker was welded to the bus bars due to our power quality problem. No problem for the gorillas, they just get bigger tools and use more force!
I tried to stop their madness, but this just caused the engineer to put me in my place:
"They have got to remove that breaker."
"Okay, but then what?"
"We're going to replace it with a new one."
"But, we don't have a new one?"
"Yes we do. It's only two days out."
"Two days? Do you know what that downtime is going to cost? And what about the risk of destroying the bus bars?"
"You guys never mind him. Just keep doing what you need to..."
If I was to save the plant, I had to get the big cheese involved. We had to stop the irreversible damage from being done! I don't know how I did it, but the gorillas were stopped.
The big boss agreed with me on one thing: let's wait until we have a replacement available. The gorillas were grumpy about packing up their extended pry bars and the engineer was disheveled. But I got myself a little time and perhaps a chance to do my thing.
I explained what I had learned to my immediate supervisor. I pleaded for a half hour opportunity to fix that smart breaker. In that politically charged environment, he reluctantly granted my wish.
I felt like I had to sneak into the MCC room to do my job. Once inside, I retrieved my notes prescribed by the service tech and thirty minutes later, reset the breaker.
I called my boss with the triumphant news. He in turn notified the production leads and there was a lot of unhappy workers putting their lunch boxes back down. They were on their way out the door for an impromptu two day vacation and some hot-shot ruined it!
Everybody at the plant was mad at me for doing my job. Not the least of which was that engineer that thought he knew better than I did, again. What's worse? The plant manager didn't even offer a thanks...