I’ve been around engineers, technicians and plant folks since I was sixteen and have heard some interesting requests and discussions over the years. Here’s to some fun, humorous tales.

Political talk is not something I get involved with at a plant. On the heels of a safety discussion,  I was discussing the physics of acceleration rates with a plant technician followed by standards and some basic laws. There had just been a new presidential election and some folks where excited and others, not so much. Another operator who did not listen to the entire conversation came over and explained that the new presidency could change all of the laws. I stated all but the laws of physics.  The response was that if congress got together with the president, then the laws of physics could be changed as well.

When discussing the matched performance of a drive and motor together. The user explained that they did not care about better performance for the same cost. So I asked what the driving factor in the decision was. The answer was that the drive’s packaging (cardboard) fits on our shelf better!

Sometimes we get asked to create some very unusual solutions. . .

Top interesting requests:

  • Automatic hangman machine where a sensor triggers a pneumatic solenoid to drop a weight simulating a hanged man. Then it automatically reeled it back up.
  • VFDs used for wagon wheels for a play on Broadway
  • DC Drives used to electrocute bread. Evidently, when you cook dough with electricity no crust is created
  • VFD and cams for mechanical bulls
  • Electric cars, motor cycles, golf carts. . . anything that someone wants to invent. They calls us on the components like battery disconnects, contactors, inverters, and etc.
  • Automatic pipe scrubbing robot that looked like something from the Matrix
  • An automated golf ball holder for a test stand that tested golf clubs
  • A servo design to change the elevation of a plate that peanuts bounce off of
  • A PLC that triggered an MP3 to play simulating a radio transmission from a remote location in a rain forest. I never got the details on this, I hope the application went to a rain forest exhibit and not the CIA.

C. Tolbert DOE