Never ever have I had the slightest inkling that I would write about my mundane day to day work. I work with a company that does automation and safety systems for industries. Given that my line of work is not as popular as the IT field, I’m at loss for words when people keep asking me as to what I do for a living. I’ve tried and failed miserably at trying to make people understand what I do to earn my bread. Well, giving it another shot!
In a very crude sense this what I do – We have factories which manufacture stuff ranging from Petrol to Paper to what not. That’s like a lot of complicated of machinery which needs to be operated with utmost care and attention. Thus, having high human involvement to operate such things would result in a unsafe condition. That’s where we come in. We design and put in place a technology which would enable the person operating it to do so from a distance and without much error. This technology that we put in place is loosely termed as control systems. Then there are scenario when the factory in question has the probability of facing an accident. Haven’t we all heard of blasts and stuff. My work is to develop a system which would mitigate such risks. We put in place a Safety Instrumented System (SIS) in place where in a combination of hardware and software is responsible for ensuring that the factory doesn’t go up in flames or things don’t burst.
What do you do when there is a fire? You pour water or sand or extinguish it. What do you do when a pipe is leaking and looks like it’s about to burst, you turn off the supply tap to the pipe. That’s exactly what is done even in a factory. Just that, the system is much sophisticated with instruments to sense fire or smoke or gas leak. The water pouring or shutting off mechanism is automated to ensure there is no room for error. That’s where my work comes into play. That automation part of the above sentence. We program taps ( Valves, pumps etc etc) to turn off or to open off under certain conditions so as to ensure mitigation of risk. We program hooters and flashers to alert people in case of an emergency like a gas leak or a smoke outburst or a fire. How do we do that?
That’s exactly where the conversation stops. I can’t explain in layman terms and one can’t possibly understand what I am talking unless they know the subject. Lost in translation perhaps!
PS. If you are my colleague or if you have worked with an automation company, please forgive me. I just trivialised all our hard work. It had to be done *rolls eyes*