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NSLS ESH Highlight #48

Timely and Clear Communication is Essential for Success

Date: March 3, 2010
Editor: A. Ackerman

A recent event involving recertification of the beam line interlock systems highlights the communication challenges that can occur during maintenance and operation of the NSLS. The NSLS is a complex facility and work on systems often requires coordination between different functional groups within the department. A key component of that coordination and planning is clear communications. This has long been recognized and there are several established review and permitting requirements for completion of complex tasks designed to facilitate that communication, but no process is perfect and this highlight is intended to remind the reader of the challenges and importance of assuring that everyone involved in a project has the same information.

The event here involved modifications to the X-ray ring interlock systems to install a master reset for clearing faults that result from electrical power interruptions or from work completed during maintenance periods. The new reset will allow the faults to be cleared from X-ray Security Rack and so forego having to reset at each individual beam line. The work was planned, a design review was completed, an Interlock Working group meeting was held, and permits were exercised yet still not everyone had the same understanding of the scope of work and differences in installation at the beam lines resulted in some beamlines being enabled without the proper recertification. Once realized, the appropriate recertification was completed with no adverse finding so all the lines operated with full interlock protection.

Some points to consider:

  • Despite regular and ongoing discussion between the groups involved with this project, there remained a difference in understanding of the scope of work. Awareness to the difficulty in capturing salient details during planning and assuring that all involved develop a common understanding is important.
  • The minutes for the review meetings conducted for this project contained insufficient detail to define discussions and approval basis. Review committee participants can and should help by providing appropriate feedback to the committee chairpersons who generate review documentation. Careful documentation of reviews is helpful and necessary.
  • This was an extended project which involved modifications during two shutdowns and several maintenance periods. There was a long time (~ 6 months) between planning and execution of the second part of the project. Time between planning and working can add difficulty in recall of details.
  • The work permits exercised for this project contained insufficient scope of work detail and several tasks were consolidated into a single permit. Providing clear and concise descriptions on unique permits is an important part of the process.

There is much detail absent in this short highlight. Anyone interested in learning more about this event is encouraged to contact any member of the NSLS Interlock Working Group.