Site Visits

October 20, 2016

One of the things that I enjoy about my job as a project engineer at Jenike & Johanson is that I get to travel to many places.  I have visited 40 states and 19 countries.  Sadly, my luggage has gone to more places than I have.  I’ve never been to Russia, but one time my luggage arrived home a week after I did, affixed with a Moscow airport code.  There are two types of luggage: carry-on luggage and lost luggage.

A couple years ago, I visited a client in India to provide training on segregation testers.  It took me 26 hours to get there.  I stayed for 20 hours, and then it took me 26 hours to get back home.  My neighbor told me that when he traveled to India, he stayed an extra day and saw the Taj Majal.  I told him that I was there for less than a day and the highlight of my trip was that I saw a family of five on a motorcycle.  I was thankful that my client provided me a driver.

I frequently visit a client’s site to help solve solids flow problems such as arching, ratholing, segregation, and caking.  By traveling to the plant site, I am able to observe the bulk materials up close along with the equipment that handles them.  I am also able to ensure that any subsequent steps that I take to find solutions to flow problems involve actual conditions.  It’s always a good idea to verify critical dimensions and angles.  Sometimes the measurements don’t match the drawings.

Although I travel often, for the longest time I did not have a smart phone.  Before I left, I would print out my driving directions from Google Maps.  One visit took me to Elgin, Texas, which should have been about a half hour’s drive from Austin.  However, it was nighttime and raining torrentially, and I lost my way more than once.  Finally, I arrived in Elgin just after midnight.  I spotted a McDonald’s with a 24-hour drive-thru window.  I was famished, so I pulled in, ordered a burger, and asked the woman at the window to direct me to the Holiday Inn.  She told me, “Thar’s no Holiday Inn in Elgin.”  I said, “Yes, there is!  I can give you the address!”  She said, “Ah’ve lived in Elgin aw’l my life.  Thar’s no Holiday Inn in Elgin.  If you don’t believe me, go across the street to the liquor store, and they’ll tell you the same thing.”

So I drove across the street, walked into the liquor store, and asked the employee, “Can you tell me where the Holiday Inn is?”  He answered, “It’s across the street, behind McDonalds.”  They shared the same parking lot!  I could not let this happen to me again.  I promptly bought an iPhone and downloaded a GPS navigation program.  I also bought a slick app that measures hopper angles.

I’m always looking forward to taking another trip to a client’s site.  If you are in need of bulk solids testers or need help solving a solids handling problem, give Jenike & Johanson a call.

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