Monday, July 09, 2012

It's Even Better Than Having A "Plan B"

Last weekend when our friends got here, one of the first things they needed to do was find out where the sound of hissing air was coming from. They noticed it a few hours before they got to our house and were worried that it was one of their airbags. Or worse. If it was something serious, they might have had to put the truck in the shop and miss the load they were scheduled to pick up. And since they had plans that were built upon where that load was taking them, having a truck in the shop just wasn't going to cut it.
Once they got settled in at the house, Ed and MacGyver popped the hood of the truck and put their heads together to find the culprit. Turns out, it was the steering axle airbag on the passenger side; an easy fix, since MacGyver already had the part.

Marlaina was telling me that when they first bought their truck, a Volvo, they were advised by another driver to always carry a spare airbag because that particular part was hard to find, and rather than having to wait for a part to arrive (likely in the middle of nowhere) before the truck could be fixed, all they'd need to do is whip out their extra airbag and take it to a nearby shop for repair. And that's exactly what happened here - Ed took MacGyver to the shop we use and they had everything done within a few hours.

Redundancy typically has a negative connotation - no one wants to be described as being wordy in an unnecessary way, or as the British use the term, "no longer needed". It's bad enough that you'd be losing your job, but how much would it suck to be told you're being made redundant?!? For this post though, that particular issue of redundancy is not what I'm referring to, I'll be looking at it from more of a mechanical standpoint. And although it's not redundancy in the classic engineering sense, it's close enough for me to use as an example.

In engineering, redundancy is the "duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the case of a backup or fail-safe". MacGyver is a big fan of covering all bases - he
's the one who'll tell you how to make sure you have two sets of everything on hand, backups of your backups, and spare parts out the wazoo.
Backing up your computer files is a familiar form of redundancy. All of your information, backed up in the event of the worst case scenario - complete and total computer meltdown. In MacGyver's case, he has several external drives, backing up each other, giving him peace of mind that he won't be without what he needs for very long. As long as he can access his A, B, C, or D drives , he's still in business!

In trucking, redundancy is paramount - it's used on a regular basis to keep your operation up and running - and most importantly, safe.

A great way to illustrate what's called passive redundancy, as it applies to trucking, is in the use of securement devices. When hauling a piece of freight on our flatbed, having backups in the way it's secured ensures that should one of the securement components fail, there are others that will take up the slack. A perfect example of this is the use of both straps and chains. Should a strap break, the chain will still hold the item in place. If a binder pops loose from the chain, the strap will make sure nothing shifts. It's what they call the margin of safety.
Another example, which we employ on a regular basis, is the use of a generator for power. In our truck, if the batteries get low when we're running the components inside the sleeper, the generator, when set to auto, will kick in and run everything while at the same time recharging the batteries. Once the batteries are charged, the generator will shut off and go back to using the power they provided to the batteries.

One final example - fuel and oil filters. We have three fuel filters and three oil filters in our engine. They work together to filter particles through the system, but should one of them fail or get clogged, the others will take care of filtering particles until the damaged one can be replaced.
Personally, I'd much prefer knowing that there's a backup parachute somewhere to catch me if I need it. No sane skydiver would jump out of a plane without theirs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Who Says Truckers Don’t Have Nice Legs?
2010: Boy, Have Times Changed!
2009: I’ll Have A Short Stack With A Million Scrambled Eggs On The Side Please
2008: It Came At A Perfect Time
2007: Experimenting With Scrotum
2006: Can Anyone Spare A Roll Of Pennies?
2005: Matching Purse And Flip Flops??


Gil said...

Silly old me! When I read "Plan B" I immediately thought of this place:

My son, nephew and a few other younguns like you and Ed post that they are at Plan B on FB all of the time.

Glad to see people carrying more parts these days. It's a Volvo thing.

Pat said...

Hey, good post.

Pat said...

Hey, good post.