As I drive around the southeast, (NC, SC, GA, TN, VA & Washington, DC), I can tell those who are traveling with me that Lord and Company, Inc. installed that antenna on that tower or water tank you see in the distance. Or this is the place where we installed PLCs and wrote programs and created graphics to let the operators know the status is of their systems. Or it might be that we are gathering data via radio to know when to turn on pumps to fill the water tanks we are passing by on the road. It makes me feel good to know that I have friends in these places. These are people who I feel I could call on if I needed assistance in that area. There is some comfort in knowing wherever you go, you could be near someone you know.
I will never forget the experience on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001. I was in Lockhart, SC. This was one of my first TLI projects – a small control panel with a large led display that could be turned on remotely to show the customer the amount of water in their tank. Saves the customer time now that they no longer have to unlock the gate, go in to read a value from inside the location. I was here when the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed. My daughter called to ask if I was alright, and I told her that where I was, no one would waste time bombing here because I’m in the middle of a large field. I am okay. How about you?
The historic city of New Bern, NC has memories for me as well. This project had several PLCs, SCADA and fiber optics. My first time traveling to New Bern was with Tim, one of our programmers. Tim and I were able to discuss the project and I knew he had a good grasp on what was to be done. We met the folks at New Bern, discussed our plans and they worked with us during the installation. We hired someone nearby to install the fiber optics and test the installation for us. I learned valuable information about fiber optic installations.
I pass near Lumberton, NC on my way to the beach. I did PLC work there before I worked for Lord and Company and when I was given the opportunity to replace the Square D PLCs with Modicon PLCs, I was delighted. Upon my first trip there, I was taken aback when they said this ODS panel does not work. I said if it is not working and we are going to replace it, let’s be sure we get it working like you want it to before I write the new program. On my next trip I asked what did not work. I found the outputs quickly and noted the logic when called to run the pumps was not turning on the output. There was a timer in the program that had no entry for the amount of time delay. I entered a value into the reserved location and voila. The logic showed the output was energized. But, wait, the pump still was not coming on. Let’s check the output fuse. Sure enough, it was blown. A replacement fuse was installed and this time, the ODS pumps worked. Now the fun part – reprogram what was done many years previously. Any time I am passing nearby, I call and ask, “How are you? Is there anything I can do for you?” I know the folks there really don’t need me anymore because they have very capable people running the plant. However, I still like to keep in touch.
Upon my traveling home, about half way, I pass through the small town of Salisbury, NC. Years prior, I called on these folks in a sales role for an electrical manufacturer. I was delighted when appointed to handle their account with Lord and Company. Salisbury was adding a new filtration system furnished by another integrator. The new system must run simultaneously with their existing system. They needed to be able to switch from the old system to the new system without losing data in their SCADA system. When the day of the changeover occurred, there was no clue that anything had ever changed. It was a successful merger of the two systems. I had some really smart programmers working on the SCADA portion. All I had to do was figure out what the previous systems integrator had programmed and understand their logic so I could advise our people what to expect, where to look for important data and they were well on their way to making all items appear as desired.
My family had a small trailer across the Intercoastal Waterway from Oak Island, NC. When I was assigned a project in Supply, NC within seven miles of that trailer, I felt like I was home. Previously I did some PLC work for Brunswick County. On this project Lord and Company supplied nine control panels networked via fiber optics all around their water plant. My New Bern experience helped. Our service technicians were now able to make the fiber optic terminations. Lord and Company has grown into a successful systems integrator. I have close friends in Brunswick County and when I travel to the beach, they are remembered. When hurricanes cause them problems, I call and ask how they came through. God has blessed them as so far no damage has been done to their homes or lives as a result of hurricanes.
One last place is Washington. Did I say, NC or DC? I could mention both because I have been to each with Lord and Company. I am into my 8th year doing something with the AOC. These folks are quietly demanding and understanding about the construction process. They are constantly meeting to be sure all parties are on the same page. They handle questions and provide specific answers to the questions. From the control room operators to the board room, the folks are really good to work with. The operators are willing to learn what the new controls will be doing. They know they have to run the system after we are gone and they get involved to make things work right. They don’t get in the way, mind you, they just help when asked. From coal fired boiler additions to boiler feedwater pumps to 5,000 ton air conditioning chillers all networked via fiber optics and coming to a central DCS system, Lord and Company has been there since 2007 to provide them the controls to run the pumps and equipment.
Also, in the Washington, DC area is the DC Blue Plains Enhanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. Lord and Company is working with Ulliman Schutte Construction, LLC to provide/modify control panels, add flow meters and various other instruments to provide a distributive control system at one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the United States.
When I travel, I see places where I have had an opportunity to make a difference. It is a treat to ride down the highway knowing that you were somewhat responsible for the way that equipment operates. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I was able to help someone have a better life. I have friends in these towns and there is not enough space to write about what took place at each location but it brings back memories to me – these places you will see.
Photo by James Clear