Debug, Checkout and Startup
After months of developing processes, creating drawings and integrating components, your automated assembly machine is finally complete. All that needs to be done now is hit the start button, right? Not so fast. Debug, checkout and startup come first. “Debug” means to search for and eliminate malfunctioning elements. “Checkout” refers to the test of a machine or system for proper functioning. “Startup” is the act of initiating a production process on the plant floor.
“Debug, checkout and startup are the most important parts of any automation project,” claims Sean Dotson, PE, former president and chief technology officer of systems integrator RND Automation. “I’ve seen some companies that cut corners, thinking everything is good enough just so they can get a machine out the door on time. Saying ‘we’ll fix it at the customer’s site’ is a recipe for disaster. A machine like that will never be 100 percent correct. “Debug is what gets you to the factory acceptance test,” explains Dotson. “If a machine works at that stage, then it should work when it arrives on the floor of the customer’s facility.