Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hg Trouble

So Friday (July 30) I was running my DMA (mercury analyzer) when BAM. It just stopped working with no warning. I tried to start it back up again and it was like, "No, you suck, therefore I'm taking the rest of the day off." So I did a shutdown and restart of both the instrument and the computer, and tried again...nope. I e-mailed Johan, my service technician, and he e-mailed me back right away, which was AWESOME because it was 4:30 on a Friday where he was and I had assumed he was going to leave my e-mail until Monday. Anyway, he said he would have someone give me a call and give me some things to try to get it working again.

Arshad called me almost immediately (Milestone, you're building up major brownie points here) and gave me a shortcut so I could get some samples run (a temporary fix), and then he was going to e-mail me instructions to clean the cuvette.

So the temporary fix was so soon as I had the service password. I got in, unchecked a box, and went on my merry way. He had me run five samples of dilute acid and then five blanks, and at that point we would see if the cuvette were clean or not. I was done with everything else at this point, so I just set the instrument to run these ten samples over the weekend.

I came back in on Monday (August 2) and the voltage was back to where it should have been, so I re-calibrated and started running some samples. I got several done before it decided not to read any more (but at least it was still running at this point). So when I came in Tuesday morning, I started taking it apart to clean the cuvette. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. I had to call Arshad again to try to figure out why I couldn't get the cuvette out to clean it, and doing things like this over the phone is always hard, and apparently it's harder if you have the new model of the instrument and he's trying to give instructions for the old instrument. But, we got it all sorted, and I got the whole thing put back together again.

Next I loaded up standard samples and began a calibration...and it started being a jerk again. After lots of e-mails back and forth between me and two different people at Milestone, we came to the conclusion that I needed a new catalyst I ordered one. And waited. When I ordered one, they had said it would be here by Monday (August 9) at the latest, but then, after they had already shipped it, they sent me tracking information that said I wouldn't get it until Tuesday. Jerks.

I did get it Tuesday, but not until 11:00, so I had a lot to do in a few short hours. When I install a new catalyst, I need to run a reconditioning procedure (80 minutes) and a stability test (40 minutes, but this time it took HOURS because it wouldn't work the way it was supposed to...) and a calibration (64 minutes). Needless to say, after I had been here 9 hours I said "Screw this!" and went home, letting the calibration finish overnight.

I got here this morning and ran a QC and it was perfect (I can hear the heavenly choir singing) and so I am so happy today I can't even tell you. Too bad my other instrument is now broken. I'll tell you that story another day.

Now here's the super fun part: This time, it's actually my fault. I very rarely make any mistakes at work, so when I do I'm really hard on myself. This, however, isn't me just being hard on myself. This is me costing the company like $700 for new parts. I ran a sample of fish oil, and I put too much in there, and I should have known better. When it combusted, it not only covered the cuvette with nast, it also fractured the end cap on the catalyst. I should have put less in there. I'm furious with myself.


magnolia said...

ugh, that sucks. i'm sorry.

Kim said...

Mistakes happen--even to you. You didn't do this on purpose. Don't be so hard on yourself. You're a great employee.