Ice Breaker: Taking Stock of Downtime

August 4, 2008
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During the normal course of servicing and installing refrigeration systems, there are times when a technician will need to wait before proceeding to the next task. This can be the case when evacuating a system or when letting the system’s pressures and/or temperatures stabilize after some adjustment has been made.

These downtimes do not need to be wasted time. There are several things a technician can do during such times to be more efficient at their jobs.

This can be an excellent time to clean up the work area. Remove any old parts, unneeded supplies, or tools from the work area. A sign of a true professional is one who leaves the workplace clean and orderly. Customers will rave about technicians who take pride in the job they are doing by taking the time to clean their work areas.

This could also be a great opportunity for a technician to take inventory of his truck and see what supplies need to be replaced. Having a full inventory of parts and supplies on a truck makes future jobs run more efficiently. A technician can also spend a little time cleaning up his vehicle by discarding unwanted items like old parts left over from a previous job.

A technician can also spend some time inspecting the system for any maintenance items that may need to be done in the future. A technician can check the system’s electrical components and wiring looking for worn, frayed, or overheated wiring. The system’s refrigerant lines can also be inspected for any oily locations, damaged insulation, or damaged tubing.

Another way a technician can make better use of his time is to try to organize his work procedure so some tasks can be done in a logical order. For example, while installing a refrigeration system, when the time comes to run the vacuum pump, a technician can spend time doing any necessary electrical work. This is better than first doing the electrical work and then running the vacuum pump.

This can also be a good time for a technician to take stock of some his tools. He can check their condition, and if time permits, do some minor maintenance or check their accuracy. For example, if the refrigeration gauge set is not being used, the hoses can be inspected and any worn gaskets replaced. The accuracy of his thermometers can be checked by placing them in an ice bath. The oil in a vacuum pump can be changed, if needed.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, there is also nothing wrong with just taking a break. Some jobs are physically demanding and a technician needs to cool down and rest. This is especially true on those hot summer days when the heat is on and the workload is high.

Good technicians will always strive to be better and more efficient at their jobs. Making good use of the downtimes is one area where a good technician can be a better technician.

Publication date: 08/04/2008

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