Under Control


Many products today have notices attached to them that alert users to the possible harmful effects of misuse. We believe the same notices should also be attached to many high-tech industrial products. Software, hardware, control systems, maybe even entire plants should have warning labels attached to them. Following is but a sampling of the cautions we think should be considered.

Notice: This plant contains workers. Management lives elsewhere and therefore can accept none of the blame for poor performance. However, they are available to accept the credit for good performance. Any monetary windfalls resulting therefrom should be diverted immediately to management. Enter at your own risk.

Take Heed: This is a project schedule. As all project mangers know, projects invariably take 18 months to complete and entail 40 percent cost overruns. The cost-estimates and schedules contained herein were agreed upon so that the project team could go to lunch. Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidence.

Attention: This disk contains software fully tested by our quality-control department. Users can be confident that adequate precautions were taken to assure error-free product. Our quality is our warrantee.

Notice to user: This product is user-friendly. Under no circumstances attempt to operate without the prerequisite three-year training course.

Warning: Contains artificial intelligence. As such, it's smarter than you are. Don't questions its decisions.

Alarm: This system is in the database flood plain. At any time, and without any notice, severe printer overload can occur. It's recommended that the high-speed printer be connected directly to the system compatible paper shredder.

Alert: This company is on a downsizing alert. Each employee is on notice that benefits accrued during the term of employment are in considerable jeopardy.

Note: Contact with management is best avoided. Engineers are advised to stand at least five feet from any live management representative. If not alive, notify the appropriate administrative assistant.

Advisory: This company generates a significant amount of entrepreneurial spirit, which generally manifests itself by employees walking off with intellectual properties of absolutely no value. Legal fees can escalate sharply as a result.

Safety alert: Contains state-of-the-art technology. Continued use can cause damage to your career. Don't install unless you plan to jump ship.

Security Alert: A significant portion of this system is porkware. It's added to the Defense Department budget and to the operator's sense of confusion. Approximately 80 percent of the code herein is degenerate. However, that's good, because it's sure to confuse any untutored user.

Caution: The reengineering creed commands that companies reduce themselves to their core competency and concentrate on what they do best. A number of companies that have done so shortly thereafter disappeared.

Prudence: This automation system is controlled by an expert system. As such, even the designers have no idea what's going on. It has great form, but is virtually content-free.

Handle with extreme care: This big blue box is a mainframe. Paleontologists agree that its limited memory and low speed enabled immense profit margins. As a result, dominance occurred early in the evolutionary cycle. That is, until smart, fast predators caused the demise of the lumbering beasts. Owners are advised to handle with extreme care. Maintenance costs can escalate beyond measure.

This side up: This plant should never be inverted, except by qualified personnel. Personal injury could result.

Danger: This PLC uses ladder logic as its programming language. The tenure of any academic-type found teaching the language will be jeopardized. Electricians are hereby notified that to speak in public of this archaic language is socially unacceptable.

Unsafe: This instruction manual meets all the requirements and specifications you can possibly think of. It guarantees continuous employment for designers and systems integrators. If dropped it can cause considerable damage.

Hazard: This product contains the infamous NERD (New England R&D) virus. Continued use may cause the user to work days at a stretch and consume vast quantities of Coca-Cola. In extreme cases can cause body odor.

As appeared in Manufacturing Systems Magazine October 1993 Page 8

Manufacturing Systems Magazine Articles
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