Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Professional Screw Ups

. Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I don't know what got me thinking about this before I was thinking about my worst screw up as a professional. I was the lead mechanical engineer for a major renovation of several buildings. We were converting buildings from an old military base to a boot camp for troubled kids. The design called for air-cooled chiller (ranging in size from 100 - 150 tons) for each building. One of the first things a mechanical engineer does when selecting equipment is confirm what voltage(s) are available with the electrical engineer. I had a conversation with my fellow sparkie who told me that 460/3/60 was available. So, or course, that's the information I noted on my equipment schedule. Fast forward several months when the project is well into construction. The chillers are on site and ready to be installed. I get an RFI saying, "The chillers are 480 and 480 isn't available on site. What do you want to do?" Once I read that, I marched straight over to the electrical engineer and said, "You told me that 480 was available!" Of course, he said, "No, I didn't." I think he was lying to cover his ass. But in our industry, it's best to not point fingers (that can be done later behind closed doors). So the chillers had to be put back on the tractor trailers and shipped back to Pueblo, Colorado (where Trane's chiller manufacturing plant is located). Of course, there's a fee involved to ship the chillers back plus a "restocking fee" plus the contractor's 10% O&P on top of that. So how much did that mistake cost? $20,000! So what did we learn boys and girls? If you don't have it in writing, it never happened!

Share your worst screw ups here too!