On Automation and Monitoring

One thing I've learnt at work is that automation is important. Automating repetitive tasks lets you get on with other stuff. Which is great so long as the automation works.

Things rarely work as you expect, nothing is static. So this is where monitoring comes into the scene. If you automate something it's almost as important to have something monitor that thing and alert when things with the thing aren't thinging along as planned. Still with me?

The apartment complex we live in has a trash shute that leads directly into an automated trash compactor. The complex owners get points for efficiently storing the waste. Unfortunately it often gets jammed and the automated system just assumes there's more compacting to be doing and keeps going....constantly. whirrrr clunk slam whirrrr clunk slam

Our apartment is above the compactor.

There's no automated monitoring of this system. Someone (in this case me) has to notice that the compactor has been running for hours and go switch it off. I'm probably not allowed to switch it off. There's probably some statute that prohibits non-trained personnel from operating waste compaction machinery unless you're state-trained by a man, that lives in a flat by a lake with dog, on a Tuesday.

But the compactor has a big red switch that makes a very satisfying 'clunk' when you flip it. Silence washes over you as walk back inside across concrete that doesn't vibrate. Knowing that no one will turn the damned thing back on, since they have no way of telling it's been turned off.