We have pushed our learner deeper and deeper into the pool; he or she is now waist deep and ready to try some swimming (dog-paddling, maybe). The remaining sections of the procedure will focus on the activities that must be performed to succeed with the process, to achieve the objective for which this piece of equipment has been obtained.
The first activity elements relate to the set-up of the equipment. In nearly all processes involving equipment, incorrect set-up cannot be compensated for by any action taken during the actual operation.
Set-up steps fall into one of two categories:
Equipment pre-check: here, we determine whether or not equipment components are functional or not. We may also determine whether or not conditions (e.g., cleanliness) are sufficient for successful operation. While it is true that components may fail during operation, or other issues arise, but it is essential that we ensure that the equipment is at least functional at the outset, before we commit time, material and people to an operation.
Equipment set-up: here, we perform all actions on the equipment to ensure the correct operating conditions. Temperatures, pressures, operational speeds, energy inputs, etc. are all obtained prior to beginning the actual operation.
What I have found in nearly all types of equipment operating documents I have created, much more effort (in terms of number of activities and length of descriptive sections) goes into the setup than into the actual operation. (Which is a key point I always made during equipment operational training: if everything is properly pre-checked and set up, the actual operation–making the product, for example–is a relative breeze. That is, assuming the process is capable of achieving success. But that’s a separate topic for another day.)
Next up: describing the actual operational steps.