Prepping For Your Installs With Redundancy

I got a call from one of my dealers this week. That’s not unusual, someone calls me every day. That’s part of my job.

“Lee, I have a problem.” — that was how the call began. What had happened was that he had driven out to a jobsite to install one of our cell boosters and it was DOA; it wouldn’t power up.

I asked him a couple of quick troubleshooting questions, but not many. He’s one of my dealers who have been doing this a long time and when it comes to him and his peers, I trust their judgement. I know they know what they’re doing.
I told him that wasn’t really a problem, more of an inconvenience.

Cell signal booster failures in the field are rare and DOA units right out of the box are even more rare, but it does happen. That’s why we have warranties. Believe it or not, I’m actually kind of happy that many of my dealers don’t actually know what our warranty procedures are. That’s because the units we sell to our dealers fail so rarely that it’s common for years to go by in between units failing, either in the field or right out of the box. So I reminded him how we process returns from our dealers and assured him it would be dealt with promptly.

“Of course,” I continued, “the real inconvenience you were what, a hour out of town to get to that jobsite? And you had to go there and back again?”

“Oh, no,” he replied. “I always play it safe; I took three units with me. The first one was the DOA, but the second one worked just fine.”

“That’s good thinking,” I told him.

“Hey, I’ve been doing this a long time.” And he certainly has.

All this is a long-winded introduction to my point: that it’s beneficial to load a certain amount of redundancy into your truck when heading off to a job far from your office.

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Not heeding that advice can be costly. Not end-of-the-world costly, but an inconvenient waste of time and money.

Years ago, I headed out down to a client’s house that was about an hour out of the city. My job was to upload the programming into the control processor and test it. I got there, and the control processor was acting on the programming erratically. Talking to tech support from the vendor, they told me it needed a firmware update.

There was one problem. I was out in the countryside. This was before even 3G mobile data and the internet in the house wasn’t up and running yet. I had no way of downloading an update to my laptop and uploading it to the control processor.

So I had to drive back to the office, download what I needed and drive back to complete my task.

If I had been smart, which I wasn’t, I would have checked the vendor website that morning for the current firmware version and loaded it to my laptop along with my programming.

If I had been really smart, which my boss didn’t hesitate to point out that in this instance I wasn’t, I would have grabbed a second control processor, flashed it with the latest update, uploaded the programming to it and taken it with me. That way, if there had been any other issues with the control processor, I would have had a spare handy.

We did learn from that experience, all of us. Not long after that, we ended up doing a monster project at a lake home three hours outside the city. Every time we loaded up the trucks for a day on that jobsite, we loaded extra hardware, just in case. Bringing three cell boosters to the job site may sound like overkill, but trust me, sometimes overkill is entirely justified.