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What Every Process Engineer Can Learn From The Goonies

Jul 19, 2016 3:28:00 PM / by Jeff Knepper

As an 80’s kid myself, I doubt there is any movie I have watched more often than Steven Spielberg’s “The Goonies”. While recently watching the Goonie gang, I realized that this fabled childhood film has some serious crossover into my adult world, industrial process data. So read below and answer the question I can guarantee you’ve never been asked before… What can "The Goonies" teach me about my process?
"The Goonies" a Richard Donner Film directed by Stephen Spielberg


One of the most lovable of all the Goonies, Chunk is the King of Exaggerations.  His stories are always over the top and he makes it nearly impossible to know if what he says is true or not. Sure he means well, but as a result of all his exaggerations, when he has something important to share, like in the movie when he needs to call the police and report the Fratelli clan, his call falls on deaf ears.

The same can hold true for your process, generally as a result of improperly set alarms.  Ask your SCADA operator how many alarms they receive on a regular basis, often because the system was not set up properly.  Alarms are useless if they aren't set to the correct thresholds and notifying the right people.



An innovator, Data has a solution for every potential roadblock.  Being chased across a log by a pair of crooks?  No problem, slick shoes to the rescue.  Falling down a huge shaft towards your death?  Pinchers of Power to the rescue!  The only issue is that Data's solutions are untested and his outcomes are rarely on target.

Pay attention because this can hold true for your process as well!  What are you currently assuming works, even though it has not been properly tested?  Before you make a change in your process, what measures do you and your team take to ensure that you have properly validated your results?  When testing a new procedure, do you start small first?  Remember, as we have said before in Step Four of our Predictive Asset Management article, shoot bullets, then cannonballs!



Loud and rather obnoxious, it seems every group of friends had a "Mouth" in their group.  Always pushing the envelope, Mouth helped push the Goonies when they might have wanted to quit and his Spanish skills came in handy repeatedly.  Chances are, even today, you probably have a friend like Mouth.  Sometimes you can't remember exactly why you hang out with them, and often you wish you didn't.  The funny thing is, they have a habit of always coming through when you need them.

That's why we feel it is so important to record all of your process data, all of the time!  Too often companies will only save process data for a set period of time, or perhaps won't monitor all of their points and tags.  Learn from Mouth, you never know when something that seems unimportant will become crucial to your operation.  If it's there, record it!



Unarguably the dreamer and leader of the group, Mikey was positive that finding One-Eyed Willie’s treasure was possible. He showed a profound respect for One-Eyed Willie and found as much value in the adventure as he did the gold.  For Mikey, it was all about the journey and every member of the Goonies had to be involved for it to count.

Understanding how your group of tags interact together to complete your process is crucial.  To truly find your treasure, you have to better understand the relationship between your equipment and your production results.  A product like Axiom is key for understanding how your data interconnects and relates.



Mikey’s older brother who is convinced that the Goonies are chasing after a myth. Unlike his brother, Brandon is willing to accept his present situation and not make any changes to improve it.  In fact, the only time he tries to fix a situation is to avoid getting into too much trouble.

If you find yourself constantly repairing equipment after it breaks, chances are you are spending too much time reacting and need to shift towards a more predictive asset management model.  Don't wait for things to go wrong or simply accept that your process cannot improve.  Download our free whitepaper and follow these four steps to shift to a predictive asset management model!



Timid every step of the way, Andy is afraid of the challenge, but learns to overcome her fears through small victories like playing the skeleton organ.  Although she doesn't start out a Goonie, by the end of the adventure, she is one of the gang.

Training new staff, especially control operators, can be a big job.  Using software that is quick to learn and simple to use can help reduce the training burden.  Read about the personal experience of one of our own staff members when they learned to use Axiom.  You can further help new operators by providing operation standards they can follow.  Using Axiom to set threshold limits, both high and low values, for key data points can be a great practice to help acclimate a new individual to the team.



Anyone that would make a character judgement based on his appearance would miss finding one of the most protective and caring members of the Goonies.  Sloth had much more to offer than a quick glance would ever reveal.

Likewise, just looking at your data without context will never provide a clear picture of what is really happening.  Using tools like time-shifting will however give you a much better idea of how your current data compares historically, especially for small incremental changes that would be impossible to determine by the naked eye alone.


One-Eyed Willie

Mikey names Willie the original Goonie.  The pirate from the old legend found his treasure and then carefully kept anyone from it, refusing to share his knowledge with others.

To truly empower your organization and transform your process, make your data available to as many people as possible!  Axiom allows for many users, even off site consultants.  Allow others to look in on the process, to compare live and historical data, and run complex calculated trends.

Would you like to learn more about Canary software?  Try out software for free!



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Jeff Knepper

Written by Jeff Knepper