Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sherlock Headphones in "The Case of the Vanishing Air."

As I approached the familiar doorways located at 14 Hayes Street, I could hear an enchanting melody coming from within. Several knocks later my old friend and world famous detective Sherlock Headphones greeted me at the door with a resounding, "Hurry Dr. Wastenot! Come in, the game is afoot!" As he hurriedly packed away his nerve-soothing violin, he explained that we were going on a trip.

After climbing into his meticulously waxed and clean Mercedes and starting on our way, Headphones told me of the text he had received earlier that day. The text he explained was from the maintenance manager of a rather large automobile manufacturing facility. It seems this particular man had a major problem on his hands. Production staff was constantly on his back complaining that the pressure in the compressed air system was not high enough to properly operate many of their air-operated tools. At the same time, this manager was also feeling considerable pressure (no pun intended) from the corporate level to start conserving energy any way he could.

Now, you may wonder why one the greatest detectives in history would be receiving texts from a maintenance manager of an auto plant instead of from FBI Headquarters in Quantico. Well it seems that after Headphones finally disposed of his arch rival Dr. Moriarty, there was very little crime left for Headphones to investigate. What with television shows like “Americas Most Wanted” and that undercover reporter from NBC locating all the criminals and putting them behind bars, Headphones decided to focus his attention on something more important than crime. Sherlock Headphones, Master Detective, would use his amazing powers of reason and deduction to help maintenance professionals everywhere make their plants safer and more efficient by being a pioneer in the field of DETECTIVE MAINTENANCE.

As the Mercedes finally pulled up to the gatehouse at the plant we were asked to wait for our escort to arrive. Thus, Headphones and I waited patiently, as he smoked his infernal pipe, for the maintenance manager, Mr. Oliver Overworked, to come for us.
Oliver was kind enough to lead us through the maze of yellow bordered walkways, past dozens of assorted production areas, eventually leading us to his office located on the second floor overlooking the production floor. After we sat down Oliver began to explain to us that he had six air compressors running 24 hours a day, producing at least twice as much compressed air as all of the tools and production equipment called for. Where could it all be going? How could the production people possibly not have enough pressure to operate their tools and other equipment?  "I think I know the answer to this mystery,” Headphones shouted, “follow me!"
For the next thirty minutes Oliver and I followed Headphones around in astonishment. He had taken from his case a black gun and a set of headphones, which were plugged into the back of the gun. Time and time again Headphones would seem to move the gun around moving closer and closer to fittings or flanges as he went.  When he marked the fitting or flange with a small red tag we began to catch on, Headphones was finding leaks!!
Back in Oliver’s office, I questioned Headphones, “How did you know I asked?”
"Elementary my dear Dr. Wastenot, like any good detective I keep my eyes and ears open to the environment around me. I observed that there were a number of very long air hoses running all over the place in high traffic areas, just asking to be run over by forklifts, stepped on, yanked on, etc. Flexible hosing should always be kept to short lengths. I could also hear several hissing sounds coming from any number of locations. From what I observed in the field and the information I gathered from speaking with Oliver, they were producing plenty of air but it was not getting to where it was needed. I was able to deduce that a leak problem existed. The only thing to do was to locate the leaks. For this I called on my Ultraprobe 15,000, the amazing black gun you observed me using actually listens for leaks. By listening only to the high frequency sound created by the turbulence at the leak site and using the Ultraprobe 15,000's sensitivity tuning capabilities, I was able to zero in on the exact location of the leaks in seconds.”
Oliver said a quick thank you as he rushed us out the door. He had a lot of work to do that afternoon. He had to start planning a complete inspection of the compressed air system. He also had to document the cost savings they would realize after repairing the leaks Headphones had located that day. This was one report he could hardly wait to turn into the plant’s energy manager.
During our long ride home Headphones spoke a little about this new DETECTIVE MAINTENANCE. "My dear Dr. Wastenot" he said, "It is extremely important to use all of the tools at your disposal to identify and correct problems. By incorporating common sense and simple observation I was able to deduce that our friend's plant had a leak problem. It was simply a matter of using the correct tool for the task of locating the leaks, which in this case turned out to be an ultrasonic translator, the Ultraprobe 15,000. With this tool and my insanely keen ability to solve mysteries, I think we’re primed to take the maintenance community by storm, one plant at a time!”
Stay tuned for the next episode where Sherlock Headphones will get really “Steamed up!”

Doug Waetjen, CMRP


  1. I love this briliantly creative way of presenting technology and maintanance!!!

  2. Too funny. Great work Detective.
    Shon Isenhour

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