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Technology-LiveIAmA: Plant IT Support Specialist for a major meat manufacturer AMA!

Dec 3rd 2016 by SUM_TIN_W0NG • 25 Questions • 240 Points

I support most electronic devices at a meat manufacturer. From computers to networks to hand held devices. ( I don't do IP addressing). I have seen everything from the live animal going into get harvested to the final product and most stuff in between.

Q:

Do you guys have a SCADA system for the machines?

A:

Well when it comes to data collection we have an open source program that is modified. It allows our devices to connect to an IBM Iseries which does most of the legwork. We are able to remote into the devices and in the event of a replacement pretty much hot swap them.

As for real time data in addition to the terminals on the floor that connect to an Iseries. All the desktop pc's have an emulator to connect to it also, so information can be sent into the emulator and relayed to any device that is currently in that system.


Q:

Do you guys use computers n stuff?

A:

Do you go poop indoors?


Q:

No. In my village we poop outside.

A:

I just upgraded to depends so I can do both.


Q:

What happens to all the scraps/ leftover parts? Can an average person like me purchase the less ideal cuts at a cheap price?

A:

With the multiple companies I have been with it seems that the on going policy that the Hard drives are destroyed and the metal is sent to a recycling facility due to the large volume.

Companies also tend to not allow stuff to go home with people.. Example if I find something that is required to throw away.. If I were to sign a waiver or just take it home that would be considered "unfair" to whoever did not know about it ect..

I would say it is really dumb but then again I could see where someone could abuse it.

It really bugs me when I have to throw away LCD monitors that I know all they need is a new power cable, but the company wont buy the specialized power cable because it is a special purchase.


Q:

Oh... I was talking about the meat

A:

Almost all the meat is used, and the meat that is considered contaminated or unfit for human consumption gets sent to get made into bone meal or other products. In short.. The trash gets turned into profit then hauled away.


Q:

You would think that with the popularity of hotdogs, they'd just use this same method to get rid of those extra computer parts they're just throwing away. I don't think anyone would notice the taste difference.

A:

My guess is there is a point where effort meats cost.


Q:

Mmm blood sausage

A:

Pretty much, every peace of meat was once filled to the brim with blood.


Q:

What kind of network system are you guys running?

A:

Standard enterprise topology, but running iwan also


Q:

Can technology assist in the humane slaughter of animals? Can there be something better than inaccurate captive bolts and live grounding of chicks, etc.? What about transparency and accountability? Or does the industry prefer to just keep it all under wraps?

A:

It already has they have conveyer belts that take the animals to a o2 system. Basically it renders them unconscious humanely then kills them.

Technology also helps keep track of animals, if some come in sick or abused the markings and tracking on them can identify the trucker or farmer who bright them in.

A lot companies have what is basically staffing companies. Their harvest may be one company and their production may be another.

It is hard to fully monitor these and farms best attempts are made which can include hiring someone to be a resident within the facility and do audits.


Q:

he didnt make the choice to be one. thought that was obvious

A:

I was able to choose to not be an addict anymore.


Q:

How did you get into this job? I always wonder how people find these really specific jobs when most of the IT job listings I can find are just fullstack webdev and SAP stuff.

A:

Started part time as relief. Kept applying and eventually got one. More or less it is luck.


Q:

Control System Cyber Security here, whaddup Plant IT.

Hows that System Bus / Terminal Bus style architecture going? Any PLCs on your managed ICS switches? Looks like 3 of your HMIs aren't compliant with ISO 27001 and 27002. kill me plz

A:

They are compliant... Rule taught is do it right the first time.


Q:

I worked for a processing plant some years back myself as a RCO (Remote-Control Operator) shuttling railcars that were being loaded around. Once, we had a refrigeration unit go bad on a fully loaded car, causing all the meat to spoil and the company had to unload and dispose of it.

From this, I have two questions I've always wondered.

First: How often does spoilage on that magnitude happen,

and,

Second: If a spoilage like that happens, what is the fallout from it? (Fines, job loss, or cost.)

A:

Technically we don't use cars we use fork trucks. You may relate though to a semi with a refrigeration unit. That would get disputed, but more on other parts of spoiled food and refrigeration.

We have a fail safe. Multiple refrigeration units. Though there has been a time when the sewer backed up and there have been multiple times where boxes of probably 800 pounds of product dropped on the floor.

The product goes to another facility and gets made into bone meal. Which can be found in some dog foods.

On a side note what is the serious concern of a lot of facilities is contamination with allergens. Someone touching meat or is going to touch meat decides to put some thing like a peanut butter bar in their mouth then goes to touch the meat. That meat now has the potential to give someone an allergic reaction so that may cause you to lose your job or come close. That meat is now pretty much going to the refinery for bone meal.


Q:

Yeah, I remember that the only way I noticed it was when I saw this weird dripping coming from under the boxcar's doors. Checking the Refrig unit, I found that it had gone into a defrost cycle, and the interior of the car was pushing easily 110 degrees. I'd always wondered what happened after they had to clear it out.

A:

Basically from what I got told it is just a pissing match between the shipper/receiver. In the end it turns into a was I would guess because you would win and lose probably about the same.

My guess is that not all facilities have the ability to unload product for free so that company may have had to eat the losses on some of the stuff.


Q:

I know that once it was cleaned out, we had to push the car to the end of a siding and steam clean it out before it could be certified to ship again.

A:

Trailers for livestock have to have that done also. It is a huge money maker if the semi's all have to wash their trailer like 4 times a day and get charged for every wash.


Q:

Is pentesting your own systems a thing? Is it common/uncommon in your industry? Is there no incentive on the company's part?

A:

Not too much that I know of, but our systems get hit with like 1 million pings a day. I don't think it would be a bad idea to get a consultation.


Q:

Yeah. Too bad Im not in that business of pentesting i could make some money.

A:

Not really compared to the business. I way that because if you don't have the other company sign all the papers and you break in you screwed.


Q:

Would the meat processing sector pay good for a service like that? And how hard would it be to sell it to companies not unlike yours?

A:

I would go PLC programming for large companies easily $30+/hour with a good size town.


Q:

I work at a fair sized company with only 1 IT guy. The company itself is very concerned about spending money on anything. On top of that the IT department (of one guy) is directly under the VP of finacne. Is there anyway to convince them it would be worth it to get more it people? It's hard for us manufacturing engineers to try new high tech solutions for things if we can't even get a minute of ITs time.

A:

See if they will pay for a security audit. Might be shooting yourself may not be. Just make sure if they say it is shit that you can prove it is too much for just one person.


Q:

100 duck sized horse or 1 horse sized duck?

A:

Uhmm how about a 400 pound king penguin?


Q:

Lol! I did indeed! And I wrote more, but apparently you are in a hurry to be stupid. I won't stop you.

A:

Read much?


Q:

think much?

A:

Depends on what game you want to play.


Q:

I don't play stupid games, you can keep the stupid prizes.

A:

K


Q:

I am sitting here with a giant erection right now.

A:

Idk how to Guage it without seeing


Q:

You may as well ask the L1 help desk at a hospital for an AMA if you want blood, guts and computers

Holy crap, we need this! Can some get on this?

A:

My first job was a temp lvl1 before I landed the next that led me to the one I am at. The blood lab had a computer with an inch thick of dust in it. No one wanted to touch it.