We’ve all heard the saying, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” And folk wisdom usually contains a kernel of truth – but as believable as these sayings may sound, the kernel of truth isn’t always there. Let’s take the stereotypical do-it-yourself who would rather fiddle around than read the instructions to find out how things really work – and is then surprised to discover that the shelf is crooked. Or consider a study by a British insurance company that found that drivers would rather drive around aimlessly for hours than ask for directions. This is how we waste almost six million hours a year.
Technical guidelines, manuals, and operating instructions make life much easier, especially when they’re written well. Here are my top five reasons for why you should read manuals and operating instructions:
1. More time and less aggravation
Once you have a new piece of technology in your hands, you want to use it as quickly as possible. I’m the same way. Sometimes I’m too impatient and too curious to read the instructions ahead of time. But experience has shown that any time you save at the beginning it is lost later when things don’t go as expected. The same applies to programming projects. If it’s not well-thought-out and set up correctly, you end up suffering the consequences.
2. Steep learning curve with no annoying errors
Guidelines like the programming manuals for SIMATIC S7-1200 and S7-1500 controllers were written by colleagues who spend all their time working on nothing but optimal programming codes. They’re constantly integrating user feedback and developer expertise. Every eventuality has been considered multiple times. This means you can learn from others’ mistakes without having to make them yourself.
3. Good teamwork
Programming style guides also help you create a straightforward, uniform program structure that allows your colleagues to continue working on your project. Otherwise, you’re the only one who can decipher it or, in the worst case, not even you can understand the code when you go back and look at it a year later.
4. Full range of functions with no compromises
Nothing is more annoying than a function that you need but can’t use or must retroactively program because you overlooked it. For safety applications, for example, it’s possible to simply reuse program sections, which allows you to quickly detect faults that could prevent acceptance.
5. More room for ingenuity
If you’ve been an automation expert for a long time, you might have a system architecture in mind that doesn’t offer the flexibility necessary for future-ready projects. But flexibility is exactly what’s required for each new generation of controllers. So, it can be to your advantage to break from your usual programming style and forge new pathways. This is one case where the old saying does apply: Go ahead and try, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Show us how creative you are
Do you read user manuals? Do you take the time to read the instructions beforehand? Or do you prefer to learn from your own mistakes? I’d like to hear your experiences. The above-mentioned manuals and guidelines for S7-1200 and S7-1500 are available here: https://sie.ag/3khCXSi