BlogPendant Automation Diary – Part 9

Pendant Automation Diary – Part 9

By Gary Stokes
February 2nd, 2018

Be the Duck

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

People often misattribute this quote to Mark Twain.  Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French mathematician, most likely originated it.

Conveyor Handling System Project

The quote came to mind recently by a visit Rob made to a client’s facility to help them improve throughput on their conveyor handling system. Rob observed the system in operation for about two hours.  He made some very brief changes to the control program which resulted in a threefold increase in throughput. The client asked why it took two hours to start modifying the program.  Rob’s response was essentially the same as the quote above.

The principle is simple but too often ignored.  It may have been more satisfying to an observer if Rob had immediately started to rewrite the code.  Then he would have tested the changes one by one, in a trial and error process that simulated productivity. But he understood the goal.  So the approach he chose was one in which he patiently reached a deep understanding of the problem and elegantly executed the right solution.


Sometimes we prioritize “busyness” (the act of looking busy) over real productivity.  Sometimes we feel we don’t have time to study a problem before working out a solution. Somehow we always have time to go back and correct or modify incorrect or incomplete solutions.

Taking the time at the beginning of each phase of a conveyor handling system project to plan and think and communicate is a winning strategy. When we work with you on your project, we are going to ask you to invest some of that time with us.

At Pendant, we prefer being like the duck. On the surface everything appears calm and serene, but beneath the surface there is an awful lot going on.

I want to be the duck, too!