C'mon maintenance!

Joel Leonard, contributing editor, says now is our chance to make serious progress in the fight against the 2010 Maintenance Crisis.

By Joel Leonard, contributing editor

Pardon me for paraphrasing the latest ESPN catch phrase, “C’mon Man!” but with the current economic and demographic conditions providing a crystal window of opportunity for maintenance and reliability activists, it will be our fault if we don’t make some serious advances that will garner more professional respect and support for our function.

Mr. President, technology is where the jobs are right now and will be for decades to come.

– Joel Leonard, contributing editor

Over the years, many of you have urged me on, provided ideas and offered suggestions to help us upgrade our maintenance and reliability performance levels. And please don’t stop, as I’m now dealing with opportunities that I could only dream of before. By getting involved with the Base Realignment and Closure Regional Task Force for Fayetteville, N.C., I’ve met with deans, college presidents, business executives and even military generals. They’re beginning to recognize that a critical factor that makes an economy flourish is a foundation of core competencies in the maintenance and reliability professions.

The 11-county region that sought my counsel is counting on maintenance and reliability educational development efforts to pay a huge dividend and the principals are taking my recommendations seriously.

Two days after the recent White House Job Summit, I interviewed Gary Kowalski of Fanuc Robotics for a future Skill TV episode. He described some of the robot advances and applications that replace drudgery and menial tasks and, as an outcome, generate the need for highly-skilled technicians to develop, calibrate and manage robotic systems. He shared a video of an enormous greenhouse that showed how robotic technology is potting plants to help with the American food supply.

Mr. President, technology is where the jobs are right now and will be for decades to come. You didn’t extend an invitation to me so I decided not to gate crash, but if you want to get some ideas that can advance our economy, you are welcome to visit SkillTV.net.

During another interview, Kelly Frady, president of Frady Tree Care, who worked his way from electronic technician in the Marine Corps to maintenance manager in a factory for seven years before embarking full-time in his own business, implored government leaders to do everything possible to keep the manufacturing base in the U.S. alive. That is where the capital and wealth are produced, not in a service economy.

I was also invited to participate in a sophisticated videoconference with leaders of K-12, community colleges and universities to explore how to elevate the region’s competitive advantage. It’s so cool to get high-browed Ph.D.s to appreciate our function and to garner their support for the Reliability Vortex Movement. It was quite a humbling experience when the Dean of Finance of a four-year university asked me if he could pass on his brother’s resume. Normally, those resources don’t give me an opportunity to speak to them, much less provide career counseling to a relative.

Success often is the biggest obstacle to change. The economic collapse has prompted many leaders to move past old processes, be open to new ideas and implement novel approaches. That’s why we need to “c’mon” and get moving in 2010. If you can join us for a SMRP Chapter Meeting on Thursday, February 25, at Fayetteville Tech, you’ll see the interactive 3D technology being pioneered by the Navigator Team under the guidance of Fayetteville Technical Community College vice president Bob Ervin. He plans to provide an in-depth overview of his processes and approaches.

We also schedule regular tapings for Skill TV at Fayetteville Tech, so if you’re interested in participating or watching, just let me know via e-mail. Or, join me at future conferences during 2010. At the National Facilities Management and Technology Conference in Baltimore in March, Mike Cowley and I will be providing a tag-team discussion exploring how to overcome the five biggest myths about industrial maintenance.

I appreciate your past support and encouragement to make a difference. That’s why, when people ask why anyone would bother to try to fix maintenance with its low-level jobs, I get fired up and explain how that view is so wrong. Remember that the next time you ride in a broken elevator, or try to engage a plumber on the weekend, or want to identify qualified talent to replace retiring boomers. Reliability is the backbone of our economy, maintenance is how we get it, and if more of us get out and evangelize, the world will become a better place. So, c’mon maintenance professionals, let’s get going.

E-mail Contributing Editor Joel Leonard at joel@skilltv.net.

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