SMRP conference demonstrates the breadth of the maintenance profession

Mike Bacidore, chief editor, says maintenance professionals are part of something bigger.

By Mike Bacidore, chief editor

While in Milwaukee for the SMRP conference, I saw a Buddhist monk ordering a hot dog. Intrigued, I eavesdropped. "Make me one with everything," he said and handed the vendor a $20 bill. When he received only his hot dog, the monk asked, “Where’s my change?"

Of course, the vendor explained, "Change must come from within."

This bit of wisdom was so simple, and yet it seemed to echo from every maintenance and reliability professional and every solution provider I met at the conference.

“When change comes from the top down and that leader leaves, we tend to revert back,” said S. Bradley Peterson, founder and CEO of SAMI and one of the conference presenters. “Whatever improvements are forced into place, they revert to reactive maintenance when leadership changes.”

Peterson suggested organizations move toward goals such as predictable, improved production and reduced losses, high equipment availability, reduced waste and operating expense, world-class worker productivity, 100% regulatory compliance, intimate knowledge of process and equipment condition, high levels of ownership, accountability and cooperation, minimized conflicts among competing interests, and a safe, satisfying and productive work environment.
But reaching those ends doesn’t come without culture change.

“If you’re not measuring behaviors, you’re missing the most important element of change, explained Peterson. “It’s hard to control outcomes; behaviors lead to outcomes. Your culture is the sum of individual and collective behaviors in your organization. Human behavior causes most accidents. What makes your plant, your operation, is the sum of what people do every day. A performance culture is the combination of behaviors and practices.”

Change must come from within.

– Mike Bacidore, chief editor

Peterson recommends maintenance and organization behaviors such as clear leadership; cross-functional cooperation; planned and scheduled work; minimized reactive maintenance; individual and team accountability; 52-week look-ahead maintenance; scheduling of routine maintenance; planned jobs scheduled only when crafts, parts and tools are reserved for the job; good meeting behaviors; and KPIs that are reported, accurate and used to change behaviors.

“You put work into a funnel,” he said. “Different kinds of work have different viscosities. Emergency work goes right through, and reliability-centered maintenance (RCMs) tend to float on the top. RCM is a management tool. It’s like a 10-lb sledgehammer. Most of the defects in your organization don’t need RCM. So, who can affect the reliability in a plant? Who doesn’t?”

Lubrication professionals are a perfect example. The International Council for Machinery Lubrication, a not-for-profit, vendor-neutral organization that champions lubrication and oil analysis standards development, conducts skill-based testing and certification, and recognizes excellence through a variety of awards.

During her presentation, Suzy Jamieson, executive director of ICML, explained the important role that lubrication professionals play in the grand scheme and reinforced it with examples of recipients of the Augustus H. Gill Award, which is given out annually. Gill, whose career spanned the turn of the 20th century, is recognized as the father of modern oil analysis. Since 2001, facilities have received the award for their commitment to education, maintenance culture and management support, the use of standardized procedures and performance measurements, proactive/predictive maintenance, technology integration, contamination control, lubrication management, oil analysis methods and strategies, the use of information technology, and continuous improvement.

“The organizations that apply for the award and eventually win work hard on their cultural issues, said Jamieson. “They understand that not everyone accepts technology equally and it sometimes is a gradual process. Generally as successes are recognized the workforce and management become converted.

Organizations measure to monitor progress and stay within targets. They report world class numbers sometimes starting from a very low level.”

Oil analysis alone is limited to only those lubricated components, and organizations recognize that bringing all the information into the fight gives the best chance for results. Therefore most employ other predictive technologies. Winners of the Gill Award typically report using oil analysis, vibration analysis, thermography, motor circuit evaluation and acoustic emission. Generally the technologies are integrated, and, in some cases, the same technicians are trained in multiple technologies. Each technician is, indeed, one with everything.

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