On the brink of change

In this Big Picture Interview, Gino Palarchio discusses how implementation turns ideas into best-in-class maintenance practices.

Gino Palarchio was the fourth chairman of the Society of Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (www.smrp.org) in the late 1990s. He is now the general manager of manufacturing services at ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton, Ontario. ArcelorMittal is the largest steel company in the world with operations in 60 countries.

PS: What were your job title and company when you were SMRP chair?

GP: I was chair of SMRP in 1997, and, at the time, I was maintenance technology manager of ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

PS: What are the big changes you've seen in maintenance and reliability from when you were SMRP chair to now?

GP: Interestingly there have been no real changes at all in maintenance and reliability since I was chair of SMRP. Let me explain. The cornerstones or criteria for success in maintenance and reliability have not changed in the past 25 years or more. However, the awareness and adoption of the processes, practices, and systems to be successful is much broader and deeper across North America. The fundamentals of technically based work identification, good planning and scheduling, well-trained trades, and use of predictive condition monitoring technology and visual inspections have been around for a long time. Many people talk about them, but few implemented them well in the past. I would like to think SMRP in many ways has helped the broadening and deepening of its practitioner members implementing them more successfully with the help of the SMRP vendor members.

PS: What is the one accomplishment under your leadership that you're most proud of?

GP: The single largest accomplishment while leader of SMRP was working with the board at the time to develop a very thorough, well-thought-out strategic plan and blueprint that was executed and implemented very well in the 10 years after my chairmanship by the future chairs, boards, and membership at large. As an example, the original strategic plan laid out the development of the SMRP certification (CMRP), which is now in full swing; it also laid out how best to allow membership entry by vendors while still maintaining the core focus of “by practitioners for practitioners,” as well as the establishment of the Best Practices Committee and Benchmarking Committee, and the growth through chapters. Nothing makes me more proud than to have been there in the early days on the ground floor when we created a strong compelling vision with objectives required to achieve the vision. Thanks to the many volunteers, after my time, who, over the years, worked hard and long hours to make this vision a reality.

PS: Who in the SMRP organization had the biggest influence on you and your career?

GP: The two people who had the largest influence on me and my career from SMRP are Ray Oliverson, an original founding member of the SMRP, who, at the time, was president of HSB Reliability Technologies and the now-deceased John Moubray, who was, at the time, managing director of Aladon and author of the book, “RCM2.” Both of these gentlemen came from the vendor membership side of the equation, and both genuinely had an interest in furthering the integrity and growth of the SMRP membership. I learned from Ray Oliverson the art of how to assess a maintenance organization to uncover opportunity and how to go about selling the C-suite and get required funding to get the required tools and resources to close the gaps and achieve the opportunities. I learned from John Moubray the most important cornerstone of a successful maintenance program that achieves the highest levels of reliability, which was how to involve the people that know best what the correct maintenance program should be through the use of the RCM2 methodology. There were also many others over the years who provided useful advice, shared practices and information, and became wonderful comrades. Hopefully, I was able to provide as much help and benefit for them as they did for me.

PS: Where is the maintenance and reliability profession headed, and where would you like to see it go?

GP: Maintenance in all of North America is about to face the largest crisis to date over the next seven years. More than 60% of all trades and maintenance leadership will be retiring, and the methods currently in place to recruit, train, and develop will not live up to the required pace and quality that must be in place. The use of online training, the use of mobile technology for real time access to important information, and the use of video snippets to capture experience before it retires will need to be adopted to help put in place expedited means to train and develop people. I have not seen any large players step up to the mark to provide such solutions yet, but those that do will be very successful commercially, and those that adopt will also be successful. It would be very exciting to take a leadership role in this opportunity but I will need to leave this to the younger demographics to take the lead and make it happen.