Interview: CMRP of the Year Nezar Alshammasi

We’ve only scratched the surface of reliability’s possibilities, says the maintenance services director at one of the world’s top oil companies.

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Nezar Alshammasi, corporate maintenance services director at Saudi Aramco, was named by the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) as one of two 2015 CMRPs of the Year. As head of the department responsible for maintenance performance at one of the world’s largest oil companies, Alshammasi works both to promote excellence within his own company and to promote CMRP credentialing, maintenance excellence, and what he calls a “learning culture” in the Arabian Gulf region. In an exclusive interview with Plant Services, he shared his perspective on differences in attitudes about reliability and industrial production in the Gulf vs. the U.S. and how these attitudes need to evolve.

PS: SMRP honored you as a CMRP of the year in its “veteran professional” category. How have you seen reliability engineering as a field evolve, and what do you hope is next?

NA: I think reliability engineering has grown to be a science. It’s no longer an academic pursuit but a business necessity and a science that can be applied in any facility or industry.

Where will the next advances be made? I think it’s (in) automation, failure prediction, deeper failure analysis, and more creative predictive tools – that’s the future. A lot of people think reliability engineering is a mature field, but I personally believe we have only scratched the surface of possibilities that this science will deliver.

PS: You’ve been credentialed as a CMRP for a while. Could you share your thoughts on the credentialing process and whether you have seen the CMRP exam itself evolve?

NA: Yes. In 2008–’09, we wanted to create a chapter of a society of CMRPs in the Arabian Gulf region because we didn’t have any at that time. But it turned out to be that we had to create our own independent society. So in 2010, (we created) the Gulf Society of Maintenance Professionals, GSMP, which just changed its name to the Gulf Society for Maintenance and Reliability, GSMR.

We created that society with the very clear objective of building a network for maintenance and reliability professionals and providing a platform for conferencing and meeting. Certification was also needed, (and) in our company, Saudi Aramco, we started the process even before then. Our CEO at the time, HE Mr. Khalid Al Faleh, currently the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources of Saudi Arabia, challenged us to instill a culture of certification in our maintenance and reliability engineers. We searched the market and selected CMRP. It’s the closest to our culture in the Gulf. Therefore, promoting the CMRP among other companies in the Gulf region was a target for us.

We signed the memorandum of understanding with SMRP to promote the exam, and when we were going through the process (of analyzing the exam), we discovered there had been a bit of difficulty with the nature of the questions. I and my colleague Jim Davis from GSMP were invited to be part of the review committee. I essentially became the ambassador for CMRP here in the region and pushed it in our company and among other companies in the region.

Being certified serves a number of purposes. For the certified professional, (it means) being at par with his international peers and colleagues through self-development by reading and reviewing the latest documentation and getting familiar with the latest tools. Another advantage of being certified is that members are thus better able to help their companies in this critical area.

PS: We’ve seen multinational companies like GE and Emerson trying to address markets beyond North America. Do you think that the past 10 years or so has improved the ability of professionals in your region to be ready to adopt the latest condition monitoring technologies?

NA: The short answer is yes. We’ve got condition monitoring in most firms and so many projects from so many companies, including ultrasound technology (and) a variety of condition monitoring applications. This is where a lot of companies are going toward – predictive failure analysis and machinery prognostics.

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