CMRP Veteran Professional of the Year: George Williams

“I think the biggest challenge that we have as industry leaders and practitioners is really to make every effort to not only have a positive impact but relate that directly to the business’s goals.”

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George Williams, CMRP, CRL, is director of asset management for Bethlehem, PA-based B. Braun Medical. Previously, he worked for 16 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. In 2016, the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) recognized his career in asset management and his commitment to giving back to the maintenance and reliability community in naming him CMRP of the Year in the Veteran Professional category. (Note: 2017 CMRP of the Year winners will be recognized in October at the 25th SMRP Annual Conference in Kansas City.)

Williams recently talked to Plant Services about how he has seen the maintenance and reliability field evolve and how institutional values can drive the success of a reliability program.

PS: What was your journey to becoming a reliability professional?

GW: I started at Bristol-Myers Squibb as an onsite maintenance contractor at one of their research and development facilities in central New Jersey. An opportunity arose for me; they were looking to get into maintenance, planning, and scheduling.

I continually beat down my manager’s door and let him know that I was going to be the planner. They finally gave in and I became a planner.

Through planning we were able to reorganize our maintenance staff based on essentially running out of work. So we had good success at that site. And then one day I was called into the office for the site director and he said to me, “What do you know about reliability?” And I said, “Not much,” and he said, “Good, you’re hired.”

So they began to send me for training and I received my certifications in vibration analysis, ultrasound, and infrared and eventually my CMRP. And then I began taking college classes and ultimately earned my master’s degree in reliability engineering management from Monash University.

When I was responsible for reliability regionally in 2007 at the site in central New Jersey, we rolled out planning and scheduling in a much bigger effort. By 2010, we had 32% efficiency gain across all sites.

PS: You got into the reliability field and you got your certifications; what energized you about this new area of focus? What appeals to you about it?

GW: I would say I always had a passion for maintenance and performing maintenance correctly. And that really came from a mentor that I had growing up.

I had the privilege of working with my father, who was a mechanic and a truck driver. I worked for him in the summers while I was in high school. He taught me how to strip down engines and hone cylinders and put carburetors together, but he always stressed to me executing the job with high quality.

(He emphasized that) there’s only a couple of things that stop a car from starting, so start there. You know, are you getting turnover? Do you have the fuel? He taught me good troubleshooting skills; he taught me that the importance of executing the job correctly. And that has always stuck with me.

PS: Do you try to impart some of the lessons you learned from your father to the students you teach at the University of Wisconsin?

GW: Absolutely. I certainly look very directly at the things that my father taught me about how to execute a job and how to ensure even the simplest things like keeping your tool cabinet clean and putting things back exactly as you had them.

As I look back, I certainly didn’t think my path was going in the direction it ended up, but all of those lessons have served me well, and I try to pass those along to the students.

PS: How have you seen this field of reliability engineering evolve?

GW: That’s a great question. The world has become an incredibly competitive place, and when you think about pharma companies and their goals and objectives, it’s a world where companies are looking to every advantage possible to ensure that they have quality on time delivery and potentially gain market share. The reliability engineering role has become a critical piece in that; it’s no longer a role that is seen as, “If we have an issue, then we’ll call them.” It’s more of a role around bridging the gap between engineering and operations and working in both of those spectrums.

I think that as that role evolves, it will continue to evolve in a way that data becomes their primary driver. Analytics and information will become the drivers that help the reliability engineering role continue to add value.

PS: With respect to data driving business decisions, can you point to any specific examples that you’ve seen where data led to justification for a specific investment or a reallocation of resources?

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