Prescriptive Maintenance

You might not be ready for prescriptive maintenance, but it's time to pick a lane

Thomas Wilk draws inspiration from George Harrison on the long and winding road to RxM.

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

George Harrison is my favorite Beatle.

He’s not the Beatle who wrote the song referenced above (that’s Paul), and he’s not the most prolific songwriter (Paul) or touring musician (Paul again) of the bunch. He didn’t even wear many rings.

However, he is the one who took on the most technical challenges, writing songs of exceeding complexity and making them easy to sing and remember, if a nightmare to play. For example, a friend of mine who plays guitar tackled Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness” one time, and referred to the song as a “four-minute sequence of algebra chords, with vocals.”

I’d also argue that Harrison is the Beatle who did the most musical and spiritual exploring over the course of his career, and that kind of questing is something I’ve always related to. He was, by far, the Beatle who was the most generous with guest appearances on other artists’ records; he also significantly widened the scope of what a benefit concert could be and do, pulling together a wide array of artists in 1971 and persuading them to share his vision. Then, 20 years later, he formed the Traveling Wilburys supergroup.

Harrison’s been on my mind all month while preparing this issue’s cover story on the Road to RxM. For the story, we asked Sheila Kennedy to track down case studies of teams and facilities that either are engaging in prescriptive maintenance or are positioning themselves to move in that direction. Her article captures five of these stories across multiple industries, outlining the technical challenges associated with each project and reporting on the financial benefits achieved where available.

What all of the stories have in common is the willingness of each project manager to embrace new technology and then communicate that vision. As maintenance engineering manager Gábor Bereznai says: “This is a really long journey, especially in terms of mindset change and cultural development. The technology and software side is much easier to change than the mindset, and the impact of this is underestimated.”

You’ll read echoes of this message this month in Tom Moriarty’s Human Capital column, where he identifies two questions that can be used by managers to build a shared sense of vision with their direct reports. It’s also echoed by the latest winner of SMRP’s Rising Leader CMRP of the Year, Pawel Lecinski, who is featured in this issue’s Big Picture Interview and who says he “worked to bridge (an experience) gap by showing each group that the other had something to offer.”

As for me, these ideas echoed all month in the form of one of Harrison’s last songs, “Any Road,” which has been playing in my head for weeks: “When you don’t know where you’re going / Any road will take you there.”

You may not be ready yet for RxM in full, but it’s time to pick a lane.