Manufacturing Events / Maintenance Work

5 things I'm looking forward to at MARCON 2019

From reliability best practices to workforce planning help, MARCON looks to deliver been-there, learned-from-that insights

By Christine LaFave Grace, managing editor

I first had the opportunity to attend UT-RMC's MARCON (Maintenance and Reliability Conference) in 2017, after hearing rave reviews of the event from Plant Services editor-in-chief Thomas Wilk. A collegial crowd of industry pros—people who get the job done for their facilities—gathered to share been-there, learned-from-that best practices? Meaningful discussions about how to drive meaningful improvements in work processes and procedures? I'm in.

My first trip to Knoxville didn't disappoint, and I returned with notes and new connections I'm still turning to two years later. I'm glad to have the opportunity to return this year, and with that in mind, here are five top things I'm looking forward to at MARCON 2019:

  1.  The "Strategic Planning for Reliability: Executing the Vision" keynote on Wednesday afternoon from Brian Dunn, vice president of facility maintenance and energy at Americold Logistics LLC. Dunn, a CMRP, CRL and PMP, gets the disconnect between carefully worded team mission and vision statements—the ones you see on posters and bulletin boards in the lunchroom—and how things sometimes proceed in real life. Creating and sustaining change in an organization demands a strategic, targeted approach—and more communication than you probably think is necessary. I'm eager to hear Dunn's best practices here, given the challenges that so many team leaders face in "selling" their reliability vision and maintaining buy-in up and down the organizational ladder.

  2.  Wednesday afternoon's "Proven Solutions for Combating Skilled Labor Shortages" presentation from AMTEC's Sheri Plain and Jason Simon. Do you know AMTEC? AMTEC is the Advanced Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative, a multistate, industry-academia partnership that now counts more than 70 companies and educational institutions as members. What that means, in practice: AMTEC helps ensure that the skills that vocational students are graduating with match the skills that local manufacturing companies need. They do this through an industry-certified, competency-based curriculum, industry-designed maintenance certification assessments, and more. I had the opportunity to interview Plain and her OCTC colleague Amanda Saam for our October 2018 Big Picture Interview, "Oh, wow, look what she did – Increasing gender equity in manufacturing," and I'm excited to finally get to meet her in person and hear more about the great work AMTEC is doing.

  3.  Shon Isenhour's "For Pete's Sake, Stop with the Shiny Stuff...Let Us First Get the Basics Right" presentation (also on Wednesday afternoon). You can always count on Shon for a good title...and of more importance, of course, an engaging and memorable presentation.

  4.  Thursday morning's session on the Constellium Reliability Excellence (CoRE) implementation at Constellium's facility in Ravenswood, WV. What caught my eye about this one is that presenter Nick Bowers notes that CoRE, a corporate-led initiative, was having trouble gaining traction on the ground. (Sound familiar?) The thing that produced change, according to Bowers, was a reorganization of key resources that allowed for a dedicated focus on implementing CoRE's 16 reliability elements. Now the facility has begun precision maintenance activities and has a rigid work management process.

  5.  The Thursday afternoon "Moving to Best Practices – What's it Going to Take?" panel discussion. 'Nuff said.


  6.  Breathing above-freezing air. Seriously, it was -3F (with a wind chill of -20F) in Chicago this morning, and as I get over a nasty bout of bronchitis, even projected highs in the low 40s in Knoxville this week sound A-OK to me.

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