Maintenance award lives up to its name

Yesterday, I heard Hugh Blackwood, retired U.S. Navy admiral and a maintenance and reliability advisor for Alcoa, speak at the SMRP Chicago Chapter meeting during the MARTS Conference in Rosemont, Illinois.

He was there to talk about the North American Maintenance Excellence Award (, an honor that hasn't been bestowed upon a plant since 2007, when both the Alcoa Mount Holly Plant in Goose Creek, South Carolina, and the Baldor Marion Dodge Plant in Marion, North Carolina, were recognized.

Since then, many have tried, but none were chosen. The nomination and selection process are rigorous, but worth the effort. Blackwood explained that many plants enter just to get an objective gauge of where they’re at on the maintenance and reliability journey.

The award is given by the Foundation for Industrial Maintenance Excellence, a volunteer, not-for-profit organization now headed mostly by previous winners of the award. The organization lists as its objectives to increase the awareness of maintenance as a competitive edge in cost, quality, service, and equipment performance; to identify industry leaders, along with potential or future leaders, and highlight best practices in maintenance management; to share successful maintenance strategies and the benefits derived from implementation; and to understand the need for managing change and stages of development to achieve maintenance excellence.

An initial $1,000 entry fee is charged for preparing a feedback document for the organization’s written submission. And selected finalists must pay up to $10,000 to cover the costs for the volunteer, on-site examiners and auditors to visit the plant, spend a week there, and complete a thorough assessment.

The feedback document details metrics and practices to help a plant determine where it stands and how it can work on continuous improvement. For many facilities, it’s an opportunity to receive a very affordable audit of maintenance and reliability practices. Oh, and winning isn’t so bad either.

The current nomination process is open, and entries are due June 30.