Today was a milestone day.
This editor’s note is being written from Birmingham, AL, where I’m attending a three-day training session on fluid sealing solutions provided by SEPCO, Inc. It’s been fantastic to travel again, both for this trip and for last week’s trip to St. Louis for the SMRP Annual Conference (event recap to appear in the December issue of Plant Services). But neither of these were milestones.
Today I also cut compression packing for the first time, and then installed it along with a lantern ring into a pump assembly. And as much fun as it was to learn this skill, it was more of a new experience than a milestone.
What happened was this: I sat down to have dinner tonight with the exact same set of friends and colleagues that I was having dinner with on March 10, 2020. That was the week that the COVID pandemic stopped being a concern that was only affecting areas outside the U.S., and started changing the direction of life and business here as well. It also was the last time I would see these three people together and in-person until today.
As we sat there, eating fried chicken and cole slaw and debriefing over the day’s training sessions, it suddenly occurred to me that it really was a milestone day. Here we all were, having made it through all the uncertainty of the last 20 months, navigating all the business and personal challenges, the missed holidays with family and the cancelled and virtual professional events with colleagues, and arriving once again at the same table, talking shop and sharing a meal and each others’ company.
In fact, it felt so natural that we almost overlooked the moment. But then we recognized what was happening, and sat back to appreciate the scale of it.
It got me thinking that this is so often the way successful maintenance initiatives work. One day you find yourself in a situation that simply cannot stay the same any longer, and you and your team or organization start the process of change.
It could be that the cost of running certain assets to failure simply becomes too expensive, either in replacement cost or in unplanned downtime. It could be that it is simply taking too long to find spare parts in a disorganized storeroom. It could be that your energy management approach is not stringent enough to meet the sustainability expectations of your shareholders. Or it could be that automation technologies, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and/or machine learning are the next step to improve your operational efficiency. Each of these situations is addressed in articles in this issue of Plant Services, so read on to find out how each person arrived at their a-ha moment and decided to take action.
We had no idea tonight that sitting down to dinner would feel so rewarding. If you have hit a milestone recently, whether professional or personal, feel free to share it with me at [email protected], and I’ll collect them in the January issue.
This story originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.
This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.