The amazing maintenance and reliability race

Jan. 18, 2021
Thomas Wilk says our 2020 adventure is over, so here’s to a new year with new challenges.

This issue marks the start of my seventh year with Plant Services, and while no two years have been alike, it’s safe to say that 2020 was in a league of its own, thanks primarily to what regular contributor Steve Tuttle refers to as COVID-19, The New Normal (or C19-TNN).

From the Editor

This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.

Industry has been working overtime to keep quality product moving out the door and take good care of plant assets, all while weaving and dodging every operational and supply chain hiccup that the coronavirus can generate. There are new and impressive stories every day of how you and your coworkers are persisting, and that’s just the on-the-job part of your lives. Add stressors like social distancing during the holidays or remote schooling since last March, and making it to the finish line of 2020 without cracking is even more impressive.

For me, there are two things that have helped me manage C19-TNN stress. The first is that I gave up coffee, along with other caffeinated drinks, and I’m still surprised at how little I miss them.

The other is The Amazing Race. Right around last March, I discovered that the first 29 seasons of the U.S. version are streaming for free on Amazon Prime, and during the pandemic I have been viewing it almost every day. Teams of two, racing around the world at will, with no travel restrictions? Check! People bickering due to stress who are not me? Check! Endless scenes of full beaches, plazas, and restaurants? Check, check, check!

The show has always been good escapist fun, but these past 10 months it’s been a glorious mental stress-buster too. And in a pandemic situation where video games have been keeping my kids sane indoors, the show has helped remind us that life is best lived outside the house.

Bringing this column back the world of maintenance and reliability, it’s been useful to see how different each of the Amazing Races has been, despite the basic format (11 teams, 12 legs, 8 elimination points) staying stable over all seasons. This has helped me think back on the many different industry conversations I’ve covered during six years on Plant Services, and that this seventh year will no doubt bring new issues to cover.

It’s also been fascinating to see how many different types of challenges The Amazing Race throws at people, and the skills required to navigate them all. When I take a look at this issue of Plant Services, I also see a similar diversity of skills required by modern plant professionals. There are three articles on hardware and one on software; two articles on maintenance economics and KPIs; several on team-building and strategic thinking; and a new day-in-the-life piece from Steve Tuttle. If any profession requires a greater skill set to succeed than The Amazing Race, then M&R is it.

Finally, it’s been great to see such a wide diversity of winning teams, each of whom have one thing in common: they never gave up, even when the race was at its most stressful. So stay strong everyone, and here’s to a great 2021!

About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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