Reliability Vortex will develop regional strengths

Oct. 26, 2009
Joel Leonard, contributing editor, says this program will develop regional strengths in reliability skill sets.

As the economy rebounds, more businesses are taking notice of the problems posed by the “perfect storm” in maintenance. Finally, people are realizing that we have evolved past the baby boomer generation to the Geezer Bust era in which aging skilled technicians are being asked to care for aging infrastructure and upgrade their skills to operate highly sophisticated equipment, while future generations of workers have totally ignored these opportunities to pursue idol and hoop dreams. Despite high unemployment across the country, plants are scrambling to identify qualified technicians who can fill the void.

Now, in response, an entire region of the country is busy implementing career path and incumbent workforce development processes that embrace the role of maintenance and reliability to achieve profits. Under the Base Realignment and Closure Regional Task Force (BRAC RTF) programs, an 11-county region that surrounds the Fort Bragg military base is rolling out the Reliability Vortex in North Carolina.

The Reliability Vortex is a phased approach to upgrading the reliability skill sets that allow manufacturers to implement proactive maintenance processes and technologies. The Reliability Vortex absorbs the best of the best reliability resources to educate area employers’ technicians in a series of hourly, half-day and multi-day workshops for free through continuing education divisions at seven local community colleges. Area instructors attend to pick up ideas and processes that they integrate in the current curriculum to entice a future generation of workers in this vital career path. As this initiative expands, more regions around the country will be able to retain current employers and attract new ones.


The Reliability Vortex offers the education needed to fulfill the maintenance knowledge requirements outlined in recognized standards — the European Federation of National Maintenance Societies’ (EFNMS) maintenance technician job standards and the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) workforce standards. A new curriculum will be implemented, complete with certification testing, to help future generations build the much need multi-craft troubleshooting, maintenance planning and management skills that can advance modern manufacturing and facilities operations.
This initiative will take years to fully develop, but companies can enjoy the benefits immediately if they send workers to attend the free predictive technologies workshops covering vibration, laser alignment, airborne ultrasound and infrared thermographic technologies. Along with improved reliability and lower maintenance costs, these technologies also help companies identify inefficiencies, conserve energy and reduce operational costs.

As part of the program, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s virtual educational center will develop specific interactive three-dimensional applications that help accelerate the learning processes and facilitate the Reliability Vortex implementation. So that more in the community can understand and appreciate the potential, we will develop events such as a Technology Tailgate Party, where actuators and automation systems will dispense and convey food. Also, we’ll have ultrasonic treasure hunts in which contestants will be paired (one carries the wand the other a headset), duct-taped back-to-back and sent to locate an airborne ultrasonic transmitter.

To shine a spotlight on the process, will be providing custom videos designed to help educate employers, community leaders, and incumbent and future workers about the advances and processes provided by the Reliability Vortex. It’s so exciting to go from merely talking, writing and singing about the maintenance crisis to designing regional solutions so thousands can benefit from more reliable workplaces and improved community economies.

If you know of technology or resource that you feel would fit well with this regional development plan to upgrade reliability skills and systems, please let me know about it.

E-mail Contributing Editor Joel Leonard at [email protected].