Nowhere does the old saying about draining the swamp when you have alligators nipping at your tail apply more intensely than it does in maintenance. Moreover, most of us in maintenance value that intensity and try to bring it to our work. We just have to channel the energy, not let it channel us.
There is a balance each of us must strike. On the one hand we must be attentive enough to daily breakdowns and other maintenance crises that we don't hurt plant performance and lose our relevance to our in-house customers. On the other hand, we have to stand fast for the planned maintenance, predictive maintenance, and condition monitoring that help us prevent most breakdowns and avoid the erosion of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
If maintenance is ever going to quit being a swamp, all of us who live there must find the tools we need to channel our energy into strategies that will put us in control. We must take charge of asset health care, OEE, statutory compliance, and all the other things that equip us to manage our working environment and the equipment that populates it.
To keep my tool kit up-to-date, I try to attend every SMRP Annual Conference. This year I was not disappointed. Over 900 attendees got to visit with fifty of the top vendors and consulting groups in maintenance and reliability. You'd have to cover a lot of miles to see them all if SMRP hadn't gathered them together. I personally got caught up on ultrasound, web-based data collection and distribution, CMMS software, vibration analysis, oil condition monitoring, behavioral organization development, and the latest developments in locking and anti-seize compounds. I also enjoyed some hanging around time with a bunch of very smart colleagues.
SMRP is doing a great job of growing the workshop portion of the week. There were 23 reasonably priced all-day seminars on a wide range of topics. Three were on everything you need to know about key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you measure and control maintenance performance. There were maintenance and reliability clinics on how to design, assemble, select, and monitor equipment. There were how-to management workshops in results orientation, culture development, organizational development, CMMS implementation, strategic planning, lubrication management, MRO inventory management, and energy management. There were even two simulation games to help develop decision-making expertise among managers and two more reviews of best practices to provide context for the skills being taught.
A couple of colleagues and I reviewed about a third of the workshops and came away impressed with the quality of teaching going on there and the materials that participants got to take away. SMRP’s insistence on the involvement of real-world practitioners pays off in these sessions.
In addition to the workshops, there were two solid days of technical sessions on six tracks. They provided maintenance and reliability professionals with a great deal of context for training and operating issues.
This year the SMRP Conference was a week very well spent in Orlando, on the edge of Disney World. It’s a place where most maintenance people feel right at home.