Advanced technological tools might be causing more harm than good

June 10, 2011

Enlightened industrial maintenance and production operations are based on a philosophy that holds that careful, considered thought, advance planning and technological tools are key to minimizing downtime. If successful, it also minimizes the woe that befalls anyone even remotely associated with a downtime root cause. After all, being mentioned in connection with mechanical failure isn't good for one's career or job prospects.

Enlightened industrial maintenance and production operations are based on a philosophy that holds that careful, considered thought, advance planning and technological tools are key to minimizing downtime. If successful, it also minimizes the woe that befalls anyone even remotely associated with a downtime root cause. After all, being mentioned in connection with mechanical failure isn't good for one's career or job prospects.

I think advanced technological tools might lead to a problem. High-speed interconnectedness among hardware elements in the typical plant environment brings the good, bad and the ugly to the attention of many people instantly, many of whom might not understand what they’re seeing. Next thing you know, there’s a hair trigger reaction to some innocuous process variability. That reaction is a good thing; the knee-jerk aspect definitely isn’t a good thing.

Be careful of those highly improbable, nearly impossible events that have a huge consequence when they occur. Short-term thinking is simply no defense when to so-called Black Swan lands in your pond. Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains this in a video produced by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.

The bottom line is that the mechanical failure might not be the fault of anyone living or dead. It's just the random chaos in which the known world is is awash.

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