Grow your maintenance and reliability skill set at Leading Reliability

April 14, 2022
In this event preview podcast, discover best practices, new ideas, and practical insights at this year's Leading Reliability conference.

The Leading Reliability Conference provides participants with a great opportunity to learn more about maintenance and reliability by attending live presentations, workshops, and trainings. In addition, attendees are also provided with ample opportunity to socialize and make connections – allowing registrants to build relationships with influential professionals in maintenance and reliability around the country. The ability to share ideas and perspectives with industry experts is always a great thing and will only be more beneficial as we continue to work our way back to a normal way of business. You can expect to learn a lot, have fun, and take valuable ideas home with you to your very own facility. Thomas Wilk recently spoke with Maureen Gribble, Shon Isenhour, and Dawn Kayatta from the Leading Reliability team to discuss the upcoming event, happening May 10-12 in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Agenda, speaker, and registration information is available at www.leadingreliability.com.

PS: Last year, we went through blow-by-blow, what to expect. This year, I’d like to talk about what we enjoyed last year, and also what you specifically are looking forward to this year about the event.

And if I could start with Shon, Shon, last year, one of my favorite moments of the event was, it was a panel session that you ran through debates in reliability. And it focused on seven or eight different discussions, debates, long-term issues that face reliability professionals, things like when you do planners, do you do 20:1 planners or 10:1 planners, in terms of staffing? Does reliability happen from the top-down or bottom-up, or in both directions? I remember that full hour was full of everyone sharing their thoughts on how things happened at their plant, and sharing trade secrets on how they got the job done. That was fantastic.

SI: Thank you. Yeah, I enjoyed that session as well. The audience was really engaged. It's always interesting when you have a large group like that. Are they going to jump in and share, or are they going to sit there quietly and watch? And definitely, I think this is kind of the whole way we think about this conference. It's really a jump-in-and-share kind of conference.

And they did, we debated a lot of really good points. As you said, they don't necessarily all have answers. Some of them, it's more about what's the maturity of your facility, and what are the direction, and what are your goals? And that really dictates some of the outcomes and answers in many of these situations.

But certainly, a fun topic to debate, and I picked up some things. I think a lot of folks probably pulled some things that they could think about, that may change the way they go about implementing whatever it was, whether it was planners or schedulers or reliability, or any one of a number of topics. And I think this year we're going to do the same thing. In fact, one of the topics I'm bringing is a very debatable topic for my workshop.

PS: Excellent. I remember, there was a real sense of comfort and intimacy, if I can use that word for the conference, where the debate panel was on day two. But even before that, everyone had gotten to know each other. The event is sized so that you really do get a chance to meet whoever you want to meet at the event, and bump into new people at places like the lunch table and breakfast table. By the time we get to the panels, everyone's ready to share and talk like we're old friends.

SI: Yes, absolutely. I think that's one of the things I love about these venues and these conferences that aren't quite so large. You get to sit down and one-on-one chat, and so if you've got a question or concern, you bring it with you. And then now you can find five or six or seven other people that are facing that same problem or dealing with that issue and have a discussion. And I think that's pretty awesome, because you leave there with new ideas or you leave there with maybe a different perspective on what you were going to do moving forward.

PS: Well, I remember last year, Jeff Hay from RDI Technologies gave a really interesting panel on reliability and physics. I mean, I can talk to Dawn about this too. Dawn, you're with RDI Technologies, if you remember any panels last year, which jumped out to you as super memorable. We came to a maintenance conference, we left with a science degree. It was amazing, that panel.

Dawn Kayatta

DK: That's right, yeah. And it is one of those things that because of the diversity of our hosts and the folks that are involved in this event, I really think that this year, Jenna Johns, who is our COO, is going to talk about applied anthropology. So, we're bringing in different things that again, like Shon says, that are debatable, and things that are out there that it all relates, right? It brings it together.

So, I think, and one of the other things that, just to piggyback a little bit on what Shon said was, if I heard over and over about how approachable the experts were, and you didn't have to cut through any hype to approach our experts. It was purely conversational and people were very comfortable. And I think part of that, again, was we were very eager to get out, which I still think people are very eager to get out.

PS: Yeah, I mean, we've been delayed by at least one quarter by Omicron. And it's just such a relief that it looks clear sailing for this conference and the rest of the conference calendar. Everyone's looking forward to getting back together again.

DK: Yes, agree.

PS: Well, and there's so many extras in the conference too, ranging from the workshops on the first day to the beach barbecue bash on the last day. And Clearwater is such a special location with the beach. The closing beach barbecue event is outdoors, you get a chance to breathe in the air and just relax with your colleagues. Maureen, that's always been one of my favorite parts, and maybe I can ask you, what are you looking forward to, in terms of like the special extras this year?

Maureen Gribble

MG: Yeah, the topics are diverse and we also have a diverse set of activities, like you said. So, we really try to make sure that you're getting the bang for your buck as far as education, and then actually actionable ideas and practices that you can take back to your facility, from the sessions that you attend and the education part of it.

But we also really try to make sure that there's a lot of fun and interaction, and time to make those connections, make new friends, and get to kind of also enjoy yourself. So, yeah, Clearwater Beach is a gorgeous location. The sunsets every night are second to none. And yeah, we love that beach barbecue.

It is a fun time and it's great to see people who were strangers at the beginning of the week, teaming up to play cornhole together and playing bocce ball, and just enjoying that camaraderie in the community that gets built throughout the week, and just seeing how many return customers we have coming to the event. We've got some, obviously, a lot of new faces registered, but a lot of folks who were there last year signed up again this year. So, I think that tells you everything you need to know about what kind of events we've got in store for you.

PS: You've got two companies, as partners, who are focused very strongly on the technology side, and you've got the third company, Eruditio, which is focused on training and culture. At this event, I'm always struck by how well the sessions are presented so that all three approaches together work in complement.

If you want to go see a session on new technology and how to apply it, there's a lot of customers who are there to present what they're doing with technology, how culture is being changed on the plant floor, you've got those sessions. And the discussions don't just focus on one or the other. The message that the conference leaves me with is that these two are inseparable, of course, and that discussions on one will inform the other. And, now, I'm looking forward to those kinds of discussions too, focusing on how do you train people up to embrace new technologies?

Shon Isenhour

SI: Yeah, I think, from my perspective, it's the best of both worlds, right? Because if you just have the technology, you may identify a lot of defects, you may find a lot of problems, but it can be very hard to get them resolved, to get them planned, to get them scheduled, reduce the total cost of doing that work.

And on the flip side, if you just have the processes, you just have planning and scheduling and PM optimization and root cause analysis, and you don't have the tools, you may be missing a large portion of the data you need, in order to make good decisions. And so, I think the groups working together makes a very cohesive package that folks can start to look at and say, "Okay, here's my goals. Here's where I want to go this year. What do I need to plug in? What steps do I need to put in play?"

And we kind of talked about it earlier, and not to belabor the point, but I mean, I think just being able to walk away from the group, and you mentioned the barbecue. I mean, I remember the barbecue last year, and more than once, probably four or five times, I walked away with an individual and walked out on the beach or walked down away from the group to have a discussion about how they were going to make their next steps, and where they were going to go, and what they wanted to do. And I just think it's really hard to do that in other environments. So, we absolutely love going down for this event.

Listen to the entire interview

DK: Yeah, and one other thing to piggyback on that again, with Shon, is that barbecue is also scheduled at the end of the event, right? People stay for that event, just so that they can talk and mingle. Because a lot of times, at these conferences, that what's the first thing you want to do is get out, right? But they really wanted to wrap up those conversations and the things. There was just so much to talk about, and they didn't want to miss an opportunity. So, that is unique. And I've been in events for almost 30 years.

SI: Kind of getting back to where you started, Tom, talking about the panels and some of the things that are coming up, I think that's another area that I'm pretty excited about. Because something else I've noticed about this conference is, folks that won't normally present or speak at other organizations will come and speak at this event.

So, you get a really diverse group of speakers covering a lot of different topics. We've got a panel that we're doing, where we're going to have four of our IBL students, our blended learning students up on stage. They're going to be talking about the implementation that they've gone through and some of the things that they were facing.

And they may not quite have been ready, actually. I think most of these folks could have very well have presented the full session, but they chose to be a part of this panel interview because it's a little more comfortable. But it's also easier to ask them questions. In fact, you can go right on to the www.leadingreliability.com website, and submit questions to those panels that will then be used to get discussion going, and that sort of thing.

So, the other thing I would say, too, is we tend to push the envelope a little bit more. I mean, I know I pushed it last year, and I probably pushed it too far with my Star Wars antics in the last session. But this is the conference where we can have a little fun, let our hair down, and do some things that we wouldn't necessarily do at some of the other conferences. So, I think it's a lot of fun in these panels. It's a lot of new information from people you haven't heard from before, and more than likely, you're going to hear some topics covered in a way that they have not been covered.

PS: I really liked the last panel of last year when you did dress up as Obi-Wan for the Star Wars camp. That was fantastic.

SI: Yeah, Tom, that's one of the things I won't be doing this year.

MG: Well, we have the pictures. So, if anybody wants to see us, they're sad, they're going to miss out, don't worry. But yeah, so Shon, totally agree, like, we've got a customer at UE Systems that reached out to me and said, "Hey, we've had so much success with your ultrasound equipment that we would love to come present. Heck, we'll even put a booth together, so people can come and talk to us about the different ways that we're using ultrasound in our facility," which I thought was just amazing.

And so we're excited to have customers like that. But yeah, I don't think they're putting abstracts together for some of the other bigger industry events, but they feel comfortable and excited to come, share with this community the successes. And they very much pointed out the failures that they had along the way.

They know that this is an environment where they can come and share that. They know that people are going to walk away learning something from them, and hopefully, also, learning from the audience as well. So, I guess it's really a great, unique conference in that regard, for sure.

PS: I remember meeting a couple of guys from Frito-Lay in Fayetteville, Carlos Callaway and Roy Smithson. We happen to get together for breakfast one morning. We ended up sort of palling around the conference over the course of several meals, and of course, their session was fantastic, talking about reliability on the line.

And frankly, in a moment when people needed things like chips and comfort food to get them through the pandemic, they knew Frito-Lay really couldn't afford to go down. You wanted to make sure people had the food they wanted, and that the company was capitalizing on the opportunity. So, the technologies they applied to keep the machines going and keep them reliable were just fascinating.

MG: Yeah, and what was awesome was because the team from Plant Services was there taking excellent notes during their session, you all turned that into, I believe, one of the cover stories of the magazine, which, for folks to be able to then show that to their boss, like, not only did they present a conference, but, look, now this journey that we were on is now in print, that they can hold on to that and celebrate, I think, was just really cool. So, thank you guys for doing that.

PS: Oh, you're welcome. And thank you for having us down to cover the event. There's so much to learn and so much to share out with our readers, especially those who can't be there. If you can be there, though, it's from May 10-12, and you can go to www.leadingreliability.com. There's a hotel room block, and Maureen, there's a special code or a link to use that people can use to get the conference room rate, right?

MG: Yes, yes, right from the www.leadingreliability.com website, all the travel information is there. There's a link to book your room right there online, to get the discounted rate that will expire on April 16. So, if you plan to come and want to be able to stay at this beautiful hotel, and not pay an arm and a leg, you'll want to take care of that here sooner than later. But of course, our team is ready to help. If anybody registers a little bit later, just get with us and we'll try to accommodate folks as best we can. Because we want you guys to be there.

PS: Awesome. And beyond the speakers from Eruditio, and RDI technologies, and UE Systems, I'm just looking at some of the people who are speaking. Someone from Archer-Daniels-Midland will be speaking on predictive maintenance. Someone from Missouri River Energy Services is going to present on PdM for substations. So, you've got a lot of people who are coming in with real-life experience, ready to share what they know, and ready just to have great discussions all week.

SI: Yeah, and I think we can't remiss and not discuss a little bit about the workshops as well. I mean, as I think through those workshops, if somebody wants to make a deeper dive, I think there's another area. All-day Tuesday, there are workshops. We've got one, where Rick Clonan is diving specifically into backlog management, which is a hot topic for a lot of our folks right now. They're trying to get their backlog under control.

And so there's the motion amplification, I know Dawn, you can talk more about that. But you guys are going to do a hands-on session on Tuesday as well. And so, then you guys also have a two-day, a Monday and Tuesday, workshop going on. And then UE's got a bearing health and lubrication workshop for folks that need a little more than just a session or a panel, they want to dive a little deeper into a topic and get into the details.

PS: I can't wait to see you again, all three of you gown at the event in less than a month. And again, that's leadingreliability.com, and that leadingreliability is one word. You can also look at it in Google, and it will come up. The dates are May 10 through 12. You can also click the links that will be in the podcast notes here. Well, they'll take you right to the registration site. And I just want to volunteer to the team here that we may not be doing Jedis this year, but I do have my Doctor Who scarf on standby, if you want to go that route this year and next year.

DK: Thanks for that, Tom. We appreciate that.

SI: Tom, I've got some ideas, that wasn't one of them! But I think we've got some real fun announcements coming out shortly about some of the other speakers that'll be a part of it, the keynote and others. So, look to social media for that. Look to the website for that. And I think we are really preparing for what should be an awesome week.

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