As the world seemingly shut down due to COVID-19, the teams at Eruditio, Fluke Reliability, RDI Technologies, and UE Systems came together to develop ways to continue to connect, engage and educate the reliability community. What started as a series of webinars quickly morphed into a larger initiative and thus the inaugural Leading Reliability Virtual Conference was created. Now, the Leading Reliability team is thrilled to announce a live and in-person conference happening August 25-26 in Clearwater Beach, Florida. This conference will bring together reliability professionals from around the globe to discuss best practices in asset availability, reliability, safety, quality, and maintenance. Thomas Wilk recently spoke with Maureen Gribble, Greg Perry, Shon Isenhour, and Jeff Hay from the Leading Reliability team to discuss the upcoming event, including session topics and technological advances that will be showcased at the conference.
Agenda, speaker, and registration information is available at www.leadingreliability.com.
PS: We'll target the first question at Maureen Gribble from UE Systems. Maureen, you've invited me to be part of the last Leading Reliability event, and I really enjoyed the last two that you did. This time you're taking an event in-person, right? We're going to be together again, in Clearwater, Florida very soon. How does it feel to be getting back together again after 16-plus months?
MG: Yeah, I feel great. We're really excited that we saw an opportunity and a gap in the calendar where we could fit an actual in-person event. As you said, we did two of the Leading Reliability virtual conferences throughout COVID and it felt like it was time to do this in-person. We're really excited, we've already got a great turnout, so it's already shaping up to be a really great event. I think people are really craving that in-person connecting, getting away from these screens and actually seeing each other in flesh and blood. It's going to be a really good week, reconnecting with friends and meeting new friends along the way. It should just be a really, really great week.
GP: Definitely getting out and about, I think having face-to-face is important because it helps you realize you're not at this alone anymore. You know, we are here to help, and that's why we're here. We're not just here giving you digital help, right? We actually want to be in the physical presence.
PS: I've only been part of this world for seven years but it's such a strong community, such a handshake-and-hug community when we all see each other. I'm with you, Greg and Maureen both, being in-person is going to be a big deal. Shon, you and Eruditio have been busy throughout the pandemic, as we all have, but you've seen up close how a lot of plants have responded to what's been happening in the past 16 months. How has living and working through the pandemic changed or sharpened the kind of sessions that we're going to experience at an event like Leading Reliability?
SI: I think one of the things we're going to see right out the gate is people are eager to share what they've been doing. We're hearing from a lot of folks that are saying, "Hey, I've been working on bill of materials," or "I've been working on planning," or "my job plan library," or, "I've been doing a bunch of FMEAs and building my maintenance strategies." So I think there's going to be a lot of good examples to hear from and people that just want to share what they've been up to.
The second thing that I think is really cool specifically about this conference is that Keith Staton is going to be talking about remotely managing reliability improvement. That is a great outcome out of this, because maybe this does reduce a little bit of the travel required for some folks to really keep reliability improvement moving forward.
A couple more things that we've definitely noticed: there is a huge resurgence in training. Our calendars and schedules are full, people are requesting a lot of different classes, so this is an opportunity, I think, for folks to get some of that training and get it early. There's a lot of training happening, whether it be in the sessions or the pre-conference workshops, there's a lot of good information that I think will be conveyed in this.
Some of the other things that we've seen during the pandemic, is a lot more blended learning is available for folks. You don't always have to travel, or you don't have to travel as much, although as everybody I think on here would reinforce, that face-to-face conversation and exposure, we think is pretty important.
One thing, this came up, it's come up twice in the last two days, and I think this is an area that we're seeing a big change as we go through COVID: workforces seem to have gotten smaller, and also people are still facing the issue of call-outs because of COVID. One of the other areas that we've seen a big focus is in planning and scheduling. They really want to create a nice tight schedule, they want to plan the jobs to shorten them up, and they want to know exactly what the resources are they need to do the job as they go forward, because they don't have the over-abundance of resources and people they may have had in the past. Those are some of the things, both conference-related and non-conference-related, that I think I've noticed that have changed over the last 12 to 18 months.
PS: We've also got Jeff Hay from RDI Technologies with us today. Jeff, I was looking through the agenda, which is all posted on the website right now, all the various sessions that are going to take place. There's a lot of participation I'm noticing from the practitioner side of the world, plant professionals showing up and sharing their experience. Could you give our listeners a preview of some of those sessions?
JH: Yeah, sure. Kind of along the same theme in some of what Shon was talking about, getting back in front of people and being able to share experiences, that's a lot about what some of these sessions are for. I think that people are really valuing that, being able to connect with other people now that we can get back in-person and share those experiences in-person. For example, we have structural integrity, and their focus will be on using Motion Amplification, and they are going to talk about from their experience on how they utilize it on structures.
I think a lot of people are used to using tools in the reliability space on motors and pumps, and are expanding that scope with a lot of people using it on structures, and they have a lot of expertise on that, so I think that people will be able to gather a lot from that. Along that same theme, we have 4X Diagnostics speaking, and they're going to be talking about using the technology in odd and strange scenarios, kind of off the beaten path. They've been using the technology from the very beginning and they're very proficient at it, and are one of the best practitioners out there. They've been to a lot of weird places and a lot of interesting cases, and so they'll be talking about that.
Finally, we've got a roundtable, more of a casual chat where people can interact with those on the roundtable, ask them questions and talk about people's experiences with the technology, and specifically Motion Amplification.
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SI: Jeff, that's one of the things that I think will be really great about the conference as a whole. It's going to be a little smaller coming out of COVID but by the same token, there's a big positive to that, because we're going to get to sit down and chat with people. We're going to have time to sit down and hear what they've been working on, what's worked and what hasn't worked, where they ran into issues, and where they had great success. I think that's going to be awesome. You listen to someone's presentation, and then you get to sit down with them at lunch or dinner, and really pick their brain on how they did what they did.
JH: Yeah, I agree, Shon. I think the breadth of knowledge of the conference, adding kind of that with the intimacy of the group is going to be I think a real valuable experience. They sit down at lunch and they talk about what they heard, and then they may be able to extend that into how that fits broadly into their maintenance and reliability program, whether that be through blended learning or some sort of other technology that they can get experience with.
PS: Another of the things I like about the Leading Reliability conference is that it's also a really focused showcase for new technologies. I mean, we've got four companies here who are on the forefront of reliability and maintenance tools and technologies. We've got Greg Perry here from Fluke Reliability. And Greg, maybe I can direct this question your way first and then any of our speakers can chime in. Can you give us a preview of what people who'll go to the Leading Reliability Conference will see and learn from Fluke Reliability on the technology side?
GP: Awesome. I'd like to coin this as a new word here: “technewlogy”. We do have some new technology to bring in, that we're going to have ready and we're going to showcase and talk about. We've got some new Vibration Sensors, the 3563, 3562. We've got the new Sonic Imager, as we call it, the ii900, and we're going to be talking about that wonderful tool, especially when you're talking about air leaks and things of that nature.
From our Pruftechnik side, we're going to be bringing ROTALIGN, and PARALIGN, and our VIBXPERT, and Balancing Rigs…all kinds of things are going to be showcased. And of course, we're going to have some of our original Vibration Meters and 3550 Power Meters. All of this is going to be on display.
MG: At UE Systems we're really excited to finally get to have our customers and people getting their hands on our equipment again. It's one thing to show it over Zoom, but again, they'll be able to have that interaction, to really come and touch and feel and listen to the ultrasound equipment, the tried-and-trues that we've had for years. Of course, we've also got some new things up our sleeve. I'm really excited to showcase especially actually during our pre-conference workshop on the Tuesday, our new OnTrak SmartLube system. We're really excited to showcase that and get folks to play around with it, and actually lubricate a bearing from their cell phone. So that's going to be a cool thing to see in-person as well.
PS: Jeff, what can we expect to see some RDI Technologies this time around?
JH: Leading up to the conference, we have a pre-conference workshop for our advanced training. We've got a group of existing users that have already gone through the first round of training, that they're going to come through fully certified on the advanced training. And then we've got a workshop to update people on the technology, what the newest features are. We have a newer technology, and it evolves pretty rapidly, so sometimes people don't always know what the latest and greatest is with it. They are using some of the things that they're familiar with, so we always like to do a refresher so people can get the most out of it.
PS: Shon, I noticed that Eruditio has got a pre-conference workshop as well.
SI: We do! We're so excited to finally be back in front of people hands-on and face-to-face. We've done a little bit over the last year, and of course, it's picked up a lot in the last probably two to three months. We're going to bring a lot of activities and games and simulations, and really take folks through the whole reliability picture: How do we take all the things that you heard about from Greg and Maureen and Jeff, put them all together into a cohesive strategy, and then, even bigger than that, how do we make sure people actually use it? How do we make sure that people actually go forward and drive the processes to get the results they are expecting? I think we're going to have a good time with it, we're definitely going to bring all the toys, and we're looking forward to spending some time with folks in our workshop.
PS: This year, there's some special things planned, so Maureen, maybe I can target the last question to you. Can you talk about things like the venue and the special sessions that are coming out, like the leadoff keynote speaker and the closing birthday bash?
MG: Yes, we're going to be in Clearwater Beach at the Hilton, right there on the beach, so you can see the sunsets on the Gulf every night. It’s just a beautiful place to go have a conference. It might be a little toasty, but that's okay.
We're really excited about the venue, and yeah, to kick things off, we're really pumped that we were able to get Dan Cockerell. He is from Disney, he was a cast member there for 26 years. And actually, the last seven or so years of that, he was the vice-president of the Magic Kingdom. So that's pretty exciting, and his topic is going to be on “Maintaining the Magic”. He obviously has a lot of experience in understanding the value of reliability and safety and good maintenance, and so he is going to talk to all of that, and also speak a little bit to how our engineers and our maintenance professionals can speak the language of business, and make their case for why investing in maintenance and reliability is important – to speak that business language and not so much all the metrics-speak that they're still comfortable and used to speaking to. I think that'll really resonate and be a really nice way to kick things off.
And then, yes, then to cap it all off, at the end, we're going to do a big birthday bash barbecue! We were talking about it, and we realized through COVID, that everybody missed their birthdays. So we're going to give everybody a second chance to celebrate milestone birthdays, non-milestone birthdays, whatever the case may be, we're just going to have a lot of fun and celebrate each other and being together and hopefully kicking off what will hopefully be a really great fall conference season. So hopefully, lots of time to see one another in-person as we enter into the fall and the normal industry events that we're all looking forward to as well.