Podcast Should Data Be Driving All Our Decision Making 65149d053f665

Podcast: Should data be driving all our decision-making?

Oct. 5, 2023
In this episode of Ask a Plant Manager, Joe Kuhn, author and YouTuber, says technology adoption can create a clash of cultures; start small and grow from small successes.

Joe Kuhn, CMRP, former plant manager, engineer, and global reliability consultant, is now president of Lean Driven Reliability LLC. He is the author of the book “Zero to Hero: How to Jumpstart Your Reliability Journey Given Today’s Business Challenges” and the creator of the Joe Kuhn YouTube Channel, which offers content on starting your reliability journey and achieving financial independence. In our new podcast series, Ask a Plant Manager, Joe considers a commonplace scenario facing the industry and offers his advice, as well as actions that you can take to get on track tomorrow. This episode offers insight on how best to incorporate data into company decisions.

PS: All right. So today we're talking about technology. It's moving at such a fast pace. Sometimes it's hard to keep up or really even know where to start. So our question for this company, they've recently invested in a lot of data driven technology and connected devices. And management now thinks data should be driving all decision making. But in some cases, they aren't sure yet that they even understand what they have. So where does a company like this start with historical data and how do they move forward and build for the future?

JK: Yeah, great question. I think it's important to realize that what's happening is a clash of cultures. You have the old school time-based maintenance, all of our history of this pump says fails every six months, or you have to go in once a quarter and do this on this gearbox. So you got that culture, colliding with the culture of, hey, let's just put all these sensors and tell us we’ve got vibration or we’ve got heat. We've got something going on that is telling us there's a problem. And those two cultures meet usually in the planning meeting, to plan what work are we going to do next week. And yeah, you’ve got the people that say, ‘Hey, you know, this gearbox is vibrating, or the oil analysis came back bad, what are we going to do with that?’ And, you know, nobody has extra people. So you’ve got to choose and if you're already full of emergency work with your crews, and the time-based maintenance, hey, what do you do with this technology? I'll share what I did.

What we did is we required 10% (we just wanted to start; we're just starting this journey) so 10% of the work hours for next week in our planning meeting needed to be from data or needed to be from our condition monitoring. Okay, so that was just a start because what happened is early on without creating this rule, it would be zero. And we would plan on using it next week and the next week, and then next week. So we required 10%. And from that, we started getting some victories.

And like I always say, you're in sales. If you're in reliability or maintenance, you're in sales. So say one of these technology triggers for work, say, the gearbox, the oil came back bad, and you decided to change out the oil and you decided to problem solve that this week. That's one of the 10%.

What did you find? Take a couple pictures, show that to people, ‘Hey, this was work that we did that if we wouldn't have performed the corrective work, it would have resulted in a two-day outage, and $70,000, just like it did three years ago.’ Just a real short email blast. Like I said, you're in sales. I tried to have two emails that were a picture and a short success story every week. Because if you prevent something from happening, nobody knows it, unless you tell him. Okay, it's reliability maintenance, just like safety. Nobody knows the injury you didn't have. Nobody knows the failure you didn't have. So reliability and maintenance people need to say, ‘Look, hey, remember what happened last time, it didn't happen because we did this.’

Then, at the end of each month, I like connecting the dots. Okay, this is part of sales, connecting the dots. We did this. We did these 10 data-driven decisions this month. Seven of them were right. Seven of them were good. Three of them, we kind of missed the mark, but we learned something and we're going on. So that's a great place to start is just to say we're going to dedicate 10% of our work hours every week to condition monitoring.

That's a great place to start. But you got to connect the dots. You got to show people the scoreboard. ‘Yes, we're winning, but we did make a mistake here.’ Now, sometimes there's bad data, and you got to attack bad data right away. If you've got bad data in your system, and then you're making decisions based on it, you're going to lose a lot of credibility. And make no mistake, this is a culture change. You're gone from traditional history, experience of people, time-based maintenance to technology. And you don't want to make mistakes; you got one opportunity usually to win people over. Win them over and show them how you're winning the game. But a 10% is a great place to start. It's where I started.

PS: Start small and grow from those small successes. I think anybody could take that advice. That's really great. Thanks, Joe. Great job today.

About the Author

Joe Kuhn | CMRP

Joe Kuhn, CMRP, former plant manager, engineer, and global reliability consultant, is now president of Lean Driven Reliability LLC. He is the author of the book “Zero to Hero: How to Jumpstart Your Reliability Journey Given Today’s Business Challenges” and the creator of the Joe Kuhn YouTube Channel, which offers content on creating a reliability culture as well as financial independence to help you retire early. Contact Joe Kuhn at [email protected].

About the Author

Anna Townshend | managing editor

Anna Townshend has been a journalist and editor for almost 20 years. She joined Control Design and Plant Services as managing editor in June 2020. Previously, for more than 10 years, she was the editor of Marina Dock Age and International Dredging Review. In addition to writing and editing thousands of articles in her career, she has been an active speaker on industry panels and presentations, as well as host for the Tool Belt and Control Intelligence podcasts. Email her at [email protected].

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