Day Two - MRO Materials and Asset Reliability Symposium

Day two of the MRO symposium, the first full day, kicked off with a presentation by the ex-head of Maintenance for Dow Chemicals, now the founder of the Sinclair Group.  Hank Sinclair related how he took his 30+ years of experience at Dow and is using it to help other manufacturers transform the way they do maintenance. He was joined by a panel of industry thought leaders for discussions on how to overcome the silo’s that exist in and between organizations.  One very interesting factoid presented was by Allied Reliability in that they, as cross industry reliability consultants, have identified 63 maintenance best practices.  Of those sixty three no single industry has generated a overwhelming number.  In fact, the chemical industry tops the list with 13 of the 63 while power comes in with only two.  

Other presentations during the day covered a variety of topics.  John Ferguson of IHS led a lively discussion on what the “Perfect Asset” might look like and how can companies reach that elusive goal.  A couple of key points from that presentation were that assets are going to have to get smarter on the path to perfection, and we as users of those assets have to demand fitness for use from our suppliers.  Another presentation that provoked a lot of discussion among attendees was using diagnostic capabilities to improve predictive maintenance.  The key take-away was again, if you don’t have the data you can’t possibly have the information that can provide the knowledge to effect change. 

Afternoon sessions continued the theme of using advanced condition monitoring to improve equipment reliability and provided insight into some of the analytic tools that can be used to transform the data collected into useful information.  Near and dear to me (as a lena sensei) was the presentation on “LEANing out Your PM Program: Optimizing You PM Program by removing Non-value Added Activities and Repurposing Labor Elements”.  I have long advocated that Lean is a great tool to apply to  maintenance processes and Shon Isenhour’s presentation provided a number of examples of how Lean had been applied to the PM process.  Today’s technical program wrapped up with a great presentation by Pretha Mitchell of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on how advanced analytics has enabled them to reduce stock-outs in their storerooms and save millions of dollar of inventory.  It was incredibly refreshing to hear an end-user admit that the slow path to results was partially because they just could believe that the information they were getting was accurate.  When their confidence increased the results really started to accumulate.

My top three learnings today: 1) Look outside your industry if you truly want to find best practices, your industry can’t possibly be the best at everything.  Some things from other industries may not work for regulatory or other reasons but industry myopia can keep you from realizing your full potential. 2) Analytics have to have lots of good data to work well but don’t use the lack of data as an excuse, go get it - then analyze it to turn it into valuable information. 3) Culture is key - no amount of technology, tools, advanced practices or process change effort will yield results if your organizational culture rewards the status quo and punishes change.

Dan Miklovic is blogger contributor for Control's blog Manufacturing 2010. You can email him at or check out his Google+ profile.