Just Not That Into It?

Equipment Reliability is good for the company – it ultimately saves money, which means we keep getting a paycheque.  But besides the extrinsic rewards for practicing good equipment reliability, what are some of the other benefits to us as Practitioners?

Some people (like myself), love engineering and figuring out how things work (machines, systems, businesses, you name it – I’m interested). But I can get a little glassy-eyed when faced with unrelenting details. I could try to convince you that equipment reliability is always new and fresh because we’ve never solved this particular problem before!  But if I’m honest, there is some repetition.

You might not get a buzz just from figuring things out.  Some people enjoy MTAs, have minds that naturally focus on picking out the details.  I’d like to address the other folks today – the ones who are capable, but maybe don’t see why they should give a damn.  The application of equipment reliability principles over and over again can seem monotonous, especially if you’re really bright.  So maybe this isn’t your “forever field of expertise.”  There’s plenty to be gained, though, on your way through.

Credibility – There’s remarkable trust put into the equipment reliability engineer.  We bring a level of rigor to maintenance decisions that many don’t, or can’t without a lifetime of experience.  By owning the details, we gain credibility.

Rapport – Calling on others’ expertise and investing in our operation together builds relationships.

Critical Thinking – Drilling into the details of a maintenance plan forces our brains to make logical decisions, over and over. We develop an innate pragmatism that can be applied across may fields of business.  RCM logic forces us to hone our critical thinking skills in the context of business effects.

Business Knowledge – Two words: failure effects. Truly understanding how a failure impacts the business teaches us about the operation. And what the maintenance community is capable of doing to monitor, repair or replace that equipment. Maybe where the limitations and weak points are in the maintenance systems.  Or what the company does better than most.

Reliability work is not just providing the company with more money. If this work is not your calling, focus on what you are gaining. There are intrinsic rewards – the skills above are applicable anywhere. There’s something in it for you.

How am I applying the lesson above? Part of the reason I decided to blog here was to learn.  The process of organizing ideas and committing to a post a week is a little unnerving.  (I don’t have another 26 posts listed in my head right now.)  Committing to undertaking the work is the hardest part.  What I have to do now is execute.  It’s work I occasionally have to force myself to do, and I know that’s where the growth lies.

What are you doing that’s difficult and will take longer than your interest might hold? What benefits are you discovering on the journey?

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Steph Holko

Reliability Engineer in Steelmaking. I love the business and the process. I'm working to inspire others to care about the details. Novice runner, environmentalist, supporter of kids in STEM.

4 thoughts on “Just Not That Into It?”

  1. Can’t afford not to be in to it!
    While one may not spend their whole career in reliability, they can’t afford not to make it a part of the way they view business. At its core, RCM is about understanding your operating context and tailoring your work to it. That’s good business every day if the week. Reliability is also about making the most of the assets you have. Again, this is good business every day of the week.
    I guess my suggestion for those not in to it is to find a way to be because it will serve you now and in the future, at work and at home, wherever your career and life takes you.

    1. I agree, it’s difficult work. Making the most of our assets – that’s a great way to put it. With air compressors, there is talk of the “hidden plant” which is the extra capacity used up by leaks. If we can find and fix the leaks, we have more capacity and don’t need more compressors. Similarly with reliability.

  2. 30 ish years ago I was asked by a group of guys who were drinking coffee while I was working….
    “Why do you bother working/caring so hard/much”. Are you looking for a promotion?
    Or something like that.
    38+years I’m starting to wonder why I did care, and even what I have accomplished.
    I think there are lots of things I will remember, if I take the time.
    But my main point I wanted to make is….
    If there was a solid way to measure what we have done or what we are doing ( KPI’s etc. ) that would lead to a higher level of satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment.
    I too have been in Reliability, officially as an Equipment Specialist, but embraced the idea for over 30 years really.
    There are so many parts of the puzzle needed to make this work.
    Failure Effects…..I always believed this was HUGE ! Effects are a form of training, allowing people to realize that what they are looking at is a failure in the making.
    We need more training for the guys on the floor.
    Also, GIGO, Garbage In Garbage Out.
    Many a compromised and sometimes useless activity has been put into the system.
    If we could FOCUS on more training and standardizing/scrutinizing what we put in, I’m pretty sure Change is a gonna come !
    Hope I’m around to see it come to fruition.

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