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5 Big Takeaways From Reliable Plant 2018

Last week I attended the 2018 Reliable Plant Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was an education. It was overwhelming. Unpacking all I learned from the conference will take a few weeks. Today I want to go over the five biggest lessons from the conference.

1. People want to change the culture of maintenance but the amount of people that know needs to grow.

In a way, this is the reason Reliable Plant exists. Even so, it surprised me how many of my fellow attendees were either new to the field or in the dark on the importance of reliability. I would place myself in the latter category. My knowledge on lubrication is good, but the conference showed me there is so much more to learn.

2. The standards for Machinery Lubrication are in place, and still being improved.

Over the past few years progress has been made concerning this. The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) pushes for industry wide standards. They also offer certification programs for maintenance techs. The value of this education paints a brighter future for machinery lubrication as a whole.

3. Know your filters.

I lost count how many people didn't know much about their filters. In talking with others, I would discuss how they dealt with problems similar to the ones I have here at the plant. When it came to the topic of lubrication one of my first questions was- "What filter do you use?" Half the time the answer was along the lines of- "I'm not sure." I remember two guys told me they didn't even bother with filtration. Keep in mind the people I asked are having the same contamination issues we've had at the plant. This problem seems to stem from the next important takeaway.

4. Know your filtration systems.

Online. Inline. Offline. Kidney loop. Usually the same people that didn't know their filters also didn't know their systems. It is critical to know which system will be the most effective for your needs. There is no one size fits all approach. Sure, a kidney loop filtration system is a great answer to many problems; but, what if you are using a two-gallon reservoir? In most applications that doesn’t make economical sense. Or you install a low viscosity filter into an inline system and wonder why it is that your machine no longer runs like it used to. One guy told me of that happening at his plant, and it happened with good but uninformed intentions.

5. People around the world are improving lubrication practices.

While there are so many who need education (including myself) I couldn't help but be encouraged. There are experts who came from Germany, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico, and New York to share their knowledge. My job is to enact best practice lubrication and I'm not doing it alone. I have my assistant technicians Carrie and Seth, but also a contact in England who I can ask questions of.

The true value of Reliable Plant is difficult to measure by conventional means. On one hand there are the workshops and the lesson and the speakers. The knowledge they share at the conference is valuable. On the other hand, there is a meeting of minds. Making contacts with people in my field who deal with the same issues. These contacts could be invaluable.

At the core of what Reliable Plant is, it’s about changing the culture of maintenance. People attending and exhibiting and speaking want improve machine reliability. If possible, to prevent problems from even happening. To that end the classes run the gamut from electrical, to hydraulic, and how to determine the proper fittings. Covering macro and micro details.

There is so much I learned that it can’t fit into this one posting. Now my real test begins. Not only applying the practices I've learn but also teaching them to others. I always thought of myself as a maintenance manager before, but I’m so much more. I run a reliability program. I make sure things don’t stop working and if they do I make sure they don’t stop again from the same problem.

This conference served to expand and broaden my mind on how to tackle the problems I run into here at the plant.