Current Trends in Reliability with Fred Schenkelberg
It’s my pleasure to welcome back Fred Schenkel Berg to the podcast.
In this episode we covered:
- I see a lot of people working remote, maybe not full-time, but part-time as reliability engineers, is this the new normal and can they effectively do their job working remote?
- Is this identifying gaps in that data that we’ve overcome in other ways, or is it increasing the demand for different types of data?
- How has the facilitation changed, for example, for facilitating RCA or FMEA, if you’ve seen that done remotely? Well, have you heard of it being done well?
I see a lot of people working remote, maybe not full-time, but part-time as reliability engineers, is this the new normal and can they effectively do their job working remote?
I think they can. I’ve realized that the data that they’re getting, whether it’s through the CMMS or through their equipment sensors or through whatever is just not useful. If it wasn’t useful before the pandemic and working at home, it probably didn’t suddenly become useful. You can’t really do much of anything with reliability engineering, with garbage data coming. I saw that people realized they had to get back in the shop and fix the sensors. The data sets we have been garbage. We got to focus on that and get it up to speed. And it’s not just the reliability engineer, it’s planners and schedulers, and everybody else that needs storeroom management, all these folks need good information. And I think working remotely ripped the band aid off that and said, ‘now you really need to have good information in data flowing around your system.’
Is this identifying gaps in that data that we’ve overcome in other ways, or is it increasing the demand for different types of data?
It’s having good info and good data and good resources available. Companies with good data structures, good processes, can get away with having more of the remote Res. The ones without that are struggling.
How has the facilitation changed, for example, for facilitating RCA or FMEA, if you’ve seen that done remotely? Well, have you heard of it being done well?
Oh yeah, definitely. That’s not new, there are some of these organizations that have facilities all over the world being able to go remote. And we have been able to do that for years now. If you have a good facilitator, then it doesn’t matter if you’re online or live, those processes just work well. People contribute, they’re engaged, you get a lot done. It adds another layer of complexity when everybody’s remote and people are not used to being remote. What I’ve noticed over the last year and a half is people tend to show up on a meeting pretty much within a minute, we all have atomic clock registered timepieces on our computers. There’s no excuse for getting late.
What about some of the other things that I’m seeing like impacts on supply chain?
We can’t get fittings. We can’t get couplings. We can’t get grease. ‘We can’t get’ becomes the norm. But you must imagine that everything is backed up in one form or another, unless you’ve got a robust supply chain with multiple sources, and you’ve already been on this green bandwagon where you want to minimize your footprint and go with local suppliers whenever you can. Then it goes into raw materials and metals and batteries and just basic stuff, maybe computer chips across every industry. And it shut down GM and Ford, now Toyota. They didn’t have enough chips.
Do we order a bunch of more stuff when we can’t get them at one moment, but then have all bunch of parts we might toss out or not use?
If the distributor, the wholesaler and the factory are not paying attention to that phenomenon, they will not have good information about what is the real demand versus the fear demand. They build another factory thinking. Doubling your order doesn’t mean you’re going to get any more. The temptation is to order more, but that just whips off through the system and makes it worse. It’s almost like there is additional pressure on maintenance planners to forecast plans better in the future. And so you find that we are only ordering what we need further and advance.
How do organizations come out of this in the right direction?
The mindset more than anything else is what needs to shift for an organization to come out doing better than what’s happening. It will shorten the pain time of not having equipment running, but it’s not going to fix those processes and systems. It’s more of the culture around it. They are the reflections of the attitude of your management team and where the priority is. It’s a decision that starts at the top and must permeate the culture of the organization in all of those techniques and processes and so on, get improved or get more efficient, not on their own. We could create a much more resilient and efficient reliability program if we do this.
What can our REs, maintenance professionals, reliability professionals do immediately as we try and ramp up production because we’re trying to meet the supply or the demand, but we have issues?
It’s a wonderful time to go look for a better job. If you’re facing challenges and that’s the team you really like to be in with all the other things that bring joy to your life, stay there. Get your rope and pickaxe and start working on it. Start talking what needs to be done. If I really despise my Operations Manager, why am I going to stay? A good reliability engineer creates value. They make a difference and it’s rewarding in and of itself because you create a good, great team to work with. And I think that can’t be underestimated.
Sometimes you’re trying to do the stuff that the company really doesn’t want to change. I think there is that balance, is it just a hard challenge or culturally, is it a fit?
It may be the opportunity to have that heart-to-heart conversation with a couple of key decision makers or have their hand on the purse strings and corporate strategy type of stuff so that they get it. And if you’re just getting lip service, well, that’s information for you. If you get somebody who supports that, then they act on it. Then you’ve got the start of a way to help that culture and find a lot of satisfaction in your job.
What do you think is happening with training?
I think that the long-term part of it is that the conferences are going to stay hybrid. I think the ones that pivoted to go remote did it well. I think there’s some advantages to the remote and hybrid training. I also see more and more people are just going online even than before. Just find a solution to find an answer, to find it, get a question answered. I think there’s more and more stuff being made available online that you can just do yourself. There’s a lot more out there for the reliability engineer to take on. We’re still working and bringing on more content and authors and courses and so on. The downside is that I see as if it’s online, some people don’t have the discipline to sit there and go through it that way. Or, you know, they’re interrupted every two minutes by someone on their team or something like that.
Are there any other major trends you’re seeing out there?
At training, supply chain. Just the deferred maintenance and all those kinds of things. Allowing people to be creative and inventive is another thing that’s happening. And I think it speaks to the workforce when they’re motivated to make things work. And they’re given the reins to find solutions right, where the process is not so strict.
What do you do with the supply chain issue as well?
We come up with some clever ideas to deal with it. People are coming up with brilliant ideas to solve problems and that’s to be recognized as talent. I hope we don’t lose that.
Where can people find out more about you, your podcasts, all those other great things you got going on?
The sendoreliability.com is by far the easiest or best place to find all this stuff. There’s a handful of series that talk specifically about that. And it’s not just me, there’s 20 plus authors. There are 11 different podcasts. We’ve got close to 5,000 different pieces of content between podcasts, webinars, and articles.
Fred Schenkelberg Links:
- Fred Schenkelberg Linkedin
- Book: Design for Maintainability by Louis Gallo, Jack Dixon, James Kovacevic
- Accendo Reliability
- Speaking of Reliability Podcast
- Past Fred Schenkelberg Episodes
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