Chris Pepin (00:04): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the manufacturing talent podcast. I’m your host, Chris Pepin, founder of Progressive Reliability. On the seven part series I’m going to be joined by Tim Goshert and Doug Plucknette. And we’re going to be going through back to the basics, the fundamentals and the importance of getting it right within manufacturing, maintenance, and reliability. Welcome to the conversation!
Chris Pepin (00:25): Well, good day everybody. My name’s Chris Pepin, the founder of Progressive Reliability. I’m joined by Doug Plucknette and Tim Goshert. And we are going through the importance of getting it right. There’s a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of great technologies out there. There’s always a lot of things that are changing, coming and going. And we had discovered that it does follow a similar cycle when something new comes out, there’s [inaudible: 00:00:52]. Then there’s the adoption. Then there’s the reality of the promises. First is what you’ve got on site. And then there’s a path to productivity that kind of follows some things, Tim and Doug and I were covering how there are some root fundamentals that transfer through any new technology. And there are certain cycles that happen a lot. I just wanted to share with you a bit of what we’ve seen in terms of where there is a lot of promise and frankly, where there is the basics underpinning everything. So, Tim, I know you had kind of started out in a conversation with Doug about this. Share a little bit about your thoughts in terms of the cycles of new technology. And Doug, I know you’re extraordinarily passionate about the fundamentals.
Tim Goshert (01:43): Yeah. So the marketplace today in my view is very optimistic and for good reason, because there is, there are a lot of new tools and capabilities coming out specifically surrounding wireless sensors and capability to capture data on 24/7 on lots of machines. And, and also being able to correlate that data of mechanical data with machines, with operational data, from the processes the machines are. So there is much optimism. And if you look at the marketplace, you know, that you hear things called the internet of things. And that is if you look at the headlines and you go to conferences, most of which have been virtual lately, that’s where all the excitement is, because there is new capabilities in the marketplace. And Doug and I were talking about this capability and there is like sort of a shiny object that people gravitate to and want to use to improve their reliability efforts and improve their operation. But we, as we discussed this, Doug and I said, well, yeah, that’s great. Having that is good, but in the excitement and optimism, Doug and I believe some organizations are missing one of the key factors that will allow them to capitalize on this new data. So Doug, would you want to explain our conversation that we have?
Doug Plucknette (03:42): Yeah, this is one of those things that I look at it and I go, wow. You know, thinking back 20 or 30 years when these technologies first came out and the pricing on them and setting them up and getting people to understand, you know, how they work and what they’re there for, why we need them and why we should be using them. Um, and then fast forwarding to where we are today and looking at, we can actually do this 24 7. We can do it wireless. We don’t have to have somebody come in and do rounds for us. It’s still comes down to how do you respond to it, right? It’s one thing to be doing vibration analysis or ultrasound or a motor current analysis. It’s another thing to understand it and respond to it properly. And in fact, use it properly for, uh, detecting the correct failure modes, right?
Doug Plucknette (04:40): Because these devices will detect a number of things, right. If we’re not doing precision maintenance, for example, all we’re going to do is detect it. We’re misaligned or run a balanced, right? Those are failure modes that you shouldn’t even have to be looking for until years and years down the line. Right? And so we see some type of where that shows that. Coming down to what’s missing is people forget about the foundation of this, of a good maintenance program. You still need to have a hierarchy that represents what’s actually out there, that your people are working on, that your equipment that you’re using to manufacture your products with. So has that all been captured properly in ISO 14:24 hierarchy? If we have that, then have you done criticality analysis properly? There’s several steps to this which we’ll get into in detail what each of those mean and why they’re important to all these new things that are out there, you know, the industrial internet of things, smart machines, machine learning, right?
Doug Plucknette (05:43): All these sensor exciting, you know, and as Tim said that, look, this is an exciting time to be out there. Right. I think we’re going to see our economy rebound even further than what it has from this pandemic. I think that there’s lots of new things out there we can apply this to that’ll help us improve productivity. So, it’s an exciting time, but we also have to understand the hype behind this sometimes gets people out there, and as the old saying goes, they end up with a cart before the horse, right. They’re trying to do things that they don’t have the capabilities to do.
Tim Goshert (06:28): Yeah, I would agree, Doug. I think it’s really, you don’t hear much of a message of getting back to the basics, getting back to the blocking and tackling of doing maintenance and reliability principles correctly. Like you suggested, there’s so much hype and it’s not very sexy or exciting to talk about. Well, do you have your hierarchy set up alright? Or have you done a criticality assessment, or do you know what your failure modes are of your critical equipment, and, oh, do you have strategies set up for those critical equipment to detect its health and detect any possible defects? And, oh, once you get defects, do you have a planning and scheduling system that allows you to fix things before it fails? And when you fix things, can you fix it correctly using precision techniques, like precision alignment, precision balance.
Doug Plucknette (07:33): Are you given the time to do that? Right? So from the operations standpoint, this is one of those things that when you get into this boat, all side parts of the business, all sectors of the business, have to understand what we’re trying to accomplish. If they don’t work together, this starts to fall apart very quickly,
Chris Pepin (07:51): It sounds, it almost sounds like, you know, [inaudible: 00:07:54] can battle on different generations have had different innovations within any given facility. And this sounds like it could be boiled down to just something as simple as a home renovation analogy. You know, you can do a new bathroom, and put new tile, and put new everything on it. But let’s face it, if the fundamentals of your plumbing are rooted in the sixties or the fifties, if you’ve got iron pipes that could be cracked, it doesn’t really matter how great your new bathroom or your new kitchen is. Those missing fundamentals, and those outdated… those pieces that aren’t stable and in place are going to haunt you. And you’re going to wind up ripping the whole thing out and having to do it all over again. Can you talk more kind of towards how that exists within manufacturing in the infinitely more complex environment there is?
Tim Goshert (08:43): I think your analogy works, Chris, because the foundations are, you know, your hierarchy. Do you know what you have in the plant? Is it in a computerized maintenance management system that has all the right data in for that piece of equipment. That right data will allow you to do a work management correctly. Do you know what your critical assets are? Many companies that I run across still today say the word criticality, but they don’t really know what their critical equipment is. And if you don’t know what your critical equipment is, it’s very difficult to know what the right work to do every day is. And what of these new tools should you apply to what equipment? So if you don’t have that foundation, it’s sort of like building a house on sand instead of having a concrete foundation on bedrock. It’s that critical in my view.
Chris Pepin (09:55): Yeah. And that, it brings me to another funny analogy that we have out in the business world. And that is, if everything’s a priority, nothing’s a priority. And it takes a lot of discipline to be able to actually score and understand what is critical and why, as opposed to the more reactive mode that I know a lot of, lot of the companies you deal with are in, where, okay, you know, kind of the whatever’s noisiest may not necessarily be the priority, but it is for the time being. And how do companies really get those fundamentals aligned and in place so that they can adopt to make the best use of these new technologies that are coming out?
Doug Plucknette (10:36): Well, the key is they need to work with and talk with somebody that actually understands why this is important and what needs to be done to make sure it’s done right. And that’s the biggest issue with hierarchy and criticality. I’ve talked to companies, [inaudible: 00:10:52] say, hey, we’re on our third iteration of this. They’ve actually done it wrong twice. Right? Because they want to say, let’s just get it done. Let’s do something that, oh, this will be easier. Right. Sometimes easier isn’t right. And so it comes down to saying, what does a good hierarchy look like? What level must it be written to. I tell companies, at a minimum, it has to be to component level. So you’ve got your company, your location, your building, your product, your machine, subsystems components. That’s the minimum. And we get down to parts if you want to go deeper than that.
Doug Plucknette (11:34): Right. So the parts that are in there match up to what’s actually in your store room, and what’s actually out there on the floor. So when something breaks down in the middle of the night and the maintenance guy clicks on that asset and is able to find, all right, it’s this machine, it’s this subsystem, it’s this component. It’s this part. He writes it down, even puts it into the computer, comes up in the store, hey, it’s actually the right one. All right. Simple things like that. It’s all looking, that reduces meantime to restore. Now I realize, as Tim said earlier, this stuff isn’t really all that sexy as it is to say, hey, my smart machine, right. Or, monitoring all these things, components for failures and looking for those types of things, we really need to understand, you have to do it right. And if you do it right, all this stuff that’s coming out now goes in seamlessly. Right?
Tim Goshert (12:34): And you get the competitive advantage that the company is looking for. It becomes an accelerator to a more production and less cost. But if you don’t have the foundation, it actually does. It’s a cost that doesn’t bring you value. And then the organization gets disenfranchised and said, well, this stuff really doesn’t work. And so, it doesn’t at least work in our business, because we can’t make it work when the real problem was not the technology. The problem was the foundational elements weren’t present to be able to make it work and to capitalize on it.
Chris Pepin (13:21): Yeah. And that brings us right back to one of the most obvious non-obvious things, which is that opportunity lies wherever something’s being overlooked. So whatever’s being neglected or overlooked is almost always where your biggest uplifts and opportunity lies. And of course, boring things are very easy to overlook. You know, the not sexy, the fundamentals, the things that have been, you know, the things that have just kind of been around forever, we’ve talked about never really got done come back to haunt us. And that’s why during this initial conversation that we were having, I’m just reminded of something by a company called Gartner, which is a big IT, influencing company. They do a lot of your chief information officers, a lot of your data and software people get their decision-making, papers actually out of this company called Gartner. And they’ve had something around for years called the hype cycle.
Chris Pepin (14:18): We’ve gone ahead and included it right at the top of the paper that’s attached to this podcast series. But the Gartner hype cycle really walks through just about every single new piece of technology. You can find it from self-driving cars, you name it, they’ll have a hype cycle on it. This is what they do. And it starts out where there’s a new technology trigger. A new thing comes out and right out of the gate, it goes to a peak of visibility. Everybody sees it, everybody’s talking about it. It’s buzz-worthy has a huge promise. And that is what’s called the peak of inflated expectations where no, just like anything new. Um, this is every, you know, it’s going to be the answer. It’s going to be the dream. And it goes right down from there into what’s called the trough disillusionment. This is where all of the expectations meet the wall of the realities and what needs to be done and what needs to be undone and what needs to be redone.
Chris Pepin (15:14): And this is where, you know, some companies choose to be early adopters of technology and they’re willing to face this. A lot of us just want things to work or a little later we’ll wait until the next couple of phases. So once you get out of the truck disillusionment, and you know, the whole promise has gone, you can just use self-driving cars as an easy analogy. Every time a Tesla gets in a wreck, it makes the news, because the world is just really pushing back against this inflated expectation. Well, then you hit a slope of enlightenment, which is where things start to make sense. We figure out and unpack what it could be and where it could go. And finally, we get into the plateau of productivity, which is never as high as the peak of inflated expectations, but these new technologies do make sense. They do become stable, they do become really useful. And we’re somewhere between, you know, where we started and where we thought we would go. And so Tim and Doug, I know you guys really were excited to see this. Can you share a bit more from, obviously it’s a software tool, but share a little more on, on how that works with respect to technology manufacturing?
Doug Plucknette (16:21): Well, if I could share a story and this might surprise Tim a little bit, because it’s actually, relates to some of the work that he did bringing in the technologies of vibration analysis ultrasound. And I can’t remember all the ones you did, Tim.
Tim Goshert (16:42): Motor circuit testing, oil analysis.
Doug Plucknette (16:46): I can remember that kicking off at Cargill and the excitement that it generated, right. And going out from plant to plant to plant and doing walk downs and setting all this up and actually going out and starting to do the rounds and the excitement of it. And this is in several different business units. And then all of a sudden comes the, holy smokes, everything is in alarm, right? That drop to the trough of disillusionment is drastic, right? And you got people screaming, what are we doing? You know, everything’s in alarm. And then we fix it. And it goes right back into alarm. I can remember dealing with one business unit. And the leader of that was saying, what are we doing wrong? And I’m saying to her, you’re not doing anything wrong with the exception of understand the failure modes.
Doug Plucknette (17:40): Right, you’ve got so much out there that’s in alarm. You need to start identifying what’s wrong with it, right? If you’re talking about a pump, it’s got a cracked foundation, right? You can go out and we’ll realign it tomorrow, and it’s going to look perfect for a day or so. And then it’s slowly going to drift. And the next thing, you know, a week later, it’s an alarm again. And she says, holy smokes, that’s exactly what I’m seeing. Until you take care of those things, right, that rise back up, that slope of enlightenment to the plateau of productivity, that takes some time. Right? What would you guess that timeframe to be from that point where everything was in alarm, and then all of a sudden, you say, all right, we’ve got to start addressing failure modes, and we got to start repairing things, right?
Tim Goshert (18:34): As I reflect on that story, we use, you know, these condition-based tools to really highlight all the other problems that we had to address that we were failing to address. And when we started addressing those things, it was sort of an impetus to say, hey, look, we’re not addressing the right things. We needed to train people to do precision maintenance correctly. We needed to, you know, do all kinds of things that would help us with our work execution. We didn’t have trained planners. We didn’t have our CMMS set up properly, but all that stuff was an impetus to get improvement. So, you know, we were so disillusioned by what we were seeing, but after time, it took time, it took years actually to get up that slope of enlightenment, and by business unit, to get the results that we needed. But what the impetus was, hey, knowing that we had defects in machines that the CBM tools were telling us. Today, we can just find more defects faster with the new tools that are on the marketplace. So I think organizations can use these new tools to drive improvement in the foundational elements where they need help.
Doug Plucknette (20:12): So, and this is not uncommon, you know. I’ve worked with probably a hundred companies in the last, 20 years. Right? And to see something like that, it came, we saw the same thing when the CMMS came out, right? The excitement of that, and then the issues of, holy smokes, it really isn’t any more efficient than what [inaudible: 00:20:41] paperwork orders. Well, it is if you do it properly, right? So again, they dropped to the trough of disillusionment, and then they come to the realization that holy smokes, you’ve got to have more in there than just to say, this is, company A, building B machine 1, right? Your hierarchy can’t end there. Right? Otherwise it is no more efficient than what you had before, where you [inaudible: 00:21:07] were shuffling papers. Right. You have to have the information in there properly to be able to say, alright, how do we plan and schedule this?
Doug Plucknette (21:15): And then, again, you got to get into understanding the criticality, right? Uh, we saw this with, PLCs, right? And this is going back many, many years now. Now we’re talking 30 years with the automation of our machines and systems, right? The excitement of that. And then coming to the understanding that generally when you buy a new machine, it comes with a PLC. The company that makes it gives you a program to make it run. And that’s it. Right? All the other stuff that you were expecting to happen, you have to program that in, right. Unless you make it part of the project upfront. So, again, we get that new PLC, we have high expectations. We don’t know what we expect out of it. You drop into that trough of disillusionment. And then you have that fight for the slope of enlightenment to say, what do we need the PLC to actually do so it works for us, right?
Doug Plucknette (22:11): The other piece of it is putting in too many alarms, you hear that a lot of times, right? And all of a sudden the operators are screaming, holy smokes, the whole night long, all the thing that it was being in buzzing lights were going on, and of, and you know, we got too much in there. Was it too much? Or did we no, were we not doing things right? Did we not have our foundation set properly? And so therefore we’re having failures that we shouldn’t be seeing. So all this applies to where we are today, right? And this new stuff that’s coming out, will it increase productivity? You better believe it will. Right? Will it help us have better, more efficient processes? You better believe it, right? But if you don’t have that foundation set for it, you’re going to struggle, right? And that this could be years instead of months. And that’s what we really want to prepare companies to understand is, think about your basics. Think about going back to the basics and make sure you have those set right before you start investing money, because it’s not cheap to do this. And it’s terribly expensive if you have to do it twice.
Chris Pepin (23:30): And with that, I appreciate you both. This is just the opener. We’ve got actually seven points that we want to go through. The first strike here being the opening. So we’re going to have another roughly three or four recorded episodes and want to keep them brief, close to 20 minutes. So you can get some great insights in the commuter in between point to point. Um, Tim, Doug, thank you so much for hopping on today. And, uh, again, you can find this on our website, prorely.com. Under white papers, we’ll have all the details here and we’ve also got our podcasts posted right there. So this is part of the manufacturing talent podcast. Thank you all. Thanks, Tim. And Doug, and we will catch you guys all on the next episode. Thanks everybody.
Chris Pepin (24:22): Well, thank you for joining Tim, Doug and myself. Again, we encourage you to download the white paper, which you can find at our website, www.proreli.com in this www.proreli.com as well as you can find myself, Tim and Doug on LinkedIn, we look forward to joining you on the next one.