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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): Welcome back to the podcast. We’re doing a series on back to the basics. My name’s Chris Pepin, and I’m the founder of Progressive Reliability. I’m joined by Tim Goshert and Doug Plucknette, and this is the manufacturing talent podcast. For today’s final piece, we’re going to be talking about the Achilles’ heel, the importance of having a maintenance crew that can work to the level of precision required to ensure inherent design reliability. We’re going to be buttoning up everything we’ve covered in the last set of calls here and get everybody set up to take on the next piece of the adventure. Doug, tell us about the Achilles’ heel.

Doug Plucknette (01:01): Uh Chris Um we discussed in the earlier podcasts about you know, going back to basics, setting up that foundation, the hierarchy equipment, criticality, developing a failure modes based maintenance strategy, what it takes to develop those tasks and how is a company that’s important to ensure that we can actually deliver the design reliability or the inherent design reliability of our assets. And while building that foundation is absolutely necessary, the only way it’s not going to deliver is if you don’t have the right people there to actually perform the tasks. So that’s what I call the Achilles’ heel of a maintenance organization is, is when they don’t recognize that there is such a thing as a skilled trades person. And what does that mean? Well, that means they can work at a level of precision. As you mentioned here just a minute ago, that can deliver that inherent design reliability, right?

Doug Plucknette (02:02): So they can align things properly, balance things properly. They know how to properly install things so that they’re going to perform as designed. And believe it or not, this is something we see quite a bit. There’s, there seems to be this lack of understanding that and I think it comes from, you know, generations of neglect really. But the trades people well, because they all got high school diplomas, they’re all equal. Or a machinist is a machinist, electrician is a electrician. And they don’t understand the difference between being an electrician in terms of working on manufacturing equipment and high voltage, Sri phase low, low voltage control systems, right? The level of precision that comes with working as a machinist or a maintenance person for aligning pumps and blowers and belts. And it goes on and on, right. I worked at a company that had very specific trades with Eastman Kodak company.

Doug Plucknette (03:13): We had pipe fitters, we had machinists, we had automated service mechanics. We had welders, we had instrument techs. All those things were separate trades. In fact, there is machinists and millwrights, two different separate trades. A machinists worked on pumps and could rebuild those things and understood everything about the mechanical aspects. And a millwright was the person that they installed massive equipment, you know steel structure all sorts of stuff like that. So those specific trades and understanding that that’s really, if you’re good at it, that’s what helps to deliver this reliability that everybody seeks or tries to do. And they accomplished that by having formal apprentice program, right. And there was a apprentice program for each of those and it was done internally. As years went by and the company obviously became depleted in and missed the boat on digital.

Doug Plucknette (04:19): They went from having internal apprentice programs to they’re still having an apprentice program that goes on through our local community college because they recognize the importance of having those good, skilled tradespeople. Right. And when you don’t have that, when you’re especially in your HR department, if they don’t understand that anybody can call themselves an electrician. Anybody can call themselves a machinist. Anybody can call themselves an instrument tech. How do you know whether that person is actually skilled or not? So it’s a struggle and I, this is one of those things that companies need to get their arms around that. Tim, any thoughts on your end?

Tim Goshert (05:03): I would agree with you, Doug going back that it, you can do all the prep work you know, have a hierarchy, do criticality have a maintenance strategy for every critical asset, but if you don’t execute that you get you don’t, first of all, you don’t get any reward for that. And secondly, if you execute and you executed poorly with non precision techniques, you won’t get the result either. So this is sort of the, really the linchpin of what needs to happen. You have to have people that can fix things in a precision manner. Now my experience going back into the early nineties, late eighties with my previous company we, we had more of a internal staff that were for lack of a better term, a Jack of all trades master of none. We didn’t have rigid craft crafts by you know, different trades.

Tim Goshert (06:16): We basically split them up into mechanical and electrical and instrumentation. So we, we were coming from a different avenue. What we did have was, you know, we had some training programs, but generally when I, when I viewed the situation in the, in the early nineties, I don’t think we really understood precision maintenance. Our folks were parts changers, pump changers, motor changers, and all those kinds of things that really didn’t understand what precision maintenance really meant. The organization didn’t understand. So way back when in the early nineties one of my mentors was a gentleman named Ralph [inaudible: 00:07:04], he’s no longer with us, but he was a evangelist of precision maintenance skills. And he had a training company and he came out of the speed shop  precision motor rebuild  era in the sixties.

Tim Goshert (07:26): And he I can remember him. I spent quite a while. We spent quite a bit of time with him and his organization, getting our people schooled in precision maintenance back then. But I remember him saying in one of the first training sessions I was with him. He had a coin and he says, you’re mechanical, rotating equipment problems, come down to two different things. You can flip a coin. It’s gonna probably be 80% of your problems will be one of these two things. And he flipped a coin. And on the one side, the coins said, unbalanced. And then the other side, it said, misalignment. And I still have that coin today, what, 30 years, 40 years later. And and my experience has been that that’s where you start, you start with precision skills of your people. You start with unbalanced, making sure that the parts that you put in are precision balanced, and then you teach your people precision alignment.

Tim Goshert (08:36): And then you add on to that precision fits and in the electrical world, there’s precision torquing and things like that. So it, it was highly critical to get that type of knowledge first and then skill into your people. And then the third thing is persistence to follow that through, because one of the things that we ran into was that precision skills, precision alignment may take a little bit longer than just putting it in and just throwing a pump together, just putting it together and not worrying about what the alignment is. It takes a little longer to do that, but the benefits are that that equipment runs smoother, runs longer and costs less to operate typically. So the experience, it’s so important to have people that understand the precision skills.

Doug Plucknette (09:38): So if I could add to that with a story from a friend of ours, this, this actually comes from Terry Harris and I, I met Jerry. He was working at Cargill at the time and Sydney, Ohio, and he came, and I can’t remember the, this discussion when it started. I want to say it’s when he came to a, a public training course that I did. And I, I had mentioned, you know, the importance of the precision skills and we’re discussing precision alignment. And I said to him, you know, I worked in an area where we, when we bought the precision alignment tool it Kodak and I was a lead person. We had a fellow that you know, he was up there a bit in age. And he was doing installation on a pump. And I saw him put the the precision alignment tool on a cart to go out and make this change.

Doug Plucknette (10:28): And then, you know, half hour or so later I happened to be walking through the area that he was working, and he was replacing that pump and the tool was still on the cart. And I kind of chuckled to myself and I teased him. I said, Victor, did you, did you take the tool out for a ride? Is that what you’re doing? Right. And a couple months later, Terry gets in contact with me and he says, you know, you told that story about the guy taking the tool for a ride. He said I said to myself, I’m going to go check out my guys and make sure that’s not what’s being done because we bought that dog on thing. And, and I’m not seeing much change. Right. I still got reports coming back from our vibration guy saying stuff is still misaligned. And he says, so I went out and I watched one of the guys and he says, he’d bring it in and he’d get the smiley face.

Doug Plucknette (11:21): And then the next thing you know, he gets his wrench out and he tightens the pumps. I said, so, no, no, no, no. Right. You have to tight that and get the smiley face to smiley face is going to go away. When you tighten the bump down, he goes, so they, he goes as a story, a little bit different than yours, but it’s one thing to buy the tools and have the tools, right? It’s another thing to have the skills to use them. And that’s where sometimes we fall short. And as I say, it’s the Achilles heel. So people, even this guy that Terry told the story mean his intent was good. He thought he was doing it. Right. Right. But unless you actually train and certify people, and then even as you could see audit it you’re going to find out that things might not be the way you thought they were.

Doug Plucknette (12:08): So this stuff is really highly important. And if you don’t have an apprentice program, then you need a guy like Ralph or somebody that can teach those skills. Right. And where do you do that? Right. Do you have a space in your shop where you can have somebody do it cause maintenance people having come from there, you know, having been a trades person, they’re, hands-on people, they like to see how things work. And if you show them how it works and you show them the value of it by all right. Here’s what the vibration looks like before we did the precision alignment. Alright. Here’s what the vibration looks like after we’ve done it and done it properly. Right. And when they see that difference, boom, it’s sold, right. You don’t have to do any more convincing and you tell them, look, when you start out doing this, it’s going to take you a couple more hours to do this pump. Right. But it’s worth it. And when they see that they understand it. And then as time goes on that time that it takes them because they get more proficient at it, it closes up, it gets tighter. I found

Tim Goshert (13:06): The same thing. Doug’s at the craftspeople. Once they see it and they’re willing to do it and they will do it every time. What the the thing that I struggled with, or we struggled with was that we couldn’t convince management to keep it down for an extra half hour to do it right in the beginning. They didn’t believe. So. You have to really also go after your management at your sites and law. And that includes the plant manager that the plant manager understands that a precision alignment is extremely important and it’s worth having the plant down for an extra hour, do something correctly. Then having it, break it down in the middle of the night, that was a big hurdle to get over. And it’s, so the craftsmen are the easy sell. The hard sell was management. And typically is what I’ve found in this is this arena because it takes a little longer, but in the beginning it takes, you know, you’ll learn. And then, but when, once you start doing this over and over again, thing, things just stop breaking. And when they stop breaking, you run more and you and your costs go down. It’s just that simple, how that works.

Speaker 2 (14:23): That pastor mentality is, is a really sticky trick you want to get rid of. Because I mean, it does sound like you’re, you’re right. Him, the management side of it really can get in the way, in terms of change management, there is one thing with your, with your own team, but then change management is an entirely different skill as well.

Doug Plucknette (14:44): Absolutely. And again, you know, this hands-on piece, and I say, once show the maintenance people, this they’re going to want to do it, but it also gives them the knowledge to be able to explain to that manager, that’s pressuring them. Here’s the difference, right. I can do it quickly and it’s not going to last very long. And if that’s what you want, I’ll do that for you. I don’t like to ever have to say that. Right. But sometimes people learn the hard way and it’s, it’s, it’s difficult. And it’s, it’s one of those things that, you know, we’ve all been through where you get a manager that buys in and it’s working and it’s going right. And then the next thing you know, that person gets bumped up and a new person comes in and you’ve got to start that learning curve all over again because the new person might not have that patience. Right. So this comes into it’s discussion. I’ve had with Ron Moore a couple of times, it says way before that first person leaves the one that was good. You got to make sure that when the new person comes in here is the things you don’t want to do. Here’s what you don’t want to change. You don’t want to change. I’ve got them doing precision alignment. Don’t change that. Right. I got them doing using torque wrenches don’t change that. Right. So those types of discussions are what help would that culture, those culture issues?

Speaker 2 (16:08): So how do we tie all this together? You know, we we’ve been through a number of different points, another, a number of different affects and changes that people can make or implement in order to make sure that they get all the basics and the fundamentals in place to be able to add on the new technologies that are coming out in the smart machines and all the other fun stuff. How do we, how do we tie all this up and what are some really brave leave behinds for the audience?

Doug Plucknette (16:36): It’s a great question. And I’m sitting here with a smile on my face, cause I think I’ve got the answer that makes it, that does tie it all together. And that comes into the measures. And Tim and I have talked about this in other podcasts why measures are important? I’m huge with OEE. And if you can show somebody that transition in data, here’s where we started two and a half years ago. Right. And here’s how our equipment was performing. Here’s the changes we made along the way. And here’s the changes in that measure. Look at, see how a climb, see how the losses are disappearing. Here’s how we eliminated these losses. Here’s how we eliminated the losses in quality. Here’s how we eliminated operational losses that were related to this or that. Alright. And by showing that and showing that steady gain over time, that’s probably the most powerful piece of data you can ever bring into a room, right?

Doug Plucknette (17:36): When somebody new comes in to say, all right, how do we tie all this together? How do we make sure we sustain it? It’s by continually having that data right. To show people the transparency, I can’t express the importance of this goes across the business, right? It’s not just for maintenance. It’s not just for the operators. It’s not just for maintenance managers and operations managers. This is for the people that work in quality and safety and engineering and purchasing, right? Because we can start purchasing cheap motors. And the next thing, you know, we’re starting to have motor failures. This data goes across all aspects of our business. And we, when we start to make improvements and we see improvements, we need to make sure people understand how those came about, right. What we did. Oh, she’s we started by with a hierarchy. Then we talked about criticality.

Doug Plucknette (18:31): Now we know what our most critical assets are, so we can focus on the most important things. When work orders come in. We changed our strategy from failure based to failure modes based, right? And now we understand why things fail them. We eliminated a whole bunch of failure modes by doing that things that were happening to us over and over again, because we weren’t using precision skills, for example, right. We have data now to show that, and that’s the importance of having the measures, right? If there’s one piece that ties us all together, it’s those measures.

Speaker 2 (19:09): And Doug, that actually reminds me of, of a fantastic idea. And, and since there’s a lack, you mentioned an apprenticeship programs and, and a real lack in terms of being able to figure out who knows what journaling those lessons as you go through your career is is a fantastic asset. Being able to write down the big transitions that happen and why the big lessons learned. And if anybody actually has the collection of that, it’s a real powerful statement. As far as the projects you’ve made, you’ve been a part of the successes you’ve had, as well as the failures, what rent went wrong, why? And if you can actually keep all of that and basically write your own manual as you go through your career, you’ve got an infinitely, powerful resource, not only to look back on, but also as a great way of sharing with the next generation or anybody who may follow behind you at your plant.

Doug Plucknette (20:03): Yeah. I can tell you that. I have a friend that through the years, our careers have kind of mirrored one another. And I was at a conference a while back and told her all the story from Kodak that we were working together when this happened. And afterwards he says, I get a kick out of that. You’re still telling that story. And I go, the story has great value, right? It’s one of those where, Hey, this was a job I hated doing. And you had to do it over and over again. You know, it was a once a week type thing. And I kept saying, what the heck? We got two other systems exactly like this, and we never changed those. Right. But this one, every week, there’s something we got to change on it. Why are we having to do this over and over again?

Doug Plucknette (20:45): And just asking those questions and then putting two or three people together because right. I’m just a lowly pipe fitter, right. I’m having to pull an absolute filter apart and housing. And it comes in and there had to be a hundred and some bolts altogether, and it was outside. So it could be 105 degrees, or it could be minus five, right. Pouring rain, snow, and sunshine, whatever. And you’re like, what am I going to go out there and do this for again? And so then when you start talking about, let’s talk with an engineer, how does this work? What was it designed to do? Let’s talk with the instrument guy. Is there any way I can monitor this to see the progression of it what’s causing this to happen. Right. And when you start asking those questions and talking to other people about it, all right, we’ve got a leak.

Doug Plucknette (21:33): You’re somewhere, where’s the leak. Here’s the four or five possible places. How do we prove it was which one? Right. And just by going through that in a matter of two weeks, we solved that and never had to, I can’t say it never plugged again, but it certainly wasn’t every week. It was like every three years. Wow. And that’s, what’s a $500 filter plus the labor to do it. Right. So things like that, it’s important to recognize those and keep those, like you said, have a, have a journal that right. Mine happens to be in my head. I’ve got now that I’ve been in this business for 40 years, it’s almost an endless number of them. Right. But it is important to recognize those things and tell those things because other people relate to them where they go, holy smokes. We’ve got something similar. Like when I’m where I’m at. I wonder what that problem is.

Tim Goshert (22:29): Yeah. That brings up what maintenance is. Not repairing things, maintenance. If you’re in the maintenance business and wanting to increase reliability, you’re in the failure elimination. Nice. Yeah. And that’s what you’re doing. So what we talked about by doing the foundational weldments, that’s the first step than trying to eliminate failure, but you’re, you’re not going to catch everything right away. And in your example, it’s asking the question, why is this failing? And then finding out why and doing a cause analysis assessment by figuring it out and taking away failures. So we’re really in the failure, elimination business, and people that think that way it’s not, Hey, they don’t think they’re just pumped changers or felt like you were dug a filter changer every week. You’re a, why do I have to do this? And how do I eliminate this work from having to be done and wasting our time and money? So that’s sort of what I take away from all that. Well,

Speaker 2 (23:41): You know, at the end of the day, no matter how challenging it is, it makes a good, it can be, it can be worth it. You know, you don’t really sit around with your buddies, having beers, talking about the really easy days where everything went exactly as it should, you know, what you faced and overcame and figure it out. And frankly that the simpler and more hidden the solution better the story. So

Doug Plucknette (24:08): This last feast together with that story, Chris, if this were a smart machine today, we’d have a lot more data. I’d have found that problem a lot easier. Right. So that’s that’s the direction we’re going in and that’s why this foundational stuff is important,

Tim Goshert (24:24): Right? Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 2 (24:27): Well, gentlemen, thanks for, thanks for joining us. Thanks for all the wisdom into the audience who made it through the these recordings. Thank you so much for listening. We hope you got a ton of value out of it. We’re always open to commentary or anything else you’d like to hear from us. Please, please reach out and let us know at P R O R E L And thank you all for joining us. Have yourselves a great week.

Speaker 1 (24:55): 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, in this as well as you can find myself, Tim and Doug on LinkedIn, we look forward to joining you on the next one.


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