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Chris Pepin: Hi, this is Chris Pepin. I’m the founder of Progressive Reliability, and thank you for taking the time to listen to our podcast. You can also find a white paper from this podcast on our website, We are Progressive Reliability, and so the shorthand should make it quick to look up. PRORELI. You can also type in and it will take you to the site as well.

Thanks a lot, and please let us know what you think. You can always reach out to me directly. My name’s Chris Pepin. So just give us a reach out if there’s anything we can do to help, and we’d look forward to hearing what you think. Thanks again.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Cycle of Insanity series. I’m here with Tim and Doug, and we’re looking at some of the final pieces that are going into our white paper, around what to do with the shutdowns, with the restarts. And frankly, at the time we are in the world, we’re looking at another round of shutdowns. It’s November of 2020, and the interesting aspects of 2020 haven’t ended yet.

So Doug, tell us a little bit about health and safety. Where are your thoughts at, and what are some things for people to consider with the on again, off again and up and down kind of cycles we’re dealing with right now?

Doug Plucknette: Okay. So with regard to health and safety, one of the things that you really have to worry about in an event like COVID 19, where we’ve cut back and said, “Gee, we only need essential people here,” is lock out, tag out.

Any day that you’re running, you could have an upset that says, “Gee, we need to do something.” Maintenance gets called. We need to lock out, tag out. And those things tend to build as time goes on. You have more breakdowns. Initially, you run well. We talked about that earlier. But as the weeks and months go by, you start to have more and more of these events.

Now, who is going to make sure that that gets done? All right. So you should have some supervision on, but we’ve cut back. There’s not as many people there. And some folks will tend to say, “You know what, we can get away with just locking out that disconnect, not going through and filling out the tags. Change the belts on that fan. Put new belts on.” Or some just broke, for example.

You really have to worry about events like that, where we start to cut corners because we don’t have the right amount of people there to manage the increased demand that comes on when things start to break down, and we’ve got demand for products.

If your company’s running, you make an essential product, you have to put product out the door. So when things don’t go right and that is going to happen, these are the things we have to worry about: people cutting corners, running equipment without guarding. For example, I’ve seen that in the past, where you really have to worry about things like that happening.

Who’s on top of those things? Were your safety people deemed essential? Some companies actually have two or three people that might be on a site. Their job is safety; to do audits and things like that. They may not be deemed as essential, believe it or not. So, who fills in that gap and who’s watching out?

Ultimately, we’re all responsible for our own safety. I can tell you as a tradesperson, I learned a lesson early on from another fellow that I worked with, what can happen when you cut corners. So, you learn to say, “It’s not going to get done unless we do it right, unless we make sure we follow all those procedures and follow a lockout tag out and make sure that all our guarding is in place. So that we don’t have rotating equipment and pinch points exposed, where people can get hurt.”

Chris Pepin: Doug, what happens when you have to trust around lock out, tag out, that a piece of equipment has been managed? Or how do you give yourself where it doesn’t exist, where you’re in a position where you think a piece of equipment is okay or it looks okay, or it’s a part of the facility that you don’t normally work in, and something’s off and a teammate gets hurt that way?

Doug Plucknette: Yeah. It comes down to a cultural issue that safety is important. It’s not at all about trust. It’s about doing the right thing. And that’s where it takes good experienced people to be able to speak up and say, “No, you’re not going to cut corners,” or, “No, I’m not going to cut corners to get this done. We either do things the right way, or we don’t do them at all.”

The other aspect of safety that really should be talked about here, especially again, when we’re cutting back on people and having all the essential, is fatigue. Some people may be asked to work extra hours because we’re trying to get product out the door. And you really have to worry about fatigue, working too many hours in a row or too many days in a row.

Think about those things and how they impact the safety of your employees. Especially those that are in repetitive type-motion jobs, fatigue sets in very quickly. There is a wall that you come up to with those types of jobs that all of a sudden, when you’re not fresh, there is a … Risk is there.

So, we have to make sure that there’s somebody there to say, “Here’s what our timeframe is. If you worked extra hours, you may earn an extra break in here.” Or, “If you feel fatigued, make sure you tell somebody and stop.” So, there’s really a lot to think about when it comes to safety and the cycle of insanity.

Chris Pepin: Really does. Well, it sounds like a culture, in terms of speaking up when you’re fatigued, rather than having to soldier on when you don’t feel particularly safe. I know it happens a lot of times with drivers.

Tim, you’ve been up at the high levels of the corporate side of this. Tell us about what your perspective is on cultures, on safety, on these kinds of issues? What have you come across that’s good? And where have you come across maybe improvements that have been made by a cycle like this?

Tim Goshert: Well, I was very fortunate in working for a company for 30 years that safety was the number one priority. It started at the top with the CEO and it went through the entire organization.

I think the other thing that I was taught was that safety is a personal responsibility. When it comes to lock out, tag out. If you’re working on a piece of machinery, you should verify yourself and have your own lock on that piece of equipment. If you don’t understand the job fully, you should stop and understand the job and make sure that you understand all the types of things that should be done to do that job safely.

We did job hazard analysis before all jobs’ maintenance work in the company that I worked for, where you took five, 10 minutes and went through the job and you understood what the safety requirements were. So it starts with leadership, but it also then filters through the organization of personal responsibility.

The other thing that I’d like to mention, Doug said fatigue. I think fatigue is something that sometimes gets ignored, like Doug talked about.

The other area, and I think 2020 has been the year of this, it’s stress that is on every individual. The stress from problems, maybe health concerns of your family, stress of health, concerns of friends. All that extra stress that’s happening in 2020, it takes effort, extra effort. I think as an individual, as you’re working, is to focus on what needs to be done and don’t let those stress areas bother you while you’re completing a job or doing a task.

Stress is one thing that requires someone, I think, to slow down a little bit and think about what needs to be done? How do you do it safely? Who needs to be involved? Who do you communicate to? All those kinds of things. So in a reactive, failure-based environment, everything is sort of pitted against you to do things quickly. Do it fast, get it done quickly. Do all that. Where in reality, I think you should slow down. Think about what needs to be done, do it right the first time, and keep yourself as well as your colleagues safe while doing it.

Chris Pepin: Under that term of stress, a new factor that’s come about the last six to eight months is the increased amount of PPE. So not only does that make a hard environment harder. But also it makes it extraordinarily difficult to read one another’s facial expressions or body expressions or anything.

What have you heard about … What are good groups doing out there right now to stay ahead of the fact that the nonverbal communication is kind of wiped out under all these layers of PPE?

Doug Plucknette: Well, that’s a really good point. I can tell you having worked in an environment, a good part of my career was in a chemical environment. So there were plenty of days where I was in a full face mask, full Tyvek suit. Communication of looking at somebody and being able to see expressions on their face is gone. It takes really good teamwork at that point in time to recognize when somebody is in stress or tired or in trouble.

We had lots of time spent inside reactors, cleaning walls and things like that, where it was hot. The rooms were between 100 and 110 Fahrenheit, and then you’re inside that Tyvek suit. The good thing is you got forced air. That kind of keeps your face cool, but it’s dry. It’s one of those things you really have to do a lot of talking back and forth from the people that are side by side, working together. Conversation is a good thing.

As Tim said, slow down. Make sure you’re talking to one another, because that’s one of the things you’ll first recognize when somebody’s in trouble is they start to go quiet because they’re trying to focus and concentrate on their work. So, they’re having a hard time keeping up with a conversation. So, those types of things are really important.

I can tell you, I’m kind of smiling here as I’m going back on some of the memories. We used to actually … The guys that I worked with every once in a while, somebody started singing a song and the rest of us would chime in. You can have fun during those things too, but it builds comradery.

So you have to have those things, that good close teamwork to recognize it and know one another personally. That’s one of the things to watch out for, especially with new people. Today with the mask, with no facial expression is boy, make sure you put them besides somebody that’s a good communicator that’s going to talk to them, ask them questions.

Even if it’s not even associated directly with what they’re doing, just keeps conversation going. Where did you go to dinner last night? How did you meet your spouse or significant other? How many kids do you have? What sports are your kids involved with? Those types of things to keep conversation going. Some folks would say, “Hey, that’s distracting.” Realistically, if you’re doing your job and you’re doing your job well, you can have lots of conversations like that, plus still think about what you’re working on.

In terms of direct, what have I heard from people with the face mask and the PPE? Yeah, they’ve said that that’s definitely making work a challenge. I still have some very good friends over at Kodak. They say, “Gee, the only time we don’t have to have it on is when we go to the lunch room or the break room. Other than that, it has to be on at all times. And it has made things a bit of a challenge.”

Chris Pepin: To change the subject just a little bit, another thing we wanted to cover here was the management of the wisdom and skill sets. I think there’s a lot of opportunity in this kind of disruption for making continuous improvement happen. And I’m curious, what are the opportunities for people to add in new and innovative ideas, add in new innovative techniques, add in new ways of doing things or seeing things under the stress and the strain?

How do people really harvest great ideas, great opportunities under the kind of stress and under the kind of increased volatility within the market right now? And what have you guys seen with that?

Doug Plucknette: Tim, I’m going to let you go first on this one.

Tim Goshert: Well, yeah, I was just thinking about a couple of customers that I’m dealing with in the last couple months, they’ve had people working from home either because they’re quarantined or it’s part of the plan. So, they have folks working from home. They’re using platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom to communicate on a daily basis.

But what some of those have done, they’ve taken the opportunity to really work on their equipment databases, their bill of materials, and work on filling in any holes or finding any errors of things that are wrong in their databases that they can clean up and take advantage of what might be considered extra time. It’s not really extra time, but it’s a time where people are away from the facility, maybe not being able to do 100% of their responsibilities. But you could add some responsibilities of projects that maybe had been on the back burner because of certain responsibilities.

I’ve seen a couple of customers of mine do that. They’ve taken advantage of the time to get their knowledge systems in place. Like I said, they worked on their CMMS system and other knowledge systems they may have. So, you have that opportunity.

I think it goes back to our conversation on the last podcast that if you have extra time, don’t diddle it away. Find productive things that you can do that will help you in the future and help you tomorrow. And just don’t say, “Well, we can’t do this,” or, “We can’t do that.” I think it’s important to try to seek out those tasks that maybe you just couldn’t get done before. And now you have people available that are pent up at home, but have capability to do some of the work that you’d never get around to doing.

Chris Pepin: That’s a really interesting perspective because in the first conversation, we talked about the opportunity to get educated and to learn a lot. But for the senior folks with a lot of experience, this is an excellent opportunity to put that down and put it in a way that it’s accessible. That’s a really great option. Doug, what about on your end? What are you seeing people doing to take advantage of this?

Doug Plucknette: From my end, it really comes down to programming of your equipment and your assets. This is one of those areas that I talk quite a bit about in RCM, especially now with companies being attracted to the Industrial Internet of Things and smart machines and machine learning and all those buzzwords, I tell them that, “Hey, none of this stuff is new. It’s been around for ages. Most of us just haven’t bothered to research it, look into it and make it work for us.”

Again, I come from the chemical industry. In terms of pumping pressure, temperature flow, how many have taken the time to put in trends for those things and alarms that warn them early that a pump impeller has started wear, and the pump efficiency is dropping off. In comparison, trans pressure flow, amp draw, timing, all of those things, you’ve got devices that were already in place and had been in place for decades that you’ve never used other than to have a high-pressure, high-temperature, low-flow alarm or shutdown.

Those things are actual tools for us to say, “When is it time to do maintenance?” Not that it’s no longer functioning properly. We can do all types of things and look into, and I know some companies are starting to work with that. That’s one of the calls that I have been on recently with a customer is to say, “Let’s look at those things.”

There’s lots of guys now at home where they can look at the process online, watch the line run, and say, “What’s going on?” In fact, the one company that I am working with, they had a big discussion about putting cameras in. I kind of chuckled and said, “And you want cameras for what? What is the camera going to show you?” “Well, if they’re having any issue on the line.” “Well, you should be able to see that from a hundred other devices. Do you want to watch your people, or do you want to watch the line? Which one should you want to do?”

There was a kind of dead silence. And I said, “Sounds to me more like you’re more interested in watching people.” There’s nothing wrong with that, other than the fact that the people that are being watched sometimes are going to be sensitive to the fact that somebody’s watching them.

But realistically, there’s a lot you can learn from watching the line run through the PLC. What does normal look like? Most companies don’t even look like they understand that yet. They haven’t taken the time to study it. So you’ve got people at home. Start looking at those things. What’s the relationship between the first conveyor and your bottle filler? Is there a correlation between some of the jams we’re having in terms of speed and the amp draw on that motor, for example?

There’s lots of things that companies can start doing. And those people that have experience had been wanting to do, and haven’t had time to do because they get … When they’re at work, they get tied up in the day-to-day stuff. So when they’re home, let’s put their knowledge to use and say, “Let’s make our program better. Let’s make it one that will detect failures and give us the opportunity to plan, schedule and make those repairs before the machine can’t perform its desired function.”

Chris Pepin: Well, thanks for the perspective. That is actually a really interesting question. There’s a lot of ways to analyze, instead of just buying things or adding things. Getting to the root of what is it really for? What are we really looking to do? I’ve seen a lot of expensive programs come and go because those next two, three, four layers of deep questions haven’t been answered.

Tim, tell us from your perspective. Is there an opportunity within equipment license cycle issues? I know that was the final piece that we wanted to make sure that we covered today. What do you see going on there? How do you see people taking advantage of the disruption in the market? And what do you think we should be paying attention to out there?

Tim Goshert: Doug explained it well. I think to figure out what really the root causes of failures are; they have time. They have the capability to do that. And that’s really what extends the life of equipment, is finding defects and solving those defects so they don’t enter the piece of equipment.

I think this 2020 can be looked on as a really tough year with lots of change that’s occurred. But it also is an opportunistic year in my view that you have the capability because certainly you’re forced to do things differently. And you have the capability, if you think what can really set us apart from where we had been and how we improve and what we do, I think in 2020 someday you look back and say, “Hey, that was a blessing that we had this adversity to push us to the next level.”

And Doug, I think, explained it extremely well of how you learn more about how your operation runs, how equipment runs, how does it fail and what can we do to keep it from failing and running reliably?

Chris Pepin: Do you have any final thoughts in terms of just the opportunities, the challenges, as well as the kind of realities where we are today and where we’re going with it?

Doug Plucknette: Yeah, I think that the work-at-home thing really gives us the opportunity to ask questions to lots of people. Recently, I have had a conversation with somebody on LinkedIn about a reaction system that I have quite a bit of experience with. It just so happened that he approached me as an RCM question. It just was by luck that it was a system that I had a lot of experience with, in terms of conveyance.

Going back and forth, he initially was, “This is what our problem is.” And I had to say to him, two or three times, “You’re dealing with an effect. That’s not really what your cause is. You’re dealing with an effect. Think about your reactor and how it works, and ask yourself more questions. Here’s some questions that I have for you. You have four temperature zones that are heat zones to this reactor. How do they come on? How do they go off? What’s the differential pressure between your diffuser plate and the reactor, the reactor and the clean side of your filter bags?” Five or six different questions.

And after about the third type discussion, he said to me, “These questions are ones that nobody has asked yet.” Think about that. This guy, he told me … He said, “I’ve got 15 years of experience,” and he said, “I’m just crazy that we haven’t thought to go to that level yet.” And I said, “Really, it all comes down to problem solving.”

2020 is the opportunity for those people to start asking those questions and thinking about those things and talking with experts. If you don’t have the confidence that there’s somebody working at your site that’s an expert on something you’re having problems with, man, we have a whole world of people we can talk to. Just put the question out there to somebody. You don’t have to give up company secrets. We didn’t share that information online. That went to a direct text message, when we got into detailed questions.

But realistically, there’s a, there’s an opportunity out there to talk with a world of experts. Take your time to do that. Use your time to learn, to develop that wisdom. And that wisdom is what makes you invaluable as an employee.

Chris Pepin: We’re very active on it here. It’s just amazing who you can reach out, how approachable people with just years of experience can be, and just how much is available out there to those of us who are willing to learn and ask. Tim, any final thoughts?

Tim Goshert: Well, my final thoughts are of optimism that that 2020 is a year of change. It’s a year of opportunity. And the folks that don’t rest on their laurels, that are aggressive, that look for that opportunity and seek the learning are the ones that will prosper in years to come, 2021 and beyond.

So, this has helped me. It gives me a pep talk to continue my learning. I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of people.

Chris Pepin: Well, Tim, we can’t thank you enough for bringing up Cycle of Insanity in this series. And, Doug, so glad to have you here.

As we said at the beginning, Tim and Doug are advisors to our company here. We’re glad to have him and glad to have this, and we’re really looking forward to sharing it with the rest of the market. So for those of you who have listened all the way through all three episodes, we thank you so much for joining us and wish you the very best.

2021 is extremely close. We hope you can bring something to your career and to your coworkers and your teams from this series, and look forward to communicating with you all down the line. Thank you everybody so much. Tim and Doug, thanks for being with us.

Doug Plucknette: Thank you.

Tim Goshert: Thank you.

Chris Pepin: Well, this is Chris Pepin. I thank you so much for listening in on our podcast. You can catch us on the web at That’s Go ahead and reach out to me directly. You can also look up Progressive Reliability, and we are all over LinkedIn. So if you’d like to comment, see our team, see some other media that we’re putting out, it’s always there. And our white papers are available on our website as well.

I look forward to getting in touch with you and hearing more what you think about our podcast and bringing more value in the future. Thanks again for your time.

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