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From a Different Angle: A Perspective - Nothing Is Wrong, What Are You Going to Do?

Reflecting on April’s The RELIABILITY Conference 2018, it was a very intense (kind of like drinking from a fire hose) four days devoted to all things tech in maintenance. The presentations were on sensors related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), the Cloud, analytics and a few even spoke about good maintenance practices. Like all conferences, it was congenial, fun and worthwhile.

Terrence O’Hanlon opened one of the daylong events. It was a conference within a conference summarizing the state of AI, IIoT and analytics. He said something that stopped numerous attendees in their tracks and started them thinking very hard!

“When you achieve reliability, then all your sensors, all of your AI, all of your analytics will detect nothing and prescribe no actions,” he stated.

Imagine spending tons of money, sweating the details for a couple of years, eliminating the defects and the result is nothing happens. That is a bit sobering.

It would be like if you exercised, had a great diet, used a bunch of tech and that ensured immortality. You can just see all the doctors and nurses picketing, throwing rocks and chanting slogans like, “Let’s go back to when healthcare was great (and 13 percent of our economy).”

Where Would that Leave You?

Jobless? Don’t worry, this is a mental exercise, there’s probably nothing to worry about. But really, where would that leave you? You have a certain set of skills and knowledge. What would be your best use to your organization?

Actually, if you do a bit of homework, the answer to the question is pretty simple. It’s how you can best serve the mission, vision and values of your organization. In certified reliability leader (CRL) speak, it’s called serving the organization’s aim. Your homework is to find out what that is. It is usually on or linked to the home page of the organization’s official website.

Remember, you have a certain set of skills and knowledge. Now, given that the need to be fixing breakdowns and such has been eliminated, how do you best serve the mission?

Consider if it is in the mission to:

  • Reduce the number of defects flowing into your system;
  • Make your place safer;
  • Reduce takt time;
  • Increase yield;
  • Reduce impact on the environment;
  • Optimize production settings;
  • Improve quality.

You must redesign your job. Evaluate your mission and figure out how you can serve it better.

You better get moving with your planning. With all the tech, it seems like only a short time before sensors can sense pre-problems that are even thinking about going down the P-F curve. Then, AI tells you what to do and is really good at it.

Have fun with all the gear and good luck!

Joel Levitt

Joel Levitt, CRL, CPMM, CRL, CPMM, is the President of Laser Focused Training. Mr. Levitt has 30 years of experience in many facets of maintenance, including process control design, source equipment inspector, electrician, field service technician, maritime operations and property management. He is a leading trainer of maintenance professionals and has trained more than 17,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in 25 countries in over 500 sessions. Since 1980 he has been the President of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services all sized clients on a wide range of maintenance issues. Prior to that Mr. Levitt worked for a CMMS vendor and in manufacturing management. 

He is also a frequent speaker at maintenance and engineering conferences and has written 6 popular maintenance management texts and chapters of 2 additional reference books. He has also published dozens of articles on the topic. Mr. Levitt has served on the safety board of ANSI, Small Business United, National Family Business Council and on the executive committee of the Miquon School. He can be reached at or visit

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