Reliable Plant is one of those conferences where all sorts of practical and mechanical things are on display. Unlike many, where the majority focus is on software and other ethereal tools, Reliable Plant is rife with lubrication, vibration, infrared, and ultrasound vendors as well as equipment reliability experts. Yes, there are several software vendors plying their trade, but they are in the minority. The actual client-to-vendor ratio remains low in relation to conferences of years past, but those attending seem to be quite focused on seeking solutions to their problems.
Reliable Plant is a good format for an entry-level person looking to expand their knowledge of the technologies available, but also for the seasoned members of maintenance and reliability teams.
There is a growing focus on the merging of missions for the Maintenance, Operations, and Reliability functions within a company or even at the plant level.
One area of note is an increased presence of smaller (and in some cases start-up) CMMS software companies. These agile companies have seen a gap in the market between the use of paper and spreadsheets and the adoption of far larger EAM systems such as Maximo and SAP. Right out of the gate these applications are focused on mobile access for users as the primary interface.
Of course, the show has no shortage of vendors of lubrication and sensor technology. Everyone has some kind of magical fluid to pour into your gearbox for a longer life. More interesting is the wide variety of sensors that can be used to provide telemetry for vibration, temperature, oil condition, and many other parameters. Of note was a visual system designed to detect anomalies not only on a production line but also could be used for inspecting equipment in situ.
Drones and other emerging robotic technologies were very present as well. Given the ease in which telemetry can be captured from sensors, whether they are fixed, being flown, or flying on their own, we now have available to us even more data than we know what to do with. The autonomous nature of drone flight greatly reduces the need for the human to have any spatial awareness skills at all.
The presentations are very practical rather than sales pitches. The conference host (Noria) does an excellent job at keeping the learning sessions focused on the needs of the audience. Both sessions I was involved in were this way. Yes, it was obvious who the companies we were representing (TRM and IDCON), but the subject matter was based upon our experience, not necessarily the products and services we sell. My presentation was on the questions to ask and how to form a Mobile application proof of concept for teams such as maintenance. My colleague (Tor Idhammar) presented a root cause analysis framework… keeping it simple.
The TRM focus for this series of conventions is on our Omni Maximo Assistant, The Essential Care and Condition Monitoring (ECCM) app, and the IDCON Site Assessment service. Discussions with clients are around the problems/issues they face and how that TRM/IDCON are in a unique position to help them address their issues. Whether it be People, Processes, or Programs, our teams are available to help the client work on any or all.
To wrap this up, one session I attended was presented by a large paper plant that has been in operation for well over 100 years. At any one time there are four generations of employees working there. The session was an overview of their “journey to operational excellence.” The leaders and drivers for the change came from the newest generation a few years ago. They recognized the capabilities of modern technologies as well as the pressure to be more agile in the modern marketplace. It was enjoyable to see organizational change tools that have been around for many decades be used by the next generation to make clear changes to such an old place. There is one business that may be around for another 100 years!
Find a conference that interests you. Attend as many sessions as you can and go talk to the vendors. I am certain you will come away with one or two things that, if implemented, will have positive impact on your daily life at the plant.
Article by John Q. Todd, Sr. Business Consultant / Product Researcher at TRM. Reach out to us at AskTRM@trmnet.com if you have any questions or would like to discuss deploying MAS 8 or Maximo AAM for condition-based maintenance/monitoring.