Maintenance expert says safety, reliability and quality are all interconnected

Maintenance expert says safety, reliability and quality are all interconnected

Bill Schlegel, who worked as director of manufacturing excellence at Novelis​ before retiring, believes that by properly combining safety, reliability, quality and energy management during the manufacturing process, businesses can greatly improve each facet individually. 

Plant Services recently held an interview with Schlegel, during which he outlined a few of the biggest changes he's noted in maintenance and reliability between the mid 1990s and now. The best way to talk about this, he said, was to discuss the factors that have not changed in almost 15 years. 

"Today, the same key principles remain: to make sure that the culture of reliability is firmly set in place and that fundamentals of reliability are taught by knowledgeable leaders who have a passion for the subject," he said. 

What has changed, he said, is the technology that supports these maintenance leaders. Tools like PdM, Schlegel said, have advanced tremendously, and as the cost of the products comes down, more operations can afford to purchase them. 

"Also, the standards that allow data to be reported, stored, and analyzed have made our work much easier," he added. "You can now look at PdM data from multiple sources and use them to create a complete picture of the process state, down to component level. It is also possible to use process data as inputs to reliability, as never before."

When it came to looking forward, Schlegel said it was his hope that maintenance and reliability would continue to "have a seat at the table," rather than an afterthought among companies. The role of maintenance and reliability professionals will grow increasingly difficult, as firms are forced to do more with less funding. This will require plant managers to improve their asset maintenance as best as possible, which in turn will lead to new solutions that will raise reliability and maintenance "up to a level we have not seen in years."

According to a separate article in Plant Services, one way companies are improving maintenance reliability is to perform self assessments that involve workers from all divisions of the facility. 

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