Efficient Plant June 2020 - 25

department | on the floor

Whether to outsource or
internalize your maintenance
activities depends on your
company culture, skilled-worker
availability, and production
requirements.

only to see them leave for a contractor."
Ten years ago, a major steel company made
the decision to internalize use of predictive
technologies. The justification was that, too
often, contractors were not available when
requested or, when they visited, equipment was
not available. The transition was initiated by
selecting reliability technicians that had good
work performance, demonstrated a desire to
learn new technology, and were involved in their
families and communities (enhanced retention).
These individuals would be assigned to work
with contractors to observe their techniques and
practices.
Training was provided to achieve Level 2
vibration-analysis certification and minimum
Level 1 certification in thermography and ultrasound. The reliability technicians would then
perform data collection and analysis. Benefits
were recorded and, if a false alarm happened, a

JUNE 2020	

root-cause analysis was performed. Full acceptance was established when operations personnel
started asking reliability technicians to use their
predictive tools to evaluate a potential problem.
Documented benefits (after two years) showed
a minimum annual savings of five times the
equipment investment and compensation costs
for the reliability team, along with improved
equipment life and reduced maintenance costs.
As on-line vibration monitoring and analytics technology advances, the reliability technician's role is transitioning to that of prescriptive
maintenance. Many excellent vendors are offering prescriptive services which, again, brings us
back to the question of whether to contract or
internalize. The decision will always be influenced by your company's culture, work requirements, skilled-worker availability, and economic
analysis. Only you can decide which direction is
correct. EP

Based in Knoxville, Klaus
M. Blache is director of the
Reliability & Maintainability
Center at the Univ. of
Tennessee, and a research
professor in the College of
Engineering. Contact him at
kblache@utk.edu.
Based in Tampa, FL, Dr.
F. H. (Skipper) Yocum is an
Implementation & Training
Leader at the RMC. He has
more than 40 years of plant
and corporate operational
excellence experience in
multiple industry types.

EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

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Efficient Plant June 2020

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