Terrence O´Hanlon: Culture is the biggest challenge for Asset Management

World-renowned expert in Assets Management, editor of UpTime Magazine and two websites, and predictive maintenance consultant, he talks exclusively for Predictiva21 about his passion for spreading this knowledge and his convictions about the paradigm changes to create a better world.

Maintenance and reliability integrate one of the most complex branches of engineering. Its reach increases exponentially as the production systems get more and more sophisticated. Maintaining and managing assets has become one of the most preferred areas within the industrial activity, but paradoxically experts in the field are very scarce.

One of the most emblematic personalities in the maintenance world is Mr. Terrence O´Hanlon. As expert in the field, Terry O´Hanlon, has developed several strategies to spread the importance of maintenance worldwide and how to make this knowledge reach great masses of people. As Senior Editor of UpTime Magazine and the websites www.reliabilityweb.com y www.confiabilidad.net, O´Hanlon has also been an outstanding organizer of congresses, speaker, lecturer, inventor and author of the passports for SMRP certification. In exclusive interview for Predictiva21, he talks about the importance of overcoming resistance, generate changes and promote maintenance policies as a proven formula to generate prosperity and development.

All the way from Florida, Terry sends warm regards to Hispanic America and all the Predictiva21 readers through an audiovisual (which will soon appear in our website) where he briefly expresses part of his vast experience throughout his many years in business, in which his concern for maintenance and asset management have been a constant.

Predictiva21: As a specialist in the area of Maintenance, what drove you to create mass media like Up Time Magazine and Reliabilityweb.com?

Terrence O´Hanlon: We wanted to provide information that was typically not available for the existing publications. I was very acquainted about the topics consulted by the experts, the authors and authorities on the subject who even had books published. I´m talking about people who tipically give conferences, workshops, educational activities. So I thought about sharing all this information with a global audience who would benefit through the use of Internet. Simultaneously, a third generation of maintenance and many of the current reliability techniques became more and more known and better implemented, and we wanted to make sure that a medium to share this information with the people who needed it would exist. That´s how this idea of maintenance knowledge globalization took shape, though the magazine and the website.

P21: In one of your articles published at http://www.maintenance.org/blogs/1, you quote a phrase from John Lennon about changing the world, and you relate it with the reliability community and the possibilities of inducing changes in this professional segment. How do you think these changes can take place, specifically, within the community of reliability professionals?

TOH: We have always thought that reliability brings what we call financial prosperity, which leads to saving unnecessary costs, to avoid spending on machines that would fail before time through reliability, as well as increasing the production capacity, so that the financial arguments we propose are always present. This is what we call the triple flow of People, Planet and Profit: financial prosperity, environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Organizations nowadays can´t just focus on financial prosperity, even though they necessarily have to, but also have additional obligations of looking for environment sustainability and social responsibility in local, regional, and global communities in which they are immersed. Thus, we think that reliability allows organizations to keep their commitment of allowing this triple flow. In other words, organizations can and must use reliability to allow financial prosperity. But there´s something we think is not being taken in account within the community, and that is not using reliability to ensure the sustainability of the environment. What we mean with this is that when a process uses more energy or resources than the necessary, it should be considered a failed model. We don´t have the right to use more energy or materials than is required in a process, because the next generations have the right to use that energy and materials, and if we respect the future of the planet, our children and grandchildren´s future, we have to make sure that they count on that energy and materials we don´t have the right to waist. From reliability we can determine the appropriate use of these resources. And finally, the other element we must mention is social responsibility. What we are really trying to do is focus on the lack of maintenance reliability leaders in the world. There are many areas with few financial opportunities, and we think that through the use of Uptime Elements, people who are aware of this triple flow can connect it with some of the deficiencies in maintenance leadership in the world. And that is how we currently practice or promote social responsibility.

P21: Do you think there is resistance in some enterprises to apply reliability-centered maintenance? Why?

TOH: You may put it in the context of resistance, but it would be easier to understand that, usually, reliability-centered maintenance requires changes. And there is always resistance to change. This is an element of deficiency in the adoption of reliability-centered maintenance, and is a difficult time-consuming process, except for the most experienced facilitators. I think it´s a common mistake from the organizations to use this as an exercise of engineering, and what I mean by this is there are, of course, amazing engineering skills required for the analysis of RCM and its implementation. However, most of the changes resulting from the analysis of RCM are related to people, their culture and behavior, and I think that not paying attention to the human side of reliability-centered maintenance makes many of these projects fail. So, in summary, an activity to improve business must be considered, and not an activity to improve maintenance.

P21: Which strategies do you consider more appropriate to impulse positive changes in the reliability area within an organization? Do you think is appropriate to hire external consultants?

TOH: I´m a great believer in hiring external consultants. We do it even in our own company when we want to impulse big changes. And one of the reasons is that many of the consultants are experts in change processes, that is, their experienced is based on the topic for which they are consulted. They are also experts in administrating the change that will take place in people and their culture, and they are also experts in implementation. And that is what sometimes lack in some organizations whose abilities are centered in some particular topic, but not in managing the change and implementation. So consulting can help facilitate change management, implementation, and if well-thought, as a vehicle of communication towards people who are at a high management level or at inferior levels as well. It is possible to use consulting as a bridge of communication. For me, that is one of its best uses, so the answer is: hire a consultant when you are about to make an important change.

P21: You have been an expert in Assets Management, and you were the only U.S. representative for the ISO 39 Task Group which wrote the ISO-17021-5 standard requirement of competence for auditing, and the certification of ISO 55000 standard for assets management systems. How was this experience and what has it meant for you as a professional?

TOH: Actually, there was another U.S. participation by Mr. Scott Morris, so there were two North Americans involved, although Scott was the one in charge of keeping the other seven members of the team in action. I can say that I developed a great respect for the people directly involved in ISO, the international organization for standardization, since they helped facilitate this and taught us a lot about the writing standards. That standard was written in five days, very fast compared to the writing of ISO 55000 in which I participated and which took three years. We worked every day, all day long, with the help of experts. I learned about the global infrastructure for auditing and certification, operational frames management like ISO 9000 and ISO 14000, or ISO 50000 for energy management. Then, basically, it´s important to learn to write these standards so that the existent infrastructure eventually receives and applies their expertise in auditing and certification to the new ISO 55000 assets management standards. It was like a learning process on how to adapt this new great management system to an existent infrastructure of auditing, registration and certification offices, but without necessarily involving experience in assets management. This way, we were learning how to keep the integrity of the 55000 standard, but at the same time, we wanted to make an existing infrastructure visible to share it through the certification agencies.

P21: You have also been a remarkable inventor, creating and patenting equipment for controlling health on line and monitoring patients with ailments like hypertension. How did you come up with this idea? Could you tell us more about this? What applications and impact has this had in the medical industry?

TOH: Indeed, I have developed a patent for monitoring health conditions on line, mainly centered on blood pressure. I have been involved in technology licensing at AT&T Laboratories. It happens to be a very sensitive system, and it can be used for the blood flow which can be correlated with arterial pressure. There were other applications besides this one, for example, to determine the general cardiovascular health in a person. This was created in a moment the use of personal computers was hard to imagine, so the concept was based in allowing the arterial health monitoring, including blood pressure, to be stored in a centralized database, in order to be compared with a population whose same information was being included in this system. The particular thing about this patent consisted on being a sensitive detection system for arterial health and blood pressure, allowing comparisons with those of other populations. It was a very interesting project and I was honored to be part of it.

P21: You have also been a speaker, spreading the knowledge and awareness about the importance and advantages that Assets Management offers throughout the world to the high management of any enterprise. How has this experience been? What achievements have you had with this effort?

TOH: I consider myself a student more than a professor. I am an eager learner when it comes to reliability management and assets management, but I admit it´s one of my favorite activities: having the opportunity to speak with top managers about these topics, since they don´t usually talk about them directly. So, I like to use Uptime Elements to explain the context of reliability in a way that makes sense to the high management levels. What I mean by this is that, from an engineering perspective, we refer to the reliability maintenance and assets management content. For 30 to 45 years, we have worked with these individual reliability maintenance contents. What we try to do with Uptime Elements is to create a context for a reliability frame that leads to the creation of an assets maintenance management. And it´s wonderful to be able to talk to people within these organizations who can make it possible, who can assign resources, align people in the whole organization of values implied in the assets maintenance management. It´s one of my favorite things, because it can empower the triple flow that we talked about before, through this reliability frame.

P21: Currently, you lead the Association for Maintenance Professionals. Which are your most important activities that you develop from it? What are its contributions to the future generations of Assets Management professionals?

TOH: We have created a knowledge system that represents reliability and competence using the Uptime Elements frame, and we call it CRL (Certified Reliability Leader). It is based on a knowledge body that includes 29 brochures, passport style, one for each element of the Uptime Elements system. Also, there are five books written by internationally renown experts on the subject, all of it connected in what we call a travelling guide for the CRL explaining the philosophy of the system. But I must say it is not a philosophical system, but a system focused on promoting values: reinforcing safety with success, and the triple flow. Hence, the Association for Maintenance Professionals has the only mission of developing, creating and generating what we call CRL, and we feel that if we can generate at least 1,000 CRL centered on the triple flow, we can have the impulse to obtain results in order to change the world.

P21: Finally, how do you think assets management and reliability will evolve in the world?

TOH: We just finished what we consider the biggest study on assets management. Almost one thousand enterprises around the world shared with us what would be their investment in the next five years and their challenges regarding assets management, and the results of this survey are very clear, with some points I could share right now. In a few weeks, the report will be available, and we hope that our friends from Predictiva21 can share the link that distributes this report. Culture is the biggest challenge for assets management and reliability maintenance, this being supported by 40% of the reliability management leaders in this study. The other point that was well stated is that reliability is critical for assets management. In other words, there are two separated practices, but reliability enables assets management, and assets management enables reliability. In essence, what both allow the owner of the assets to take the best decisions on maintenance, be it an intervention based on time, or an intervention based on conditions or a failure, or if it´s time to plan a capital to replace the asset. A structured frame is needed to take good decisions and carry them on. Last but not least, it´s important to know that a majority of the maintenance management and reliability community is going to adopt this ISO 31000 frame to understand and manage the organizational risks, and also Uptime Elements for the management of assets and reliability. We see a great momentum for the implementation of these frames.

Texto: Alimey Díaz M
Traduccion: Richard Skinner
Foto: Cortesía Terrence O´Hanlon Team

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