Why does so much ‘stuff’ fall between the cracks that exist between data and information. So often we see a highly trained analyst with a tremendous amount of data working with a manager who takes very little information from the data. There is obviously a communication breakdown but who is to blame. Is it the analyst for not clearly interpreting what the data –the squiggly lines– are telling us? Or is it the manager’s fault for not understanding what he’s seeing. The reality is that the fault lies with both of them.
I know of some analysts who believe that their role is to take readings and supply them – with a little interpretation- to the maintenance manager. I also know some maintenance managers who when faced with this situation merely file away the reports. Obviously, neither is right but neither has bothered to take the time to make sure that they clearly understand what the purpose of the whole exercise is.
As a plant maintenance manager, I didn’t know the intricacies and nuances of spectrum analysis or waterfalls or acceleration enveloping – I didn’t need to! That’s what the analyst was there for, but what I did need to do was communicate clearly to the analyst what it was that I wanted from the exercise. For me it was fairly simple – I needed to have enough information to make a more informed decision. That is really the purpose of any measures that we make so I always made a point of clearly explaining this to the analyst. I needed to know if there were any imminent failures or if there were dramatic changes in the trends, what the implications of the changes were, and how fast the deterioration was taking place (even though we call it predictive maintenance, exact predictions are very difficult).
The analysts I liked working with were the insistent persistent ones – the ones who would not leave until they were sure I got the message. Many people would have considered them a pain – but they were the ones I wanted on my team as they felt the same sort of ownership that I did. I guess that’s the key to it all – ownership – as along with the ownership, there is the pride and success that you share with every good call with every failure mitigated. But this only happens when there is clear communication of the purpose, goals, and expectations. So don’t forget – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Thanks to Cliff Williams, Author of People – A Reliability Success Story, for sharing his expertise with us.