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Every engineer,  CM analyst, mechanic, manager, etc. is faced with solving complicated reliability issues from time to time. These issues usually occur at an unpropitious time. Often, the advice of a “subject matter expert” is sought to provide a solution.  The first task of the “subject matter expert” is to seek information from the employees that installed, maintain and operate the equipment, because they understand that this information often leads to the solution.
Do you ask questions and pursue information from your coworkers and employees? Do you seriously consider the answers you receive? Unfortunately, the answer to both of these questions is usually “no”. Don’t overlook the wealth of knowledge that may be standing in front of you that you work with daily. Operators and mechanics can provide a lot of insight and historical knowledge on equipment. They may be able to help you identify, explain and resolve complicated equipment problems.
Asking a few simple questions like the examples below may provide a wealth of information:

  • Has the machine been running normally?
  • What do you feel is wrong with the machine?
  • What is the history of this machine (recent maintenance completed, operational issues, etc.)?
  • What materials have been used to repair the equipment (shaft materials, bearing information, etc.)?
  • What would you do to resolve this issue?

The expensive “subject matter expert” you hired to resolve the issue understands the value of this knowledge! They ask your employees questions, provide you with a solution that works and charge you high fees for doing so.
Ask questions of those around you and genuinely consider their responses. Doing so may save you money, time and help you solve that complicated reliability issue.

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by Trent Phillips