Changing the Status-Quo

Many people have this habit of falling into a routine and are afraid to change or step outside the norm. But they also like following trends, and it takes bravery to start them. The rapidly expanding and evolving technology landscape requires that Reliability Engineers everywhere evolve with it, leaving no room for routine. Not everything can be fixed by the tools in your shed, like how not every problem can be fixed by the resources in your Reliability toolbox. Sometimes you need to venture out for something new. Is it daunting? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

Two important questions

  1. What can we do about this problem, and how can we stop it from reoccurring?
  2. What else can we do?

I pop these both, one after the other, at every problem-related meeting. The first question usually has people think within the box, but the second one shoves them out of it, turns them towards a greater world of possibility. Inside the box, you can only “react” to problems when they find you. But outside the box, you can be proactive, ambushing your issues.

How do you know if you need to look for alternatives?

An aging plant will always find new ways to break, and “the way we’ve always done it” won’t always be a sufficient solution. Reliability Engineering should not be about repeating procedures. It should be problem solving.

If alternative solutions are necessary, you’ll observe the following:

  • Reoccurring problems
  • Previously unseen problems arising
  • Solutions suggested by your peers are repetitive
  • A need to save resources
  • A need to further increase plant output

How do you start looking for alternatives?

  • Consult the internet – By far the most obvious. It’s okay to not have all the answers, especially since they could be one search away.
  • Asking “dumb” questions – Yes, they may be embarrassing to ask, but you won’t get any answers by holding them in. What matters more anyway? Solving the problem, or avoiding a small moment of vulnerability?
  • Joining an industry group – One of the best ways to access valuable human resources. These are communities, and most communities are always willing to help their own. Someone may have experienced the very same issue and gained useful wisdom from it. Just put yourself in a position where you can potentially intercept that person.
  • Using Bisset’s Formula – Partially discussed in the previous blogpost. Make sure your plant is smooth, clean, cool, dry, correctly lubricated, and not overloaded.

My advice on how to implement these alternatives is the same as what I have preached previously many times. Get your team actively involved. Convince them that change is necessary, that it is worth it. Make sure they share your enthusiasm for the exciting and new, and together you can make revolutionary improvements to your plant.


Do you want to know more about what it takes to be an extraordinary reliability engineer who can effectively implement change in your place of work? Try our new Extraordinary Reliability Engineer course taught by highly experienced reliability engineer Peter Horsburgh. You can easily register on Eventbrite here.