What Plants Have Failed to Learn in 25 Years

Ned Mitenius
Tags: maintenance and reliability, preventive maintenance

Twenty-five years ago, I left the U.S. Navy nuclear submarine program.

As I gained experience in civilian industry, I began to appreciate the Navy’s aplomb for reliable engineering, exceptional training and consistent operations. Their penchant for comprehensive preventive maintenance programs also impressed me.

What I found in industry 25 years ago was quite different.

So quite by accident, it seems, I began a career of helping companies do these things better.

I claim some small successes on my resume, at least in individual factories where I worked. But wouldn’t you think with all the improvements our industrial society has made that we would have evolved to a better place?

My work recently took me back to some of the factories of a company I worked with long ago.

If we had kept this same rate of improvement in other aspects of our business, we would still be calculating our financials on computers running Windows for Workgroups V3.1.1. We would be tracking inventory and shipments on spreadsheets instead of ERP systems.

By this point, I have surely angered some maintenance and engineering professionals. They have made great strides in their individual locations. That isn’t my point.

My point is, after 25 years, shouldn’t ALL of our factories, large and small alike, be much further down the path than they are? Are you?