Hut, hut, hike! Are you ready for some reliability?

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

More than 750 million people around the world will be watching Super Bowl XL on Sunday. But unless you're a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers or Seattle Seahawks, what's the impetus for watching the football game?


If you work in a manufacturing plant or a processing facility, here's an idea: Use the game - and all of the pre- and post-game hype surrounding it - to make some parallels between a championship football team and a championship-caliber plant team.


Really. You have more in common with Bill Cowher, Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and Paul Allen than meets the eye.


Consider what makes a good pro football team and a good football game plan. It's everyone, from the team owner to the head coach to the star tailback to the left tackle, knowing his role and executing it in the team concept. When the X's outperform the O's, the end result is victory.


The same goes in the plant environment. Consider this:


Senior corporate management at a manufacturing company is very much like an NFL team owner (Seattle's Paul Allen or Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney). They must understand finances and what it takes to win. With strong leadership and effective communication, they set the tone for the rest of the organization.


Senior plant management is akin to the NFL head coach (Seattle's Mike Holmgren and Pittsburgh's Bill Cowher). They implement the strategy for success and oversee it on a day-to-day basis. They display an unwavering commitment to defined team processes and to the team members that have their hands on those processes.


The maintenance planner/scheduler is similar to an offensive coordinator (the Steelers' Ken Whisenhunt or the Seahawks' Gil Haskell). This is the person that maps out the game plan (or work plan). Because this person has done his or her homework, the plan is well-thought-out, efficient and complete. And because of that, the team performs proactively, not reactively.


The reliability engineer is similar to the team trainer (Seattle's Sam Ramsden or Pittsburgh's John Norwig). This person keeps the processes healthy and strong. He or she provides insight and technical support that averts premature wear and breakdowns.


The machine operator is on the same level as the NFL quarterback (Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger or Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck). The ball is in this person's hands. It is the decisions that he or she makes with the ball that can determine victory or failure.


Finally, the technicians and skilled tradesmen (craftsmen, lubrication techs and predictive maintenance specialists) are the plant's offensive linemen (like Seahawks All-Pro Walter Jones or Steelers hog Jeff Hartings). Through their brawn and brains, they give the quarterback (or operator) the needed time to allow the game plan to work. If the line breaks down, the line literally breaks down.


When everyone from the C-level to the plant-floor-level knows their assignments, executes on those assignments and performs with enthusiasm and precision, the end result is victory. The end result is a reliability plant.


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