Back To The Future...But Stuck In The Past

Click here to see an inspiring message from Doc Brown himself: The future has finally arrived
Here are some thoughts on the matter from our lead coach Brandon Weil:

Well folks we made it (despite what the Mayans had to say about the matter), today is the day that Marty McFly and “Doc” Brown traveled to the future, October 21st 2015. As I sat in traffic this morning, on my way to work and unleashed a fury of 4 letter expletives, I also cursed the movie for the broken promise of delivering on those flying cars by now (although with the way people drive around here maybe a bunch of flying death machines would only lead to fiery shrapnel raining from the skies during rush hour).

While it’s easy to focus on all the things that haven’t come to pass as of yet, it’s incredible to look at all the things that have. Futuristic headsets? Just look at the Oculus VR headset or Microsoft Hololens. Video Conferencing? Skype and Apple’s Facetime enable remote face-to-face conversations and is a favorite of many grandparents and families that aren’t in close proximity.

Things that seemed like pure science fiction are now integrated into many aspects of our everyday life. As I look back at all of the advancements in technology I still get the feeling that maintenance and reliability programs as a whole are more than a few steps behind. It’s not to say that there haven’t been advancements in reliability related technology, there certainly has, the issue seems to be with our adoption rate and integration of these technologies to advance our programs.

Using the figure to the right we can trace the origin of many existing PM and Reliability Programs, however, the trouble is that many existing programs are still stuck somewhere between the green and blue sections (or even as far back as the orange!). There are so many existing technologies that we ought to be leveraging, but in all honesty, are basically just tinkering with or have deployed on a very limited basis including vibration analysis, oil analysis, infrared, ultrasound, motor circuit analysis, and laser alignment, just to name a few. We need to take a hard look at our existing programs and ask ourselves, "Is there a PdM technology that I could be using to find the failure earlier on the P-F curve and minimize the introduction of defects from invasive inspections? Is there a technology I should be leveraging such as laser alignment that will extend the time between when I install/repair the equipment and when the first noticeable defect is detected? Am I certifying defects found with technologies have been properly corrected with the same technologies after repairs are completed?" If you are deploying these technologies what percentage of your assets are currently on a route and have no identifiable defects? It used to be that cost was the entry barrier for many of these technologies but, with advancements and price drops, it’s costing you money NOT to fully embrace them.


Here is a quick look at Eruditio's Augmented Reliability taken from an iPhone.

To the future!
We’ve harped enough on the present, but what about the future? What does this look like? With emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, there are some real opportunities to take things like job plans and reliability education to the next level. We’re not too far off from the scene in Back to the Future 2 where “Jaws 19” comes out of the screen and eats Marty. Imagine learning about the inside of a motor when a 3D animated image pops out of a 2D card right on your smart phone. Think this is something from the future? Think again (see image below). Imagine scanning a component on an asset and seeing an overlay of critical job plan steps appear and guide the technician to improve the consistency of how the job is executed....This can be done! Imagine single point lessons on various reliability topics that pop out of an image and can be accessed on demand to refresh concepts or share with others…It’s here!

Change the present, shape the Future!
While I'm still holding out for that sweet hoverboard, I haven't lost sight of what's available today. My fear is that the M and R community will continue to lag behind with the adoption of technology while we ought to be on the cutting edge. It’s very clear that we’re under-utilizing existing technologies and are not embracing new ones quickly enough. With a large influx of Millennial age workers entering the M and R field that grew up and thrive on technology, it would be foolhardy to ignore the power of both existing and emerging opportunities. Don't wait until 2045 to implement things available in 2015.

Now hurry up with that flying car!

Jon Bailey

About Jon Bailey