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Marrying Digital Maturity Efforts with Workforce Maturity Challenges

First-time attendee takeaways from 2019 IMC

January 02, 2020

Conferences and events such as the 2019 International Maintenance Conference provide unique opportunities for attendees to increase specific knowledge, learn about new trends and mind-meld with their peers. As a provider in the maintenance solution market, we’re eager to learn as well. What’s front and center on the minds of those who live and breathe maintenance every day? From a digital perspective, how can organizations balance priorities and ensure that collecting and trending data doesn’t simply happen when a failure occurs, but is part of how they do business?  

The idea of automating maintenance and work processes is not new. Few large organizations lack the word ‘digitalization’ as part of their long-term strategy plans. Understandably though, there is a wide variation in where folks are in their digital maturity journeys, creating a huge spectrum of needs. The hosts and planners of industry events like IMC have a unique challenge on their hands. How do you speak to the maintenance and reliability challenges across verticals in a way that addresses the needs of such a broad audience? With focused tracks on everything from broad topics like Capital Projects and Strategy to niche specifics like Lubrication Analysis, IMC appeared to have found a winning approach!

The breadth of solutions did not stop with the focused tracks -- it also appeared in the offerings demonstrated at the Expo, giving attendees many options for how to approach their digital journey. For some, installing sensors to begin capturing data about their facility was top of mind. For others though, a few themes were loud and clear:

  • The changes in workforce dynamics (retirement, skill alignment, reduced tenures) are leaving leaders in search of new ways to think about ‘knowledge transfer’
  • Data is abundant… useful information is not   
Attendees expressed a lot of frustration around these themes. Frustration in not finding the right talent when needed. Frustration in feeling they had all the ingredients, but for some reason couldn’t conjure up a good recipe with the right chefs to deliver the desired results. 

As a first-time IMC attendee, it was exciting to represent a provider that not only speaks to these frustrations but offers solutions beyond automating manual tasks or aggregating disparate information. There are many analogies on how automating a step in a process may insert efficiency, but true digitalization transforms the experience completely. Ask the creators of the first MP3 players that labeled it a sub-billion-dollar market! Apple and iTunes transformed the experience completely. This is how I looked at asset performance management over the four days of the event. We’re not just utilizing existing data to improve an organization. We’re also capturing tribal expertise from those with years of knowledge -- insight that is often lost when these people are promoted, retire or decide to leave the company. Customers realize this is a truly transformative experience.    

We saw the transformation ideas hit those we talked to when they answered the trivia question, “How many days in advance did Aspen Mtell® predict the failure of an oil seal at a Saras refinery?” (Hint… it’s 45 days). Once people saw the answer and thought, “what kind of planning could I do with an extra month of warning?” The light bulbs went on. Check out how Saras uses asset performance Management (APM) here.

As Allison McNulty said in her blog “Who's Excited for the 34th Annual International Maintenance Conference,” you can see that those who attend IMC once tend to flock to Florida every year to share ideas and best practices from around the world. I am definitely a convert now!  

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