It's Time to Walk the Talk

Robert C. Baldwin, Editor
Several editorials last year dealt with the lack of respect accorded the reliability and maintenance function and its practitioners by enterprise managers and administrators. Judging from the response we received, we touched a sore spot with many of you. That was last year.

Now, with the calendar rolling over to 2000, it is time to move forward and make some changes.

Using some seminarese: It is time to walk the talk. If you don't, and you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got. To think the outcome will be otherwise is one definition of insanity.

What needs to be changed? I'm sure you have plenty of ideas: better scheduling, more training, condition based maintenance, effective planning, etc.

Where do you start? Start with yourself and your job. You won't know what to do in every instance, and that's OK. The important thing is to get started. There is plenty of help available at conferences and seminars, from professional societies, on the Internet, and in technical business magazines. In this issue, we serve up some information on using reliability centered maintenance, help in failure analysis, and recommendations for improving your condition monitoring program.

If you put forth some effort, you should be able to make a difference. The amount of difference could be surprising. In some of my resent conference presentations, I've mentioned the Law of Tipping Points, referring to a characteristic of the new wired economy when a process or technology gains momentum and begins changing the way we work. You could cross the tipping point to start change of significance in your company.

In his forthcoming book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell explains that tipping point comes from the world of epidemiology. It's the name given to that moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point.

Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker, points out in book excerpts put up on his web site that change often happens all at once, and little changes can make a huge difference, like one child bringing a virus into a classroom. He says ideas and behaviors and new products move through a population very much like a disease does.

If Gladwell has it right, we have the potential to infect our company with proactive equipment maintenance. Perhaps we can provide the tipping point for a national epidemic of effective enterprise asset management. MT