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After nearly two years apart, the maintenance and reliability industry finally came back together in Louisville, KY for the 2021 Reliable Plant Conference & Exhibition. This year’s show was our 21st Reliable Plant, and we feel it was the conference’s best year yet. Getting to see familiar faces again and meet so many first-time attendees this October was the highlight of 2021 for Noria. The conference itself spanned October 19 – 21, with over 90 exhibitors showing off the latest tech and more than 60 sessions jam-packed with practical knowledge and insights.
Although the conference officially kicked off on Tuesday, some attendees came a day early for pre-conference workshops on Monday, October 18. These 4-hour sessions went deeper than a standard session to offer more technical insights and tips as well as access to some of the top experts in the field. Attendees often recognize these workshops as a great way to get started planning a new initiative or solving a chronic problem Other workshops this year included “Integrating Operators into Machine Reliability” led by Ian McKinnon, “Utilizing Motion Amplification to Proactively Manage the Damaging Effects of Looseness in the Plant” taught by Jeff Hay & Drew Troyer, “Building a Balanced Approach to Contamination Control” by Jarrod Potteiger and “Lubrication for Reliability Leaders: Building the Business Case” with Jim Fitch. Some Noria students also came to conference a week early to get Machinery Lubrication I training from Noria experts, followed by a certification exam proctored by the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML). ICML certification testing was held Monday night before the conference, and was also offered several evenings during the conference itself..
Day one of the conference started with an opening ceremony, hosted by Gretchen Philyaw, founder of USA LOVES MFG and president of Magenta Technologies. Gretchen got the energy started before Noria CEO Jim Fitch took the stage, welcoming everyone. He encouraged attendees to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with leaders in the industry in sessions, on the show floor or across the lunch table. Whether you were looking for new ideas, career opportunities or technology, Reliable Plant was the place to be.
The ICML also recognized two outstanding organizations for their achievements in lubrication and oil analysis. The 2020 Augustus H. Gill Award for excellence in the application of used oil analysis in machine and lubricant condition monitoring went to Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering Nuclear Generating Station for their advanced oil analysis program. For their excellence in the application of machinery lubrication, the Heartland Pet Food Manufacturing / Blue Buffalo Richmond, IN plant walked away with the 2020 John R. Battle Award. As the ceremonies concluded, Noria staff fired up the t-shirt cannon and tossed shirts, hats and other swag into the audience to cap off the morning.
With over 60 learning sessions available plus three inspiring keynote presentations, there were plenty of opportunities to grow and learn at Reliable Plant. Attendees enjoyed the casual and open atmosphere and access to leading experts. Whether you were looking for the latest thinking on condition monitoring or insights into building a successful team, the keynotes on the Reliability Stage this year had you covered. “Condition Monitoring Mapping in the Time Domain” from Jim Fitch started the week, followed the next morning by John Ross, Owner of Maintenance Innovators, Inc., with “What Are We Doing Wrong?” Ross implored the audience to re-evaluate how they approach operations and why they tend to be so reluctant to spearhead major change. Finally, Lee Rubin finished the keynote series that same afternoon with his popular “5 Components of Extraordinary Teams,” an inspirational message with actionable advice for team leaders. While the Reliability Stage was a large and exciting space, the breakout session rooms brought closer connections and the chance to interact directly with industry experts like Craig Winterfield of Fluid Life. His “SEM-EDS: Advanced Wear Debris Analysis for Optimized Maintenance” session had some excellent reviews. Other sessions focused less on technical concerns but brought actionable ideas and energy all the same. One session that generated significant buzz was Joseph Kuhn’s “How to Win Over the Plant Manager - A Plant Manager’s View of Reliability.” Joe is an extremely engaging speaker with a unique perspective on getting leadership approval for projects and initiatives. If you missed it, stop by his Reliability Man YouTube channel for more real-world advice and insights. He’s always posting new material and answering comments from subscribers.
The 90+ vendors and exhibitors found at Reliable Plant 2021 covered every corner of the maintenance and reliability industry. This diverse mix included tech companies like RDI Technologies Inc., consultants like Firefly Reliability, suppliers such as Relaworks or Des-Case, big names like Chevron Lubricants and many more cutting-edge exhibitors. Of course, Noria was out in full force, giving demos of our lubrication management software, LubePM, in the Noria Services booth. Booth-goers could test their golf skills with a virtual driving competition or step over to the Education booth to try their hand at putting. Noria’s bite-size Task-Based Training videos played on screen, demonstrating world-class best practices for common lubrication tasks.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience was a chance for attendees to get a private, after-hours guided tour of the distillery process. Guests got a look at how the drink is distilled while sharing some good old Kentucky history. The night wrapped up with a trip to the tasting room, followed by dinner and more drinks in the on-site speakeasy.
Arguably the biggest hit of the 2021 conference was Wednesday’s Casino Night. Players received “Casino Cash” to purchase starting chips. The more chips you won, the more raffle tickets you could purchase, increasing the chance of winning big prizes like a Makita tool set, a Yeti cooler, a high-end smoker and more.
The “Casino Cash” featured an easter egg for Noria insiders - the smiling face of our own VP of Services, Wes Cash, graced the front of each bill.
There were 50+ dealers running games of Blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Texas Hold ‘Em and Roulette.
“Casino Night was a blast,” said Michael Mazur, Supervisor, Trainer and Level III Mechanic at Schwan’s Global Supply Chain. “We had fun laughing and relaxing.”
With two free drink tickets and a buffet of delicious appetizers to choose from, Casino Night was a hit with conference-goers who have been missing a chance to get back in the community after a long stint apart.
Reliable Plant 2021 ended on a high note with the final prize giveaway and closing ceremony at noon on Thursday. A crowd formed around the Reliability Stage as Noria Executive Vice President Brett O’Kelley, and Corporate Event Planner Sheryl Adekoya, presented the 25 giveaway prizes, including an Apple iPad, Xbox One X, Bose QuietComfort headphones and more. Wes Cash closed us out, thanking attendees for joining Noria for another successful year of learning and community at the Reliable Plant conference. But there was still one more surprise in store.