Adopt a New Philosophy - Change

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation

People resist change not because they love the status quo but because they fear the uncertainty of what lies ahead. Yet, without change we are destined to repeat the past. After all, machines that are operated and repaired the same way will tend to wear out and fail the same way. And, for most organizations, what's needed is not the tweaking of existing practices but rather throwing them out and starting over. Like people, organizations struggle through the transition period (denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance). We all have vivid memories of change–even small things like the seatbelt law can cramp our style.

Once change itself becomes the status quo then it is less likely to be resisted at each encounter. Those who live and work in the world of electronics and computers know the dynamics it can attain. General Electric developed a model for assisting organizations less adept to change, but where broad transformation is needed. There are several elements to the model but its centerpiece is the need for a leader, someone who has ownership and champions the cause. The leader makes a public commitment to it, pledging personal time and focused attention to following through.

Another element of the model is creating a shared need for the change. The leader helps co-workers see the reason for the change and explains why it's important. As stakeholders in the organization, each employee affected is given a clear understanding of how they will benefit personally. Next, the leader helps to shape a clear vision of what it will be like when it's done, what it will look like, and why it will be exciting. Other elements of the model include building a coalition, monitoring progress, benchmarking, defining the first steps, and defining the final steps to make it last.

One of Dr. W. Edward Deming's 14 Points for Excellence, relating to quality, is the need to adopt a new philosophy. Such a new philosophy could, in fact, form the cornerstone of the transformation–a theme or concept around which the organization rallies. This issue of Practicing Oil Analysis offers many insights and ideas on maintenance philosophies that work. For numerous companies the principles of Reliability-Centered Maintenance is the starting point for the optimum use of condition monitoring. The feature article by Drew Troyer describes, for the first time, its application in the context of lubrication and oil analysis.

Another important philosophy or strategy is technology integration, which has been discussed in previous issues. El Paso Electric's case study, reporting savings in the millions, is the product of such a merger between oil analysis, vibration, and thermography. Other strategic tips and clues to effective oil analysis found in this issue are:

Feature Lab, PdMA–Importance of contaminant monitoring to machine and oil condition.

Feature Instrument–Predict Navigator–Onsite testing of moisture, wear debris, and oxidation.

Friction Polymers–New discoveries on their formation.

GM's Oil-Life System–Bringing oil condition monitoring to passenger cars.

Oxidation and Scuffing–Surprising relationship between these two culprits.

Bearing Failures–The role of additives in controlling water-induced wear.

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About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advise...