From Our Perspective

EP Editorial Staff | September 2, 2009

ken_bannisterTasty Stews Are Full Of Meat!

I’ve mentioned it in this column before. Working as a maintenance and lubrication management consultant means that I travel a lot, mostly by car.

As I drive, I do a number of things, including think about the job at hand, listen to music on my iPod® and — from time to time — tune in to talk radio. That last activity often can be a mood-altering experience as I heckle the idiots on the air! Once in a while, I am lucky enough to catch a stand-up comedy hour. The last time this happened, I found myself laughing at a very funny comedian who went only by the name of “Darryl.”

He was telling a humorous, self-deprecating story about the first time he performed for an audience in Canada. As he explained it, he had “bombed” in the worst way because he hadn’t researched and understood Canadian culture and, thus, failed to tailor his material to the audience. He summed up his experience with this final statement: “If you make a stew and don’t put any meat in it, don’t complain about the taste!”

In maintenance, as it is in other walks of life, many people are disillusioned by the types of programs that — despite having been sold as panaceas — fail to accommodate the most basic of maintenance needs. In my experience, the most common of these less-than-successful efforts involve CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) implementation and lubrication management programs. Many individuals I speak to are frustrated over the inadequacy of various program setups and deliverables around their operations. In effect, those programs have “bombed” because the implementers failed to tailor the setup to the audience’s needs.

In the maintenance world, the audience is the maintainer, the operator and the asset. The system or program is often sold with lots of sizzle and promise, but delivers short because — metaphorically speaking — no meat is put in the stew. If we don’t want to complain about the “taste,” we as maintainers and lubrication professionals must invest in the implementation or improvement change process by showing interest and becoming involved. This, in turn, calls for a better understanding of failure, a better understanding of our ambient condition factors, and a better understanding of the role we play in interpreting and communicating an asset’s needs. If we don’t want to complain about the “taste,” we must invest in the implementation or improvement change process.


We gain better understanding, in a practical sense, by monitoring the validity of a preventive maintenance task and frequency schedule, diligently completing failure codes on the work order or performing a failure analysis after a breakdown has occurred, and working with the planner to rewrite a more effective preventive strategy. If no failure analysis is in place, it’s time for you to step up and become the champion for adoptive change!

In the case of lubrication programs, see to it that the right lubricant is used in the right amount. Ensure absolute cleanliness when dealing with lubricants and lubrication devices. Advocate for engineered automated delivery systems and lubricant consolidation programs. Become informed by reading and learning more about best practices and application techniques.
With a small amount of effort and care, putting meat in the stew isn’t as difficult as you think, and the results are real tasty! Good luck! LMT

Ken Bannister is lead partner & principal consultant for Engtech Industries, Inc. Phone: (519) 469-9273; email:




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