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Fifth Annual Culture Awards Winners

EP Editorial Staff | April 2, 2024

By Gary L. Parr,  Editorial Director and Dr. Klaus Blache, Univ. of Tennessee RMC

In today’s challenging manufacturing environment, maintenance and reliability professionals are faced with ongoing demands to keep facilities operating at peak efficiency as skilled workers retire and the supply of incoming talent dwindles. While rapidly developing technology offers an effective solution, the risk of any implementation becoming a flavor-of-the-month is high. Whether it’s to attain sustainable efficiencies, instill proactive maintenance practices, or move toward greater digital transformation, the key to success is establishing and sustaining a collaborative culture that maximizes use of asset data and engages workers at all levels. It’s that culture that is the focus of the annual Reliability of Everything Culture Improvement Awards, sponsored by Efficient Plant magazine and the Univ. of Tennessee Reliability & Maintainability Center.

Each year the awards program selects recipients in any of three categories: Best Culture Start-Up, Best Sustaining Culture Program, and Best Culture Innovation. This year there are three winners in the Best Culture Start-Up category and one in the Best Culture Innovation category. These companies are changing the future for themselves and setting examples for others to follow. Congratulations to the winning companies, especially to the many dedicated people who made the efforts a success. EP

Best Culture Start-Up

Y-12 National Security Complex Infrastructure, Missions Systems & Integration
Oak Ridge, TN

Maintenance teams are an integral part of construction and design phases for two large-scale projects at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Team members are Tony Israel, Brandon Hunt, Jeff Wingard, Tom Noll, Dave Blake, Jim Dixon, Travis Childress, Jim Everett, Scott Smithson, Jeff Adams, Luke Moore, Matt Bouvia, and Peter Cooper.

Y-12 National Security Complex helps ensure a safe and effective U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent, retrieves and stores nuclear materials, and fuels the nation’s naval reactors. The Y-12 site is currently undergoing design and construction of two vital capital projects.

The new Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is under construction and will support key Y-12 missions and ensure the long-term viability, safety, and security of U.S. enriched-uranium capabilities. The UPF maintenance team has engrained itself in all aspects of the project and has a voice in decisions that could negatively affect maintenance and reliability performance. The team comments on design and vendor documentation and participates in field walkdowns to verify all maintenance requirements are being met.

The team will also have a proactive-maintenance program, based on industry best practices, developed and finalized before production activities start. The program places a heavy emphasis on predictive- and condition-based maintenance that will be supplemented by traditional preventive-maintenance tasks.

The new Lithium Processing Facility (LPF) will modernize Y-12 lithium capabilities, which are important for maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile. This project is in the design phase. The LPF maintenance team has embedded itself in design activities. It reviews all project design documentation to provide feedback for maintenance and reliability. It also is creating criticality rankings for thousands of assets to help make proactive-maintenance decisions and critical spares lists. The team is also analyzing assets that are candidates to receive permanent condition-based maintenance technology to avoid future retrofits.

Best Culture Start-Up

International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF)
Memphis, TN

Memphis Soy Isolate team members Mark Rosebrough, Plant Manager; Richard Padge, Planner; Victor Foster, Reliability Engineer; Shawn Cripe, Maintenance Manager; Robert Mooshegian, Operations Manager; Frederick Drake, Production Supervisor; Anthony Maynard, Production Supervisor; MaKenzie Baird, Reliability Engineer; and Mark Mougin, Predictive Lead Mechanic (shown), increased plant on-stream time by 10%.

The Memphis Soy Isolate plant is the largest plant in the International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. (IFF) protein solutions business. The plant’s four independent production lines were key to the business bottom line when the pandemic first hit and demand for food went sky high. Heading into 2021, the Memphis plant was charged to increase production to meet this
unprecedented new demand.

The plant was 100% focused on one KPI called on-stream time, or OST. While the operations and maintenance departments worked together, they set out to improve production in different ways. Technology engineers focused on OST tracking, production engineers on scheduling repairs, and the maintenance department on PdM routes.

The major downtime factor was reactive maintenance. Armed with a criticality analysis of the site’s 3,000 assets, new predictive-technology routes were created for vibration, ultrasonic greasing, infrared scanning of MCCs, and PDMA testing of all large motors. Partnering with a local predictive specialist contractor Hi-Speed Industrial Services ( allowed
immediate data gathering and analysis of multiple PdM technologies. Trained reliability interns from the Univ. of Tennessee RMC created routes.

The largest culture change was weekly maintenance and operations meetings to discuss what calls were needed on all critical equipment and make planned shutdowns available to prevent reactive-maintenance downtime. This changed the focus to discussing equipment health and partnering with operations to balance repairs with customer orders. By the end of 2021, the plant had increased its OST by 10%. This was largely driven by reducing reactive-maintenance downtime. The efforts resulted in higher quality numbers, yields, and daily production rates.

Best Culture Start-Up

Perdue Farms
Concord, NC

Perdue team members (back, l-r): Ismael Ortiz, Jorge Rivera, Dylan McCoy, Brent Chapman, Chris Schilling, Donnell Eaton, Jason Schwenk, Oscar Cortez, Earnie Dotson. Front row (l-r): Elvira Boger, Joe Johnson, Maria Amaya, Mirssa Godair, Kristen Premo, and Arthur Aiken.

Perdue team members (back, l-r): Abraham Lyles, Earnie Dotson, Dylan McCoy, Donnell Eaton, Joe Johnson, Harry James, Hyacinth Okoli, Porcha Miller, and Mike Williams. Front row (l-r): Jorge Rivera, David Ray, Ismael Ortiz, Jon Lovelace, Maria Amaya, Crystal Hicks, Mirssa Godair, and Arthur Aiken.

Meat producer Perdue Farms initiated a program to achieve top-quartile status (several R&M metrics) by implementing fundamental initiatives such as Technical Talent Management, Key Performance Indicators, Planning and Scheduling, Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Preventive Maintenance Optimization (PMO). Along with executive sponsorship and leadership support, in three years they improved PM schedule compliance by 63%, downtime performance by 60%, labor spend variance to standard by 140%, and material and services variance to standard by 120%.

The Technical Talent Management initiative focused on staffing fill, turnover, skill assessment, training, engagement, and workplace environment conditions.

Project managers also defined how they were going to measure performance. Implementing lagging and leading KPIs, scorecards, and trends and reports was instrumental in this effort. They improved KPI reporting and communication to gain visibility and drive accountability from every team member. In addition, they developed and implemented fundamental RCA and PMO processes.

Multiple coaching sessions were held with planners/schedulers. They also reviewed responsibilities and set up clear deliverables for each step of the planning and scheduling processes. This made it possible to set up daily detailed spend reports by maintenance accounts. As a result, the Concord plant achieved a top quartile Agristats performance ranking.

Best Culture Innovation

Renaissance Reliability LLC
Medalcraft Mint LLC

Green Bay, WI

The first Unturning Steel graduating class: Paul Guidroz, RMIC, U.S. Army veteran; Sam Dixon, RMIC-UTK intern, Mike Nauer, RMIC-MMI Team Leader; Robyn Klarkowski, RMIC-MMI Team Leader; Lucas Shomin, RMIC-MMI Team Leader; William Leahy-UTS Founder; Martha Stamp, RMIC, U.S. Navy (ret.), Skillbridge veteran; Geraldo Signorini, RMIC Head Coach; LTC Kenna Young, RMIC, U.S. Navy Reserves; Si D’Agostino, RMIC, Montana State Univ. Intern; Blake Woodhead, RMIC, U.S. Navy veteran, Cristy Stedl, MMI COO/HR; and Jerry Moran, MMI Owner/CEO.

After the tragic deaths of a Renaissance Reliability LLC (RR) family member and a Medalcraft Mint Inc. (MMI) employee, the two companies joined forces to deliver an innovative offering designed to bring the manufacturing and Veteran communities together. The result is a community of U.S. manufacturers and service members called Unturning Steel (

The manufacturing leaders project was a 12-week experiment to uncover ways to seamlessly integrate Veterans into manufacturing operations. A resourceful approach allowed them to:

• Design, initiate, and pilot a program: Renaissance Reliability LLC.
• Find a company fearless enough to try: The Medalcraft Mint
Get the program certified by a university: Univ. of Tennessee/Reliability & Maintainability Center
Get it certified: Department of Defense
Recruit a team of three Veterans: DoD Skillbridge
Recruit a team of three college interns: UT-Knoxville and Montana State
Film the whole thing: Never Forgotten Media
Share the Unturning Steel program with industry: A lot of good people.

The goal was to show that manufacturing and Veterans’ communities are the solution to developing skilled workers. Now that the pilot program is completed, new locations have been identified and they are actively seeking additional companies to host and hire Veterans and transition service members who want to find a home in manufacturing.


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