The ins and outs of CMMS integrations, with Fiix and the Rob’s Reliability Project podcast
Having the right software isn’t enough for businesses to survive (let alone thrive) in today’s world. All those different systems need to swap information, work as a team, and provide you with the data to make better decisions. For that to happen, they need to be integrated. Of course, this is often easier said than done. Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Senior Manager of Sales Engineering, visited the Rob’s Reliability Project podcast to demystify CMMS integrations. Stuart and host Rob Kalwarowsky discuss:
- What CMMS integrations are and how they work
- Building a business case and execution strategy for CMMS integrations
- The best way to manage data, measure results, and achieve wins
- What the future holds for maintenance software and technology
Rob Kalwarowsky: Welcome to Rob’s Reliability Project. I’m Rob Kalwarowsky. On this week’s episode, I welcome Stuart Fergusson from Fiix Software to talk about CMMS integration. We discuss what other software or data sources we should connect with our CMMS and we talk about how to get started. Stuart, how are you?
Stuart Fergusson: I’m excellent. Thanks for having me on.
Rob: No, thanks for joining us today. And so for everyone listening, Stuart is the solutions engineering leader at Fiix Software. That’s Fiix, f-i-i-x with two i’s. And if you want to check out their website, just go to fiixsoftware.com. Again, Fiix with two i’s. Now, Stuart. Do you just give us a little background on yourself? Like, how do you get your start in maintenance and reliability?
Stuart: Yeah, for sure. So, before Fiix, I actually spent the duration of my career in industry. So, fresh out of school, young electrical engineer, wet behind the ears still, I jumped in with Proctor and Gamble. The engineering department us actually where I kind of led it off. So, learning from the front end of the design and install side of things with the plant controls in Information Systems Group. So, a lot of electrical work there. But it really teaches you the importance of that design and install when you get into the world of maintenance. After that all played out, I jumped over to the operations side of the house in operations management, dealing with that day-to-day and the all-encompassing breakdown in the reliability culture and really learning how important that front-end was, but getting to dig my teeth into the back-end as well with keeping a plant running as smooth as possible, so to speak. From there, I jumped over to Fiix, kind of bringing that knowledge over to our team and really working on how we can be really reliability-centric and drive that value out to people using our platform.
Rob: Yeah. That’s great. I really like the design side and the install side because I think there’s a lot of winds there that you can get from a reliability perspective that maybe we’re not always considering as quasi maintenance folks.
Stuart: Yeah, definitely. There’s things you got to consider upfront, and they might not be in your evaluation matrix, or your costing model, or all the rest of it, but if you can really understand the lifecycle, what you’re putting in and really what’s going to go into that piece of equipment, not just for the first six months or year, but how you’re going to keep that thing running for the next decade, two decades, or hey, even three decades. We had machinery in there from the 70s. It was running like a clock because somebody had the foresight to think about how it was going to be used and how that would be maintained. That’s the big one.
Rob: It seems like all, or a lot, of the old stuff that if it’s made it this long, it’s due to last another 20 years because, in part, it’s over-designed. But some of that stuff it’s funny, but like I’m looking at a lot of electrical equipment lately myself. And you see the two ends. You don’t really see the middle. You see brand new stuff or really old stuff. You don’t really see a lot in the middle.
Stuart: Yeah, for sure. You get those virtual camshafts, but there’s still not much replacement for an old camshaft case backer. That sucker is going to run no matter what goes through it. It’s just going to run.
Rob: So, Stuart, obviously you work for Fix, which they provide, or you provide, a CMMS, and I wanted to have you on today to talk a little bit about CMMS integration. Do you want to just give us an introduction to what is CMMS integration, what are we integrating our CMMS with, and just give us the background?
Stuart: Yeah, for sure. At the highest level, a CMMS integration is connecting your maintenance platform to other data sources within your manufacturing business, whether that’s field service, all the way down to consumer goods or food and beverage. You probably have PLCs, you probably have sensors, ERP systems. Whatever it is, it’s connecting those other data sources to your maintenance platform so you can make more informed maintenance decisions and giving you a little bit more data.
Rob: Now, when you say connecting the PLCs and the other data sources, are you looking at doing the analysis in the CMMS as well, or just issuing work orders to those specific assets?
Stuart: It really depends on your use case and what the goal is from your reliability program. I’ve listened to a couple of these and, you know, that’s really where these start, with a good reliability program and how you’re going to use the data. So it depends on what you want to bring in. Once you start talking about integrating and what platforms you’re integrating into, yeah, it could be work orders or it could be stuff that we process. So, for example, shop floor sensor data. We could be pulling in fluid levels in transmissions once a night and actually triggering work based off of that. Or it could be as simple as hours run on a particular piece of equipment to move your maintenance to throughput-based instead of just time-based. All the way up to the ERP discussion where we’re bringing in parts and inventory to make sure everything is aligned and matching what your financial system of record has to say.
Rob: Yeah. That’s one thing I’ve been a fan of throughout my career is really having that inventory piece in the CMMS. Or at least it’s got to talk to each other, just because, otherwise, when you’re issuing work orders, if you’re not matching up with what parts you’re taking out of storage, and this and that, it gets kind of confusing.
Stuart: Oh yeah. It’s a nightmare. And you don’t need to own the data. There’s an ERP system that owns your inventory levels, your purchase price, all that great stuff. And that’s where you want it to live. But. And having at your fingertips on even a mobile app on the floor, knowing exactly what’s in store, what they can go grab, and what they need for their jobs, that’s critical, even if it’s just the basic inventory numbers, that that they know what’s on a shelf.
Rob: It does help.
Stuart: Oh, yeah. There’s nothing worse than that 15-minute walk to the storeroom to find out that it’s not there anyway.
Rob: Yeah. And that’s one thing. You know, when we talk planning and scheduling on this show, we usually talk about planning and scheduling as a way of increasing efficiency in your maintenance process. But there are other things, like if your planner is writing the job plan out, and he doesn’t know what’s in stores unless he walks down there too, you’re just adding essentially wasted time into your process.
Stuart: Oh, tons, tons. And you can put the flip side of that on it too by tracking consistent usage metrics back into your ERP and knowing when stuff is coming out. If that starts getting repeatable and you can actually see patterns in that, you can be on top of your purchase and inventory control from a purchaser standpoint, the point where you’re really making that a lot more efficient and leaking out every dollar you can there.
Rob: There a lot of benefits to spare parts management, and I don’t find that a lot of companies do it very well.
Stuart: No, it’s something that they’re starting to look at and they’re putting more of the supply chain emphasis on it. There are really, really good supply chains when you consider raw materials in and finished product out. And I mean, it’s a longer time span, sure, when we look at maintenance, but MRO spares can be treated very similar in a lot of cases. That really frees up that all-important cash flow metric.
Rob: So you touched on a few in terms of connecting or CMMS to an ERP or to the data sources from the floor. Is that it? Or are there any others? What is the complete list?
Stuart: The complete list is, what is it, what’s the use case, let’s make it work. But the most common ones that we see revolve around the ERP system and then plant floor data. So, the ERP, for the obvious reasons that we’ve been talking about here with parts and inventory, and even kicking off purchase requests. And we need something, and we can kick it off within your CMMS, and link that out to your ERP platform. You don’t have to change the way your purchasing happens to date. You just kick it off and see those updates through your CMMS. It’s a whole lot easier for those planners and schedulers to handle it all within one system. Then on the flip side of the coin, you can talk about machine-level integration and that’s really where it gets fun. That could be shop floor sensor data. That could be fleet data coming from a fleet in the field or, you know, day-to-day live meter readings from your assets to trigger based on condition even. You can take that anywhere from, you know, simple and getting started with throughput triggers, all the way up to true condition-based monitoring. That’s really where everything’s slowly starting to head.
Rob: I’ve seen a few companies that have integrated at least hour imports into their CMMS. Have you seen any of them that have been really successful at doing this type of integration or is it just sort of like that kind of typical operating hours import at midnight every day?
Stuart: The operating hours are pretty common, but it really comes down to the criticality of the asset and the frequency at which you’re doing maintenance. You don’t want to over-index on pulling in the data. If you’re bringing in that truck for maintenance once every two weeks anyway, there’s no sense in getting an hourly meter reading imported, right? But when you’re talking about throughput-based equipment on the floor, that’s where things can get kind of fun. You can actually tell when someone’s getting out of spec. So throughput-based. yeah, it’s going to be a little longer. Like you say, it comes in and they take those in every six hours, let’s say. But man, it makes a world of difference for efficiency. When you talk about maintenance, you’re doing work when you have to do it rather than once a month, but a monthly PM doesn’t take into account the production schedule. Throughput counts, they do a little more. It’s still a little bit thumbed out around the edge, but when you really start getting the value, and we have a few partners that are starting to do this really, really effectively, they’re monitoring through their PLCs, and seeing the temperature levels and bearings sets, and they can start to see when those drift. It’s not necessarily triggering a full rebuild and replacing the bearing. It’s, let’s get a guy out there that knows what he’s looking for, that knows the equipment. Get him out there to take a look and really see if this is something we need to put on our radar for next week or the week after.
Rob: Yeah, I definitely liked that approach and I’ve seen it, and I think it’s very effective. It is like maybe don’t automatically trigger replacements, but if you can automatically trigger a secondary inspection, whether that’s going out with, you know, an infrared camera or vibration analysis or whatever, I think that’s probably a better approach, at least when you’re getting started, right?
Stuart: Yeah, definitely. And that’s what it’s all about, right? We always talk about crawl, walk, run. When you’re starting to bring in these data sources, they’re giving you a lot of insight and knowledge. But that’s not going to replace, necessarily, that skilled guy who is sitting there with the IR camera and knows how to use it, knows that piece of equipment like the back of his hand. He’s going to be able to tell you what’s wrong. Thing is, where we can really help with this kind of data integration is that person’s only got so many hours in a day. What’s he going to be doing? What’s he going to be looking at? We can generate a list of those high priority inspections that a data source is telling him that’s what he should go look at. Now, we’re really starting to add value back into his day and making sure that we’re using those highly skilled people in the best way possible.
Rob: So, Stuart, you mentioned having a plan at the onset of this integration, like what your plan should be. What’s included in the plan? How would you recommend people who are listening go about creating a plan for their integration?
Stuart: You have to be deliberate. I think that’s the first thing you got to know, what you’re after. The main point of integration, I think, is to solve a business problem. We talked about inventory control being a pretty easy one. You’re avoiding stock-outs. You’re making sure your parts are there. You’re minimizing inventory and maximizing inventory efficiency. Whatever your goal is. That’s what you should be bringing in the data in order to do. That means thinking about how you’re gonna be using the data, not just how you’re going be importing it. There’s no sense in bringing the data in if you’re not going to be using it on a regular cadence to actually drive a number or metric that really stems from your reliability program as a whole. If those are your goals for the year, and this is where you’re pointing towards, and these are the metrics you’re looking to drive, how is that integration going to help, and how are you going to measure that? When we look at efficiency from the floor, it’s the same thing. We talked it with with the hours import. If we’re only going to be doing this maintenance in week-long chunks, there’s no sense in building a super complex integration that’s going to run those hours in real-time so you can see it instantly. You’re not going to do that throughput-based maintenance any faster, whether you get in one hour or every three hours versus maybe an oil level or a bearing heat application. You’re really going to want that data the second that you can get it. That’s where you’re going to sink your money into. You want to do that on the critical assets you’ve identified. That’s what that integration is being phased towards it. It’s all about having the end goal. What’s the goal of your maintenance program and how are you going to feed the integration towards that?
Rob: It sounds like the integration plan is more of an asset management or reliability type of execution. Once it’s developed, is it just handing it over to IT, or how do you recommend going about that?
Stuart: I mean, they’re definitely stakeholders. You’re going to have to get a lot of people involved in your IT group, for sure. They’re going to be able to help you walk through how these systems interplay. You also want to work with those vendors of those systems that you’re working with. When you’re talking about a CMMS, you want to make sure you got a good partner on the other end that’s going to be able to help you out, having those discussions, and looking at those endpoints, and how we’re going to consume the data or export the data, whatever that looks like. Same on the other side of the coin. Get those third parties involved. Make sure that they’re aware. And then internal stakeholders, like IT. You’ve got to have your management sponsor, the person that’s really driving this, that’s kind of driving the whole platform as a whole. And then you’re going to get all those folks on the line, get it scoped, have a solid plan, create milestones against it, and go execute. And the other thing I always tell everybody, when you’re putting these plans together, don’t take your pie in the sky dream and go to that on day one. That’s the end goal. But what are we going to start with? How are we going to start and how are we going to validate that endpoint? And then, how are you going to expand on it from there? There’s somewhere to get to, but jumping over there all at once probably isn’t the best thing for your maintenance team. Let’s take a step back and make sure we’re planning correctly and taking off chunks that we can really bite down on it, get to the root of it.
Rob: What is that like? Obviously, we need to be going slowly, but what’s that first step look like?
Stuart: Yeah. And I wouldn’t even say slowly. I would just say deliberately. You can go pretty quickly with these integrations if you have the right group in place. But I always suggest to start with something not basic, but something with a really high level of importance. So, if you have that fleet system that’s inefficient how you’re doing maintenance today, and you need to change that to throughput based on hours, let’s go tackle that first. There’s a driving business need there. That’s going to mean you’re going to get those stakeholders in a room a whole lot easier. There’s gonna be some really measurable business outcomes that you can measure from that to kind of prove it out and really say, we did this, it looks good, we’re getting great results from it. Now, let’s go expand this program. Now that we have that proof of concept, everybody’s bought in now, where do we go from there? Start small and start critical.
Rob: Love it, love it, love it. Now, one thing that I’ve seen often in my career is when people are bringing in a CMMS or doing these big IT projects, I think people underestimate how much work it is. What have you seen and for our listeners, how much work does it actually take? Let’s say you’re a reliability engineer and you’re trying to get this done at your site. How much work does it actually take?
Stuart: It really depends on the integration you’re looking at, but it can be fairly intrusive in some cases. What I would say is, you’re going to want to find a partner you can work with. Taking it on alone is awfully tricky. But you have vendors and you’re using their software and their systems and they understand them really, really well. So, if you can make sure you’re aligned with some vendors that are going to support you through that, it’s going to make it a whole lot easier on your end. And often it’s something they’ll partner with you on and help you build out and get rolling. That’s the big one. It’s partnerships and resources. But it’s not a small lift. Under no conditions, is it a small lift. You could be doing anything from one sensor to the whole data lake and trying to pull over an endless supply of PLC tags, and it’s just not going to go well. So lean on all the help you can get because people are surprisingly willing to help with this kind of stuff. It’s exciting.
Rob: Yeah, I find that the vendors, for the most part, are extremely helpful, regardless of what you’re really trying to do. I’ve worked with a bunch of spare parts stuff, on purchasing new equipment, not really so much from the IT side or the CMMS integration, but I’ve always received great support. I think people should not only reach out, but it would be making a mistake if you don’t.
Stuart: I completely agree. You would be doing yourself a bit of a disservice. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re gonna get it done one way or another if you set your mind to it. But it’s going to be a whole lot easier if you get somebody on the other line that can help out. And I think, at least from my viewpoint, you’re seeing that a lot with a lot of these industry-focused companies that are coming in and working with industry. They’re realizing that the way it was done was with really, really high-quality customer service. We’re talking equipment vendors and that kind of thing. But software shouldn’t be any different. It’s a mission-critical application. You’re tied to downtime in numbers and an hour of downtime can make or break a whole lot of results. That kind of customer success needs to be strong. It’s got to be a partnership. You got to have the same goals in mind and you got to have a team that’s willing to help you get to those goals.
Rob: So, if a customer approached you guys at Fiix and was like, well, I want help with my CMMS integration, and maybe they have a plan together, what does it look like on your end? Are you helping them with the IT side or are you helping them with a strategy? What are you helping them with?
Stuart: I mean, all of the above depending on the stage that they’re in. If it’s more exploratory, then we’re going to pull some stuff on our side, some stories that we have, and lean on what we know, and try and work towards something that’s going to work out. Also, we’re going to lead you through the ROI and building a business case behind that, because, as I’m sure your listeners know, to get some of these programs off the ground, you’ve got to sell them. You’ve got to get somebody to agree to spend some money on it or spend some time on it and resources. And we can help with that as well. But once we’re kind of past that point and we know what we want to pull in and we know what other systems we’re pulling it in from, that’s when it gets kind of fun. Now we start scoping out endpoints and we can jump on the phone with that other vendor as well and figuring out what our datasets look like, and the vendor of that piece of equipment knows how we can get the data out of their system, we can really help you walk through that, instead of just giving you some content and having you give it a whirl.
Rob: One thing you mentioned there was the ROI. Obviously, it’s really important. I want to touch on it a little bit and ask you a question. We talked with Joe Kuhn a few months ago and he used to be a plant manager. One thing he said was, with reliability initiatives, if someone’s coming to me as a plant manager, they need to make sure that it has both short-term value and long-term value. Now, from what you’ve seen, what’s the short-term value or where should we start looking for short-term value in a process like this? And obviously, the long-term value is a little bit easier to understand, but maybe give us a breakdown of that too.
Stuart: Yeah. I listened to that one with Joe. It was a really good one, but he’s completely correct that long-term value, for some reason, seems to be a much easier proposition. Short term, that’s six to 12 month, what gains are we going to see? That can be a harder conversation, especially when you’re talking about bigger things, like inventory control and management. That’s not necessarily short term. But where you can really work on the short term is just show some quick, easy misses. So let’s say, you have a part-out. Part-outs happen all the time. Chances are, half the time, somebody has got something stuck in their locker that’s going to fix the issue. But if you can highlight actually stalking-out, that’s downtime, right? There’s 15 minutes right here because we couldn’t find the part. We had to go to three different places or, you know, I hope not, but that could be up to six hours. We had to ship the part or I have to get it from a supplier. Something like that, it’s pretty easy to start showing that picture right away. Another good one is throughput-based. So, when you’re talking about throughput-based maintenance, if you can overlay a production calendar with actual runtime and then your scheduled maintenance levels and show that in 11 months or 12 months, instead of doing this twelve times, with throughput-based, we’re actually only doing it 10 or 11 times. And that could be a series of belts, pneumatic cylinders, whatever it is, there’s a cost associated there. But the big thing is buying. You got the guys on the floor asking for it. It’s gonna make their lives easier. It’s going to improve wrench time. It’s going to improve wrench time immediately. Then you’re really going to have some quick gains there.
Rob: You mentioned buy-in from the shop floor. What are the benefits for a maintenance guy to have the data all in the same repository?
Stuart: It’s better day-to-day. If he knows he’s going to the right places based on not just a schedule or because somebody said he should go check something out, but because the data is telling them that there is an anomaly here and you should go take a look or you know, we’ve put X thousand cartons through this machine, it’s time to go replace this because we know it’s going to fail soon, that’s a different kind of urgency. You know you’re doing the right work in the right places. And then the parts. We’ve gone over the parts time and time again. Is the part there? Do I have to go find it somewhere else? Is it a purchase process we need to start now. What storeroom is it in? Bin, aisle, row? It’s endless, right? It’s going to save them a whole lot of time. And time is key, right? Everybody wants to do a good job and no one wants their machinery down. So the faster you can get her back up, or better yet, you could stay on top of that so you don’t get that breakdown, that’s going to impact everybody.
Rob: That’s reliability. One thing that I’ve seen over the years a lot is people struggle with data quality in their CMMS. How do you recommend people go about ensuring that data is high quality?
Stuart: By integrating it. But to be honest, you want to pick those critical pieces of data that need to be high quality. If you can get them directly from the source instead of human entry or some kind of import/export type thing, you can get that data directly from the source. It’s going to come right from that point of truth and it’s going to be reflected the same way in the CMMS. For example, meter reading entries. You got guys going around and putting in meter readings and they could be doing 15, 20, or 50 of them. That’s a whole lot of data entry for somebody. It’s good that they buy that equipment and take a look at everything, but if somebody is entering a hundred of those a day, you can’t really blame them for getting one of them wrong. But if those are critical, and if you’re basing your maintenance off that, there’s a strong argument there to integrate it, because then we’re going get that data directly from the machine. That’s the same data the machine’s getting. That’s going to give you that true value. Same with the parts in inventory. If you’ve got to have that right, you need that spare in, integrate that with your ERP, we’re going to have those numbers accurate and it’s gonna make the guys’ lives a lot easier. They’re not going through and manually entering all this stuff. And on entering those meter readings, they can focus on completing their task list, inputting quality notes. Better yet, if they got the app, just take some photos and attach it to your work order, and really get that data transfer going, that clean, consistent data input to the CMMS. But anything that’s critical, let’s integrate it, just get it from the source of truth.
Rob: Yeah, I like it, and also, I like the app as well, but it’s funny. This morning, I posted a quote from Gerard Wood and he was talking about this time where he was at a site and they had this wire failure. What had happened was, you know, this wire was supposed to last two years and about 18 months in, it failed. So they were doing a root cause analysis on it and they found that on the inspection work orders, there had been two or three times that they had noted that some of the wire has been fraying and essentially nothing had happened. So Gerard was really talking about like the RCA and one of the outcomes of the RCA was that we have to redesign the whole wire system. For me, obviously, it’s a broken process. What is that feedback process look like to you? When someone puts notes into a work order, where should it go to ensure it triggers work?
Stuart: Oh, definitely. Those failed inspections need to be handled within the CMMS. It’s got to be automatically kicking out work orders. And I mean, some of it is probably process and systems fault. But there’s that old quote and I’ve no idea who said it so I can’t quote it properly, but, it’s culture eats strategy for breakfast. If your guys really have that reliability culture and then they’re really taking care of those, that’s the first step. They want to see it. They want to report that failure and they want to get it into a system. The way that system handles it needs to match that, though. If they’re doing the right thing and they’re putting in those failed inspections, but they’re not getting escalated or resourced, that’s a whole different ballgame. You need your CMMS to be able to handle that kind of thing so that your maintenance supervisors are getting the right view into the data and the right urgency around what’s actually failing and what we need to go and take a look at. And again, on an inspection task like that, it’s a lot of data input. Those failed inspections go trigger it, go out and go do some of those tasks. But if that’s something that you could put some form of condition monitoring on, especially if it’s something to do with, you know, a safety-critical component, get some condition monitoring on that. Feed that information back into the CMMS automatically so that you can actually see those high priority work orders kick out based on whether it’s resistance to that wire, or whatever it is, we can measure it.
Rob: Yeah, it seemed like a pretty simple—like even if someone was really just bought into the reliability culture, they may even go out and either fix it themselves or put in a work order to follow up, but that’s another story for another day.
Stuart: You’re right, we could talk about reliability culture for a long, long time.
Rob: Yes, you’re completely correct.
Stuart: If it’s something you can fix right then and there, don’t even bother failing an inspection task. Put in a work order that says you fixed it.
Rob: So, Stuart, coming back to it, I assume that you’ve seen the CMMS integration a bunch of different times. What are some common mistakes that people make when doing a CMMS integration and how do we avoid those mistakes?
Stuart: That’s a big one. A big one. You know, I’ve seen a couple of times, I’m talking to people who have active integrations with a few different systems. It’s integrating for the sake of it. Some people feel that they have to do this kind of stuff and they need data flowing back and forth because somebody told them that they need it. But if it’s not going to be used, you’re adding a whole lot of complexity. So it really comes back to having that plan and a business case around which you’re trying to integrate. Because if you go out and put a ton of energy and resources towards getting a big integration up and running and your guys aren’t using it, well, what was the point? What win did you get into that? It’s kind of misused. it’s all about having that plan and really focusing on the actionable data. So what’s the gap? Why do we need this data and what’s that going to help us with, whether it’s preventing an issue or whether it’s fixing something quicker, or whatever it is? Have a plan, have an impact of that data. Don’t just do it because you think you have to.
Rob: I love it. I love it. I guess the last one I have for you on this topic is do you have any other tips that maybe you haven’t touched on already?
Stuart: Yeah, I do. I have a couple. Understanding the journey is the big one. We talk about reliability culture, and that’s a journey as well. You got to start somewhere and you got to get somewhere. Have that goal in mind, have that endpoint, but understand it’s a journey. And the easiest way to start is just to start. Pick something. Let’s get it in there. High business importance. Start the process. Just do it. I guarantee it’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as you think it is half the time. Understand the journey. Start somewhere. Start small. But you can do it. It’s not the most complicated thing in the world. I would say the other tip is, don’t discount flexibility. A lot of times, there’s really good out-of-the-box integrations with a particular piece of hardware equipment, but you should make sure you’re keeping your system open. You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself too hard in one direction. You want to make sure you have the flexibility to get all your equipment in there. We see that a lot. You might have a state of the art department on one wing of the plant, but then you get back to the other side and it’s all that equipment from the 70s still ticking away. The throughput data on all those is equally as important. I’m sure there’s a great historian-level data lake somewhere that you can go and integrate that new machinery to. But you’re going to need your systems to be able to ramp back down and go get that data from those older pieces of equipment as well.
Rob: Yeah, that sounds like more of a challenge than the new stuff.
Stuart: It can be, it can be for sure. But, you know, there’s a lot of tips and tricks and strategies we’ve done quite successfully with a few of our partners around how to get that into the right format, from the right places, and through the right firewalls to make sure you’re using that effectively. As long as the sensors are there, we can get the data. And if the sensors aren’t there, well, good news, those are getting a whole lot cheaper and easier to install as well. Better yet, they do integrate out of the box. So there’s a lot of different routes you can do as soon as you’ve identified what it is you need to integrate into your system.
Rob: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely love the tip about business need. I think a lot of people, especially now, just think more data is better and if we need another terabyte, it’s just $100 to buy it. But again, like you mentioned, what’s the point of this data? I forget when it was, but someone bought this new Samsung fridge and it has Twitter on it. It’s like, okay, that’s cool, but what’s the use for this?
Stuart: Yeah, exactly. Why do you need Twitter on your fridge? I mean, sure, if you’re on Twitter 18 hours a day and that’s what you’re getting paid to do and that’s your job, that’s great. But if you’re like me and you haven’t looked at your Twitter account in about two years, you probably don’t need it on your fridge.
Rob: So Stuart, I love this question, but especially because you’re in the software space and you’re seeing new developments, where do you see the future of reliability going in the next five to 10 years?
Stuart: That’s a doozy of a question there. I like these, though. I could talk your ear off all day about the Industrial Internet of Things and technology. I think augmented reality is going to play a really interesting role, and it already is, but it’s going to be a lot more accessible. We’re going to move towards predictive analytics, all these great things. But the thing I think that’s most exciting about where reliability is going is the importance that it’s starting to see. The culture you’re talking about, that reliability culture that’s really growing. That’s not going anywhere. You go into manufacturing plants now, they have a reliability culture or they’re starting it. They’re starting to drive that. You talk health, you talk safety, you talk reliability. In that order, usually, which it should be. You start talking about really driving that culture and having a strategy. You get so much more done. You start integrating these systems, you start meaningfully looking at your data and that’s really exciting to have that culture. And then you start leveraging IoT, and leveraging that new technology, and starting to move towards predictive analytics. When you’ve got the culture and a good plan, it’s going to be really exciting.
Rob: I can hear you getting fired up and I love it, too. I get excited about this stuff too. it’s cool stuff.
Stuart: It gets me going. I really enjoy it. And I think it’s a really exciting space to be in. It’s not the most sexy topic in the world, but it’s going to be big for both industry and infrastructure. I think it’s the right conversation to be having, and in my opinion, it’s a little too late to be having it, but we’re having the conversation and we’re moving in the right direction. I couldn’t be more excited about the next five to 10 years for sure.
Rob: Yeah, I really agree, and I really think it’s a great time to be in the reliability space. We’re sort of seeing asset management become a little bit bigger, but obviously, reliability is a fairly large portion of asset management. And then we’re also seeing the IIoT stuff and, if you go to some of the conferences, you’ll see augmented reality, virtual reality. Those are a few years away, but I mean, if we’re talking five to 10 years from now, there’s gonna be a lot of cool stuff coming out.
Stuart: Oh, yeah. And it’s all going be driven by people that genuinely feel ownership for their equipment and really care about their machines, and that’s exciting. When you take that kind of level of ownership and responsibility for your equipment and your day-to-day, then you get really passionate about it, you get fired up, and you start seeing results almost immediately
Rob: And everyone who listens to the show is always fired up about reliability. So, Stuart, first off, I want to thank you for coming on the show. The second thing is, do you have anything to plug?
Stuart: Nothing particular to plug. Go out and learn more about reliability. I’m always interested in that. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn. I’m somewhat active. I do occasionally a re-share some Rob’s Reliability stuff. That’s always solid content. But yeah, that’s always a good place to keep in touch. It’s great seeing what people have to share on there, so find me on LinkedIn at Stuart Fergusson with Fiix Software.