Today’s blog (The first on my new site) is going to be a little different than most, it came to me in different way as well.  While most of the things I blog about come from working at plant sites and performing RCM Blitz™ analyses at plants around the world, this blog comes from a chance meeting.

As I work with customers and teach people about the value of Reliability Centered Maintenance we often have discussions about the effects of age on manufacturing equipment, the inherent designed reliability of our assets as well as the potential problems associated with operating equipment beyond its designed performance standards.

While I often use cars as an example of what can happen when we don’t maintain our assets (Don’t change your oil see what happens), how all the maintenance in the world can’t compensate for poor inherent designed reliability (the K car), and the effects of driving your car in a way that is outside the designed performance standards,  I think the story below about the human body might be a better example.

I sat next to a living NFL legend last week on a flight from Dallas to Atlanta last week and if the flight attendant had not made a big deal about recognizing him as her husband’s favorite player I would have never known I was sitting next to guy I considered one of the best to ever play the game.

When he played the game he was a physical specimen, a fine-tuned, world-class wrecking machine known for sacking quarterbacks and shutting down running backs with such consistency that opposing teams always accounted for his whereabouts before the snap of the ball.  Known as player who gave everything his body was physically capable of on every play of every game he punished his body by giving his all and today he feels the punishment of this abuse every day.

The world-class wrecking machine that at one time would have had a OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) of 100% is walking today at about60%.  While he still has the physical appearance of a former body builder, his hands, hips, knees and ankles clearly show the results left behind from playing America’s favorite sport at the highest level.

Kind, polite, and humble is how I would describe the person I flew next to, he signed a couple of autographs, answered questions from a 80 year old couple who sat behind us about the Cowboy’s outlook for 2012, and chatted with me about how today’s game has changed.  As we landed in Atlanta and pulled up to the jet-way those seated in our area could not help but notice the effort it took and pain on his face as he lifted himself from his seat, stood in the isle and slowly  took is first several steps.  As we entered the terminal, he turned smiled and said “It takes me a bit to get up and get moving, but once I get going the pain goes away….this body might feel old and tired but it’s the only one I got left.”  He smiled, turned and walked in the opposite direction, head down and a bag over his shoulder like a cowboy from the old westerns headed into the sunset.

The human body is no different than the machines we perform RCM Blitz™ on.  If we don’t maintain our bodies or we operate our body beyond its designed performance expectations the wear based failure modes will eventually expose themselves resulting in reduced performance as well as pain.  The miracles of modern medicine also offer corrective maintenance in the form of joint replacements and while most of these can greatly improve the quality of life, they don’t replicate the performance standards God designed in this incredible machine of ours.

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