Michael McBride

I am just finishing my first year in the fourth job I have had since leaving the Marine Corps eleven years ago. It is not what you think.

It turns out, mostly because of my leadership experience in the Marine Corps and my significant exposure to Marine aviation maintenance; I apparently have a knack for turning maintenance departments around. Hence I have been able to leverage this skill to my economic advantage as those needing my services find themselves inclined to pay to lure me away.

My first-day-on-the-job experiences are now becoming quite typical and predictable. Lack of organization. Lack of training. Lack of trust. Lack of motivation. Lack of leadership and direction. Lack of confidence as a team.

All of these issues have to be addressed coincidentally with the primary task of keeping the equipment running, so that we can deliver the right product on time.

Typically I have to go out on jobs and physically turn wrenches with the mechanics, both to learn the equipment and to demonstrate to the team that I have some mechanical aptitude. This helps get me familiar with the team members and the equipment, and it helps the team get to know me. Although this has sent many a greasy shirt to an early demise, it has become a key tool for me to ensure my effectiveness.

Key to my success as well is finding the root causes of failures and providing correct and long-lasting repairs. This past year we found that because we were running the wrong RPM electrical motor and that its wiring was incorrectly sized by half, that one of the ring mills could bog down the gearbox and trip the circuit breaker for the motor. This is problematic in several ways, but quickly, the wiring could have caught on fire, the breaker was prematurely failing, the motor was building undue resistance in the windings and was also on the path to premature failure, and the stalling of the mill on the parts was a certain part quality issue.

We found a check valve on a hydraulic pump case drain line that was creating undue pressure on the backside of the pump and causing premature failure. We found sequential timing errors on three of our largest presses that were causing valve failures and excessive down time. We had die retaining system failures that necessitated a bulkier replacement system in order to protect our press workers. We had to completely re-do our breathing air system to better protect our grinders. The list goes on.

Michael McBride

Michael E. McBride retired as a Major from the Marine Corps and blogs at http://www.mysandmen.blogspot.com.

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