Everything ElseWritten by Michael Dillard On 28 June 2012
ION RELIABILITY: Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

“Ion Reliability” is a new blog series from contributor Michael Dillard.

Many times, a lack of specialized knowledge will cause intelligent people to do dumb things. So I don’t offend anyone, I’ll use myself as an example. I remember being a young sailor stationed at Submarine Base Pearl Harbor and buying my first car, a 1990 Nissan Sentra XE. A single guy cruising Waikiki in a cherry-red four-door sedan wasn’t exactly a chick magnet, but I loved driving it nonetheless.

At that stage in my life, the only thing that I knew about owning a car was that I needed to put gas in it to drive. I didn’t know anything about changing my oil every 3,000 miles or about having routine preventative maintenance performed on my vehicle to keep it running. For two fun-filled years, I drove that little red box car like I stole it. It never occurred to me that I might need to change the oil.

One day, a good buddy of mine, who knew a little something about cars, just happened to be riding with me. After noticing the “check engine” light and feeling my car’s sluggish response, he asked me when I last changed the oil. Change my oil? I looked at him like, “What you talkin’ about Willis?!” After he finished explaining the necessity for oil changes, I was horrified! “OMG! What if my engine seizes up?” I thought. To Nissan’s credit, my engine didn’t seize up; to my buddy’s credit, he volunteered to change my oil while I was home in New Jersey on leave. I was so fixated on driving my car that I ignored the things that kept it running.

As ridiculous as that story sounds, wouldn’t it have been even more preposterous, almost unthinkable, if I had told my buddy that I was just waiting for my engine to seize up and then call somebody to fix it? Of course it would. Yet this is what many companies are doing every day. Most managers are so fixated on driving the bottom line that they ignore the very heart of the vehicle that gave their company motive force in the first place … electricity! No matter what type of business you manage or own, without a sound electrical distribution system in place, your company is going to be dead in the water (DIW, for the Navy people out there). Although a company’s electrical system is probably the most important, and most dangerous, system in their operation, many managers fail to see the value in having some sort of recurring predictive and preventive maintenance plan in place and would rather just hope that a major failure doesn’t occur on their watch.

A colleague of mine likes to say that sometimes our good luck covers up our bad habits. Unfortunately, good luck always runs out. Let’s not leave the safety of our tenants and employees up to chance; utilize the safety principle of best practice. Common practice is to wait until something breaks or to let the building maintenance person, usually a non-electrician, “take a look” at it. Best practice for an electrical distribution system is to have some sort of energized inspection annually and a de-energized inspection every three to five years. Without implementing these best practices at our workplace, we’re cruising for a bruising. It’s only a matter of time before a major piece of equipment suffers catastrophic failure, and someone can get seriously injured or killed on your watch.

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About Author

Michael Dillard

A Hawaii resident for 22 years, I am a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, Submarines. I am an Electrical Reliability Consultant with American Electric. I am pursuing my Graduate studies with Wayland Baptist University. I am also working on publishing my first self-improvement book this year.

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