At our latest Pump Guy Seminar, I got to chatting with one of the attendees to get his perspective on the content of the training. While he said the material covered was very good and would certainly be helpful to him in his role—he was a maintenance tech—it was also a frustrating reinforcement of something he already knew.
Now I’ve attended every Pump Guy Seminar since we started presenting the training in 2007, and what I heard from this fellow was something I’ve heard from attendees many times before. In fact, I’d say most of my conversations with technicians at the seminar revolve around this telling detail …
“What is said detail?”, you ask. Well, before I tell you that, let me tell you a bit more about the content of the training and how my conversations with the engineers typically go.
Larry Bachus (“The Pump Guy”) presents the Pump Guy Seminar training on the principle that pump problems are the result of improper maintenance, improper operation, improper design, and/or improper application. He points out that while folks tend to blame the equipment for failures, the root cause more typically can be traced back to people problems. This premise tends to put the attendees back on their heels a bit, which serves to prepare them—particularly the engineers—for what comes next.
Upon establishing the “people problems” point of view, Larry then makes the case that the next recipient of blame for pump problems (following the equipment) is typically the maintenance technician, who gets blamed for everything from not installing the mechanical seals correctly to improper alignment, etc., etc. However, Larry asserts that, in his experience, many problematic pumps are the product of improper design and/or application. Further, he says, poorly instructed operators also contribute significantly to pump problems. These issues point back to engineering, which is directly responsible for the design and application of the pumping system and, at a minimum, indirectly responsible for making sure the operators know how to properly “drive” the pumping system.
You can imagine how the engineers respond to this assertion, particularly when the message is delivered with the gusto Larry always seems to muster up.
Now, back to that “telling detail” that so frustrated the mechanic I was speaking to at our last Pump Guy Seminar. The point this fellow was upset about was that he spends day after day repairing and re-installing the same pumps into the same service only to have to pull them back out of service and go through the cycle again. He knows the system needs to be redesigned or a different pump needs to be specified, but the engineers either don’t ask for his input or won’t listen to his suggestions.
Certainly, not all engineers are guilty in this way, but my conversations with many techs during my years at the Pump Guy Seminar lead me to believe that this scenario happens in more cases than it should.
Smart engineers (and managers) know that the best thing they can do for their business is empower the folks who work under them to provide feedback on how processes and systems can be improved. Even smarter engineers proactively seek ideas for process/system improvement from the folks who work under them. And the smartest of all engineers actually take the time to process and initiate improvements based on the recommendations they receive.
Too often decision-makers choose to lead from the top down when it seems to me that leading from the bottom up is the only way to ensue the business is based on a strong foundation. I welcome your feedback on this issue; you can email at the below address.
Thanks for your readership,
— Matt Migliore, Director of Content