Reliability has always been critical for Lucite International (LI). It underpins the relationships with all our customers and has been integral to maintaining long-term, valuable partnerships.

To support our reliability efforts, LI has a continuing partnership with the Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). Victor Foster, Regional Reliability and Predictive/Preventative Maintenance Mechanical Lead, based at our Fite Road site, told us more about this…

“The RMC has been around for around 25 years, and is a research branch of UTK that is self-funded by its 70+ member companies including LI. Its mission is to advance reliability and maintenance education and practices within the academic and industrial communities.

“Member companies like LI can participate for free in two members meetings each year. These are open forums for companies to present on new technologies, best practices and lessons learned implementing reliability at their company.

“The RMC also has an annual public conference called MARCON. This is a 300-500 people conference that prides itself on 80% of all presentations coming from real ‘practitioners’ of reliability, rather than being led by sales or consulting companies.

“We have sent leaders from our plants to training at the members meetings and MARCON events. For some, this was the first time learning about different practices and new technologies that we now have deployed at Fite Road.

Pictured: a talk begins at MARCON 2019

“The other half of the RMC’s work is on the academic side. It offers classes and workshops for students to learn about reliability and is developing a full building dedicated to the study of reliability with interactive labs to represent real chemical plant environments.

“Here, students will be able to use predictive technologies first hand, before summer internships or full-time job placements. This includes infrared survey of electrical connections, ultrasonic to find air leaks or bearing greasing, vibration analysis to predict bearing failures and operator round inspections.

“Students also have the opportunity to sign up for internships over the summer with member companies. They first go through a 40-hour training class during the first week of the internship before they go the company’s location. This way, the student has great new ideas to take to the host company.  This will be the third summer that LI has benefited from this program. These summer internships can then be used to count towards a certificate of Reliability, a Minor in Reliability, or a Masters in Reliability upon graduation.”

Pictured: reliability interns on site in 2018.

What does the future hold with RMC?

“I see us presenting more at the conferences and member meetings. I usually attend all of these and we’re asked to present each year. This allows us to network with companies like Cargill, ExxonMobil, Amazon, Dow Chemical and over 70 more.

“I’m happy to be speaking there in July. I’ll be talking about our Maximo computerized maintenance management system and how we used student internships to make this a very successful implementation.”