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Episode 11

Lean Maintenance Processes to Bridge the Gap between People and Machines

with Alex Abraham P.Eng., PMP of Lean Success Partners

Alex Abraham is an independent lean industrial engineer and the CEO of Lean Success Partners in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he helps organizations with successful implementation, maintenance and continuous improvement of software solutions for business processes (ERPs), maintenance management and safety management. Mike Petrusky asks Alex about his consulting philosophy and how he advises clients in the world of asset management to bridge that gap between people and machines. Mike and Alex offer inspirational quotes, music and the information needed to help you make the most of the opportunities in the marketplace today.

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abrahamalex/

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/

Learn more about the iOFFICE Asset Division and explore more interviews at: https://www.assetchampion.com/

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com

Read the full transcript:

Alex Abraham (00:02):

This is an opportunity. This is the time when people are not slammed and this is the right time to do an assessment and take this talk of the things, just have an open mind and take this talk or for your assets and see the performance over the last few years in terms of even cost.

Mike (00:21):

This is the Asset Champion Podcast, where we talk with facilities, maintenance, and asset management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by the iOffice asset division, delivering easy to use maintenance management software tools to help you drive powerful asset performance.

            Hey everybody, and welcome to the show. My name is Mike. This is episode 11 of the Asset Champion Podcast, and I have another great interview for you today. My guest is Alex Abraham of Lean Success Partners up in Canada, where he is an independent lean industrial engineer, and now a consultant applying his years of experience in the world of asset management, helping organizations with successful implementation, maintenance and continuous improvement of software solutions and processes for maintenance management. We had a really interesting, and in some ways surprising conversation, I just know you enjoy it. When you hear Alex share his favorite quote and the song that inspires him most. I just love asking about music and it is always fun to hear the unexpected responses that I certainly get some times to that question and Alex did not disappoint, so let's get right to it.

            Calling in on the asset champion hotline, another guest from Winnipeg. I am pleased to welcome Alex Abraham to the show. Hi Alex.

Alex Abraham (01:58):

Hello Mike.

Mike (01:59):

Thanks for being here.

Alex Abraham (02:00):

My pleasure.

Mike (02:01):

Alex is the CEO of Lean Success Partners based in Manitoba, Canada. And Alex you have a long history in the world of asset management in different industries, and now you're a consultant, right? This is a new venture for you.

Alex Abraham (02:01):

Yes.

Mike (02:18):

Tell me about it. It says you're an independent lean industrial engineer. So what does that mean exactly?

Alex Abraham (02:26):

I put independent in LinkedIn because I'm not attached to a company at the moment. So if you hired me, you can have a single person, not a company.

Mike (02:35):

I see.

Alex Abraham (02:36):

And that's not just one idea. Another idea about independent is that I use the systems view practical holistic view rather than a certain path like this method, that method, or any other method. Being that I look at a particular company or a method. So independent means you have the independence to do things scientifically. So this other two components, so independence and the industrial engineering is, I am an engineer of course a professional engineer, mechanical course, graduate engineer with a lot of experience in a number of industries, but I'm a specialist in industrial engineering practices for over 20, 25 years.

Mike (03:17):

Very good.

Alex Abraham (03:18):

Processes and systems and so on.

Mike (03:21):

Excellent. And I also noticed Alex that like my very first guest, Suzanne Greenman, your accent doesn't sound like it's a Canadian accent to me. Where are you from originally?

Alex Abraham (03:33):

I was born in India.

Mike (03:35):

Great.

Alex Abraham (03:35):

A number of years ago, about 25 years ago, I left India but I worked in middle East Africa and so on. So not totally Canadian, but last 10 years I been in Canada and may have picked up some accent, but not hundred percent.

Mike (03:50):

So when you go back to visit family and friends in other parts of the world, do you say 'eh' at the end of your sentences.

Alex Abraham (03:54):

I tend to say that nowadays.

Mike (04:00):

That's great. I would love to be a fly on the wall for those conversations. Very cool, very cool.

Alex Abraham (04:05):

Interesting.

Mike (04:06):

Well, Alex this show is not just about asset management. It's also a place for some inspiration and a little fun. Do you have a favorite motivational quote you could share with our audience today.

Alex Abraham (04:18):

Yeah definitely. I'm a part philosopher too, somebody described me as a philosopher engineer.

Mike (04:24):

Oh good, you should add that to your LinkedIn profile.

Alex Abraham (04:27):

I like that actually. So I would say inspirational quote, one of them I like is from Alice in Wonderland. It says "where should they go?." And then the answer is interesting. It is "If you don't know where you're going, then any road will take you there." So that kind of, it looks like a good quote.

Mike (04:49):

Interesting.

Alex Abraham (04:50):

Yeah, I like that.

Mike (04:51):

Wow. I've done over 200 interviews, Alex, and that's the first time Alice in Wonderland has been referenced. So you're breaking new ground. I love it. I love it.

Alex Abraham (05:02):

Oh thank you.

Mike (05:03):

So tell me what that means to you. What else did you get from that quote?

Alex Abraham (05:07):

The number of things that are truly coming together on that one, because people seem to be in a hurry. Okay. People say they are slammed. It used to be the word we hear before the COVID. Oh, I'm slammed they'd have no time.

Mike (05:22):

Slammed.

Alex Abraham (05:23):

Exactly, so what are the busy with them when they suddenly COVID hit people realize, oh I was slammed for the wrong reasons. And that's kind of the metaphor for the Alice in Wonderland quote, if you're not sure of where you're going, I mean you may be really busy, but it's only because you don't really know where you want to go. And that applies to any situation in my experience. How you'll game plan or planning before you do things and putting it down on paper or at least having a team collaborate with you on that plan. That's very important. Lots of times people don't do that. It's interesting to notice that, big or small companies, all of them are the same. The processes have not holistic. We tend to put down fires, we tend to get slammed or like to get slammed. And so that's, that's why I like it.

Mike (06:21):

Very insightful. Yeah. That's very descriptive of the reactive world we've been living in, especially these last several months. And certainly I think I'm finding now is the time to shift to a more proactive phase of our life during a pandemic. And we need to be thinking through the longer term view because we're going to be in this situation for quite some time. It seems so I'll look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on that. But before we get too far, I also like to ask about music. Are you a fan of music? And if so, what are you listening to?

Alex Abraham (06:53):

Yeah, I listened to some simple inspirational songs and so on. So one of the things that I can point out now is from the movie called Top Gun.

Mike (07:04):

Oh yeah. Back in my teen years during the eighties.

Alex Abraham (07:08):

Yeah. So many songs in that. And one of them "Highway to the Dangerous Zone."

Mike (07:21):

Kenny Loggins "Highway to the Danger Zones."

Alex Abraham (07:26):

Exactly, right.

Mike (07:27):

So why did that hit you? When does that, why does that get you excited?

Alex Abraham (07:31):

That also combines with my idea about people and processes. You will sit, sit in their process, but the people part is really important. Tom Cruise in that movie is a person with a higher caliber than usual. And you set a process for the average people. And then you would say, this is a dangerous zone and you should not go there and that's a rule you know.

Mike (07:31):

Right.

Alex Abraham (07:58):

What if you are competent and you want to try the game yourself, and that's the personal thing. So this is a man and machine competing and that's really a heavy racing experience for me. Tom cruise would, could hit it and try it and win. So that would be kind of inspiration for any human being to challenge the danger zone.

Mike (08:19):

That's a good one. I love that a lot and I've never heard it put in business terms that way. Certainly it's a favorite of mine, a big fan of the eighties. That's a great song. It gets me fired up every time. But if I stop and think about the lyrics and some of the things they talk about, heading out into the edges of things and always where I burned to be, further on the edge, the hotter, the intensity. So it's about taking risk and challenging ourselves. And that's certainly a worthy message for this podcast. So thanks for sharing.

Alex Abraham (08:50):

Yeah, thank you.

Mike (08:51):

Do you have a favorite business book or a leader that's influenced your career?

Alex Abraham (08:54):

Yeah, certainly a number of business leaders have influenced me. One of them that has a lean consultant, I would say all the Toyota company but the lean enterprise at the time or all the people.

Mike (09:08):

The Toyota way is what it was called.

Alex Abraham (09:10):

Yeah, Toyota way [inaudible 00:09:13] most people. But I like the new challenges like Elon Musk as a business leader, I would look to Leon Musk and as he has inspired me a lot, because my carrier also started with space.

Mike (09:26):

Oh, wow.

Alex Abraham (09:26):

And I'm truly, really inspired by Elon Musk, successes and accomplishments. And there was of course a book about him.

Mike (09:35):

Several, I think, but I'm not sure if he approves of them all, but they have written about him a lot. And I am certainly interested in watching his career and how he pushes the boundaries and challenges the industry to do things differently. And I find that very inspiring as well. Well, let's get into the topic of asset management. And as you may know, I am relatively new to this industry. I've been familiar with the term asset management, but I'm learning in these early episodes of the podcast that it's a broad, very vast industry in many different applications. How would you define it? And what do you like to focus on when it comes to this profession?

Alex Abraham (10:14):

Yeah, thank you. So asset management is about taking care of assets and assets are anything that you want or the physical asset, like a software as an asset, or even human beings as assets. We don't realize that sometimes.

Mike (10:28):

Yeah. One of my guests said people are an organization's greatest asset.

Alex Abraham (10:32):

Right. So these are all assets now. And asset management means how do you manage these things so that you maximize the potential out of life and potential out of it, maximize the life, minimize the cost of maintenance, maximize the output and maximize the happiness, if its people. So it applies to people as well as to the machines and software and all kinds of interesting logistics. So that's basically asset management.

Mike (11:00):

And you have this holistic view where you do seem to have an expertise around machines and an interest in artificial intelligence. Speak to that a little bit for us.

Alex Abraham (11:09):

So let's take a little comment at that. People think artificial intelligence is going to solve everything for us. We had actually learning that it's not so at least now.

Mike (11:20):

Okay.

Alex Abraham (11:20):

This COVID is a scenario where we realize the limitations of artificial intelligence, we have no clue about lots of things. So that's one, one point I wanted to say. The other thing I wanted to say is asset management and the data, data management is very important. Isn't it? So.

Mike (11:38):

Right.

Alex Abraham (11:38):

How do you tie all this data and then use data with artificial intelligence or an artists the next choice, but having data is definitely important. And data used to be conventionally, in at least in asset management, it's used to be people. You would have a maintenance department and they will do all the data associated with the maintenance of the machines and software and so on. And people who use it, use the machines of software, there would be a different department. So they have no idea about the machines or what goes on.

Mike (12:13):

Right.

Alex Abraham (12:14):

And this used to be the conventional system. And so there's a lot of opportunity to bring these two together, bring people and machines together. And whether you want to really go to artificial intelligence or not is a different question, but definitely there's a case for bringing the data and people together for the best benefits [inaudible 00:12:40].

Mike (12:41):

It sounds interesting. So how do we do that, Alex? I know it's a big question and we can't solve the world's problems here in 20 minute podcasts, but what are your thoughts when it comes to the COVID pandemic and the fact that that's disrupted the world and the marketplace today, what would you say are the biggest trends in the market and how can we align human beings with machines to address some of these concerns?

Alex Abraham (13:07):

So there's a communist actually kind of divided the history, in my opinion, into a before COVID and after COVID BCAC type of thing. We are reevaluating situations here. Asset management is a very nascent technology. Like all the [inaudible 00:13:29] resources programs, We Are Peace came into the scene about 10, 20 years ago in a big way. People thought that was going to revolutionize everything. So that basically started with the people managing businesses with a pen and paper account books and so on to computerization, basically starting with accounting and then with all the business practices. So SAP and Oracle and so on where the bigger companies, they became very big about 20 years ago and people thought that's going to revolutionize everything. But then 20 years later right now we see the limitations. And then one of the things that it was left out in that process of utilization was the asset management unfortunately.

            Even right now, most of the asset management is done without computerized the technique. When it's really simple and easy and cheap to do that, people don't really do that. And that's one of the major challenges. I would say that challenge that separates us from a before COVID after COVID one thing to think about is what are best practices for asset management today? How much of computerization do we use? Is that really helping us? These are the questions to ask, to bring asset management into the next level of post COVID connectivity. So that's my thought on that.

Mike (14:58):

So you would say that even today that the majority of the organizations you deal with don't have even a CMMS system at their disposal.

Alex Abraham (15:07):

Exactly. Yeah. That's the thing. Most companies, you may be surprised, even companies that have the money and big companies, they don't invest in CMMS. I would say it's partly ignorance. They may have very highly paid, costly software, but no CMMS. And that's a sad situation. It's the knowledge that has to percolate down to the asset managers. I worked a number of companies where they don't use any of that. And in some companies they use it, but really suboptimally. And that's the change that I like to see there.

Mike (15:40):

So what would you tell asset managers listening to us today? The value of investing in some technology tools, whether it's a CMMS or EAM system, there all types of softwares out there from simple to very complex and integrated. So how do you evaluate what's right for your organization and are there other technologies out there that they should be looking at these days?

Alex Abraham (16:06):

Yeah, definitely. I would say, first of all, this is an opportunity. This is the time when people are not slammed and this is the right time to do an assessment of the machines and all the assets and take this talk of the thing. So we just have an open mind and take this talk off where your assets and see the performance over the last few years in terms of even costs. To what extent did you spend on maintenance or in terms of lost hours of productivity? If you can make a simple analysis of all that, and then compared with a different scenario where all these things may not have been necessarily at all. And that would be a huge saving in cost. And that's possible if you do a certain, like I said, the Alice in Wonderland type of story I come back to, is putting in place a system where the processes are tied into a system, not necessarily complete. Not saying you can even start with this checklist, a simple invole the people type of thing.

Mike (16:06):

Sure a strategy.

Alex Abraham (17:18):

A strategy right. Make a strategy and then see how it goes. I mean, it doesn't cost a lot. And if you find it's advantages to use computer for them, definitely they will find that advantage and then adopt a simple, cheaper technologies to start with and see the benefits. And then you can go forward.

Mike (17:37):

Prove the ROI.

Alex Abraham (17:38):

Exactly. So that's how I would say they should approach it because it's not having a negative view about, Oh, I don't want anything else I got everything here. And that's the attitude thing and that's not right. And we have to examine ourselves, make an assessment in terms of the cost. And that would be a starting point.

Mike (17:59):

Great stuff. Really good. Thank you so much, Alex. This has been great. I've enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for being on the Asset Champion Podcast.

Alex Abraham (18:07):

Thank you, Mike. It was my pleasure.

Mike (18:10):

There you go. Folks, Alex Abraham sharing just a few of his ideas about the world of asset management while also offering some great inspiration and insights based on his years of expertise and experience as a lean engineer. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

            And if you'd like to hear more interviews like this one, please head over to Apple podcasts and search Asset Champion. And while you're there, why not leave a rating and a short review about the show. That would be awesome. I certainly would appreciate it. And you can also check the show notes for this episode where you'll find a link to connect you with Alex. Please reach out to him, let him know you heard him on the podcast. I am sure he would love to hear from you as I would always love hearing from listeners. If you have any comments for me or suggestions about the show, you can email me directly podcast @ iOFFICECorp.com is the address. And I always do my best to respond to all messages from listeners because hey we're here for each other on this journey together to encourage and inspire you to be an asset champion. Peace out.

            You've been listening to the Asset Champion Podcast. We hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to elevate asset management success by improving efficiency, reducing costs and building best practices. For more information about how the iOffice asset division can boost the performance of your physical assets by providing comprehensive enterprise asset management software solutions, please visit AssetChampion.com.