Podcast Masterminds in Maintenance

Episode 25: Understanding the Difference Between Maintenance and Operations with Gary Rigdon

Ryan Chan

On this week’s episode of Masterminds in Maintenance, we welcome Gary Rigdon, maintenance and reliability SME, on the show! In this episode, Gary explains the key differences between maintenance and operation, and shares his amazing journey into the maintenance and reliability industry. Listen today!

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00:06 Ryan Chan: Welcome to Masterminds in Maintenance. A podcast for those with new ideas in maintenance. I’m your host, Ryan, I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. Each week I’ll be meeting with a guest who’s had an idea for how to shake things up in the maintenance and reliability industry. Sometimes the idea failed, sometimes it made their business more successful and other times their idea revolutionized an entire industry. Today, I’m super excited, we’ve got Gary Rigdon on the show. Gary has over 42 years of experience working in the oil and gas upstream industry in various technical and management roles. Now, he’s working as maintenance and reliability SME with all industries. He’s a strong passionate leader for helping organizations in their assest management journey to help improve equipment, reliability, and reduce maintenance costs. Welcome to the show, Gary, I’m super looking forward to our conversation today.

00:52 Gary Rigdon: Well, thank you, Ryan, and I am super glad to meet with you today. And I really appreciate you taking the time to just visit with me. I really love the inroads that UpKeep… The UpKeep team is doing and making in the maintenance and reliability field. And I’ve been kinda following you guys on LinkedIn, so you guys are doing some awesome, awesome things, and again, thanks for having me with you today.

01:13 RC: Of course, Gary. I think this is gonna be such an exciting opportunity to speak with you and learn from all of your experiences. So the way that I’d love to start this off is, maybe you could just start off by sharing a little bit of more about your background, and how you got started in this field of maintenance and reliability?

01:31 GR: Yeah, just over 42 years in the industry. So, I was actually an aviation electrician’s man in the US Navy, so that was where I got my formal training. Perhaps you and maybe some of our listeners, if you’ve ever been down to Long Beach, California, where the Queen Mary is, what look like condominiums, they are actually drilling rigs. So, I was just looking for a job out of the Navy and he said, “Hey, they’ve got an opening.” I applied for it and got it. I went to work on the PM Crew, and then they had an opening for an electrician on one of the Islands, so things worked out good, and so, I was able to move up in Marshall Institute who I am working with now as a contract consultant. And then I spent some time in operations, so I actually supervised some operators. So I guess my point here Ryan is, through my background was getting to work in both maintenance and operations, you know, as we always called operations the dark side.


02:24 GR: And operations is calling us over in maintenance the dark side, ’cause we’re not working together, right, and we need to be, and that’s really what maintenance and reliability is all about. We’ve got to work together to really ensure the reliability of our equipment. After 42-plus years there, it was like, I wanna… It was a good time to retire from the company, but I wasn’t really ready to hang it up, so to speak. So, I really began to look at how can I continue to help those in the industry? And so that kinda brings us into our present day. So we’ve gotta understand the value of why we need to have processes to get these developed, train, we want consistency. We want people working together and we all have to take ownership. And quite frankly, it was a new thing for the folks there on the oil islands and onshore as well. We’re so used to doing things just to survive.

03:12 RC: Absolutely, what a positive story to share, Gary. Working in the industry for 42 years, saying, you wanna continue this educational content, and take all of the experiences that you learned throughout the years and share it with others, bring that into this consulting realm. I mean, what a positive, positive story. I know that we talked briefly about the difference between maintenance and operations, I’d love to dig a little bit deeper into this topic. And so, I guess from your standpoint, Gary, where do you see the major differences between maintenance and operations and where do you see the biggest pitfalls that cause this misalignment between maintenance and operations?

03:53 GR: Well, I don’t care if you’re producing oil and gas, if you’re making widgets, making food products, it’s all the same issues, and we’ve always got this, we’re not working together. We’re all working hard, [chuckle] and we come out at the end of the day, we feel beat up, what did we get done today? But we’re all trying to do our best, but we’re not working together. It’s all about seeing others succeed and helping them. Ryan, you’ve probably heard this before, but in most organizations, in many organizations, maintenance is really the necessary evil. We’re there to fix things when it breaks. And I mean, really oftentimes, and it’s just people not being educated to understand the value, the value of doing proper maintenance. And so, they try and minimize oftentimes those maintenance activities and so, yeah, we don’t have a fighting chance, but yet we’re getting blamed when it breaks. So, they have operations, they’re just running the equipment, we’re trying to keep stuff running, not having that understanding of the value of proper maintenance and how that equates to increasing, improving the reliability of the equipment.

04:52 RC: What are some practical steps that we can all take to bridge the gap between these two departments?

04:57 GR: So what I’d like to say is, we’ve gotta have a shared philosophy on how we will operate and maintain our equipment.

05:06 RC: So Gary, I’m curious, how would you… What are the goals that align the operations and maintenance departments?

05:14 GR: So operation’s philosophy, okay? I always like to say, they are the owners of that equipment, they’re the ones operating it, they really are responsible. Now, they’ve gotta be trained, okay, they have to understand their role. And they have to accept that responsibility. It’s your equipment guys, you’re gonna run… You’re responsible for the continual good condition of the equipment. Okay, maintenance, we’ll maintain it. We’ve gotta agree Ryan, on our philosophy of maintenance. What level do you want us to maintain it at? Like new? Fine. Let’s set up our strategy for that. Or do we want it to measure with plant operation strategy? Again, we’ve gotta be working together.

05:55 RC: It sounds like it’s all about setting the right expectations.

05:58 GR: Right expectations, yes, yes.

06:00 RC: After being in the industry for the past 45 years, I’m curious, what’s one thing you wish more people knew about the maintenance and reliability industry?

06:09 GR: Maintenance can’t do it on our own. So often Ryan, organizations, companies, they’re looking to maintenance, to ensure the reliability of that equipment.

06:19 RC: So it’s not just a single department, this is an entire company.

06:23 GR: No.

06:23 RC: What’s one of your favorite books to read and learn from?

06:27 GR: Oh Ryan, that’s a great question. So I do love to read books. [chuckle] The first one is by Ramesh Gulati, it’s Maintenance and Reliability Best Practices. It’s a well-known book. Dr. John Ross has just recently in the last couple of years… He wrote last year a book called The Reliability Excellence Workbook, and it’s a lot of the stuff that Gulati touches on in his book. But he makes… He brings it to life as far as how you implement this. The other one, he just wrote it, it just came out at the end of the year, Cover Your Assets. [chuckle] Yeah, Cover Your Assets with two dollar signs for the S-es by the way, asset management at your pace… At your place and at your pace. And I’m going through that one right now, but it’s really all about asset reliability and a lot of stuff we’re talking about today.

07:12 RC: I’ll definitely have to check that book… Those three books out, Gary, thank you for all those recommendations.

07:18 GR: You bet. You bet.

07:18 RC: You know, Gary for all of our listeners what are all the different ways they could connect with you and continue on learning about your journey in the asset management space that looks like it’s not over yet?


07:30 GR: No sir. [chuckle] Yeah, we’re just plugging away down that journey. Of course, I am on LinkedIn, and so, people can find me on there, Gary Rigdon, [email protected], so that’s B-O-A-T G-U-Y, the number four and then ever, E-V-E-R @gmail.com. Ring till I like boats. [laughter] That’s been one of my passion for off the job, but [email protected]

07:55 RC: Awesome, well thank you so much again Gary for joining us and thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in to today’s Masterminds and Maintenance. My name is Ryan Chan, I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. You can also connect with me, I’m very active on LinkedIn or email me directly. It’s [email protected] Until next time.

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