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Key Insights (Funny & Inspirational) from Your Peers at Virtual Dude University 2021

Grace Flack
  • Jun 22, 2021
  • 4 minutes

VDU client insights

At our recent Virtual Dude University conference, we got to hear from so many amazing clients. In fact, one-third of the sessions at the two-day event were client-led. 

Your operations professional peers are doing some amazing work, even in the midst of tight budgets, workforces and changing environments.

So, what type of wisdom did they share that could help you in your 2021 operations? 

Let’s start with the fun stuff!

Funniest work orders

We asked attendees to share their funniest work orders during the event. And we dare you to read through this list without cracking up: 

  • “Was asked by a resident to turn off the sun.”
  • “Moose on the loose: Staff members were trapped in a parking deck due to moose being in the way.”
  • “They wanted us to dispatch snowplows because we pushed snow the wrong way.”
  • “That a mouse almost ran over a teacher. Luckily, she avoided the collision.”
  • “Installing a mechanism to automatically lower a toilet seat.”

Those sure are good for a laugh. We also had clients share a number of inspiring stories about how their operations have changed and how they’re preparing for the future.

How these three clients are future-proofing

Now, let’s highlight some of the key insights and wins that a few client speakers shared on technologies and processes that have made a huge difference in their operations.

Jim Welsh, Global Manufacturing Engineer at TekniPlex—Moving from reactive to predictive

Jim Welsh at TekniPlex shared how their organization has used new systems and technology to change their reactive maintenance culture to a proactive and predictive one.

The challenge

“Four years ago, we started on a journey to move away from a break-fix culture and move into more of a preventive maintenance and eventually condition-based maintenance with one common goals – to reduce the unplanned downtime,” Jim said.

At that time, 70% of their maintenance workload was reactive.

The solution

Using their Tekni Management Operating System, they have a common framework for operations to have a common problem-solving approach.

In 2020, they implemented a Clean and Check program and adapted total productive maintenance (TPM) practices with operator involvement, coordinate operations and maintenance scheduling and integrated engineer support.

“With the weekly running checks, we were able to integrate some new approaches.”

They’re even moving to using a predictive maintenance model.

“What we’re working toward is automating it so the data comes off the machine, moves in to Asset Essentials™, and we can get the trends and reports.”

With the TPM approach, they’ve also seen better outcomes from operators.

Since we got the operators more involved in maintenance, we find that the machines run better because they have a deeper understanding of the how the machines run.

Rick Cullen, Property Director at Fon du Lac Family YMCA— Saving big with energy management

Rick Cullen of Fon du Lac Family YMCA taught a session on why energy management is important.

The challenge

He said even though many operations professionals see energy and utility costs as a fixed cost, “wedo have control over energy usage & costs.”

In fact, at their YMCA, they have seen 20% savings since 2011.

“It doesn’t matter the size of your facilities, if you can knock something off on the cost per square foot, the savings can be substantial,” Rick said.

The solution

From 2011-2019, they have lowered their total gas and electric cost by $274,000.

“The reason we were able to get such big savings in 2020 was from those lessons that we learned in our years prior to that,” Rick said. 

He says it’s all about understanding how you operate a facility. “A facility needs to be operated, and there are many opportunities for savings.” 

He also shared his tips for how to see energy savings, including:

  • Make a commitment
  • Establish a goal for savings (10, 20, 30%)
  • Form an energy team
  • Get buy-in from upper management
  • Create and implement an action plan

Aaron Smith, Business Intelligence Program Manager at Washoe County — Smarter asset & risk management

When it comes to asset management, Aaron Smith of Washoe County, NV said their area has had so much growth that it was becoming a challenge to manage utilities.

The challenge

“We reached a tipping point about five years ago where it was impossible for each department’s asset managers to be able to maintain their maintenance plans without a formal asset management software.”

Things grew so quickly in their department that there was no way for one person to know everything about an asset. And even if they did, what if they retired or left? That’s where they started using software to solve this issue.

The solution

Now, Aaron said they use Asset Essentials + GIS to help them better understand risk and maximize the value of each taxpayer’s dollar when it comes to utilities and infrastructure. They do this through a digital twin, which is basically a simplified version of a physical system modeled in computers.

“It’s a way of understanding and modeling the factors that influence asset reliability, so we can act on that information.”

With GIS routing, they can optimize routes and maximize efficiency. This also helps them better assess and address asset risk.

“With our overall risk scores, we can visually see where our risk lies and create capital plans to mitigate and limit that risk. We turn this analysis into actionable information,” Aaron said.

In addition, Aaron said his crew adds efficiencies by using tablets to track what is going on, where and document with photos, etc. to put good information back into the system.

Inspired yet?

We hope you’ve found some inspiration from the stories and experiences shared and that you can start planning how you will share the wins you’ve had in 2021, too.

Catch up on other insights from Virtual Dude University 2021 on our blog and make sure you prepare to attend next year!

Interested in learning about how our software works for you?

Or want to ask a question?

Contact Us
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