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Listen to Episode 108

Welcome Josh Peach as our new podcast host and hear from a returning podcast guest, Paul Lachance, to talk about just how technology has changed and how your team can keep up to speed on all things operations technology. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Josh Peach  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

Grace Flack  
Hey, listeners, welcome to the podcast. This is your producer, Grace. Also, happy 2020! Excited about this new decade, this new year. And with that comes a few changes even around the podcast here. So I would like to officially welcome and introduce you to, if you don't already know him, our new host, Josh Peach.

Josh Peach  
Thank you, Grace. That's your producer extraordinaire, I think is what we refer to you as.

Grace Flack  
You're too kind. So Josh, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're excited about with the podcast this year?

Josh Peach  
Yeah, this is a great endeavor for me. I started doing podcasts a little over a year ago and big fan of the Operate Intelligently podcast. I've been with the Dude for 16 years, so I refer to myself as the 'Dude Dinosaur.' I started in sales in New England. I live just outside of Boston with my fiance and our two kids and menagerie of animals. In the last five year, I became the Dude Evangelist. So I spend most of my life on the road talking to organizations, associations and large groups of people, not just about our solutions, but about you know, mindset, attitude, teamwork, leadership, all the things that people need to establish and go through changes which might be implementing technology. So really excited to share some of my stories, mostly our guests stories, experiences, learning lessons and help those that take care of the places that we live, learn, heal, work and now play.

Grace Flack  
Awesome. Well, thanks again. Welcome, and we'll dive into the episode now. 

Josh Peach  
Awesome. Thanks so much. 

Hello Operate Intelligently podcast listeners. This is Joshua Peach, and this is my first episode hosting the Operate Intelligently podcast and I am excited to be in the Galactic headquarters of Dude Solutions in our new studio and welcoming a seasoned veteran of the Operate Intelligently podcast, Paul Lachance. Paul, welcome to the podcast again. 

Paul Lachance  
Thank you, Josh. It's great to be here. 

Josh Peach  
Yeah. Well, before we get started, let's start with who are you? Where did you come from? And what do you do?

Paul Lachance  
Well, my name is Paul Lachance. I am a member of the team at Dude Solutions, we focus on maintenance technologies, and kind of where's the industry going and what are impacting the day to day lives of our clients? And how can make sure our solutions can cover that?

Josh Peach  
Yeah. And you've been in this industry for a couple minutes.

Paul Lachance  
I'm probably older than the average listener of this podcast. I've been in the CMMS, the maintenance software world going back into the early 90s. So yeah, been around the block a little bit. 

Josh Peach  
Yeah. And your accent is Southern North Carolina or Northern North Carolina?

Paul Lachance  
It's really more Southern Maine, if you really must know. But, I love the great state of North Carolina.

Josh Peach  
Well that's great, love to have a fellow New Englander, I'm just south of Boston, and we're both down here in North Carolina today. And what we're going to talk about for the next couple minutes is changing workforce, and how technology affects it. You know, we were talking a little bit before we started, we were talking about generations, you know, we're talking about most generations in the workforce today and technology really plays into it. We talked about just finding out about, I'm a xenial. You know, which is the birth analog, digital grow up generation. So, we've got all these different folks working today, and the workforce is definitely changing in a bunch of different ways. So, you know, just some statistics so people understand kind of what that means is last year, there were 7.6 million unfilled jobs with only six and a half million looking for it. So there's a million gap. And 80% of Americans agree that there is a skills gap. In the next 10 years is going to be a 10 million person shortfall of workers. One in five Americans will be 65 or older, which I'm really excited to talk about in our next episode of Senior Health living because of the increase of people getting old. And 50% of operations personnel are set to retire. And this is all new, right? This is all new stuff. And big, big time changes all over the place. 

Paul Lachance  
I'm not sure it's new. These people have been, we've all been getting older this whole time. But it's really becoming obvious and you can't even listen to the news much anymore when you hear about the shortage of workers, not only in this economy that we have right now, but there's a lot of people set to retire. I can vividly remember about 10 years ago, 12 years ago, we started just talking about this concept of the aging workforce, with the baby boomers starting to really take over at this management level of organizations maintenance and otherwise. And now they are really getting close to the retirement age. And it's really kind of put all industries kind of upside down a little bit, scrambling to how they can fill these roles. And then you combine that with the technology that's changed. So the shortfall of skilled workers combined with the aging population is really a sort of tsunami of change that we're looking at.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, and then when I was saying new I meant like the numbers, the sheer numbers of the gap all your workers and then when you touch on the technology, the technology has never moved faster. Like I tell people all the time if you want to watch a video that's scary about, you know, kind of how things happen is watch a video called "Shift Happens," go search it on YouTube. I don't know if you've ever seen that, but it's trippy music. And it's from like 2005 or 2006, and it gives statistics like MySpace would have been the 12th largest country if you know if it was an actual country. And we know MySpace isn't around anymore, Facebook and Instagram and all these other platforms have taken over. But the x, the speed in which technology is changing and evolved what they thought back then, which was scary. It's even faster today, which makes it even more I call it interesting and exciting because it can fill some of the gaps of where we're at with the workforce. So let's let's dig in. With the lack of skilled workers, what does contract labor look like in the industry?

Paul Lachance  
Well, when you have fewer people who are in your organization and you're having a hard time filling those roles, you're forced into more contract labor. Contract labor is typically more expensive and maybe not as cohesive with your own workforce. So there's a number of changes that this, this changing workforce makes on organization. So, you know, organizations are struggling to find good skilled workers, with the experience that they need in these in these modern roles, and with the retiring people. So you're looking to other sources, because you still have to do the work. So you lean towards contracting, which is a great stopgap method, but it's not necessarily sustainable. And you might, if you're a for profit industry affect your profitability, or affect your budgets in the public sector. So everybody I think, is scrambling to try to figure out how we're going to cope with these changes. 

Josh Peach  
So in the contract labor piece, too, and one of the things that I find that's important in my experience, I think there's good and bad to everything. But one of the things that I always tell people focus on if you are going to contract out that work, that you should have control of that information. Making sure that you have a tie to that data. You know that history, because you own the building, or you lease the building and the space, the equipment, whatever it is. If you have somebody come in from the outside, you want to make sure that you're capturing everything that they're doing. And so that if they do leave, because that happens a lot, you want to make sure that historical information, that historical life is is with you and not with someone else.

Paul Lachance  
It's an excellent point. And in even things like the reminding of your preventive maintenance, whether it's your own team, or it's a contractor, you still want to be in control and know that that's being properly scheduled. So you know, a good a good software system should help you enable your own staff, along with outside contracting staff as well, and that history and capturing that history regardless who does the work--on staff, staff personnel or contract personnel. It's critical to know that history for sure, I totally agree.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, so you know, I've had a couple conversations lately with regard to technology and I don't know if you've ever seen my LinkedIn picture but I'm holding like a corded phone. I went to an 80s party, and that's a Members-Only jacket I'm wearing too which is pretty slick, but that corded phone was a bag phone, right? So the bag phone was, you probably never had one of those, that was my purse phone I would carry around in the you know, late 80s, early 90s. I use that as a relation, you know, kind of a relatable thing when I talk about technology that evolution that some kids in our workforce today. I mean in here, our youngest employees 21 years old, he was born probably doesn't know much about a bag phone, you know? So I always use that as a relation. Do you have some relations or even the phone that you use?

Paul Lachance  
You are way more cutting-edge than me, and I am older than you. I saw a briefcase phone once, and I actually had to use it to call home. A professor of mine in college had one, and he opened up the briefcase and I looked at the thing, I no idea what it was, and I made a call and he charged me $5. This was back in like 1987. The phone is an excellent example of what's changed as far as technology. I mean, if you want to have some fun just Google it, go on YouTube and look up videos of parents testing their kids to call 911 on a rotary phone. You know the house is going to burn down. But phones is an excellent example of what's happened. We've seen changes in our lifetimes. The first cell phone, the bag phone way it came out in 1983. And it had a price tag at the time of $4,000. In 2012, Apple was selling more than 340,000 iPhones per day. That's four phones every second so obviously the liberation of phones we all know, we all have them, our kids have them, our parents have them, our grandparents have them. Everybody has them. And it's really changed. The technology's changed to the point now we're we rely on these devices to assist us in the maintenance process. But I think that's an excellent example of how in our own eyes all of us have seen how fast something like the phone can change.

Josh Peach
Oh yeah. And what it can do for you. And you know the iPhone, if you use the iPhone as an example, the iPhone 11X is like 1500 bucks, but it can take a picture of the dark and see things that the human eye can't see and all these things. And I had someone that was complaining to me about the cost of it like you say, I can remember my bag phone was like 1000 bucks. And the camcorder that I had that you had to put on your shoulder that was about 1000 bucks and this was this was in the 90s. 

Yeah, you must have been pretty strong. 

Josh Peach  
Oh yeah, you were huge. If you went on vacation, you had your camcorder, you had your bag phone, you had your camera that took pictures with film, you might have had an instant camera that could Kodak or Polaroid that would pop out, you had that that around your neck. You had all these tools. If you want to do math and you weren't good at it, you had to have a calculator in your pocket because your phone couldn't do it, right? So, think about all the things that our phones can do that we take advantage of that just 20 short years ago, you know, you needed to have a trailer attached to your car to bring all those tools with you. I mean, it's just amazing. And it's making the workforce so much better in what they can do. I mean, now you can take that phone, you touched on PM, you can take that phone, walk out to a piece of equipment, snap a picture of it, take, you know, take a screenshot of the plate, take a screenshot of a change. Asbestos, you know, if you check in for asbestos line pipes, making sure that nothing's changed since the six months prior to you went out there, you can take a picture record it, document it, put it all on what's in your pocket. 10-15 short years ago, you couldn't do that. And people don't remember that stuff. We forget about it really quick.

Paul Lachance  
Yeah. Let's say the maintenance operations world has totally changed. You have access to your information, whether you're in the plant or you're in the school or you're in the in the facility or you're on vacation, you can still look up a work order and make sure that that critical work order is being addressed. So yeah, it's changed, it's changed everything.

Josh Peach  
What else is out there that you would give as a kind of interesting, you know, throwback realize, wake up, see what's out there today, thought?

Paul Lachance  
Well, you know, the tools that our maintenance professionals use have dramatically changed. And one good example is the multimeter. Everybody knows what a multimeter is who's in the maintenance world. But the original multimeter, which was called I'm gonna butcher this, it's hard to say, galvanometer. Sorry for you people out there who used those at one point, but probably, it might have been before all of our time, it was invented in 1820. The original one it was the first moving pointer, counter, detector device, what we know as multimeters were invented in the 1920s. And they were invented as radio receivers and other vacuum to the electric devices became more common. And you know, so I'm sure there are people listening this podcast who may remember the analog multimeters. But nowadays, pretty much everybody's using a digital multimeter. So this thing, this device that you probably risk getting shocked when using back in the older times now, completely safe, completely digital, completely automated can send the readings into the cloud. I mean, digital multimeters are an excellent example. A multimeter is not necessarily a complex tool to use, but it is an example of a tool that's pretty dramatically changed and, and it's an example of how today's workforce, you know, you can't get away anymore with these old school tools and have no knowledge of the modern ones. We as a society, as manufacturers for schools or hospitals or municipalities have to make sure that our team knows how to use these new tools. It's very difficult to do our jobs without having that experience.

Josh Peach  
Yeah I mean, I look at some of the tools for, you know, some of the infrared tools that are really cool, obviously, I mean, I'm sure they can attach to your phone for 99 bucks, right?

Paul Lachance  
Oh gosh, yes, thermal cameras. 

Josh Peach  
The ability to see through walls to see you know, air gaps, leaks, roof checks, all those things. I mean, we have all these advancements in our building, our maintenance and tools that we use and the changes that happen. I mean, whenever we're in New England, and I think it's in the same in Maine, but in Massachusetts, you're required after every weather event to do a roof check. That's a requirement that you're supposed to do for any public building. And you know, what do people do? Get a ladder, climb up on the roof, go walk around, check, look, see what's going on. Now, today 450 bucks, you got a drone. You got a thermal cam on it. You blast that thing up, do a scan by, you're all done. No risk. Very low risk. I mean, you could fly the drone into yourself but you know low health risk from you having to get up on a ladder do all this stuff. It's a one man operation technically unless someone holds the ladder while getting somebody up there, doing all that stuff and it's going to be more accurate because those devices are better than the human eye, better than a spot check in any place you go.

Paul Lachance  
Yeah and some of the old-timers will lament they used to do maintenance a lot by your your senses. Did you see things, did you smell things, you feel, you touch, you feel that heat. And nowadays, these things have become automated. And I do believe ultimately it is for the better and more accurate and that data can be delivered quicker and electronically. But you know, those people who are used to walking up on that ladder, who don't know how to fly a drone, we have to and our organizations have to create training and instructions and be able to tie that information back into our technology, our software to capture that information. So yeah, it's a major change.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, you know, you actually touched on something that struck a chord with me, which was the YouTube videos about kids dial in with a rotary phone. You know, there's something to be said about that. And there's something about the lamenting comment. When I owned a spring water delivery business with my father, we had a three by five metal box and had the numbers one through 31 and the letters A through Z. It was a card file system. And you never wanted to open that thing up. You want to have everything in your brain because it's just such a pain in the neck to pull the card, look at the phone number, push the buttons, because we call everybody the night before we made the delivery. And then through osmosis, you're doing that delivery, that's PM delivering water by the way. Your PM for them is making sure they don't get thirsty. Those bottles aren't empty. So you scheduled it perfectly so that you timed it so they didn't have too much there, but they never ran out. Right? But you always memorized all that stuff. And that was one of the things that I fought for a long time was I liked having that information that way because it was in my head and you can get analysis paralysis and you can get overwhelmed thinking with all this information but the reality is it's not just about you, right? Because if I have all this information in my head, and I'm doing a great job, that's fantastic. But what happens when when somebody comes in to take over for me, we never think about that next step. We never think about what happens when I leave, we never want to think that we're going to leave. We like to think that we're immortal, and we're going to be in this place forever, right? But we need to start to leverage and think about all the stuff we have been putting it into technology at some capacity and putting it into that daily use for when I'm sick. 

Paul Lachance  
Or when you retire. I mean, you're leaving a legacy and somebody's going to have to know how to do your job. And if they have to just figure it out on the fly or, whatever. It's way easier if we can capture what you did, how you did it, and then record that information. 

Josh Peach  
Yeah. So Paul, what do you have for some other examples that you can really give some relation to?

Paul Lachance  
HVAC. You look at the way HVAC has evolved. I mean, HVAC and people probably know this because it's gone back since the dawn of time, the original HVAC was hand fans. It's been around forever, you can see in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, but it was the early 1900s where we started to see, we'll just use the air conditioner as as an example here, it started in the early 1900s and created by Willis Carrier, you might know the name Carrier. But you know, these were complicated devices back then. Mechanical, obviously electrical-driven, and there might have been some steam versions I'm not sure, but very expensive, hard to maintain. Well, we don't go anywhere now, especially south of Maine where there isn't an HVAC air conditioning in our day to day lives. And that's an excellent example of a piece of equipment and asset that has gone through a metamorphosis in terms of how we maintain them and the skill set to maintain those things. So back in the day was all over mechanical devices. Now, highly electronic highly digitized IoT sensors on their delivering information. I think it's a good example of if you knew how to maintain air conditioning units in the 60s and 70s, as opposed to today, you've probably been back to school maybe a few times to understand how you maintain them.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, you have to go back to school. It's not just turning the wrench or going and changing the belt and, you know, check the Freon and stuff, there's a lot more to it, there's a lot more pieces and microchips and things involved into it.

Paul Lachance  
And there's direct correlations to improper heating and cooling in a school that will affect the students experience, will affect their grades, so proper maintenance on those devices is essential. And you know, you have to have a system to do that. And you not only have to have a system to do that you have to have the skills to work on it or you're relying on contract labor, which is fine if that's the way your organization runs, but I think it's just a good example of how some of these types of assets have really evolved and the skill set needed to to maintain them.

Josh Peach  
And the work environment. My family's from Brockton. Well, we migrated from Portugal in Madeira the island, an island off the coast of Morocco in the 60s and Brockton was a shoe city capital of the world, small known fact, where shoes were manufactured in Brockton, Massachusetts than anywhere else in the world till they went over to China. And most of my family worked in those factories, and big equipment gets hot. You know, no air conditioning, the work environments compromised. And now today, they go into these manufacturing facilities. And it's comfortable, but you've got these huge, massive pieces of equipment just pumping out, you know, hot air for that equipment to be able to read and engage and make changes. It's got to be pretty intense. You'd have somebody sitting there turning dials, like left and right trying to figure out you know, which one to turn on and turn off but the smart equipments able to do it today for you. 

Paul Lachance  
It's all part of that integrated environment.

Josh Peach  
Yep. So you got any more? One?

Paul Lachance  
One more, you know, the factory and a good segue. You picture that shoe factory, which probably hadn't changed the whole in Brockton going back 100 years. You can picture those black and white photos of like row after row of mechanical devices and people standing there feeding in the raw materials or working it and that's whether you're making shoes or you're making eyeglasses or you're making automobile engines. And then you picture the modern factory. In the modern factory, for better for worse, is largely becoming automated. You still need people to manage this automation, but it's changed the skill sets. We're less reliant on manual labor, we're more reliant on more skilled digital technology related labor workforce. And that's an excellent example of the changing workforce, the skill sets that are needed and that translates to the maintenance operations as well. If you're a maintenance person in that shoe factory in Brockton, you're probably using wrenches and screwdrivers a heck of a lot whereas in the modern era, you're probably interacting more with the digital control system, your digital multimeter, looking at the IoT information, the Internet of Things, those readings and data that are coming off of those assets that can be fed into your CMMS system to tell you when you need to maintain that. So I think it's just an excellent example of this changing workforce and the skill set needs to maintain how these assets happen.

Yeah, you know, one of the things I'll touch on with factories that I've just learned in a couple of tours that I did in the past year, that's fascinating to me, is, when we're talking about things that we have to know, if you walk into a factory that makes you know, a widget of some sort, you might walk in and be like, what's that smell, you don't think too much of it. It's just the factories making stuff, doing things. But today, because of all of the environmental impact that they've been able to find out over the last hundred years., these factories have to have all this equipment to take that air and clean it or take the water that they use and make sure that it's filtered properly so it doesn't run off into the local brook that goes into the city. All this technology that ties into it that can read and smell and sniff that goes beyond what our nose, eyes and ears can do, which is amazing stuff that I see. Then generating those reports to make sure that they're doing the work and changing those filters. The air quality is the big one that I saw that they have to make sure that they're maintaining those filters and that equipment to make sure that their employees are breathing clean air while they're making some of the best.

Paul Lachance  
Probably a little different than back in the days when your family was working in a shoe factory. And it's better for our people, better for our workforce. The technology is there. It's just a matter of understanding and learning how to use it is evident of the changes that we're seeing for the better.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, how can teams evolve instead of falling behind here and what are some of the opportunities that operations professionals have for trainings, you know, today?

Paul Lachance  
Yeah, that's the thing is if you're part of an organization that is recognizing these changes, you have to start embracing concept of the mentorship for the aging workforce, mentorship, apprenticeship, you've got a lot of younger people with five generations theoretically, and I'm not even going to try to name the them.

Josh Peach  
Six, if you use microgenerations.

Paul Lachance  
Okay, you want to micro Gen? And you have a lot of wide range of people that you as an organization have to figure out ways where you're going to be able to capture the the knowledge and the experience of the the older workforce, because they've got amazing things that they can give. They want to leave their legacy. You've got to capture that so shadowing and mentorship and apprenticeship and so forth. On the other side of the spectrum for the changing workforce, we have to make sure that our aging workforce, who are still there and probably will be there for a while because people are working longer than ever. They understand how to use a mobile device to create a work order that ends up in their CMMS. Or how to use a thermal camera or things that were just not at all on their radar for the first 40 years that they worked at that company and now they're having to figure out how to do that. So whether it's through partnership programs in your community college system or if there's degrees in getting this stuff for the people are coming out of school or you organically do it within your own building, but you've got to figure out a way as an organization, to teach your team how they're going to work in this new environment. 

Josh Peach  
Paul, really appreciate you coming on. I'd love to have you again. This is a great first episode for me to host to have a seasoned veteran like yourself to kind of guide the path here. And a great conversation, want to talk more about the micro generations next time, we're gonna do some research.

Paul Lachance  
Thanks for having me, Josh. It was fun. 

Josh Peach  
Appreciate it. And that'll do it. Thank you so much and have yourself a great day. 

Thanks for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
 

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