Thomas Wilk with Endeavor Business Media

On this week's Industrial Talk we're onsite at Xcelerate 23 in Orlando, FL and talking to Thomas Wilk, Editor in Chief, Endeavor Business Media about “Keeping current and reporting on the rapidly changing world of reliability”. Get the answers to your “reliability” questions along with Tom's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2023. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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Welcome to the Industrial Talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hardhat, grab your work boots,


and let's go. Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining Industrial Talk. And thank you very much for your continued support. We are building a platform on industrial platform and ever expanding industrial platform that is dedicated to industrial professionals all around the world because you're bold, you're brave, you're daring greatly. You're solving problems, you're collaborating, you're making the world a better place, why not celebrate you, and that's why this platform is dedicated to you. We are also if you can tell by the noise in the background, Xcelerate 23 is our location, Orlando, Florida. Now, it is brought to you by those wonderful people called Fluke Reliability. You know them you heard of them. Great company with great people passionate about helping you succeed, reach out to them go out and find out more about Fluke Reliability and the hotseat Tom Wilk, plant services, services or surface services surfaces. I gotta get that magazine. He's in the hot seat. Let's get cracking. He's also here at Xcelerate 23 By the way, put that on your calendar, Xcelerate 24 I don't have a date. I just know it's next year. Hey, Tom. Well,


hi, how you doing Scott? Oh, man,


no complaints. And I guarantee you wouldn't like to listen to my complaining. Or yeah, having a good conference. Yeah, it's been


a hell of a week. It's been an active week, my brains fall. And I think tomorrow I'm going to rest easy and process all that I've been learning this week.


Okay. So with that said, because your your Tom with Plant Services Magazine right here. It's on my notes, so I'm not going to ever forget about it. Give us a little background into Tom and why you're such an incredible professional.


All right. Well, I'm a lifelong technical communicator. I've had several jobs in this field. I taught for about 10 years at Ohio State University Teaching running classes to engineering students that use a buckeye. Yeah, you know, it's the first question I had when I tell folks where I was going to teach was can you get us Michigan tickets.


But I got something for you just one second.


And then moved into that job to a job with an environmental contractor who worked with the government to help clean up Army and Navy bases before they were sold back to the public. And what I did was work with the fields, tech technicians, they would they would collect all the data on contaminants in the soil and groundwater are things like leaking gasoline tanks underground, things like dirty sediments in in a in a naval lagoon. They bring back those numbers to me. And I would write the reports that would help explain what was in the soil and groundwater for a more public audience, the state, the Feds and local community boards.


Those sites aren't what one step below a Superfund site on some of them.


Some of them were some of them weren't. We had an exciting situation in San Francisco Bay one time where the boat that we were on was taking a sediment core. And they drilled the core down to the sediment, they brought it back up and instantly all the Geiger counters in the boat went crazy. Oh way it turns out that was a location where a lot of ships coming back from atomic testing in the 50s had there had the paint sandblasted off and just settled in the lagoon and it was an official state secret. So most of that, honestly, was was a lot of underground gasoline tanks, which has just gotten rusty in the corners over the decades of use and developed rust holes. And slowly would leak little plumes of gasoline. And we had to help them find out what's going into an aquifer wasn't heading into a residential area, how harmful was it, that sort of thing?


I think that that's a cool story. I like that. And I'm glad you're doing it. That that works still going on. Right?


It is it is. And the nice thing is that it was a good training ground for me in the language of risk analysis and risk management, which feeds into what I'm doing the plant services right now helping reliability teams with their best practices.


who founded the magazine, the plant services magazine,


that was founded in the early 80s. It was formerly owned tight niche early. It's interesting. It was the former Putman media company now we're part of the Endeavour Business Media family. We were polite familiar with them, okay. We were up until up until about this time last year, April 2022. We were part of the Putnam family which had eight brands focus on heavy industry. Some of them process oriented, some of them origin general manufacturing focused and my title was the magazine focusing on asset management, work, best practices, professionalism, leadership, that sort of thing.


Well, You're in a you're at a good conference. And why are you here at Xcelerate 23?


Give me Give me the background on that one. Well, I am here because for a long time, Planet services has been a immediate partner to Fluke supporting their event, we were a media partner at the last Xcelerate events in 2019 19, before the world stopped for a couple of years. Since then, now plan services part of the Endeavor Business Media family, I'm in the same business group as titles your listeners might know, like industry week, sprint industry, new equipment digest, and it's great to be part of that team. And we figure that collective media firepower supporting the Fluke event enables practitioners also to have access to the knowledge that people have shared throughout publications to. And as far as glucose. We have worked with them on articles before there's a lot of good content from Fluke authors on Planet We often ask our experts, hey, what's what's coming up when it comes to condition monitoring technologies, especially non destructive testing technologies. When I first joined plant services in 2014, one of the first articles that I wrote was a case study where they were using a fluke thermal imager. Yeah, not in heavy industry, they were using it to, to make uniform, the quality of the ice for curling tournaments. And


what the technician that was Michi niche, holy moly,


it was a fun application. Because what they were using the camera for wasn't measuring is there a hotspot in the electrical panel, for example, they wanted to measure the temperature on the ice, the temperature in the air, the temperature in the chiller room. What I learned when writing that piece was that ice for curling tournaments has to be very specific, in terms of the granularity of the ice, and the way that the way the playing field is set in the fluke, thermal imager helps the teams understand better how to create those optimal life conditions for the curling.


So it's not a garden hose, just sort of it builds a bumper and you fill it up with water from the tap.


Now when I guess when when you throw stones for a living, you can really tell when the ice is good or bad. It's fascinating.


Hey, speaking of that, currently, have you ever seen the video out there? You go out to YouTube, and find out how they manufacture those stones? Oh, no kidding. That's great. Yes, it is great. It's like really, and it's a specific rock. And then it has to be grounded a certain way. And it has to be you know, it's Yeah. Anybody who is into manufacturing, that is a geeky video. So it's all good. Well, now, it's, well,


it's good too, because that's a reliability mindset of our readers, right? You don't turn reliability off when you leave the plant. When you leave the office, you carry it with you. And so the curling story was kind of a sidestep in a way from factory life. But it's that mindset where people can talk who know the machines so intimately that they can hear when there's something off a vibration level they hear a funny noise. They know exactly what that is. That's the analogy with the curling people they throw enough stones they know exactly we're talking about is this. Is this edge not polished enough is the ice funny.


Is it is cool. I gotta tell you now with that. Couple of questions, one, just to find plant services. What is that that's a that's a further fairly high level. I guess, focus because encompass, just clarifying it for us.


Correct. It's a pretty broad area of coverage. Our tagline is smart solutions for maintenance and reliability. This could be leadership solutions. These could be technology solutions, this could be process solutions. So what we we try and keep our eyes open on the latest and greatest, say updates to standards, as well as updates and how technologies are enabling people to follow those standards. We also keep an eye closely on how best to lead your teams. I think that's one of the differentiators of our magazine is that we have a dedicated leadership columnist who worked was working the maintenance reliability profession, who knows what it takes for say, a new supervisor to learn how to leave their team or for a veteran supervisor to help train their team up off and get them off skills based on needed needed skills and the plans.


See, that's that's a really good good topic to have just because many companies and I've known them have said hey, we want to be a reliability focused culture, organization and then they just say, hey, I'll buy some equipment and and that's it. We're done. We're we're done. But there is a professional component to that on how to just be how to continue training, how to continue to cultivate how to be that leader, and I'm trying to fix something here. There it is. So that I like now, with your magazine. Of course you guys are you're having fun conversations around trends. Can you explain to the listeners a little bit about some of the trends that you see happening in industry today?


Sure. Well, the number one trend right now we did some research with our readers on what are the current obstacles to success. And we separated out those data into one of two tracks, either it was responders who were primarily managers or responders who were primarily frontline employees or first level supervisors. What we found was a certain divergence in the areas of concern. The the the frontline and frontline managers, were very acutely aware of workforce issues, especially staffing issues, the the challenge of finding enough skills to fully staff the plant right now, the managers were focused a little bit differently on things such as how to what to invest in capital expenses in the next in the next couple of years, what technologies would be the best ones? However, the one point of commonality between them is that both both audiences number one concern was supply chain. Now I'm sure your listeners have brought this up, I'm sure before but we find it very, very interesting that even at this point, if the shared commonality between all plants, employees that they're all feeling the pinch of not knowing when materials may arrive long lead times for spare parts, how do you rebuild your your spare parts room and manage your inventory? So everyone's trying to work through that right now?


It's a big deal. And I was having a conversation with another company. And the first thing I went to was like, how are you sourcing your feedstock? And I was that happen? Because that is such a critical pinch point for any business if you have, and many of the businesses are receiving their feedstock and raw materials. And everybody's like, the same thing is like, I think we're good. But we've had burps and and so so what are some of the strategies to help address the supply chain challenges?


Well, number one, I think people are focused on dynamic scheduling, and they're looking towards software and potentially API driven software to help them with that. Sometimes these these, these systems are tied into say, the ERP system. Yeah. So when the system understands what raw materials are coming in, that way, it can help dynamically reschedule the work being done. And I'll give you a concrete example. Let's say you're a chip manufacturer. And


now you went right to the chips, because chips were the big problem


they were and there were a whole bunch of supply chains that were a little bit wonky. Last year, one case I heard was that there was a company which put a coating on the chip to seal it. And the challenge for them was they didn't know what coatings they would have for what ships at what time and oftentimes they were waiting until Friday afternoon, to figure out during the weekends, plans downtime, how do you reconfigure the product lines to accommodate the new ceiling coating? And so that was a challenge was dynamic scheduling on the fly almost in real time to figure out what would the over the maintenance crew be doing that weekend to help enable operations to produce the chipset the chips later that week, the next week?


There is a there's a theme to that along with this dynamic scheduling the supply chain pain. And when people start talking about the need to have greater clarity into my data, like you know, everybody's talking about it. The themes that I've I've realized is one, don't make it hard on me because I'm dealing with supply chain problems. And those are headaches, and that that just doesn't resolve itself overnight. That's one two. Is it simple? Like, can I or am I happened to learn another doggone thing that I've just gotten? So there's that theme of just saying if you can, if you can deliver a powerful solution, a powerful, you know, approach to whatever challenge and make it simple. I'm all I'm all in. Because I'm dealing with all of the other challenges, right? You're sort of getting that same feedback.


Yeah. And there's an opportunity right now, for companies in this space, whether it's fluke, whether it's whether it's other sensor companies to to help plant teams with a secondary trend, which is remote monitoring of their assets. Yeah, you know, it's this is becoming less of a pinch point than it was during the COVID crisis moment. And no, we're all managing it right now. When you didn't know which employees could be in or out when the plant was setting up systems whereby people sometimes couldn't come into work when it was Skelton Koran sites, it became that much more important for the plant teams to look at remote monitoring solutions, adding fix sensors and critical assets, installing and operating the software that would collect those data and then mentally, as you said, collect the right data, but then move them to where they had to go to go to be visible, whether it was in whether it was it on a on a cloud plat analytics platform, whether it was linked to ERP systems, folks who couldn't go into the office needed access to all that right So yeah, so that that was another big trend we saw in the past couple of years was remote monitoring technologies really took off and follow your readers. They'll be nodding their heads at this, but Oh, absolutely, no, you're


absolutely spot on on that one. And I agree with you 100%. It was just and then it gets down to trust. I know, I have to do it. Who do I trust? Because everybody started hanging their shingles out as a result of, yeah, you gotta get that data. I do IoT. Here it is. And all that stuff we


booked before March 2020, weird stories about folks using remote monitoring technologies in places that were hard to access, like cooling towers, for example, you wouldn't want them to go up there that often. Since the pandemic we've heard no, let's get this in as many places as makes sense, especially in the critical assets. So that that's, that's been a game changer.


And it's a good one. All right, one last question before we wrap it up. Future outside, do you see in trends? What what are the future things? What's your future head on? What do you think is good? What's getting you excited?


What's getting me excited? I think the fact that I'm seeing a genuine uptick in millennial professionals attending events like this, see, that's a good one. But genuinely, there was a time not in the past couple of years where the events that I would go to I would see the greatest number of young professionals were coastal events, like like an event like the old OSI soft PI World event in San Francisco, or something like a PTC LifeWorks event in Boston, where you'd get people fresh out of colleges in the coast, who were data scientists who might not know where they wanted to apply their skills. I think now, a couple years later, we're starting to see that a lot enough data scientists in that generation are finding out hey, there's a lot of good work available in the industry. Why don't we join industrial teams, and see what we can we do to help move this data around that the plants want to collect now and how to analyze it and process it?


I like hearing that. That you? Yeah, yeah, I get


it. You can see it all week here to Fluke Xcelerate, it was astonishing. To see all the new fresh young faces. So excited to be here. I


love that. I do I love it a lot. That's just great. Great news. All right, his name is Tom wealth. How do you how do they get a hold of it? How do they get a hold of you, Tom? Well, you can


find me on planning I'm the chief editor, my email, there is T wealth at Endeavor b2b dot com, you can go to plan and gain access to all the materials and resources we have on the site. You can also sign up for a print subscription if you'd like on the website, but we update that site daily, so you get the most fresh information on the website. And as it happens, we have a podcast we call the tool belts, where we're rambling, at one at least two episodes a month. So hopefully we'll get to talk to you one of these days. And they can have


a captain I'm all Arab man. I've got things to say. We'd love to hear you say. All right, thank you very much for joining. We're going to have all the contact information for Tom out on Industrial Talk. So fear not reached out to this gent find out more finger on the pulse of what's taking place in the world of reliability. That is Tom and his team at plant services magazine. So reach out, do not hesitate. Again, we are here at Xcelerate 23 Fluke Reliability is that company put just gotta be here next year because this, this conference is not too big, not too small. It's just the right right size to be able to have great conversations with professionals that want to solve your problem. So put that on your calendar. All right. Stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


Thank you once again for joining Industrial Talk and your continued support. Thomas Wilk, W I L K. You can call them Tom because I call him Tom, Editor in Chief plant services, big time focus on reliability. That was Xcelerate 2023 Of course, are going to have a 2024 I just know it's in 2024. I don't have a month or date or whatever. But I'm telling you right now, if you're in the reliability space, yes, you must attend as a must attend event, wherever it is in 2024. And you get to meet people like Tom, who's passionate about reliability. And if you are you need to be there. All right. It does. Real Talk is a platform I say it all the time. That's dedicated to industrial professional, it's an ecosystem to tell your story to explain why industry is so fantastic. And why do you need to get involved you need to be these Sherpas that help companies succeed, or companies that are in industry. They are changing the world. Please consider being part of Industrial Talk. Just go out to Industrial Say Scott, I want to be on the podcast. And you'll say fantastic. You'll have a conversation with me. Tell your story. Whatever it might be And then, you know, you just go with it. All right, be bold, be brave, daring greatly. Continue to do what you are doing with the level of passion and excitement. And you're gonna change the world hang out with Tom and others that were at Xcelerate 2023 And you're going to change the world. We're going to have another conversation shortly. So do not go away and do not fret, reach out to him go out to Industrial We're gonna have another great conversation shortly so stay tuned.

On this week's Industrial Talk we're onsite at Xcelerate 23 in Orlando, FL and talking to Thomas Wilk, Editor in Chief, Endeavor Business Media about "Keeping current and reporting on the rapidly changing world of reliability". Get the answers to your "reliability" questions along with Tom's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!
Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Sharee Cameron on 02/19/2024 at 11:26 AM

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