Category Archives: Articles

One year in


Work life balance working out great

Its been just over a year now since we got going with Optimain Limited, so I thought I may spend a moment to update you regarding where we are one year in.

Within my company Optimain Ltd,  have and continue to enjoy success with a number of varied work packages, from strategic development, business policy creation and sourcing profit from maintenance to direct service and training on essential aspects of CM, CBM, Asset Management and preparation for big data as well as offering direct added value services like independent oil analysis plus vibration analysis and thermography.

As some of you may know we had a rather difficult time around five years ago when Rosie was dealing with breast cancer. Yes, we were on the precipice of the worst outcome for some time during treatment and we knew only too well that the veracity of the disease meant that we may not have caught it in time. We also had to deal with the fact that we were not in a position to have any more children and that our family aspirations had significantly changed.

We are now 5 years post treatment and whilst the drugs are still being taken and the effects of those drugs still in evidence, we have life, we have an amazing daughter and we have solidified our relationship. (A statistically unlikely outcome we are told).

To enable Rosie to fully reinvent herself away from cancer survivor and such we have re-organised our lives. I took the decision to leave permanent full time employment, with one of the best employers in the business, Lloyd’s Register and re-establish the family before setting up a small lone wolf consultancy based around machinery care and enhanced return on investment for critical assets.

Rosie has since embarked upon her calling to get involved in the creative process. Last year she enrolled in an arts foundation course at Trowbridge where she exercised her desire to explore her creative and aesthetic abilities.

She not only enjoyed the course but excelled and frankly ate it up with vigour and relish! To such an extent that she was awarded a distinction and advised to explore at a higher level to fully develop her clear capabilities and aptitude. To that extent she has now enrolled within he University Arts London faculty at Wimbledon to take a two year Masters in Fine Art concentrating upon sculpture with an identity based upon the reimagining of “found things”.

Sea are so proud of her. She is doing really well!

What this has meant though, is that now I am bound by the bookends of an 8 year olds school day for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays most weeks. I work between these times and occasionally arrange extended child care with the great friends we have here. This allows me to allow me to perform the various face to face and site based activities which form an essential part of my business activity, but clearly reduces spontaneity and requires a little more management and care to organise.

However, this has impacted upon my ability to reach out and engage, so I am looking for new ways to do so and also re-assessing what my companies real value offer to prospective clients is! Can you help or advise?

I have found that many companies either do not see the value in, or believe there is no appetite to having an external and knowledge based perspective towards their asset and reliability management policy, strategy and activities. I had expected this to be present in some cases, but not so prevalent in most. This may be down to the age old issue of face saving, but there is pure benefit of engaging an external person, in that there is no need to engage a full time person, but moreover that you can set the agenda and to be honest then take the credit if it is successful and defer criticism if it is not. This is not so challenging a point as most people will respond positively to an “expert” as opposed to the current leadership trying something different. We have seen it and proved it.

In my experience however, if you frame the question well then you will almost certainly be able to demonstrate an improvement that is tangible, meaningful and more importantly be able to see it in the balance sheet.

That said, I am now teaming up with other CM and CBM professionals who are more service orientated and aligning multiple CM activities such as Vibration & Oil analysis as well as Thermography. This can really can cover 99.9% of the prevalent intelligence gathering issues around the most significant failure modes we face as practicing maintenance and reliability professionals.

We see the method by which you shift a maintenance culture from being reactive and schedule based, to one of continual optimisation and the ongoing improvement of reliability, as being achieved by gathering good data on which you can start to derive the intelligence necessary to drive maintenance job creation. Once established, then reactive demand is lessened freeing up time and then scheduled work that is superseded by condition based work can be eliminated from the maintenance schedule. This can be done without cause to force a “coup d’etat” and can be the seed that creates the necessary evolutionary momentum from within to permanently improve asset heath.

So the nub of this blog update is to say, we are looking for low risk (for you) contracts where I can sit within your teams to help and guide the maintenance and reliability function, either as at a strategic level or as a practitioner and diagnostician. We are also offering independent lube analysis and onboard/site testing capabilities, and can link that to other offerings based around vibration and thermography. We can do this on and, offshore or aboard ships worldwide.

Please do get in touch and if you have any insight into how to reach out generate meaningful opportunities without annoyance please let me know. D



Sharing positive news

In most industries it is unlikely that your CEO will be very happy if you tweet and facebook via linkedIn every time you encounter a new machinery issue, however it is rare that anyone will be facing problems that have not been faced and solved before.

So to that extent why not impress your CEO and tell everyone about your successes – you will have found many a solution and your team stepped up and made it right. After all your CEO probably signed your employment papers and your company only employs the best people! Right?

In a condition based environment we manage the asset population by a combination of strategies targeted at avoiding unnecessary maintenance. However, failures do occur – we like to call them – anomalies – as they come from nowhere, when we thought we had all bases covered. In reality these “outliers” are to be expected – the measure of our capability is how effectively we learn from them and bring them back into the protected environment so we can minimise their likelihood of reoccurrence and minimise their effect.

As is probably well known to you all, making mistakes and falling down is unavoidable in the real world. We learn from these events and we move on. Repeating mistakes however is unacceptable and we would do better to remember this by ensuring that;

1 – Every time we find an issue and fix it, we make sure that we check other similar systems and confirm that they are protected accordingly.

2 – We ensure that all our systems are setup to automatically capture evidence of similar events – which we may miss – so we can fix them.

3 – We tell our peers to look out for these issues and become active in the community.

Business advantage via reliability enhancements sounds attractive on one level but every time someone is killed or injured because we did not share the knowledge required to fix it – in some way we are all responsible.

This is NOT whistle blowing but professional engineering practice.

See the UK Engineering Council‘s statement on ethics here

No need to open main bearings on Man Diesel Engines

Click to view SL2012-522 Main Bearing Inspection

Man Diesel now state clearly that bearing removal is not recommended as normal practice and therefore not recommended unless evidence based reason dictates.

This is a clear indication that best practice has shifted from a direct inspection methodology to a condition based approach.

This represents a shift in emphasis where the OEM clearly states that opening bearings without cause is likely to increase the risk of issue, either directly by the introduction of new sources of failure such as dirt or re-build issues, or by implication by reducing the support in terms of warrantee, where non recommended strip down may in the future invalidate terms.

Herein a video of the process for bearing removal courtesy of Marine Insight (Apologies for corrupted quality at the end! DS)

Article in LNG World – Maintenance


This is a short article that was created for LNG World and describes an overview of the soon to be available Machinery Condition Based Maintenance descriptive note which can be applied for companies who wish to operate their maintenance management on a risk based approach.

In essence this means that all nominated machines are maintained purely on the basis of condition as dictated by the condition monitoring analysis performed. In reality this means that NO item need be removed from service and required to be opened out for the purpose of credit for survey unless the CM data and associated records are unsupportive. Due dates will be removed and in all cases where condition continues to be acceptable items will not need to be withdrawn for inspection.

This is a high standard to achieve as it requires the cultural capability to manage risk based maintenance systems. It shall be viewed as an aspirational standard which rewards those who seek to exceed the minimal compliance requirements of the regulations but is also robust as the condition status has to be demonstrated as known on a continual basis.

We expect that there will be a number of companies who can move into this regime quite quickly but that what will happen is the vacuum that is created by this will be filled by companies who wish to perform at a higher level but who have some minor issues such as resourcing or implementation concerns. We will also be providing resource to assist these organisation to optimise their operations and move forward to a ensure that all operational and reliability related risks are As Low As Reasonably Practical – ALARP – a concept that must ultimately become accepted in the marine industry.