The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals was founded in 1992 to benefit and serve those in the maintenance and reliability function. A look at its Web site (www.smrp.org) reveals that SMRP's mission is to:
facilitate information exchange through a structured network of maintenance and reliability professionals;
support maintenance and reliability as an integral part of business management;
present a collective voice on maintenance and reliability issues and to advance innovative maintenance and reliability practices; and,
promote and support maintenance and reliability education for people, production and quality processes to improve the work environment.
I've been involved in SMRP for the past decade. My first exposure was attending the 1998 SMRP conference in St. Louis. I was very impressed with the presenters' papers and ideas. I found that I could apply many of the ideas directly to my opportunities and challenges at work. I also was excited to see an organization of veteran M&R practitioners devoted to helping others in the industry. As a result, I religiously attended each annual conference to gain more of this knowledge. The 2007 conference marked my 10th consecutive year.
Over that decade, I and Cargill have benefited from SMRP in three distinct ways: learning, networking and certification. In the area of learning, there's the annual conference, but knowledge is also acquired at SMRP workshops, executive meetings and other events. I've met a host of M&R leaders (Jack Nicholas, Doc Palmer, Howard Penrose, Tom Byerley, John Moubray, John Schultz and Ron Moore, to name a few) at these events. They have offered advice on issues they have faced. Many of them have become professional associates as well as friends.
Cargill's burning need in the early 1990s was to find ways to encourage our maintenance and reliability leaders to stay educated on the basics of M&R improvement. As a leader of our company's effort, I sought a target and goal for our people. Certification fit this goal nicely, and SMRP was in the process of developing the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional designation. I and others from Cargill got involved to ensure this fit our needs. My involvement in SMRP Certification Organization activities led to my nomination to the SMRPCO board of directors. This was a wonderful experience. With the SMRPCO team, I helped set policy and future direction for the certification effort. It opened up a whole new world for us at Cargill. The company's M&R steering team focused on using the certification process to develop and encourage our people to learn more. Today, more than 200 Cargill associates are CMRPs.
This certification effort has led to improved operations and maintenance results at our facilities. Every company should similarly use the SMRP certification process. The benefits are clear.
As I got more involved in the SMRPCO effort, I began to attend other SMRP functions such as the executive meetings. These one-day events, held on a quarterly basis, are designed exclusively for members of SMRP executive companies. A two-hour reception held the night before the meeting kicks off the event. This is a great time to network and meet new people. The meeting is normally held at a member company facility. The host company typically has several of its people present a case study on local and/or corporate-wide M&R improvement. They explain the processes used, results achieved, and opportunities and issues encountered. A plant tour is held in the afternoon. By day's end, attendees are armed with ideas to apply to the opportunities back home.
Attending the executive meetings and SMRPCO events led me to sit in on SMRP board meetings. Seeing the inner workings of the non-profit society was different than most of my career experiences in the business world, but I found some similarities. The need to have a "business case mind-set" in non-profit activities is essential. After serving several years in other capacities on the SMRP board of directors, I recently was elected chairman of the board. In this capacity, I guide the board in creating and maintaining the products and services that benefit the membership at large.
I urge you to get involved in SMRP. This is a volunteer group that needs more people involved in committees and activities. Involvement will help you in your career and improvement journey.