OPINION What's Needed to Modernize the U.S. Marine Industry Training, Tools and Technology By John Boland, Boland Industrial Consulting Services, Inc. In order to better face the many challenges from labor shortages to subsidized foreign competition, shipyards and boat owners need to evaluate underutilized technology that has grown in acceptance. In order to be competitive in the near future, the U.S. maritime industry must explore ways to cut costs and improve efficiency without sacrificing quality. Knowledge replacement for employees retiring and choosing other careers necessitates a shift toward technology to assist less experienced labor in achieving goals. The younger workforce does offer some advantages in terms of accepting new technology. Testing existing employees and new employees for aptitudes, abilities or that special genius will increase job satisfaction, performance and length of employment. Employers can use this information effectively make better informed decisions in determining the best employee to train. · Do we have funding in a suitable budget for the equipment expenditure and the training required to use it effectively? · Overall, it is important to develop realistic expectations and anticipated outcomes, and to monitor the utilization and progress made with new technology. Vibration Equipment: Meters or Analyzers? A vibration meter may cost less than $1000 or up to $5,000 depending on the features. Someone could read the booklet, record vibration levels, compare those values to a chart and find unacceptable new machinery, or find several pieces of identical equipment with drastic variation. Equipment scheduled for repair or replacement may not have a problem. Instead of the scheduled repair the most appropriate repairs are made to another machine. This could not only save in unnecessary repairs, but in lost production. Most OEM's have available, acceptable vibration levels for equipment when new. In the event vibration levels exceed either OEM specifications or standard vibration severity charts, full vibration analysis should be performed. Attempting to correct vibration problems without a proper understanding to the cause can be expensive. Analyzers, on the other hand, cost from $7,000 to more than $20,000. Adding software and accessories can easily top $40,000. Taking a talented employee away from other work, to be trained and allowing the employee to focus on vibration skills for a considerable amount of (Continued on page 31) How to Consider and Purchase Special Tools Incorporating new tools and technologies invariably gives rise to many questions. Special skill sets can be acquired temporarily by outside personnel contracted to perform difficult and challenging task. When new technologies are being explored, looking outside the organization is probably the best place to start. Salesmen sell tools and technology. Contracting proficient technicians or consultants will give a rapid and more complete understanding of the technology. Some things to ask: · Is it easy or difficult to use the technology? · Does it save man-hours? · Is the result an improvement? · If we owned the equipment how often it could be used? · Is it more cost-effective as a service or to own the equipment? · How long is the learning curve to gain proficiency with in-house personnel that equals that of technicians? · In the event technology utilization is contracted to an outside source, can that cost be billed? · Does having a third-party perform the service increase credibility of the work performed? February, 2007 · MarineNews · 29
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