One of the cool things about my job is that I get to work with people outside of the US. I recently had the privilege of working with some of the guys from BSE. I have never met a group of steelmakers with so much professionalism and pride in their steelmill. These guys take a very scientific approach to all of the challenges they face in their plant. They also operate a consulting group to help other steelmakers with their problems, which is why I have been able to work with them. They operate a steelmill in Kehl Germany that they call BSW. They seem to have way more resources than we do to work on their problems. And, of course they have the best and most modern equipment available. They place a lot of emphasis on the human approach, claiming that success is 80% due to the workers and 20% due to equipment. I would really like to go work with these guys for a few years. I think that I could learn a lot from them.
When we sit in these all day meetings I can never think of useful things to bring up. But, now that these guys are gone I think of things to ask them. I would like to know their opinion on the relationship between maintenance and engineering. My opinion, and the opinion of most of the people I work with, is that we should be part of the same group, and it should be called E&M or Engineering and Maintenance, or something similar. However, I have a new boss that does not really agree. He feels that we should just be engineering and our main function should be management of capital projects (ie. equipment upgrades). That would have been an excellent point to bring to the discussion table. Hopefully I get another chance to bring it up.