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Building a Reliability Culture

I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant's Child (1902).

Author: V. Narayan

Location: 2.1.4 Large Petroleum Refinery


At the time of these events, the refinery had only been in operation for about two years. Local trainees were recruited to work in the maintenance department. They were fresh out of school, with limited or no practical experience. A contractor supplied an expatriate workforce. Hence, there was not much ownership or pride, as the contract staff knew their tenure was limited. Short-term contracts and poor living conditions meant that motivation levels were quite low. The contract staff skill levels were reasonable, but we were employing 'hands,' not whole people who had brains as well. The attitudes and behaviors of the contract crew soon rubbed off on the local trainees.

Long-Term Issues

Poor attitudes and behaviors could potentially be serious problems, as they affect reliability. Habits die hard, so any behavior patterns established in the early stages would be hard to change in later years. It was, therefore, very important for us to get the workforce, especially the local trainees, to think reliability.

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