How the Plant Wellness Way was Discovered

Plant Wellness Way has ‘changed the game’ of enterprise asset management with its system-of-reliability methodology. Now your whole organization optimizes production asset reliability!

With Plant and Equipment Wellness, reliability improvement is part of your business and life cycle processes. Your company works as a system to create world class plant and equipment reliability.

You can make new operating fortunes with life cycle solutions that naturally produce outstanding asset reliability.



The Plant Wellness Way enterprise asset management methodology had a beginning.

It formed in my mind over a number of years. By 1999, 25 years into a manufacturing and engineering career, and the Maintenance Manager at Coogee Chemicals in Perth, Western Australia, I realised that the physical asset management and maintenance management methods and practices promoted by maintenance consultants, bombarding us in asset management and maintenance management conferences, and explained by PowerPoint overload in seminars were incomplete. You could not use asset management and maintenance management as they were described by those sources to guarantee reliability improvement.

The changes that were suggested never lasted and most of the recommendations were never accepted by the people in the organisation. You could easily waste millions of dollars and many years on asset management and maintenance management methods and systems that made no difference. So I threw the books away and began looking outside of the asset maintenance industry for the answers.

Precision Maintenance became part of the answer
Also in 1999 I went to the first seminar offered in Perth, Western Australia by Industrial Training Associates (ITA). ITA was the partnership between Peter Brown from New Zealand and Max Wishaw from Perth, which they started specifically to educate production and maintenance managers, professionals and technicians in world best maintenance practice techniques.

Both Peter and Max had each separately launched vibration analysis condition monitoring businesses at the start of the 1970’s; during the very early days of predictive maintenance technology. They were amongst the first people in their respective countries to apply vibration analysis to general industrial machinery. Both of them continued doing vibration analysis and condition monitoring for the next thirty five years. ITA was created by them to pass onto to all of us what they had learnt about creating outstanding machinery reliability.

Peter had met the great promoter of Precision Maintenance, Ralph Buscarello of Update International, USA, at the Vibrations Association of New Zealand May 1998 conference. Ralph had been using Precision Maintenance since the mid 1980’s with great success. You can read a reproduction (and metrication) of Ralph Buscarello’s Precision Maintenance white paper presented at the Vibrations Association of New Zealand (VANZ) May 1998 conference.

As part of the ITA start-up, Peter visited Ralph in USA to learn more about the Update International experience in applying Precision Maintenance. He returned to Australia with much training information and documentation from Update International on doing Precision Maintenance. Peter and Max fully understood the great value and importance of Ralph Buscarello’s techniques and included Precision Maintenance in the ITA training courses.

At the first ITA training seminar Max and Peter gave in Perth they introduced me to Precision Maintenance. Having a fitter and machinist trade background I could understand when Peter and Max advised the importance that machine parts be made perfect and installed perfect. Imperfect parts and imperfect assembly led to unbalance, out-of-alignment, contamination, distortion, vibration, looseness and the rapid destruction of machinery.

In the end Precision Maintenance was to become a vital part of the Plant Wellness Way. The concept of precision in machinery grew to also include Precision Operation of machines and plant in the Plant Wellness operational excellence methodology.

I am what is known in marketing as a ‘innovator’. I belong to the 2.5% of people who actively look for better ways of doing things. I like to spend my time and effort challenging paradigms. The paradigms that existed in 1999 about physical asset management and maintenance management became like rubbish to me. Once I saw that the asset management and maintenance management mainstream did not even know about Precision Maintenance, I understood why conventional asset management and maintenance management did not work—they were not even aware of what actually created machinery reliability.

Even today, March 28th, 2012, the vast majority of industrial asset management and maintenance management consultants and academics have still got only half the story right! With the other half they cause great confusion and waste.

Peter and Max are now retired, but they still provide training and consulting if they are asked. I brought ITA from Peter in September 2010.

From Engineering Education the focus changed to Plant Wellness Concepts
In 1999 I started Feed Forward Publications and set up the website to sell engineering education materials for operators and maintainers. Lack of the right engineering knowledge and the right understandings of how equipment works has always been a big cause of poor reliability. Feed Forward Publications was given that name because it was about providing right engineering information so people had the right knowledge to use in future—to feed forward the best practice so companies could build a better business.

In 2004 I sold Feed Forward Publications and the website to in USA. Don Fitchett retained the business and it has now become a major part of his company’s success. My interests had become bigger than just teaching industry about reliability and maintenance best practices.

On November 25, 2004, after ten years with Coogee Chemicals, I left their employ and started this business, Lifetime Reliability Solutions Consultancy. In the years since 1999 I had recognised a way to create outstanding reliability for every company in the world, and I wanted to take it to the world.

LRS Consultants is an industrial asset management and maintenance management consultancy whose whole purpose is to take operational excellence to the world. In the early days of LRS Consultants I developed and wrote about my concepts to create lasting reliability improvement. At that point Plant Wellness did not have its name. Now the Plant Wellness Way name signifies a comprehensive operational excellence and reliability solution.

Interest in Plant and Equipment Wellness methods and techniques is growing all around the world. The rapid rise in inquiries is because more and more managers and engineers are realising that the asset management and maintenance management methods they are told to use at university courses and in industry conferences do not work, just as I had found out in 1999.

Reliability Engineering brought clear and deep understanding
The Plant Wellness concept may have formed in my mind by 2004, but it was to develop into a complete methodology only after I learned about reliability engineering.

Trying to make money in my new business led me to start offering asset management and maintenance management training to local industry. In 2005 I presented the first of many future courses in Maintenance Planning and Scheduling. It made money. I had a workable business model that generated income. Soon I had several courses covering a range of equipment reliability and maintenance topics. Training providers from the Gulf States and South East Asia tracked me down through the website and I presented my courses internationally. I survived the early years and made a reasonable living.

One of the reliability training courses I organised in Perth was a three-day course held during late June 2007 on elementary reliability presented by retired Professor of Terotechnology, David Sherwin. David had retired to Perth from his positions as Reliability Engineering professor at Lund and Växjö Universities, Sweden.

David had been a UK Naval Officer who got a passion to understand more about reliability. His interest took him into reliability engineering research and several professorships during the formational period in our current understanding of reliability. He really know his stuff when it comes to reliability engineering. Heck, he helped to discover it. And he is driven by his responsibility as an educator to make sure that when you talk about reliability you do not talk nonsense. If David thinks that you are wrong he will tell you so. I like people who show the courage of their convictions. This link will take you to a copy of the syllabus for Dave Sherwin’s 3-day reliability engineering training course.

David’s insights were a revelation for me. He was the right man, at the right place, at the right time! The depth of his knowledge and understanding of reliability and maintenance was vividly enlightening, and his no nonsense attitude about ‘wrong thinking will always be wrong thinking’ changed my view of what is important to do for reliability creation.

It was in David’s one and only Perth 3-day reliability engineering course that he first said to me, “machines fail but we replace parts”. It was then that the penny dropped and Plant Wellness turned from being a concept and became a methodology!

Machines are systems of parts trying to work together to deliver a function. David made it clear to me that if you want highly reliable machines, you first needed to have highly reliable parts. With David’s words the Plant and Equipment Wellness concept turned into the Plant Wellness Way reliability methodology—focus on creating health and well-being for your machines’ parts and you automatically and naturally get outstanding equipment reliability.

It was obvious that Precision Maintenance belonged in the Plant Wellness Way; mistake proofing to prevent human error belonged; life cycle defect elimination belonged, operating risk reduction belonged; degradation management belonged—any and every activity that gave equipment parts and components long, long trouble free lives belonged in the Plant Wellness Way.

Another vital influence that came from David’s elementary reliability course was how series probability arrangements work. He showed the equations for series and parallel arrangements with their respective reliability block diagrams beside them. I saw those reliability block diagrams and I thought ‘process flow diagrams’. Here was a way to model the chance of success in every process in every business across the world. The same maths could be used on systems of parts, on systems of machines and it could be used on systems the size of massive corporations.

Then I read two books by the late quality guru W. Edwards Deming
On 16th October 2008 I brought W. Edwards Deming’s book ‘Out of the Crisis’ from Boffins Bookshop in Perth (I have the sales docket in front of me). I am now reading the book for the fourth time.

Reading ‘Out of the Crisis’ the first time (which was then 15 months after attending Dave Sherwin’s reliability course) I found Deming’s analyses and advice on variation and its control electrifying. I immediately grasped his statistical process control concepts and the vital need to prevent defects. I read that book cover to cover in two days. I was so excited I could not stand still. Deming had cracked how to control work processes and it was all laid out in his 1986 second edition book—it was the piece of knowledge that turned the Plant Wellness Way reliability solution into the Plant Wellness Way enterprise asset management revolution.

The Plant Wellness Way was no longer just about creating highly reliable machines; Deming turned it into a methodology for creating highly reliable organisations, with systems and processes so well controlled and coordinated that world class reliability, highest quality, least cost operational performance was guaranteed! No longer was the Plant Wellness Way focused on operational excellence; it had become the Enterprise Wellness Way to create world class companies with outstanding productivity and business performance.

After reading ‘Out of the Crisis’ for the second time I got Deming’s last book, ‘The New Economics’. I reasoned that this man’s last book would be his greatest, because he knew that he was dying. He would want to leave us with his best advice as part of his legacy. I was not disappointed. His ‘System of Profound Knowledge’ is honest and true. I will soon read his last book again for the fourth time.

Deming was right! You will do no better for your career, or to gain great insight on variation and its control, than to read Deming’s ‘Out of the Crisis’ and ‘The New Economics’ more than once.

How the Plant Wellness Way got its name

In 2009 I wrote the Plant and Equipment Wellness book, which Engineers Media Australia published, so that the fledgling concepts and methods were trapped on paper. Since then more has been learned and more has been written about Plant Wellness and Enterprise Wellness.

Since the first days of starting LRS Consultants, Peter Brown, Max Wishaw and I met for breakfast about every 3 to 4 month at Cafe Denada, a conveniently located cafe from where we each lived. We talked about each other’s plans and work. One day I mentioned that Engineers Media had accepted my submission to publish a book about my concepts, many of which Peter and Max knew well, as some of them they had passed to me in 1999 at their maintenance best practice training seminar, and others we had discussed in prior breakfasts.

When he lived in New Zealand Peter Brown had trained on Human Wellness and how it is improved and sustained. It was he who suggested the connection between human wellness and industrial plant wellness. Both required proactive maintenance. Both required the creation of healthy physical and mental states that then delivered a lifetime of asset reliability. Immediately I saw the sense of it and also the marketing potential of it. The name ‘Plant Wellness’ distinctly branded the concept and methodology. It became the title of the book. To insure no confusion between industrial plants and mother nature’s flora the final title became ‘Plant and Equipment Wellness’.



See three days of Plant Wellness Way training delivered in Charleston, USA. Discover how to ‘Change the Game’ of enterprise asset management and operational excellence.

The Day 1 videos are highly educational and provide a state-of-the-art understanding of what causes world class reliability and enterprise asset management success.

Day 2 and Day 3 contain the methods and explain exactly how you use the Plant Wellness Way to turn your company into a world class operation.

Complete the form at request to see the Plant Wellness Way videos.

You can also see 8 free short films on the Plant Wellness Way. These videos are only a few minutes long and give you the flavour of how PWW brings you lasting reliability and operational excellence success.


Why you license Plant Wellness before you adopt it
To take Plant Wellness into the world I decided to turn it into a business opportunity for entrepreneurial people and companies to partner with local industries. They would work together with their clients to incorporate PWW methods and techniques into the operating sites. I wanted the people who joined me to collect satisfaction and success from helping average businesses become world class performers. That is why I offer the Plant Wellness Way as a license—so that from one’s own efforts they grow a unique business that delivers great life cycle reliability solutions highly valued by industry.

During October 2011 the initial 3-day presentation of the Plant Wellness Way training course was given in Charleston, USA to the first two affiliated PWW Consultants. The course was professionally videoed and edited into twenty films totaling 14 hours of viewing. The first 8 videos are Day 1. They are highly educational and provide the state-of-the-art understanding behind world class reliability. They are proof that LRS Consultants knows what it is talking about. Day 2 and Day 3 explain how LRS Global affiliates turn companies into world class operations. You can get free access to all the vidoes by request simply by completing the form at request to see Plant Wellness Way videos.

Individual businesses can also license the methodology through their LRS Plant Wellness Consultant. The Consultant must be involved because they are part of the ‘system’ needed to get great success from Plant Wellness. The Plant Wellness Consultant satisfies Deming’s advice to create systems that produce the right result. They are the ‘policeman’ who makes sure that their Clients’ properly follow the Plant Wellness Way. They also want their Clients to succeed and so they will work willing towards mutually successful outcomes.

There is a psychological imperative that necessitates the need for a license before adopting the Plant Wellness Way. Human beings only value what they struggle to achieve. For a thing to be valuable to us we need to earn the right to have it. You need to pay for Plant Wellness so it is highly valued in your mind. That is the purpose of being licensed: to give value and importance in adopting Plant Wellness.

The future of the Plant Wellness Way
Plant Wellness and Enterprise Wellness needs to be taken to the world. The range of tools, methods and techniques need to be perfected and made simpler. I cannot do it alone, nor do I want to do it alone. Willing people are needed and two men with vision, courage and drive have already joined me—Bruce McLaughlin and Mike Nelson from USA. Others have inquired and everyone is welcome to sign up to get a Plant Wellness Way license.

I am honoured to have encountered the good and wise men mentioned above in person, or through their writings. They guided me in putting together an answer to a puzzle that has frustrated me for decades—how exactly to create and control plant and equipment reliability. The right answers are in the Plant Wellness Way. This it is not the end of the story; the journey has only just begun.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ