Noria Corporation’s 17th annual Reliable Plant Conference & Exhibition, which was held recently in Louisville, Kentucky, proved to be among the most successful in the event’s history, drawing more than 1,000 attendees from 46 U.S. states and 27 countries. The premier event for lubrication, oil analysis and reliability professionals saw a significant increase in attendance compared to 2015 and 2014, with a number of organizations sending multiple representatives, including Bridgestone, Chevron, Citgo, Honda, Michelin and Simmons Feed Ingredients.

“There are a lot of good exhibits here and a lot of good equipment that could improve our processes greatly to help us achieve our goals,” said Michelin’s Charles Grace.

Attendees were able to choose from nearly 80 learning sessions on a variety of topics, such as why preventive maintenance will not solve your reliability problems, how the industrial Internet is changing asset management, six key elements for world-class manufacturing and best practices for selecting lubricants.

Case studies were presented by a number of industry leaders, including Kimberly-Clark’s Jeffrey Ng, Holcim’s David Hull, Sinclair’s Gene Goetz and Fallon Schmidt, Weyerhaeuser’s Nathan Southwell, the Schwan Food Company’s Michael Mazur, Eli Lilly’s Ron Reimer and Seminole Electric Coop’s Brian Thorp.

“I spent the whole day going to the learning sessions,” said Tronox’s Roger Borycki. “There were a lot of good perspectives and a lot of very good and passionate speakers. It’s great to see how other people have managed to take information, apply it and get the benefits from it.”

In the exhibit hall, more than 100 industry-leading companies and organizations were on hand to showcase the latest technology and innovations available in the marketplace. New offerings from Luneta, OilSafe, Lubrication Engineers, Spectro Scientific and KCF Technologies were among a few of the products and solutions unveiled at the event.

“My favorite part of the conference has been meeting with the vendors that are here,” said Robin Davis of Calgon Carbon. “There are a lot of products that we need at our facility to start our reliability program, and it has been excellent to be able to meet with them and see what’s out there instead of having to try to track them down on my own.”

“I found solutions,” said Roberto Arredondo of Cott Beverages. “It was like a candy store for me. It’s toys for boys. I am going to implement easily five solutions that are going to improve my reliability.”

In the opening general session, Dan Rockwell, the “Leadership Freak,” gave a rousing keynote address titled “Finding Fire,” in which he described five powerful principles that have the potential to invigorate leaders and transform organizations.

“So many things are solved in leadership and management when we connect with each other,” Rockwell told attendees. “If you want to build passion in people, connect with them. If you want to fuel fire, connect with them. It’s in the disconnected groups and with the disconnected leaders where people lose energy and lose their fire.”

Also during the opening general session, the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) presented the Augustus H. Gill award for excellence in oil analysis to Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station along with the John R. Battle award for excellence in lubrication to Anglo American’s Minas-Rio mine in Brazil. For more on the ICML awards, see the related article here.

Two new certificate programs were added to Reliable Plant 2016, giving attendees the chance to gain even more in-depth knowledge and insight. Noria’s Jim Fitch kicked off the leadership certificate program with his Lubrication Excellence Essentials for Leaders workshop, while the fundamentals certificate program got underway with Wes Cash’s Essential Elements of Industrial Lubrication Fundamentals workshop.

“Jim Fitch’s Lubrication Excellence Essentials for Leaders workshop was excellent,” noted Nnamdi Achebe of Petrosave Integrated Services. “I learned everything I needed to know about lubrication best practices.”

Following the pre-conference workshops, certificate program participants attended four key sessions over the next two days and then were honored at an exclusive champagne reception, where they were presented with a commemorative plaque, a certificate of completion and a collection of books from the Noria bookstore.

“I really liked the certificate program,” said Aryzta’s Paul Cannon. “I think you have a select group of speakers who have a really high level of experience and who have been through the ropes. You know when you are listening to a guy like that and he is saying this is the way to do it, that he is an authority.”

Also new in 2016 was the non-denominational prayer breakfast on Wednesday morning sponsored by SDMyers. Keynote speaker Pat Day gave his inspiring testimony while attendees enjoyed a buffet breakfast.

Along with three pre-conference workshops, two post-conference workshops were presented immediately following the three-day event. Onsite certification testing was also available from ICML, the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals and the Association of Asset Management Professionals.

The offsite Jim Beam Distillery tour was a big hit with those lucky enough to reserve their spot. The first 50 registrants enjoyed a private guided tour through the distillery along with a barbecue dinner and bourbon tasting.

The Tuesday and Wednesday evening receptions provided attendees with a great opportunity to network with their peers and exhibitors while enjoying the entertainment, drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

After the last learning sessions on the final day of the event, everyone gathered in the exhibit hall to find out which lucky attendee would win the show-prize giveaway - a six-day trip for two to Hawaii. All registered attendees who visited each of the sponsoring exhibitors’ booths were eligible to win. After a brief hula dance from a native Hawaiian performer, Mike Finkler of Continental Building Products heard his name called as the big winner.

“I was kind of speechless,” Finkler said of his reaction. “I thought it might have been a mistake. Once they told me it was real, I was like, ‘Wow.’ I didn’t know what to do at that point. I was just so excited to receive a gift like that. It was great. I can’t wait to call my wife.”

Finkler was attending his very first Reliable Plant conference as part of his training as a lubrication technician. Although he and his wife have never been to Hawaii, they are making plans to visit the Aloha State in the fall.

Cannon Instrument Co. also held a drawing for a SimpleVIS portable viscometer, which was won by Nathan McCoy of Amber Industrial Services in Long Beach, California. Amber Industrial Services plans to utilize the viscometer to help customers make more timely onsite decisions by eliminating the delay associated with waiting for lab results.

“I couldn’t believe I actually won something, and to win the SimpleVIS was just substantial,” McCoy said. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to Cannon Instrument Co. for giving away such a great prize. We are excited to have such a portable and accurate instrument to bring to our customers.”

If you missed Reliable Plant 2016, you can still get the conference proceedings and benefit from the wealth of knowledge shared by speakers at the event. Each CD includes the papers and presentations in PDF format from nearly every learning session. The real-world case studies were full of practical, experience-based information and tools for lubrication and reliability programs. For the full 2016 conference proceedings, visit store.noria.com.

Preparations are already underway for next year’s Reliable Plant Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for April 25-27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. Registration is now open, so don’t miss your chance to enjoy all the bottom-line results that attending this event has to offer. Visit Conference.ReliablePlant.com to register your team today.