World Class Maintenance


Wayne Rowbotham

Wayne Rowbotham
CEng MIMechE

I’ve always aimed my mind-set to be that we don’t encounter problems, we are merely presented with opportunities for solutions and improvements!

Verified by an engineer

Wayne is the Mechanical Engineer at Lenzing Fibers in Grimsby, part of the multinational Lenzing Group that produces cellulosic fibres from dissolving wood pulp.

Wayne works in the maintenance team that is responsible for planning maintenance schedules for the company’s industrial equipment as well as executing shutdowns. It is a role that involves collaborating closely with colleagues from across the business. He has worked at Lenzing for the past five years and is currently trying to foster a culture of reliability there, challenging staff to think about root causes of failures and how to prevent their recurrence.

As a teenager, Wayne didn’t plan on becoming an engineer, but a two-week work placement at the age of 15 changed that: “it opened my eyes up to how engineering has built the world we live in”. After completing an apprenticeship, he went on to study Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, before taking a job in the steel industry. He subsequently moved to a role at a titanium dioxide processing firm, then joined Lenzing in 2017.


Why World Class Maintenance?

During his career, Wayne has held roles in frontline maintenance, responding to breakdowns as they occur. But he has also held reliability roles, which require a more strategic approach, identifying why failures occur and trying to design them out.

So, when he saw the World Class Maintenance course, which covers the topic from various angles, he says it really called out to him.

Also, as noted above, Wayne is trying to introduce a culture of reliability at Lenzing, and so he felt the course would provide him with ideas to help instil this culture.

What was your experience of the course?

Wayne says the course was originally meant to be delivered face-to-face in Sheffield, but in the event, it was delivered online. While he was at first hesitant about doing training over the internet, he felt “on balance, it’s probably better” than travelling and staying away overnight. The course took place over two full days in July 2022, with one other student and the tutor (Matthew Laskaj).

This small class size led to “some fantastic interaction” Wayne recalls, and Matthew “really encouraged a lot of participation”, with everyone sharing experiences, stories and case studies.

The course covered key steps to implementing a world class maintenance strategy. This included an overview of different maintenance strategies (preventative, predictive, etc.), and the criteria engineers use to decide which approach is right. There was also a section on calculating probabilities of failure, looking at how to “predict how reliable a piece of equipment is”. The course also explored methods for analysing the causes of failures.

Another element Wayne found especially helpful were the case studies – exploring real-world examples and showing how maintenance engineers implemented strategies to resolve these problems.

Like any course, Wayne notes that there were some parts that were not directly related to how Lenzing does things. Nonetheless, he felt it was valuable to approach the course with an “industry-wide perspective”. By learning how other companies deal with maintenance, there were plenty of lessons to take away.

What are the three reasons why someone should attend the World Class Maintenance course?

  1. Get to grips with different principles for designing a maintenance strategy.
  2. Learn how to choose between maintenance strategies for different kinds of asset.
  3. Learn from both the tutor and other course participants about real world maintenance challenges and solutions.

What impact has the training had?

“It certainly deepened my knowledge in terms of things to consider when selecting a maintenance strategy”.

Reflecting on the course less than one month after attending, Wayne explains it’s already influenced discussions about equipment shut down strategies at Lenzing.

In particular, the course covered failure curves, a way of predicting when equipment is most likely to go bust. One failure curve is (the macabrely named) ‘infant mortality’; this is the notion that certain types of equipment are most likely to breakdown soon after being turned on.

Wayne explains that certain pieces of equipment at Lenzing are often made available for maintenance just a few hours each week. However, using the infant mortality curve, he realised this approach might increase the risk of those machines’ failure. So, he is currently talking with colleagues to find ways to turn this machinery off less frequently, but for longer periods. That should reduce their failure rate overall.

Besides this, the course deepened Wayne’s knowledge of various topics related to downtime, safety, statutory issues and legislation.

He also says that learning about failure probabilities could help with the company’s stock management of spare parts for when machines break down. The course covered methods for predicting when new parts are needed, and this can reduce the need to procure more spares than necessary – thereby saving the firm money.

“I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone, to any of my colleagues” Wayne says of the course. Future attendees can really benefit from simply getting involved and taking part in conversations with peers he believes. As a self-described “prolific note taker”, he’d also recommend writing down as much as possible. “There was a lot of content in there; a lot to get through in two days”. So, jotting down as much as possible helps with refreshing your memory later, he says.

What’s next?

Wayne plans to continue with his professional training, and says he already has his eye on another IMechE course covering the topic of plant shutdowns and management. Going further, he is also considering doing a part-time engineering management degree in future. “That’ll be my next biggie!” he reckons.

World Class Maintenance

  • Duration:
    2 days
  • Location:
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec:
    B, C, E