Approximately 500 managers, maintenance engineers and reliability specialists attended Fluke’s Xcelerate18 end user conference, Nov. 13–15 in Fort Myers, Florida. The conference included daily keynotes and approximately a dozen breakout sessions in topics such as CMMS training, reliability, maintenance and IIoT and data integration.


Shon Isenhour, founding partner of education firm Eruditio, kicked off the general session Wednesday morning with a keynote on how preventive maintenance software can help day-to-day processes.

“It’s not enough to detect failures,” Isenhour said. “We need to use these tools to detect why there was a failure.”

He used a scenario in which a facility worker used a hammer to install a bearing. The installation method caused the bearing to malfunction.

“There was something in the system that allowed [the employee] to use that method,” Isenhour said. “There is a list, there is an order and there is a cadence to preventive maintenance.”

Jake Mazulewicz, owner of JMA Human Error Solutions, a risk management and quality assurance company, was next to take the stage Wednesday morning. He boiled facility failures down to two possible sources: mechanical error or human error.

“Almost any accident worth talking about is almost never caused by one person making one dumb mistake,” said Mazulewicz.

According to Mazculewicz, core strategies to maximize Human Performance Improvement (HPI) are:

  • Applying defenses — implement and practice situational awareness, peer check, checklist, three-step communication and flagging
  • Improving processes — switch to system-based model, not human-based
  • Building resilience — instead of trying to minimize errors, minimize the consequences of making errors


Much of the second day centered around IIoT and how the retiring generation can better prepare the new generation of process engineers and reliability specialists for the transition to Industry 4.0. Thursday’s opening keynote was given by Nancy Regan, founder of, a maintenance and reliability improvement company.

“Momentum is part of the secret to success,” Regan said. She demonstrated this momentum by instructing a man in the back of the conference hall to throw a beach ball toward the front of the room, and — with the help of the audience — a man at the front to catch it.

She related the erratic movement of the ball across the hall to a facility implementing a reliability strategy: “Like in real life, sometimes we get off course and we’ve got to make a course correction.”

In Regan’s experience, the two reasons the implementation of analysis results fail are language problems and negotiation problems. She explained that sometimes employees did not understand fully what they should know, or management tiers were not correctly communicating their goals up and down the chain. She said a course correction for these issues was in the planning. “If you plan and prepare properly, you can negotiate just about anything,” she said.

The general session closed with a Q&A panel that was composed of Nancy Regan; Kevin Clark, vice president of Fluke Accelix; Dave Reiber, senior reliability leader of Reliability Web; and Shon Isenhour. Questions varied from challenges in a facility’s reliability strategy journey to techniques to inspire plant managers.

“Maintenance is more than what we do with hammers and wrenches and screwdrivers,” Isenhour said. “At the end of the day, we need to make sure we’re using all the technology available. One technology isn’t going to fix it all.”

Reiber’s advice to inspire plant managers was: “Ask questions. Stop judging. Find something that can be done quickly and make it [the plant manager’s] idea somehow.”

Klaus Blache, director of RMC, gave the conference’s closing keynote on Thursday afternoon. His speech focused on IIoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive technology potentials in the process industries.

“With AI and machine learning, the opportunity is there,” he said. He predicted five to 10 “rough” years into Industry 4.0 as industries become accustomed to predictive technology and machine intelligence.

Blache revamped a popular Albert Einstein quote to mesh with adaptation for the world of IIoT: “The definition of maintenance insanity is doing the same maintenance over and over and expecting different results.”


Fluke’s Xcelerate19 will take place Nov. 12-14  at Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information, visit the Xcelerate website.

Marie McBurnett is the managing editor for Water Technology. She has a Bachelor of Arts in digital journalism from Jacksonville State University.