Louis Houle (1); (1) Systemex Industrial Consulting, St. Johns, FL, U.S.A.


When a new piece of equipment is installed in a plant, such as a brewery, craft or otherwise, it typically is associated with expected performance improvement objectives. These targets usually include increased throughput, lower cost of operation, safer operation or improved quality control. Achieving these improvements is highly dependent on the ability of your operation to identify and meet the equipment’s requirements, starting at the design phase. Misunderstanding or failing to identify the operation and maintenance requirements of a new piece of equipment will lead to a system that is out of control, unable to meet its performance targets, and it will require substantial investment of time and money, diverting your team from their larger objectives, in order to be brought back under control. The kind of rigor required to achieve this is not innate in most companies and is even rarer in new and emerging companies. Design for maintainability is the secret tool that will allow you not only to meet your performance targets more quickly but also to reduce your capital expenditures. It starts with the development of the project scope and specifications. The more precise your expectations (speed, availability, safety, maintainability, etc.) and constraints (environment, product, quality, etc.) are, the easier it will be to evaluate equipment choices and establish their compatibility with your situation, your requirements, and your overall objectives.

Louis received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, ON. He also holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, ON. His entire career has been spent in operations, including eight years with Kraft Foods and another eight years with Bacardi. At Kraft, he held several roles: project engineer, maintenance supervisor and maintenance manager. This is where he gained great foundational knowledge in bottling, packaging, operations and asset performance management. He then increased this experience and gained significant new experience in the spirit industry while he was the director of operations for Bacardi Canada in Brampton, ON, and also as the plant director for the Bacardi Bottling Corporation in Jacksonville, FL. Louis is currently the managing partner for Systemex Industrial Consulting USA, based in Jacksonville, FL, where he is responsible for commissioning management, asset performance management and risk management practices for the United States. Systemex is a strategic and tactical consulting firm that helps its clients optimize the reliability, availability and cost of industrial assets throughout their entire life cycle.