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People: Norm Bobczynski Plans to Keep Things Running Smoothly

Norm Bobczynski.
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

As SLAC science races toward the future, the lab's systems and infrastructure have to keep up. Most of the lab's original facilities are still in place and, as expected with any property over time, some areas are in need of a facelift. Last summer, the SLAC Facilities Division was looking for the right someone to help move the lab forward and ensure that systems old and new would run smoothly as long as there was science to be done. That someone is Norm Bobczynski.

Bobczynski came to SLAC in late August 2010 as the manager of Operations and Maintenance, one of four major initiatives within the Facilities Division. His primary responsibility is to devise a strategy to improve the long-term maintenance and reliability of SLAC's infrastructure.

"Folks here have done an outstanding job in being able to fix infrastructure problems, as they arise, in a very rapid manner," Bobczynski said. But he notes that as the lab ages, normal life-cycle issues associated with deteriorating facilities are likely to happen more often. "As the number of these issues increases, our ability to simply respond to emergencies will be pushed to the limit," he said.

So Bobczynski decided on a proactive approach. First on the list was expanding his staff to include building and systems engineers, positions that had never before existed at SLAC. These new hires, he said, will conduct a thorough analysis and determine the conditions of various systems around the lab, and will develop steps to ensure that they remain in good working order.

Bobczynski calls this reliability-centered maintenance, and it is the first prong of his three-part strategy. Keeping key systems such as underground piping and utilities in good condition will cut down on the number of last-minute fixes.

The second part of the strategy involves organization and building up processes to carry out this regular maintenance. These procedures, Bobczynski said, "will emphasize energy efficiency and work efficiency so that we get the best bang for our buck." One major hole, however, is the lack of accurate "as built" drawings for many of the lab's infrastructure and systems, which makes it difficult to come up with adequate maintenance plans. To this end, Bobczynski is also bringing on board new staff for quality management and document control.

He also stresses the importance of his group's early involvement in new projects, where they can ensure the reliability and maintainability of new systems. Once construction is complete, Operations and Maintenance staff will assume responsibility of any new infrastructure, so Bobzcynski plans to put in place what he calls a "good, robust transition plan" for each project.

Finally, his strategy calls for performance metrics to help the group understand whether they are doing the right things at the right times, and how well their maintenance plans are working. As a whole, the strategy aims to move the lab forward into what Bobczynski calls a "reliable, long-term infrastructure and world-class operation."

"In the end, we want to ensure that we have the resources to handle the critical systems that keep the lab running," he said.

óby Lauren Rugani
SLAC Today, January 19, 2011