AKWIRE for Maximo User Group

Maximo, Fly Fishing & a Lifelong Mission of Continuous Improvement

by Mariah Patterson on June 28, 2018

“If you follow in another’s footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving.” -John Chatterton, Pirate Hunters

Matt Midas has never been one to let grass grow under his feet. Constantly on the move, Solufy’s Director of Sales has taken to heart Doc Palmer’s statement: “There is no perfect job plan” and champions continuous improvement by looking at processes and figuring out how to make them better.

This drive to optimize was ingrained in him at an early age. “My father was in the Navy for 20 years,” he explains. “By the time I was 18, we lived in 16 different places, and I went to three different high schools.”

“Growing up, I went to a new school practically every year,” Matt laughs. “I thought that was normal.  All that moving presented the opportunity to do the same thing many times and we perfected packing up our stuff so that it all arrived in one piece at the next place.  We also figured out how to improve the process every time we moved and became more efficient. We kind of enjoyed it.”

Growing up as a “Navy brat” provided unique experiences that set the course for Matt’s future. At just 12 years old, Matt got the chance to sail from Greece to Philadelphia on a naval ship with his two older brothers and several other dependents of crew members. “I’m sure this would be unheard of today, but what a great experience that was… I loved it.”

On-the-job training at a young age

Even when at play, Matt was already unwittingly preparing for his future plans. “I was always interested in hands-on stuff,” he said, recalling a time when he and a cousin built a mini bike from discarded parts and a small sailboat with his grandfather. “It’s neat to be able to build something with your own hands and have it work for you.”

These two childhood influences came together as Matt was preparing for college. I loved to take things apart and rebuild them and as a kid we always lived near the water, so I was always around boats and ships.  When I learned about the Merchant Marine Academy, I knew it was the place for me. All I had to do was get a nomination and an appointment.”

After high school, Matt received an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, where he studied Marine Engineering. The four-year program was arduous, with classes all day Monday to Friday. Not to mention the rigid requirements of a military academy, including uniforms, marching, musters, and inspections every Saturday morning.

“It was a good environment. It was very structured, and it taught me a lot: how to organize my time, how to stay focused and get things done. The best part was sea year; I spent two semesters at sea on several different merchant ships sailing around the world.”

Manual record keeping: the struggle

After graduating from Kings Point, Matt took a commission in the Navy as an ensign. He attended Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, RI., and upon completion was stationed in Charleston, SC where he was assigned to the USS Jesse L Brown, FF-1089.

“I started off as the Boilers Officer, and I was responsible for the calibration program onboard the ship. That required a lot of record keeping. We did not have a computer-based system but we had a printout of an electronic file that listed all the gauges and when they were last calibrated. It was a completely manual process.”

They also maintained an elaborate scheduling system, using the PMS (Preventative Maintenance System) program, which Matt describes as a big white board. “It was all done by hand, with grease pencils. You would circle something in red if it had to be rescheduled and draw a line to the new schedule date. We got it all done, but there was no automation to it.”

Maintenance process improvement: an idea adopted across the US Navy

After the Navy, Matt stayed in South Carolina, working as an Engineer at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. While here, he was qualified to perform overhaul and repair procedures for two different reactor plants on nuclear subs. “My primary focus was writing procedures for primary systems and to install/remove the core removal cooling system,” he says.

While writing these procedures, Matt noted a job plan that required technicians to spend time in the bilges in the reactor compartment. Because of the exposure to radiation, the technicians could only do a few of these jobs a year. “I said to myself, “Why are they sitting there in the bilges? There’s got to be a better way.”

Though it’s likely not the first time Matt spotted an opportunity to improve a process, it’s one of the most memorable from his early career.

“That was the way things had always been done,” says Matt. “But when I looked into it, it was obvious to me that we could reduce the amount of time it took to perform this procedure.”

“After a few months of mock ups outside the reactor compartment and many visits from NAVSEA, we adopted a new procedure that significantly reduced the time it took to perform the procedure as well as significantly reduce the exposure to radiation.” 

Matt may not have known it then, but that unveiled the direction for his career: rethinking the way things are done to implement process improvements to maintenance work as well as in daily life.

From rudimentary computers to a CMMS system

From this, and from studying the works of Dr. Edwards Deming, Matt learned a valuable lesson that he applies to this day: “No matter what your process is, there's always a potential improvement that can make things better.” Continuous improvement. You could say that’s what Matt’s all about.

Matt put the principles of continuous improvement to work at the shipyard where he was able to take advantage of a new computerized processes for tracking overhaul and repair work. “Going from a Zenith 248 aboard the Jesse L Brown to a system delivered by Intergraph where you could open multiple windows and have multiple computer sessions was a game changer,” he says.  The only problem was that the monitors were so big they took up the entire desk.

When the shipyard made the list for closure Matt and his wife, who was also in the nuclear sub overhaul business decided it was time to look for a new job. He transitioned out of the public sector and into the private sector and took a job with ServiceMaster, a facilities management company in Washington, DC.

As the Physical Plant Operations Manager, Matt and two others supervised the maintenance for more than 180 buildings. “Each of these buildings basically had a power plant of sorts, from smaller boilers to full plants to heat the buildings, HVAC systems, and all of the mechanical equipment associated with maintaining the proper environment.”

Although the maintenance program was computerized, their homegrown CMMS came with its own limitations. “It had many issues, and it didn't support the way we were trying to run the maintenance department across so many buildings and different shops.”

Not having a handle on all the data associated with the assets in the different building was proving to be a challenge.  Limitations with reporting was making it even more difficult, so in early 1994, the company selected and implemented one of the earlier versions of Maximo.  Says Matt, “What a difference it made in our reporting abilities and ability to understand what we were dealing with.”

Using IBM Maximo to accomplish Scheduling tasks

The system wasn’t without its challenges, though, and Matt was frequently in touch with PSDI, asking questions about why something didn’t work or how he could improve his processes. At one point, someone told Matt that PSDI had some positions opening on their implementation support team and he should apply. 

“Six months later,” he recalls, “I made the switch from engineering to sales.” But it was precisely his engineering background that would prove invaluable as he worked with customers.  “I could go in and talk to someone who was managing assets and understand exactly where they were coming from. I could tell them my experiences and how I accomplished things using Maximo.”

By helping customers with Maximo, Matt was able to help them identify problem areas. For example, one customer was running reports on like assets in different locations and they noticed that one of the assets was costing a lot more in maintenance than the other similar assets.

By pulling other reports and conducting a site investigation, they were able to determine the foundation of the “problem child” asset was incorrectly laid out. As soon as the issue was resolved, maintenance costs quickly came in line with the others.  Without the visibility of the data that Maximo provided, they may have never known that the one asset was consuming more maintenance dollars than the others.

This strategic thinking and continuous improvement focus was applied to help people meet and exceed their goals. He enjoyed taking the time to work with customers and about eight years after working with PSDI/MRO Software, Matt joined GenesisSolutions, where he was able to do more hands-on work, such as helping customers with asset walk downs, and deeper support of reliability-centered maintenance and process improvement and reengineering. 

Continuous improvement in enterprise maintenance Planning and Scheduling

Always moving forward while implementing his experiences, it was natural that Matt was drawn to Solufy, joining the company in 2015. “I knew Mario and Gerry [the company founders] for some time, and we even did a few joint presentations at different conferences.”

Matt Midas at MUWG 2017

Matt having some fun during the Fall Maximo Utilities Working Group (MUWG) in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Seeing AWKIRE in action, Matt knew it was a best-of-breed solution that outpaced everything else on the market. Believing in the product made it a no-brainer to join the company. It solved a problem that he had long struggled with even as far back as when he worked for ServiceMaster in the early nineties.

“Back then, one of the things I struggled with greatly with was understanding how much work I could get done with the resources I had and laying this out in an easy to see calendar.  To add to that, most of the work orders did not have any estimated hours and I never knew for sure who was going to be available.” 

Matt relied extensively on Excel spreadsheets and came up with an easier way to understand the work at the different buildings.  Matt says, “Understanding the resources was not so easy and proved to be a bigger bite of the elephant.” 

“AKWIRE is just an all-around great product truly built for Planners and Schedulers, the challenges they face, and the realities of their daily work. It’s not built for Developers or IT folks. It’s designed with the real users in mind. The capabilities blew the doors off anything else I’ve ever seen. I’ve often thought, ‘Man, if I had this when I was in DC, or in the Navy, I might have stayed there.’”

The biggest compliment, he says, is when he hears someone say, “Finally! A product that actually does what the salesperson said it will do!”

With Matt’s tendency to keep busy, he is always in motion, even when he’s not at work. With his four kids out of the house and living in different states—California, Colorado, and New York —he and his wife of nearly 30 years are either flying to visit someone or driving up to King’s Point, where his youngest daughter is studying at the Merchant Marine Academy like her Mom and Dad and plays lacrosse.

Matt Midas and his family

Matt and his family at the beach.

He and his wife also spend a lot of time boating in the Chesapeake Bay. That is, when Matt isn’t sneaking off to a trout stream to do a little fly fishing. In fact, Matt recently published a fly fishing book. Part memoir, part family lore, and part life wisdom, it recounts the lessons learned out on the river with his father.

Matt Midas, fly fishing

Just as AKWIRE keeps moving forward to enhance customers’ Planning and Scheduling processes and outcomes, Matt propels himself in the same way, inspiring his colleagues, his family, and himself to aim high. “Continual improvement is what we should be striving for. Just because something works today doesn't mean it’s the best option.

“If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always gotten.” -Jessie Potter

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Mariah Patterson

Mariah Patterson began writing as a child as a way to fill her time when her family moved to an isolated region in Maine. With no close friendships, developing cabin fever from intense snowstorms and only one fuzzy Canadian channel on TV, she created her own world through writing.

She began her

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