Employee Spotlight - James Vandervoort

Sep 15, 2021 7:25:49 AM

Being part of the Bluefield team

By: James Vandervoort
James Vandervoort-1-1Bluefield is lucky to be part of a team that has diverse skills and backgrounds in engineering with experiences in varied industries.
As part of our focus on reliability and improvement, we would like to spotlight one of our team members, James Vandervoort who has the know-how from working throughout his journey in maintenance and reliability.
Where are you originally from, and where are you currently living/working?
I was born and grew up in Lake Macquarie NSW, with a few years of my childhood spent in Singleton and the town of Moura QLD. I currently live and work in Lake Macquarie / Hunter Region.
What are your professional and/or trade qualifications?

I am a qualified Mechanical Fitter & Turner by trade with some additional studies complete in relation to Mechanical Engineering, Leadership & Management, Root Cause Analysis & Lean/Six Sigma Philosophy. I am a strong believer that we have such a great amount of information at our fingertips, we can access this information for self-learning, through this learning style we gain the deepest understanding as it is driven by passion and desire to truly learn. Learning, like the continuous improvement journey, never ends. 

What industries have you worked in, and what sort of roles have you held in your career?

I am fortunate enough to have worked or conducted projects in a field of industries ranging from Steel Manufacturing, Powder Coating, Food Manufacturing, Mining & Paper Manufacturing.

Throughout my Maintenance and Reliability career, I have worked as the following:

  • Asset Management Specialist: conducting projects in multiple fields relating to LEAN and Problem Solving Coaching; AMP Development; FMECA Development; WOL Development; Critical Spares Evaluation; CMMS Improvement Projects and more.
  • Maintenance, Reliability & Process Improvement Superintendent in a Steel Manufacturing plant; leading a team of Supervisors, Planners, Engineers, Leading Hands, Storeman, Tradesman, Condition Monitoring Technician, Stand builders, and Apprentices.
  • Maintenance Supervisor for both Food Manufacturing plant & Steel Manufacturing plant; leading teams of Planners, Leading Hands & Tradesman.
  • Maintenance Planner in both a Food Manufacturing plant & Steel Manufacturing plant; working with SAP and Mainpac focusing on Strategic Reliability-based principles.
  • Maintenance Technician in a Power Coating factory focusing on maximising uptime and throughput.
  • Mechanical Fitter & Turner in Steel Manufacturing plants & Food Manufacturing plant, focusing on quality execution of strategy and corrective based maintenance.

When I was in Manufacturing, I have also gained experience as a:

  • Manufacturing Superintendent in a Steel Manufacturing plant; leading a team of Supervisors, multiple operation crews/manufacturing lines and an operational improvement role.
  • Acting Site Operations Manager in a Steel Manufacturing plant; leading a team of Superintendents.
What do you consider to be your area of specialisation? How does your specialisation add value to clients?
I feel my greatest area of specialisation is through solution identification for clients, this is complemented by my background in various organisational roles with a strong understanding of the Maintenance and Problem-solving fundamentals at all levels.
As each client is on a different stage of their journey, this solution identification is about ensuring the project deliverables and delivery approach is a practical & sustainable solution for the client based on the outcomes they are wanting to achieve; it is aligned to the Bluefield Values of being Client Focused and maintaining a Value Delivery
Tell us about a project you have worked on where you applied your Reliability experience. How did it add value to the client? 
A previous project I have led was regarding bringing a Manufacturing Mills Reliability result back to target. The historical under-performance of this Mill led to unpredictable Maintenance costs, Labour requirements, and Manufacturing outcomes. I embarked on leading a reliability-based improvement project. The project outcome delivered an increase in availability by 10,000minutes per year. 
The project followed the 8-step problem-solving process:
  1. Clarify the problem; we understood the Ultimate Goal, the Standard, and the Current Situation to define the Gap we wanted to address. This was relating to the availability of the asset for operations to utilize.
  2. Break down the problem; with over 40,000 combined minutes of reliability-based downtime in a financial year, we used the Pareto analysis technique to zone in on the largest contributor on this production line.
  3. Set the target; setting a realistic target is important, our target was that we wanted to reduce the largest contributor of downtime by 70% which in turn had the potential to improve overall availability by 3%, giving us an additional 9,500minutes of uptime.
  4. Determine root cause; combining the A3 RCA and 5 why tools we determined the Root Cause/s of the significant area of downtime. This gave us a defined point to correct with the ability to prevent re-occurrence.
  5. Develop countermeasure for root cause; we listed potential countermeasures with a weighting on effectiveness, cost, speed, quality showing us an overall assessment to determine the best countermeasure. Quite often it is the simple practical countermeasures that provide the most sustainable results. In this case, it required a review of the Electrical PLC coding through IBA to program in new conditions for certain events. This prevented costly catastrophic conditions.
  6. Action for root cause; documentation of the planned tasks ensuring accountability to timeframes.
  7. Progress tracking: we determined a tracking frequency to allow for review of the project results. This process ensured that we did not just move onto the next “burning platform” and remained focused on the set-out goal. We finished the financial year with a 72% reduction reducing downtime by almost 10,000minutes.
  8. Standardise successful processes; like the Plan Do Check Act philosophy, upon confirmation of addressed root cause, we used this step to lock in the new state and prevent slip-back. This included updating Maintenance Strategies to address identified failure modes, adding Kamishibai boards on the shop floor to aid in visual management tracking and training team members in the IBA system to aid in future problem-solving events.
Which other industries would utilise Reliability engineering for improvement? 
All asset-based industries can leverage the practices of Reliability Engineering for improvement. Reliability engineering is one of the important steps to ensuring predictable and sustainable outcomes from the defined assets. 
What do you want to achieve while working for Bluefield? 
Relating back to what I discussed regarding education and learning; Bluefield allows exposure to a vast range of assets, workgroups, businesses, and locations with a high standard on quality deliverables filled with a team of like-minded, passionate individuals. I want to use this opportunity to learn and share the best practices between all these groups.
Like assets & business in general, it is just as important to continually improve on our own knowledge and work delivery methods. This great amount of exposure, it will allow that self-improvement process to be exponential.


Maintenance and Reliability Improvement is part of Bluefield Services. We've learned that reliability comes down to one question: are you in control of your assets, or are your assets in control of you? In other words, is your maintenance operation proactive or reactive?

To learn more about the services we offer, contact us or click here for more information.