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Klaus Blache, director of the Reliability and Maintainability Center, points out some of the equipment that the center uses as part of its instruction.

As the detailed study of best practices within manufacturing has become more commonplace in recent years, the Reliability and Maintainability Center at UT has stepped to the forefront as a well-respected hub of learning.

Housed in the College of Engineering, the center has signed about 55 corporate partners and will soon host its nineteenth annual Maintenance and Reliability Conference, MARCON, February 23–26 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

The event will bring representatives from more than 100 companies and organizations to town to learn the ins and outs of modern reliability and maintenance techniques, all with an eye on reducing loss and costs during production.

“We view this conference as a forum for all,” said Klaus Blache, director of the center at UT. “We’ll have people from the business world, specialists, educators, students, and even some people who are being introduced to these ideas for the first time.”

Participants will be able to view exhibits from a wide array of businesses and take part in workshops on topics ranging from improving machinery assembly and installation to developing simulation models.

Additionally, speakers from companies such as Nissan, Koch Industries, Bayer, and Johnsonville Sausage will share personal examples from their companies.

“The idea of our conference is to make it different from the typical format of sitting and listening or watching all day,” said Blache. “We want people to work together, to share ideas and feedback, and to really get some one-on-one time with experts in the field.”

The Reliability and Maintainability Center was founded in 1996 with the goal of helping companies to collaborate and share best practices in reliability and maintainability.

The RMC also offers industries professional development training, summer internships and projects. By taking real-world scenarios and problematic issues from corporations and getting them into a classroom environment, it not only helps businesses get the answers they need but also gives students a chance to gain experience that would typically only come after graduation.

David Goddard (865-974-0683,