Cheers to the end of a rocky year

This year has been tough—and terrific—on many levels.


This year has been tough—and terrific—on many levels. Some general issues didn’t change much: unemployment levels, political unrest in many parts of the world, and partisan fighting in the U.S. government.

In the building world, regulatory initiatives—particularly new and evolving federal air quality regulations and standards—have had a negative impact, creating a level of uncertainty for engineers. Energy legislation is ever-changing and legislative amendments impact how engineers design and build engineered systems.

Also, the competition for talent continues to be a challenge in the industry. Firms are looking for experienced engineers with specialized skills, but the work environment continues to change, and staffing continues to be an issue.

On the flipside, many things changed for the better on the engineering front. Engineers and building owners saw an uptick in government resources allocated toward energy efficiency (and an overall rise in demand for building efficiency).

Engineering firms are obtaining more revenue from retrofits and renovations, and maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO). New construction also is doing well. According to 2011 MEP Giants data, the MEP Giants firms cited new construction and retrofit/renovation as a larger source of revenue. On top of that, new construction accounted for nearly 80% of commissioning work done (see August and October 2011 issues, respectively, for full data).

Also in 2011, international engineering climbed. Firm leaders focused on the fact that we live in a global economy, and sought out new opportunities overseas. Though the commercial building market is also down in parts of Europe, it’s doing well in the Middle East, and positively soaring in places like China and Brazil.

Companies are holding onto cash, giving them the ability to expand their engineering reach through acquisitions or new partnerships, or pre-pay expenses for the next year. According to Mick Morrissey’s report in our August issue, global merger and acquisition activity has been high throughout 2011. From his perspective, this isn’t all bad, as larger firms have more and deeper resources and more visibility with lawmakers.

So where does this leave us for 2012? The educated guess: In a better place than in 2011, though we’ll still see unrest in many areas. And as new codes become the standard in 2012, engineers will have more to keep up with. Plus, an election year will cause gyrations in the economic market and in federal legislative decisions.

The real answer: Only time will tell. Good luck, and Happy New Year.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.