CMMS: A tech tool for the next generation

U.S. manufacturing has been making a comeback in the last 12 months, so the demand for qualified maintenance professionals is quickly surpassing supply.

05/09/2012



America is in the midst of a major maintenance crisis. Millions of skilled boomers are retiring; more sophisticated equipment requires advanced training and skillsets, while maintenance budgets suffer cuts and fledgling workers seek sexier careers. Moreover, U.S. manufacturing has been making a comeback in the last 12 months, so the demand for qualified maintenance professionals is quickly surpassing supply.

But with or without sex appeal, maintenance is sure to grab the headlines and the attention of plant executives when machine capacity and production come to a grinding halt due to an anemic workforce of trained technicians. The question on everyone’s mind: how to backfill the great gap to be left by exiting baby boomers.

Consider the upside – and the appeal to younger generations. The aging maintenance workforce did not embrace technology as readily as millenials who’ve been raised on smartphones and computer games. The sun has set on beepers and clipboards but new mobile applications with barcode readers have become indispensable tools. CAD/CAM, ERP, CMMS, infrared, vibration analysis technologies have also had a positive impact on operations and profitability for manufacturing organizations. So enticing the gamer generation with sexier tech tools is one inroad.

CMMS has definitely progressed over generations of computer platforms from the days of big iron to data transmission in the cloud. It will remain be a pivotal tool as manufacturers entice, recruit and train the next generation of maintenance professionals. In fact CMMS courses are currently included in skills trade curriculums throughout U.S. community colleges and universities. (I would argue that basic maintenance technologies should be introduced at the high school level for students bound for education in technical trades.

As manufacturers bring on newer equipment and more intricate components it will be virtually impossible to ensure production capacity, energy efficiency, product safety, regulatory compliance, etc., without CMMS. Even at its most basic—running preventive maintenance calendars to routinely inspect production systems—CMMS will be a staple for maintenance process automation, and making sure the right technician is on the right machine at the right time.

Manufacturing and other industries have long recognized the value/return on investment of CMMS. Automation of preventive maintenance, work orders management, inventory control, and predictive analysis were considered a novelty for the aging generation. While I would never advocate cutting maintenance personnel, I strongly advocate for making technical staffers as efficient as possible.

Yesterday’s maintenance technicians have the knowledge to pass on to the next generation. Match that up with today’s automation tools and our maintenance progeny, although fewer in number, will just as effective.



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...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

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.