Beyond Y2K

With practically everyone else making their predictions for the turn of the century, the temptation is too great to resist. So, at the risk of going out on a limb, here are some thoughts.... - In general, the Y2K thing will be a big yawn.

By Richard L. Dunn December 1, 1999

With practically everyone else making their predictions for the turn of the century, the temptation is too great to resist. So, at the risk of going out on a limb, here are some thoughts….

– In general, the Y2K thing will be a big yawn. Perhaps some glitches and bugs here and there will cause some minor disruptions. But I haven’t talked to a single plant engineer who is really concerned at this point.

– Recognition of the vital role played by industrial plant engineers will continue to increase, but that role will be identified by a wide variety of titles. The word asset will continue to appear more often as companies turn their attention to wiser management of their production systems and resources. Asset utilization and return on assets will become increasingly important financial analysis tools.

This emphasis will bring greater attention to the importance of the physical plant and its infrastructure. The concept of a chief plant officer will take hold in a variety of ways as plants and companies put a higher priority on building and preserving the most efficient production systems possible.

– Reliability will increasingly become the goal as companies seek to maximize the potential of such programs as just in time, pull-through, lean manufacturing, supply chain management, and others. And the quest for production reliability will in turn support the development of other programs such as root cause analysis, reliability centered maintenance, predictive maintenance, design for maintainability, and others that don’t yet have names.

– The shortage of well-trained, skilled workers will continue for a number of years, forcing industry to play a larger role in education. First, industry will boost its investments in basic skills training. Second, it will grow programs for post-secondary education and training in specialty areas. Third, there will be a shift to continuing education and the retention of valuable employees.

To help you get ready, Plant Engineering and IMPO magazines, in cooperation with the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, will offer a seminar on “Meeting the Biggest Challenge in Maintenance: Skills Training” on September 25-27, 2000. Watch for more information in the months ahead.