Manufacturing satisfaction defies simple mathematics

It is said Abraham Lincoln used to figure out math problems by working them out on a shovel covered in coal dust. Gratefully, we have more sophisticated ways of working with numbers today. Whether calculated on coal shovels or computers, it's the numbers that interest us. I've been fascinated by numbers since I first learned to compute batting average (hits divided by at bats) at age seven.


It is said Abraham Lincoln used to figure out math problems by working them out on a shovel covered in coal dust. Gratefully, we have more sophisticated ways of working with numbers today. Whether calculated on coal shovels or computers, it's the numbers that interest us.

I've been fascinated by numbers since I first learned to compute batting average (hits divided by at bats) at age seven. Batting average helps us compare hitters on one statistic %%MDASSML%% how efficient they are at getting a base hit. It doesn't tell us whether their team is winning or losing, or how they are contributing to their team's overall success. On its own, batting average is just one measure of effectiveness. You have to dig a little deeper to find out what the numbers really mean.

That's what we've done again this year with our annual Plant Engineering Salary Survey, which you'll see inside. We've done the calculations based on where you work, how long you've worked there and how well you've been educated over the years. We've compared salaries against staff sizes, plant sizes and maintenance budgets.

Those comparisons give us one measure of how today's plant floor leaders are compensated. I hope it gives you an idea of where your compensation ranks in comparison with these variables.

But for the second year, we've also asked our readers how they regard what they do separate from how they are compensated for it. Perhaps more to the point, we asked about their compensation in non-monetary terms. When we asked for your views, you told us that you are satisfied with your work (only 7% consider themselves dissatisfied with their job) and that 45% rank a feeling of accomplishment as their primary source of job satisfaction. That ranks ahead of salary or any other consideration.

They haven't worked up a mathematical formula to measure satisfaction, but you know it when you feel it. You find it in manufacturing facilities where people are valued for who they are more than what they make. When employees are valued as integral parts of a business team and not as functionaries, they deliver superior work.

This doesn't negate the serious business and competitive pressures that manufacturing faces today. Our workers are challenged every day to be a little better, a little faster, a little more cost-effective. Those challenges come from staying competitive in a global economy. For some, the value of manufacturing is tied to wages and tariffs %%MDASSML%% economic equations that can be calculated, compared and measured.

With a team in place that works for one another, that values the work that is being done and that strives for excellence every day, the rewards will come. Some of those rewards will be monetary. Some can't be measured in dollars and cents, on a spreadsheet or a coal shovel.

Pride in work and pride in the product cannot be calculated, but it can be seen in the craftsmanship on every plant floor. Pride in manufacturing and in what we make defies simple mathematics. That sense of satisfaction in what we do is greater than all the economic measurements we can create. It is also what great manufacturers measure first.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
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 Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me