Partners at last

The signs are encouraging. After several decades, it's finally happening. Maintenance is taking its rightful place as a true business partner in the industrial enterprise. I've come to this conclusion by what I've witnessed over the past few years.

03/01/2001


The signs are encouraging. After several decades, it's finally happening. Maintenance is taking its rightful place as a true business partner in the industrial enterprise. I've come to this conclusion by what I've witnessed over the past few years.

Check, for example, this issue's focus panel on "Foundations for Maintenance Excellence." Our panel members were universal in their opinions that maintenance had to be aligned with their plants' business strategies.

Over the years, this alignment has been a problem from several standpoints. Most obvious was the maintenance department's blind insistence that maintenance was important for its own sake, even though the business case for maintenance was poorly defined. Lacking any convincing business case, operations and financial people treated maintenance as a necessary evil with little relevance to productivity or profitability.

But all parties are beginning to understand that maintenance is not just a necessary cost of business, it's an opportunity to reduce life-cycle costs, ensure capacity, and even provide a competitive edge. In short, it's a partner in business improvement.

A strong indicator of the shift taking place is the repositioning going on in the industrial software business. A decade ago, software developers weren't much interested in trying to integrate CMMS data with the other systems plants were using - like financial systems, MRP programs, and manufacturing automation. Now, that integration is at the top of their lists of features.

Large companies are finding it valuable to bring together their maintenance people from all their plants to share ideas and practices. These meetings are typically multiday proprietary technical conferences, complete with concurrent sessions, general sessions, and an occasional outside speaker.

Some plants these days will even send maintenance personnel to work with customers to help solve their machinery and production problems. Both parties gain from the shared experience and knowledge.

These are all good signs and good practices. The door is finally opening to the maintenance function as a full partner in optimizing the plant's business.

So now there's a new challenge to maintenance to make good on the opportunity and to expand it's influence. The need for proven performance and excellence in maintenance has never been greater.





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.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
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