Why perception of industrial maintenance should be improved: “The field is recruiting. Forget about the idea of technicians you have in mind!”
Mobility Work is launching a brand new series to highlight maintenance careers.
In this second episode, Frédéric Lefresne, engineer, tells us more about his background and explains why it is, according to him, necessary to give the perception of industrial maintenance a new lease of life.
Mobility Work: Can you tell us about your educational background and professional experience?
Frédéric Lefresne: Given my interest for electricity and process automation, I first chose to go for a high school diploma in science, industrial technologies and electronic engineering, which I obtained in 2006. After that, I studied for an Advanced Technician’s Certificate in industrial maintenance. That gave me the opportunity to learn a bit more about the tools used in maintenance services, about troubleshooting procedures, about safety standards… My educational background as well as the two internships I did at H2M technologies (a conditioning solutions manufacturer working for pharmaceutical and food industries) allowed me to concretely implement the tools I had studied.
After my diploma, I entered an engineering school (ICAM in Vannes, Brittany). I chose apprenticeship to be able to start working during my studies, so I spent three years at Cooper Standard Automotive (an original equipment manufacturer specialized in automotive sealing solutions) within the Production department as an engineer in continuous improvement. I worked on various production topics with Quality, R&D and maintenance services.
According to you, what are the strengths and weaknesses of this training?
On the one hand, I was able to discover a wide range of technologies (pneumatic, electric, DAO, etc.) as well as different jobs in manufacturing (field engineer, planner, automation expert, industrial designer and jobs in continuous improvement or in health and safety, etc.) during my training.
On the other hand, it is later often difficult to implement the tools in the real world, and certain things learnt during the training can even seem useless. But this is all part of a wider skills base aimed to be developed during future professional experiences.
How can you explain the fact that the young generation progressively loses interest in the field?
It is true that industrial maintenance doesn’t have a great reputation. We often picture ourselves a technician covered in grease, changing oil all day long in a dusty place. I have to admit that it is part of the job, but we should better consider the rest of it. Mobility Work is just perfect for that because it gives a very modern and positive image of maintenance.
Why did you choose to study in an engineering school after your technician’s certificate in industrial maintenance?
Studying at ICAM was a very enriching experience that allowed me to learn more about the industrial field. Thanks to apprenticeship and to my several experiences (including an internship as a qualified technician at an Irish company specialized in rubber as well as multiple social and industrial missions), I was able to put into practice what I was learning and to also know myself better.
Did you notice any major difference between these two trainings?
Yes, especially theoretically as we almost never study mathematical tools during the two-year training even if they are essential. The positive thing about it is that it’s a great way to already know the industrial world. This kind of formation is perfect to learn how to use your knowledge in a professional environment.
What can you say about how maintenance is studied and seen in an engineering school?
The learning units about maintenance aren’t developed enough: only ten time-slots of two hours each. That’s very few for a subject that is so important in a production plant. I have to admit that this is not where I have learnt everything I know about industrial maintenance.
What last special advice would you give to someone wanting to study maintenance?
The industrial maintenance field is recruiting. Forget about the idea of technicians you have in mind and stop picturing them as people covered in grease, ready to go down the mine! There is such a wide range of jobs, from automatism and safety standards to non-destructive testing... There’s something for everyone.
Thank you to Mr Lefresne for his testimony. To be alerted of our next articles dedicated to maintenance careers, follow us on our social media!