THE INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE SECTOR IS PROGRESSIVELY CHANGING: HOW CAN WE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE CHANGES TO DEVELOP A NEW MODEL?
For about ten years the development of technology has been punctuating our daily life and transforming our world, just like Google, Facebook, Uber and others did. These tools progressively have revolutionized the use we make of technology and have a strong influence on us.
Industrial maintenance, though, still has to transform. Many gaps still need to be filled and we should therefore analyze the situation in order to be able to address the issues correctly. This sector suffers from a bad reputation even though small changes can already be observed. Mobility Work wants to prove that far-reaching changes are possible: it will be slow but our application is the proof that another maintenance is possible. We should ask ourselves: what could a more advanced next-gen maintenance look like?
How to deal with industrial maintenance?
Once again, one should admit that industrial maintenance suffers from a bad reputation. We often tend to picture ourselves hard-working technicians in dusty factories, changing motors and spare parts, fixing up greasy equipment… This perception is completely false because of the prejudice we have in mind. As a consequence, people who could have an interest in the field get afraid. Figures don’t lie: in some high schools, the number of students in industrial maintenance has dropped by 50%. This training is not as attractive as it used to be in the past for dynamic young people, who tend to be more interested in conception and R&D.
Maintenance hasn’t been brought out very well in the recent years, on the contrary: as a consequence, the level of these Advanced Technician’s Certificate trainings has drastically dropped. Teachers are categorical: in order to appeal new students, administrations planned on lowering the level of this very technical field so that the students who had a vocational baccalaureate could opt for this training.
The future of engineering schools doesn’t seem to be much brighter. Very few students choose to study maintenance, which leads to less maintenance classes being taught: only twenty hours during the three required years. It is obvious that, if it goes on, future managers won’t have the required skills and won’t be able to make the right decisions about their equipment’s maintenance, even though it guarantees the production’s flow in a company.
Observable consequences within companies
In return, gaps have progressively grown and companies can nowadays tell how difficult it is to hire. Again, maintenance managers are unanimous and regret this lack of qualified technicians. “We offer two positions while there are only two candidates, it is really hard to hire in the maintenance field!”, explains one of them. While it is true that the students’ level is worse than ever, recruitment agencies don’t hesitate to pay a high price to appeal them as soon as they pass their diploma.
Because of these major difficulties, differences and gaps can also be witnessed between employees as they don’t have a clear and identical perception of their work. They indeed all have learnt different techniques and have different knowledge. One could argue that they all are complementary but these differences can in fact lead to a lack of understanding between them and to dysfunctions. That is why the whole maintenance sector has to evolve.
A strong need for consistency to achieve change
If technicians sure want their field to change and to modernize, it remains important to truly take into account all the difficulties that pave to way to technology. It is not an easy task to revolutionize such a huge sector and everything has to be done little by little.
Today’s production plants face a lot of challenges. Some of them are equipped with very modern production lines while they still use bottleneck equipment that were manufactured in the 80’s, 70’s or even 60’s. We obviously can’t expect from a technician to have enough knowledge to know how to maintain all of these equipment as the functionalities vary drastically from one device to another.
There also is a generation gap: technicians’ profiles can be very different. Some still work on paper while others are far more reactive and can easily learn how to master IoT (Internet of Things), industry 4.0’s technologies, augmented reality, etc. To conclude, there’s a strong pending need for consistency because the modern solutions technicians and managers could benefit from are just tools, their expertise and know-how will always be needed.
The solution: technology
It is now clear for everyone that industrial maintenance needs a profound rejuvenation in order to attract new profiles: areas of improvement in terms of technology are numerous. Robotics, automation, tablets, sensors, applications and others are so many arguments that we need to put the emphasis on in order to attract the young generations towards this 4.0 maintenance. Future devices will of course be always more connected, automated and smart, and technicians and managers will have to have more precise and technical knowledge.
Eventually, we can say that Mobility Work is completely opposed to conventional maintenance management tools. It is not rare to meet, in the companies, technicians and managers who still think that they entirely control their maintenance using Excel files. This method is completely outdated and can even be damaging because you lose information, you can make mistakes more easily, it slows down the production process… Unfortunately, today’s CMMS solutions are mostly way too expensive and inadequate. The user interfaces are not intuitive at all, the features are hard to understand, the design is very basic and no one would ever want to try to deal with this softwares on a daily basis. Instead of making the work of technicians easier, these tools make it even harder.
Technology should really be at the service of industrial maintenance so that all fields can change. This is exactly Mobility Work’s philosophy: a technician can manage his tasks thanks to the application, he can see what task his colleagues are performing, follow his own work, exchange with his team as well as the community’s members, check the state of a piece of equipment... It is a very simple and intuitive tool that even allows beginners to have a whole new vision of maintenance and that attracts the future potential maintenance experts.
From employee to freelancer?
But it goes even further: the conventional concept of work in itself is challenged. Thanks to the development of applications such as Uber, the entire world has quickly understood that more and more people wanted to become their own bosses. The idea of working for yourself and to benefit from a certain independence is really in the spirit of the times so we should consider these opportunities. What would tomorrow’s industrial maintenance world look like?
Maintenance technicians wouldn’t be part of a company anymore but rather of a community, where independence and mutual aid would be the main keywords. Everybody could choose the service providers and customers they want to work with thanks to real-time localization, work the amount of time per day that suits them, decide the type of equipment they want to work on… The most hard-working and skilled professionals could benefit from a rating system to increase their workload and to extend their network. The maintenance management platform Mobility Work already features all these characteristics and can help you transitioning toward industry 4.0 very easily.
This all makes you understand how 4.0 industrial maintenance can be challenging: we have the possibility to develop a more free and open model where everyone would have an important role to play within this huge community. Given these observations, Mobility Work is the perfect community-based tool because it is gradually becoming the first maintenance social network. Communicating and interacting with each other, two current major values, are at the core of our application.
Mobility Work follows from these conclusions because it offers innovative features, allowing you to take a fresh look at the next-gen industrial maintenance. If you want to learn more about our application, don’t hesitate to download our mobile app to have a preview of it thanks to the free trial!