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    Monitoring maintenance engineering today

    Monitoring maintenance engineering today

    Maintenance Engineering Report 2023

    Monitoring maintenance engineering today

    Maintenance engineering is changing. While problems, such as managing ageing assets and coping with disrupted supply chains persist, a new generation is coming through to tackle the challenges.

    683 UK & Ireland engineers responded to our survey, conducted in partnership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), and over half of them are Millennials. This suggests the industry is now significantly made up of staff from a younger demographic. Millennials are those born between 1980 and 1994, according to the World Economic Forum.

    If the profession is dominated by a younger demographic, what does this change mean for the future of maintenance engineering and will it affect the level of maintenance maturity in UK businesses?

    Download the report to find out more.

    Measuring maintenance maturity

    When you cast an eye across your organisation, how would you assess the maturity of the maintenance operation? Almost 70% of companies in the survey rate themselves only at a medium level, with just 15% saying they had high maturity in maintenance.

    “I think many of these respondents are probably doing themselves a disservice,” says Dr Moray Kidd, a maintenance engineering academic. Kidd adds, “if you were to visit them, I would guess they are doing some predictive maintenance, they’re doing more with data on their critical assets. They probably feel that they could do better, but I would guess they are doing better than they think they are.”

    Kidd strongly believes that combining the right people with the right maintenance strategy is key to improving maintenance operations maturity, with the result of reducing downtime maintenance costs.

    As ever in business, when we measure an issue, we can more accurately create solutions and a strategy for implementing them. Business consultancy Accenture has devised an Intelligent Operations Maturity Assessment to help organisations identify where they are on their maturity journey and to identify routes to higher levels.

    Millennials moving into senior roles

    Generational shifts in industry are a fact of life that all organisations must manage carefully. According to our survey, 17% of people in engineering roles are aged between 25 and 34 and 36% are between 35 and 44 years old.

    Maintenance engineers from the Baby Boomer and early Generation X cohorts are now heading into retirement, with Millennials moving into the leadership roles they are vacating. These older employees have built up vast experience during their careers and this knowledge mustn’t leave the organisation with the individual.

    “What really surprises me is that organisations struggle to find a way to transfer knowledge from experienced staff before their retirement,” says Moray Kidd.

    The potential impact of a “brain drain” caused by the retirement of senior talent was reflected by one respondent to our survey, who said their biggest challenge is “employing high-quality engineers who have the necessary knowledge and experience needed to work in our industry”.

    Lydia Amarquaye, Professional Development and Education Policy Advisor at IMechE, is optimistic about a new generation moving into senior engineering roles. “Millennials are now reaching key decision-making positions within companies,” she says. “They’ve grown up with digital technologies and they will implement these in their work to make organisations more efficient.”

    Technology was a topic that featured heavily in responses to our survey. Among the biggest challenges respondents cited for maintenance engineering were, “the integration of artificial intelligence”, “adopting new technology to extend asset life” and “integrating the right digital tools into the maintenance strategy”.

    A workforce in transition

    A period of workforce transition presents organisations with a rich opportunity, says Emma Botfield, RS’ Managing Director, UK & Ireland. She sees older and younger employees combining to shape the future of our industry. “A multi-generational blend is really important, because you then have lots of knowledge, experience and expertise coming together to develop new ways of thinking and innovative ideas.”

    Research from the manufacturing body Make UK underscores the importance of understanding what excites and engages Millennial employees. Botfield says they are more purpose-driven and understanding what makes them tick will be crucial to developing a workforce that will carry a business’ success into the future.

    Richard Jeffers, Managing Director of RS Industria, shares Botfield’s optimism for the future of the profession. In his eyes, the industry is renewing itself, resulting in “the perfect blend of the digital native and the person who has practical engineering and problem-solving skills”.

    The apparent transition in the engineering sector reflects the old French saying that tells us that “while everything changes, everything stays the same”. Maintenance engineering appears to be in the process of a generational transition as Millennials assume leadership positions. But our survey shows there is every reason to be optimistic that the shift is good news for the profession.

    Download the report to find out more.



    Maintenance Engineering Report 2023