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2016 PdM survey results - Part 2: Program investment and satisfaction

Readers willing to invest more in PdM than 18 months ago, but appear less satisfied with program performance.

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

Are you as happy as you could be with your organization's predictive maintenance program?

According to a significant majority of respondents to the 2016 Plant Services PdM survey, the answer is a resounding "no," despite the fact that respondents' planned investments are growing, especially in the areas of control systems, predictive analytics, and mobility.

This year's Plant Services PdM survey is our third such effort, designed to assess the state of (and market for) predictive maintenance technologies and solutions. It was conducted in January and February, and the vast majority of questions were kept identical from year to year to year in order to help benchmark key industry trends.

One of the final questions on the survey, once respondents indicated which technologies they are using, which assets they’re monitoring, and which roadblocks they’ve encountered, asked people to rate their PdM program’s performance over the past 12 months. From 2014 to 2016, the share of respondents who reported dissatisfaction with their program grew by 9.2%, with most respondents changing their answer from “satisfactory” to “needs some improvement” (see Figure 1). It’s worth noting that the total share of respondents who rated their programs “effective” or “very effective” dropped by nearly 15%.

An unexpected counterpoint to program satisfaction data was associated with questions about the levels of planned investment in PdM programs (see Figure 2). Even as 2016 respondents indicated a higher degree of program dissatisfaction and some admitted that they will be dialing back their investments, a significant number reported that they planned modest growth in their planned levels of PdM investment. Three areas in particular stood out as gaining in planned investment for 2016: control systems, EAM/CMMS systems, and predictive analytic software, signaling a recognition that the era of Big Data is starting to have a widespread effect on plants and plant M&R teams.

Why might reported PdM investment be growing since 2014, even as program satisfaction levels have dropped? One possibility is that plant teams (and especially newly minted reliability engineers) may be newly engaged with predictive approaches and may not be far enough along the journey from reactive to proactive maintenance modes to either be comfortable with the technologies and/or achieve payback on their investment. Another possibility may be related to the low initial entry cost of some PdM technologies – organizations might be comfortable investing in the odd PdM pilot program but are deferring the decision on a wider commitment.

Rounding out the picture may be data from a question in which respondents were asked to rate from high to low the obstacles limiting PdM program success (see Figure 3).  Readers reported that undefined program benefits – both financial and operational – have grown the most as “high” areas of challenge since 2014. In fact, in those two categories, reader responses shifted upwards the most from less-urgent levels.  And although budget constraints still rank as a significant obstacle, reader responses shifted these downward toward less-urgent levels. This may point to a continued challenge for readers of identifying how PdM success is defined, driving down satisfaction even at a time when budget may be more available.

Read Part 1 and Part 3 of the story

2016 PdM survey results - Part 1: Plant consolidation and the rise of the reliability engineer

2016 PdM survey results - Part 3: Data collection and management