Nip the maintenance crisis in the bud, or deal with a noxious weed later

Nov. 17, 2004
The industry can't turn a corner without your help

Welcome to a new section that Plant Services magazine will contain detailed coverage and numerous tools to help avert a serious problem: the maintenance crisis. This problem is growing due to a shortage of skilled maintenance professionals.

The information I will provide in this section is probably what most of us in industry see daily and perhaps are curious about in terms of severity, but we only see the symptoms in a localized environment. This may confirm your suspicions about the industry at large and inspire you to take action.

Since this is an ongoing crisis, this section will be updated regularly with the latest news about the extent of the crisis, details about contributing factors, and more importantly, provide more tools and methods to help avert, or at least minimize, the impact of this serious challenge. You might know about or have experienced these maintenance-threatening facts:

  • Obtaining necessities is a budget battle.
  • Maintenance personnel on average are 48 years old, according to a 2003 AFE industry survey.
  • Companies are relying on on-the-job training due to cost cuts and are not investing in training programs.
  • There are only minimal standard operating procedures (SOP) developed.
  • There is minimal documentation of historical maintenance records.
  • Maintenance is perceived as a cost center.
  • There is total reliance on reactive maintenance.
  • It’s operations versus maintenance; it’s a fight, not a partnership.
  • Training is perceived as an expense.
  • There is much difficulty in locating new, qualified personnel.

When you see what citizens of this country have worked so hard to build being taken for granted, our profession not being respected, the best maintenance workers leaving the field, and no one being trained to fill their shoes, it is very hard to contain my passion. After all, there is nothing more tragic than the sacrifice of tomorrow for the betterment of today.

As we all know, in maintenance, the tasks we delay performing today may become the crisis we have to deal with tomorrow. We must fight the maintenance crisis now, stand up for our profession and tell the world. If MRO pros don’t stand up and educate our leaders and future generations about this serious issue, who else will? I firmly believe the maintenance profession is not beyond repair. I hope you join our crusade. If you don’t, the maintenance crisis could be yet another example of historical repetition.

We need your input to make this work. Please share with us your views about the maintenance crisis and any suggestions you may have on how we can confront this critical issue that is plaguing our profession.

E-mail Joel Leonard at [email protected].