The Future Maintenance Engineer(AKA: OEM Eliminator)
Entering into the millennium, we seen manufacturing plants becoming more and more automated. This had maintenance supervisors looking for a different type of maintenance man. There will always be a need for General Maintenance, but with technology in the plant advancing exponentially, manufacturers would be wise to evaluate and redesign their maintenance department, with an emphasis on "Technical Maintenance". A good Technical Maintenance team will need employees with a well balanced blend of electrical, electronic, PLC, and computer skills. A person with such a wide range of technical skills will be able to utilize cost saving technologies such as PLC programming, and Preventive maintenance programs that use infra-red ("hot spot"), vibration analysis, and predictive maintenance. A plant without a good Technical Maintenance team will find themselves at the mercy of the vendor. It is not uncommon, with down time, parts, and service call expenses, of one machine, to spend what it would have cost to pay a skilled maintenance technicians annual salary.
Finding an employee with a wide range of technical skills, may be a difficult process. You may have to hire someone who is strong in a couple of skills you are looking for, and send them to school for the other areas. However, when you school an employee, you take the chance of them taking their new found knowledge to another employer for higher pay. So protect your investment, by giving the employee the job title and pay to match their new value to the company. This is best done by taking an existing maintenance employee, who is motivated and willing to learn, and putting them through additional schooling. Somebody who has been with the company for years, will be less likely to change jobs.
Creating a Technical Maintenance team will certainly be a valuable asset to your company. By preparing for the future now, you will ensure a profitable maintenance department, and help keep your manufacturing plant competitive in the fast paced world of technology advancement.