When it comes to maintenance management, things always keep changing. From having to roll with the punches when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in 2020 and now learning what Industry 5.0 means for your maintenance team in 2021. One thing is sure, high-performing industrial maintenance managers must adopt digital transformation initiatives or get left behind.


As your company's maintenance manager, it's important to remember that you are at the forefront of this digital revolution and leading the charge. How exactly do you show your team the way to success? In this article, we talk about your typical role, your goals, critical challenges, and what’s changing in 2021. Let's find out.


Responsibilities of an Industrial Maintenance Manager


First, let’s discuss the typical role of a maintenance manager in an enterprise company. Maintenance managers oversee a team of maintenance supervisors who manage technicians and workload during a particular shift. Depending on the size of the organization, managers report to either a maintenance director, president, or vice president of operations.


In general, you are responsible for managing all maintenance-related activities for the company. If we are to look at your specific roles and responsibilities, this includes the following:

  1. Supervise and monitor the maintenance organization performance

  2. Review maintenance operation procedures to maintain compliance with OSHA, company policies, industry regulations, and COVID-19 worker safety requirements

  3. Maintenance planning: budget, forecasts, negotiate prices and ensure spare parts availability

  4. Direct the recruitment, training, and termination of maintenance personnel and contractors

  5. Coordinate challenging repairs for urgent, critical situations

  6. Track work order history and equipment status to continually plan preventive maintenance activities

  7. Evaluate and adopt industry best practice maintenance strategies and technologies to remove barriers, reduce costs and boost productivity
  8. Track KPIs, analyze results and report progress to management

Apart from all of this, you must also push your company to traverse the spectrum from reactive to preventive maintenance including harnessing the power of Industry 4.0 technologies such as automation, mobile, machine learning, and IIoT devices to help move your department to a preventive maintenance culture.


As a whole, your role as a maintenance manager is to set the tone by crafting a comprehensive vision, mission, and prioritize maintenance strategies to ensure the maintenance department is continually improving.



Our own version of challenges


Goals and Challenges


Still, there will be bumps on the road. While your overarching goal is to reduce costs and have a stress-free, efficient maintenance operation, there will always be challenges given the nature of the functional role. Like many industrial maintenance managers, here are some of the pressing challenges that you are likely facing every day:

  • Dealing with old, obsolete equipment driving breakdowns to take precedence over preventive work
  • Lack of budget control due to expensive reactive work and unplanned overtime and contractor costs
  • Getting management buy-in and budget funding to support process changes and technologies to improve productivity and reduce costs
  • A growing shortage of skilled industrial maintenance professionals
  • Insufficient historical data and poor data quality in order to optimize maintenance strategies and take advantage of modern technologies
  • Lack of time to plan for the future while dealing with the day-to-day challenges 

Improving your department’s ability to deal with the reactive nature of the maintenance function is key to increasing efficiency and reducing costs.



High-Performing Industrial Maintenance Managers Reform Inefficient Systems


These maintenance managers streamline the fundamental processes in their facility. After all, the success of their goals depends on how well they build a robust foundation of maintenance procedures.

  • First and foremost, they ensure their equipment and processes are up to date with safety and compliance standards. To do this, they maintain a system that tracks historical data, including warranty information, product requirement documents, and safety guides. Deploying software to make it mandatory (and easy) to capture data as part of a process also helps to improve and standardize information gathering for more efficient compliance reporting.  
  • They create a single and widely accessible interface into the ERP systems like SAP for maintenance data.  Providing supervisors and maintenance technicians with mobile devices support the anywhere, anytime access to the data needed to manage notifications, work orders, and capture measurement data. Mobile workflows remove the data lags seen in traditional maintenance processes. Mobile work order management keeps SAP up-to-date in real-time for visibility and effective decision-making. 
  • They standardize and document procedures for repeatable actions and safety. Certainly, the teams need to be well trained. Yet, with the labor shortages, teams are often stressed with pressures to work faster, work longer and/or contract labor is hired to fill in. Consistent, well-documented work procedures, accessed via a mobile interface ensure that there is no excuse to follow work tasks and safety procedures even for a sudden, emergency task. 
  • Through a focus on maintenance planning, they avoid the downward spiral of reactive maintenance where breakdowns reduce the amount of preventive work that gets accomplish leading to more breakdowns. “Enlightened companies and their shareholders welcome planning because the additional productivity means more completed maintenance work,” writes Doc Palmer, one of the foremost maintenance planning and scheduling experts. “More completed work means higher plant availability for producing products and higher profits. Companies would be crazy not to want planning.”


High-Performing Industrial Maintenance Managers Drive Innovation


Streamlining department processes is one thing. Making sure that there is proper maintenance innovation to support production is another. High performers do the following:

  • They investigate and recommend industry 4.0 technologies and digitally transform their processes. To deal with the labor shortages in the long run, you need to continually drive efficiencies that have been proven by the newer technologies. For example, the investment in sensors to provide triggers that the equipment is operating out of spec. This allows for a preventive maintenance task to be scheduled before an expensive and disruptive breakdown occurs. 
  • They optimize their maintenance approaches beyond traditional preventive maintenance tasks. For example, by taking a Reliability Centered Maintenance approach, they can ensure downtime is minimized at the lowest maintenance cost possible.
  • They set the tone, inspire, and lead the organization through change. Often new technology deployments are stalled by staff that are suspicious of their jobs being replaced or lacking the skills to understand how to embrace and use the new technologies. Change management is increasingly becoming a critical function of industrial maintenance managers. 


Coronavirus Pandemic and Maintenance Management


In a survey of more than 400 global manufacturing companies, McKinsey found that when “confronted with the largest health and economic crisis in recent history, companies across sectors were forced into extraordinary measures to protect their people and maintain operations. While some contended with keeping the operations running in the face of shortages of workers or raw materials, others struggled to keep up with the sudden spike in demand…Overall, 94 percent of respondents told us that Industry 4.0 had helped them to keep their operations running during the crisis, and 56 percent said these technologies had been critical to their crisis responses.”


And of course, maintenance departments were not immune from the swings in demand and new requirements for worker safety. The lessons learned from COVID-19 include the need to be agile and responsive to rapid changes and the need for real-time communication and cross-organizational visibility to data to make quick, informed decisions. Embracing digital technologies in maintenance is key for industrial maintenance managers to make day-to-day progress improvements AND to prepare their organization for the future. Whatever happens next, your organization needs to be ready to respond quickly.



How Sigga Can Help


Sigga has 20 years of experience in digitally transforming maintenance workflows across a range of asset-intensive industries. Our proven, SAP-certified software and mobile solutions enable industrial maintenance managers to optimize their resources, lower their costs and improve the capture and structure of data to advance their maintenance strategies.


Improve maintenance effectiveness with Sigga’s Planning and Scheduling solution to automate the routine work to create schedules to improve technician routing and increase asset uptime.


Sigga’s Mobile EAM app keeps technicians in the field or plant with immediate access to information which results in optimized asset performance and utilization while minimizing operations and maintenance costs.


Extend the mobile digital transformation with Sigga’s Warehouse and Inventory app for an integrated experience driving efficiencies and real-time data visibility across the organization.


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