Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 33

WORKFORCE ISSUES

The loss of invaluable 'tribal
knowledge' at a site is inevitable
over time, but not insurmountable.

Don't Let Tribal
Knowledge
Slip Away
TRIBAL KNOWLEDGE, i.e., unwritten rules or information not known by everyone in an organization, typically
resides in the minds of long-term employees. Garnered over
time through the school of hard knocks, most of this invaluable, undocumented knowledge is lost when those employees
retire. While this may not have been much of problem in
the past, it's now hitting a crisis point, given the perfect
skilled-workforce storm bearing down on plant maintenance
departments everywhere.
Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Washington, notes that the Millennial generation, which,
so far, has tended to avoid the types of jobs that keep plants
up and running, will comprise approximately 50% of the
workforce in 2020. With the number of industrial-mechanic
positions projected to grow 16% from 2014 to 2024, it's
imperative for maintenance organizations to move quickly
to develop adequate talent pipelines. According to Billy
Hamilton, senior vice president of Human Resources for
Motion Industries (MotionIndustries.com, Birmingham,
AL), operations that aren't proactive in this regard could find
themselves facing devastating levels of production downtime.

What can you do?
"As it turns out," Hamilton explained, "there are
a number of steps a site can take to mitigate the
issue at hand." Among them:
■ First, partner with your human-resource
department to determine if the skill sets you
need now are the same ones you will need in
the future. If so, sit down with your plantmaintenance personnel and determine a likely
timeframe for retirements. Waiting until an
employee tells you that he or she is retiring
is far too late. Create a part-time program
for those who think they are ready to retire.
You might be able to keep them engaged for
several years.
■ In addition to discussing retirement
with maintenance-team members, start
documenting processes in detail, preferably
through video recordings. The cost associated
with recording these processes is minimal
if the data accelerates the learning curve of
new employees.
■ Next, reach out to your already-retired
maintenance personnel. Many retirees find
themselves bored six months to a year after
leaving the workforce. You might be surprised
to find a number of highly skilled workers
willing to work part-time, even if it is only a
few weeks a year during a plant shutdown or
major overhaul. In light of the lessons these
people might pass on, a flexible work arrangement with them would be well worth having.
■ Finally, work with your local high school,
vocational school, and/or community colleges
to develop a certification program. Offer
apprenticeships and help with obtaining the
necessary equipment for the school. Again,
there are upfront costs involved, but over the
long run, they're minimal if you develop a
skilled workforce that meets your needs.
Don't wait.
Hamilton acknowledges that there's no silverbullet solution for the problem of lost tribal
knowledge. "But," he said, "being proactive,
flexible, and creative in your planning for this
loss will certainly lessen the pain. The key is to
start as early as possible." MT

- Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Billy Hamilton has 26 years of experience in the field of human resources, which includes his current role with Motion
Industries, Birmingham, AL, and, prior to that, work with companies such as Overhead Door Corp. and Lockheed
Martin. For more information on a wide range of plant-maintenance topics, visit MotionIndustries.com
AUGUST 2017

MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM | 33


http://www.MotionIndustries.com http://www.MotionIndustries.com http://www.MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology August 2017

Editorial
Uptime
On The Floor
Reliable Security, Reliable Operations
Highly Charged Reliability
Drowning in Data? Look to the 'Stars'
Reliable Pumping Supplement
SAP: Tips and Tricks
Steam-Trap Inspections
Saving Tribal Knowledge
Seats for Butterfly Valves
IIoT
ISO 55000
Understand Lube ID Systems
Tomato Processor Boosts Steam Output, Cuts Emissions
Products
Ad Index
Showcase
Final Thought
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 1
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Cover1
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Cover2
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 1
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 2
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 3
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Editorial
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 5
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Uptime
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 7
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - On The Floor
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 9
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Reliable Security, Reliable Operations
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 11
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 12
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 13
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 14
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 15
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Highly Charged Reliability
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 17
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 18
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Drowning in Data? Look to the 'Stars'
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 20
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 21
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 22
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Reliable Pumping Supplement
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 24
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 25
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 26
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 27
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 28
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 29
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 30
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - SAP: Tips and Tricks
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Steam-Trap Inspections
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Saving Tribal Knowledge
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Seats for Butterfly Valves
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - IIoT
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - ISO 55000
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Understand Lube ID Systems
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 38
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 39
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Tomato Processor Boosts Steam Output, Cuts Emissions
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 41
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 42
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Products
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 44
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - 45
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Ad Index
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Showcase
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Final Thought
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Cover3
Maintenance Technology August 2017 - Cover4
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