September 2022 - 6

column | implementations
Going to
Fix the
Dr. Klaus M. Blache
Univ. of Tennessee Reliability
and Maintainability Center
a group of reliability and maintenance
practitioners from
various companies was discussing what a
professional organization for maintenance
and reliability should entail. That was the
beginning of the Society for Maintenance
and Reliability Professionals (SMRP, smrp.
org). I remember many of those discussions
being about how to raise the level of awareness
and importance of this work, attain
recognition as a profession, and establish
common best practices. Much progress
has been made since then, as evidenced by
improved tools, techniques, and operational
performance results. However, the stigma of
a maintainer still leaves room for improvement,
with too many outside of maintenance
not yet understanding.
In 2020, there were 1,444,100 " General
Maintenance and Repair Workers " in the
United Sates (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook). Expected
growth (2020 to 2030) is 8%, same as the
industry average for all occupations. Openings
each year are projected at about 152,300,
mainly because of retirees and transfers to
other occupations. When you read the handbook's
description of how to become a General
Maintenance and Repair worker it states,
" typically requires a high school diploma or
equivalent...often learn their skills on the job
for several years. They start out performing
simple tasks while watching and learning
from skilled maintenance workers. "
Industrial Machinery Mechanics, MachinManufacturing
are becoming increasingly
sophisticated at a time when
we are facing a severe, longterm
shortage of people with
the skills needed to maintain
those systems.
ery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights
are at 501,500 workers (2020). It's stated that
these jobs typically require a high school
diploma and at least a year of on-the-job training.
Most millwrights go through an apprenticeship
program that may last four years. On
the upside, a 19% growth is anticipated (2020
to 2030). But where are they all going to come
from? Most of the companies I'm in contact
with are looking for skilled trades. A National
Association of Business Economics (NABE)
survey indicated that 57% of respondents
confirmed this shortage.
In a Washington Post article (9/4/21),
" Why America has 8.4 million unemployed
when there are 10 million job openings, "
the author states that the last wave of baby
boomers is retiring. As a result of the COVID
pandemic (and future uncertainties), people
have changed their expectations regarding
what they want from a job, what they are willing
to do, and how they want to work. If your
maintenance workers aren't treated like part
of the team, they have other choices.
I'm hearing about some apprentice
programs beginning again, but that's already
four years too late and not enough. Many
skilled trades/technicians are using predictive
technologies, condition-based monitoring,
working with machine learning, and performing
root-cause analysis with related analytics.
They're on design teams for new projects, providing
input and reviewing design-for-maintainability
for new equipment.
Repairs will still be needed in ten years,
but skilled trades may say, " That's something
I can't repair remotely, so it's going to cost
you three times as much...and if you need
it quickly that's an extra premium, because
there aren't enough of us. " We need to fix the
problem, from perceptions to better defining
the roles/responsibilities, to training. EP
Based in Knoxville, Dr. Klaus M.
Blache is director of the Reliability &
Maintainability Center at the Univ. of
Tennessee, and a research professor in
the College of Engineering. Contact him

September 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September 2022

September 2022 - Cover1
September 2022 - Cover2
September 2022 - 1
September 2022 - 2
September 2022 - 3
September 2022 - 4
September 2022 - 5
September 2022 - 6
September 2022 - 7
September 2022 - 8
September 2022 - 9
September 2022 - 10
September 2022 - 11
September 2022 - 12
September 2022 - 13
September 2022 - 14
September 2022 - 15
September 2022 - 18
September 2022 - 17
September 2022 - 18
September 2022 - 19
September 2022 - 20
September 2022 - 21
September 2022 - 22
September 2022 - 23
September 2022 - 24
September 2022 - 25
September 2022 - 26
September 2022 - 27
September 2022 - 28
September 2022 - 29
September 2022 - 30
September 2022 - 31
September 2022 - 32
September 2022 - Cover3
September 2022 - Cover4