12 April, 2024

‘Industry In Motion’ 2023 Maintenance Engineering Report published

10 July, 2023

RS, an omni-channel provider of product and service solutions including maintenance solutions and safety solutions, has released the ‘Industry in Motion’ 2023 Maintenance Engineering Report, in conjunction with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), based on findings from a survey that aimed to ‘take the pulse’ of the profession.

The survey was conducted among more than 1200 IMechE members and the report focuses on the responses of almost 700 people in the UK and Ireland. The respondents were from sectors including manufacturing and are working in job roles like engineering manager. The resulting report covers five key areas: monitoring maintenance engineering, skills, the true cost of breakdowns, raising performance through stakeholder collaboration, and harnessing technology to improve efficiency.

The top three challenges respondents cited as expecting to affect them over the next 12 months were attracting talent (47% inflation and higher costs (47%), and supply chain disruption (40 %). But the report also delves into a key issue: drivers of unscheduled downtime and its cost to a business. Ageing assets and mechanical failures are the biggest drivers of unscheduled downtime, and the report revealed:

Nearly 20 hours are spent each week on unscheduled maintenance, compared with around 18 hours spent each week on scheduled maintenance

The average hourly cost of downtime is £5121.81 (ranges from c. £1700 to £7.5k depending on size of business)

The average weekly cost of unscheduled downtime is £100,371

Organisations need to get a grip on maintenance spend, as nearly a third of respondents do not know what proportion of their annual operating budget is spent on maintenance; 30% state approximately 5% – 10% is spent. Survey respondents cited the highest priority plans for decreasing unscheduled downtime as upgrading equipment (48%) and widening monitoring capabilities (46 per cent). In a bid to further tackle the issue, planned maintenance has emerged as the number one company strategy in place, deemed the highest priority by 53% of respondents.

Emma Botfield, managing director for RS in the UK and Ireland, said: “The challenges facing businesses today mean that maintenance engineers are even more critical to manufacturing success, while under pressure to do more with their existing resources which often include ageing assets. They’re also firefighting because of the geopolitical environment and its effect on supply chains.”

The issue of an ageing skilled workforce and a large age gap to the next engineers coming through was highlighted in the report. Meanwhile, Millennials – a group that made up more than half of the respondent pool – are reaching key decision-making positions within organisations. Botfield added: “These Millennials hold a real opportunity to affect change and should work with stakeholders and suppliers to find fresh solutions, and tackle maintenance problems that may be keeping them up at night head-on.”

According to data from Engineering UK, people aged between 25 and 34 now constitute the largest single age group in engineering roles.

Lydia Amarquaye, Professional Development and Education Policy Advisor at the IMechE, said: “Millennials have grown up with different technologies and they will be trying to implement some of these in their work to make life more efficient for themselves. I think we’re going to see the effects of this shift coming through in the way that businesses are conducted, as it plays into management styles. So, I think it is going to be exciting for the industry as a whole.”

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