Factory technician

Identifying the Right Skills for Maintenance

Jan. 4, 2023
Manufacturers have to rethink their hiring and recruitment approach—and their structure.

The 2022 Machine Design Salary & Career Survey continued to point at the shortage of manufacturers workers as a critical barrier to industry growth and productivity. The survey found that 68% of respondents said they believe there is a shortage of engineers, while 70.5% said their company is having difficulty finding engineers for open positions. Positions for systems engineers (46.6%) and mechanical design (58.4%) are in particularly short supply. More information on this year’s Salary & Career Survey can be found at this link.

Another area of concern is in maintenance, and companies are struggling to find and train maintenance professionals who can maintain uptime and drive productivity gains, especially in plants where capital investments have not kept up with technology changes.

As IndustryWeek’s Jill Jusko reported this week, manufacturers are rethinking what they need in maintenance personnel. She quotes Jeff Nevenhoven, maintenance and reliability manager at the Delano, Minn. factory of KLN Family Brands in Perham, Minn. as saying they have changed their hiring criteria. “We had to start thinking differently (as in) ‘How do we get people here that can help us and maybe not have everything we would have liked to have, but who have some very specific skill sets that we can start with and then grow and develop them?’” Nevenhoven said.

The pet snack manufacturer will also introduce a pilot program at the Delano plant that manufactures its Tuffy Treat brand. The plan is to separate the traditional maintenance department into a group focused on maintenance and another targeting reliability.

IndustryWeek, a Machine Design content partner, is also conducting its annual Technology Survey. To participate in the survey, click here.

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