A lot has changed throughout 2020. Depending on their respective industries, maintenance departments had to face very different challenges.
As we now have a sizable audience, we decided to run a survey to evaluate the current landscape of the maintenance industry. During February, we gathered answers from our users, subscribers, and blog visitors. We ended up with 154 participants, predominantly maintenance and facility managers.
We asked a mix of questions that covered different aspects of their maintenance operations. We inquired about their biggest maintenance challenges, popular maintenance strategies, their long-term investment plans into CMMS and predictive maintenance technology, and similar.
You can find all of the data in our visual report below. To supplement our research, we included a few additional maintenance statistics from top market research sites. This will help us frame the discussion by showing the expected growth rate of specific maintenance sectors.
After the infographic, we discuss our findings in more detail and include additional info that isn’t featured in the infographic.
For those that are here in a hurry, here are the most interesting takeaways from our survey:
finding skilled technicians is the biggest maintenance challenge businesses are facing right now
9 out of 10 facilities are running some preventive maintenance initiatives and 1 in 2 are already using condition-based monitoring technology in some capacity
around 50% of our respondents said that they are using CMMS/EAM software, while a third of them rely on custom spreadsheets to track and manage maintenance work
43% of businesses plan to increase investments into CMMS over the next 2 years
48% of respondents said they plan to invest in condition monitoring and predictive maintenance technology over the next 2 years
lack of upper management support, budget constraints, and current market volatility are the main reasons why some business are not looking to implement modern maintenance technology (like CMMS and predictive maintenance) any time soon
Biggest maintenance challenges right now
The most common challenge cited by our survey participants was staffing issues. More than 30% of our respondents said they suffer from the lack of manpower and that they have a lot of trouble finding skilled maintenance technicians and mechanics.
Lack of a skilled workforce means that maintenance managers need to invest a lot of effort into training and upskilling. So it’s not surprising that training is also on the list of biggest maintenance challenges. It is a natural consequence of staffing issues.
The second on the list is, unsurprisingly, covid-related challenges. Remote work, supply chain issues, high volatility in the volume of needed maintenance work, and new safety guidelines are making an already challenging job that much harder to execute.
A significant chunk of survey participants were Limble CMMS users. Many of them are intensively working on changing their company culture. Implementing a CMMS and switching from reactive to preventive maintenance is a process that takes time. The change in the mindset doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that needs to be nurtured and insisted upon. It’s one of the reasons why we often advise keeping maintenance personnel in the loop from the very beginning of the process. When they are committed to the change and understand how it benefits them personally, they will put more effort into learning new tools and technology.
Other noteworthy challenges were those which every maintenance department experiences at some point. Budget constraints, aging equipment, tone-deaf management, and coordination and communication challenges.
General maintenance trends
Here are some interesting statistics that show the trajectory of the maintenance industry:
It seems that the pandemic didn’t significantly slow down the growth of the maintenance sector. The most affected were companies providing professional facilities management services. This part of the maintenance industry is hit the hardest as companies continue to downsize their commercial property space and move towards remote work.
What you are probably more interested in is the popularity of different maintenance strategies. We are glad to report how the number of plants that rely on reactive maintenance is dropping as businesses move toward proactive maintenance methods. Our research suggests that 9 out of 10 facilities are running preventive maintenance initiatives, which is an increase of 13% when compared to the maintenance trends we reviewed in 2019. Moreover, close to 50% of our respondents said that they are now using condition-monitoring technology in some capacity.
When it comes to outsourcing maintenance work, most facilities (around 85%) have a mixed approach. They do routine maintenance and repairs in-house and outsource specialized maintenance work. Only 10% report that they can cover everything in-house.
There are two major reasons why maintenance ends up being outsourced: lack of time/manpower and lack of specialized skills. Other notable reasons include efforts to reduce maintenance costs and simplify maintenance operations, as well as existing liability and service agreements.
Based on this research and some other reports that have come out in the last 3 years, it seems that the number of organizations that use maintenance software (computerized maintenance management system, enterprise asset management software, or fleet management solutions) is hovering around 50%.
Those that do not use CMMS to track and manage their maintenance operations are either using spreadsheets, computer calendars (like MS Outlook), or resort to analog means (like smartboards, chalkboards, and clipboards). In fact, almost a third of our participants said they rely on custom-built maintenance ticketing spreadsheets.
Cloud-based maintenance solutions are growing in popularity because they are so easy to implement and run. That is not to say there aren’t some organizations that still prefer to install maintenance solutions on their internal company servers. However, we expect the number of on-premise deployments to steadily decrease as businesses move towards cloud-based and hybrid-cloud implementations.
Long-term investment plans
Earlier in the post, we cited research that shows how CMMS, condition monitoring (CBM), and predictive maintenance (PdM) markets are all poised to steadily grow over the next few years. Logically, that would not be the case if there were no businesses that are looking to invest.
According to our survey, 50% of businesses are planning to invest in CBM and PdM technology over the next two years. Similarly, around 40% of organizations are planning to invest (or increase the existing investment) into maintenance software, in the same timeframe.
In all likelihood, those percentages would be much higher if there wasn’t so much uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Only 15% of respondents explicitly said they do not plan to invest in these technologies. The rest just do not know at the moment.
Those that will not be investing cite lack of upper management support, budget constraints, and current market uncertainty as the main reasons why. A small number of participants also cite the fear of failed implementation and not seeing an ROI as a deterring factor.
Despite the challenges, it’s encouraging to see that 1 in 2 businesses are looking to make significant improvements to their maintenance departments over the next year or two.
As the price and availability of modern maintenance solutions continue to improve, the adoption rates can only go up.
With maintenance software and predictive technology at their side, setting up and running proactive maintenance programs will be easier than ever. If we can play a small role in facilitating those improvements, it is a future we look forward to.
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