Industrial maintenance: a job field undergoing deep changes
Healthy order backlogs, plants running full steam ahead… To handle the ramp-up of different programs, Safran needs production facilities that combine high performance and high reliability. At the heart of this challenge is industrial maintenance.
While the maintenance of industrial equipment and machinery has long been stuck with a rather old-fashioned reputation, today it is undergoing deep changes and is a key to meeting our production challenges. “Our profession has to meet three main objectives,” explains Gilles Malgrati, industrial maintenance job field coordinator at Safran. “First, maintain and repair our machinery and equipment so that it operates properly and stays up and running. Secondly, keep an eye on things: we no longer wait for a failure to act! We have set up preventive measures, such as monitoring key indicators, to identify abnormal readings and plan ahead for the required actions. Thirdly, improve our production resources and make them more robust, by drawing up maintenance plans and supporting continuous improvement actions.”
Today, nearly 1,000 Safran employees work in this field, handling four main functions: maintenance engineering and intervention, primarily technical, and maintenance and performance management. The latter function was recently created to support the transformation of this job field.
Towards predictive maintenance
Given the backdrop of a fast-paced ramp-up in production, industrial maintenance plays a strategic role. It is also undergoing deep changes, along with many other functions in our industry. One focal point is more predictive maintenance, which calls on new skills. As Gilles Malgrati emphasizes, “Our profession is becoming more ‘mechatronic’, by which I mean it combines mechanics, electronics and automation, coupled with an ability to develop expertise in industrial IT, programming and the Internet of Things, or connected objects.”
A second trend is the increasing importance of performance management. This new function, at the crossroads between maintenance and production, requires skills in analysis, synthesizing information, listening to people, negotiations and leading a multidisciplinary team. “We’re looking for highly versatile people, with a multi-technical culture and an understanding of continuous improvement tools,” adds Gilles.
The third major changeover involves tools and ways of working. “With Factory 4.0 now taking shape, computer-aided maintenance management* and digital technology are becoming more and more important,” notes Gilles. “We also have to break down silos between people and actions, develop communications and foster confidence.”
All of these changes demand upskilling! “We have identified two main training objectives,” says Gilles. “First, better understanding of automation techniques, including robotics and cobotics. Secondly, extending our profession to include industrial IT and programming, so we can collaborate with data analysts and scientists.” These trends entail strong recruitment needs. In-house, it concerns mostly engineering and performance management positions. Outside the company, we’re looking for technicians. There are currently about 50 job openings on the Safran website. “This job field is becoming more attractive than ever,” says Gilles. “It makes employees a pivotal part of production, and also places them in contact with many other functions across the enterprise. It’s very fulfilling when you’re technically minded and you want to get involved, to innovate and to find solutions. Not to mention that it also paves the way for various transfers, since our maintenance staff work with different people throughout the company.”
* Computer-aided maintenance management draws on a virtual “health logbook” for all production machines, listing all servicing operations and changes made since commissioning.
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- © Cyril Abad / CAPA Pictures / Safran