Promoting someone to a management position is about recognizing their ability to succeed in that role. It means leaving behind old job duties and picking up bigger responsibilities. For maintenance techs transitioning into a management position, the contrast can be stark. Maintenance managers aren’t lubricating bearings or replacing valve stem packing — they’re overseeing maintenance operations and finding new ways to do their old job better.
Finding a qualified maintenance manager isn’t as easy as promoting your best tech. While someone may be a superb maintenance engineer, they may not possess the skills needed to oversee operations. Managing people, reviewing maintenance data, and developing strategies is a far cry from manual labor.
In a nutshell, the role of a maintenance manager is to prevent and avoid problems. It’s the job of maintenance techs to fix these problems.
What makes a good manager?
The skills learned turning a wrench on the factory floor are invaluable. But a manager needs more than mechanical know-how — he or she needs a variety of interpersonal skills, critical thinking abilities, and analytical smarts.
- Leadership is imperative. Being able to rally a team, define goals, set expectations, teach, and motivate are all essential management skills. In a factory setting, they’re also key to an effective maintenance approach.
- Identification skills are also crucial. Being able to sense tension among workers, identify ongoing problems, route inefficiencies, and groom subordinates for success are part of a manager’s job duties.
- Flexibility is vital to maintenance management. Adapting to unforeseen situations, coping with unanticipated setbacks, and exploring new modes of delivering service are part of keeping maintenance operations successful.
- Awareness of industry trends, equipment capabilities, interdepartmental relationships, and more are vital to running a department smoothly.
Problem-solving, time management, data analysis skills, and more are all required as well. These are skills learned on the job and through a focus on professional development. They’re not always the product of hands-on maintenance experience.
Good managers open doors to the future
Today, maintenance managers are also saddled with another role: They’re leading the charge for understanding and implementing the industrial internet of things (IIoT).
Because maintenance managers gather and interpret data about maintenance operations, as well as broader industry maintenance trends, they’re best equipped to provide insights when it comes to the IIoT.
- Managers will have insights about the frequency and the nature of preventive maintenance.
- They’ll be able to benchmark data about different facets of maintenance, including strengths and weaknesses.
- Their insights will be able to inform decisions about investments and improvements in maintenance strategy.
- They’ll understand and be able to qualify (or even quantify) the benefit of implementing IIoT products.
Maintenance managers can and should play a pivotal role in deciding how to move manufacturing into the age of Industry 4.0. Their understanding of maintenance operations, coupled with a keen understanding of the physical work, leads to insightful decision-making about IIoT investments.
When you combine hands-on maintenance experience, interpersonal and leadership skills, and the ability to think critically about new technologies, you get a maintenance manager who is ready to push the bounds of success within your factory.