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What is Industrial Maintenance?

Industrial maintenance refers to servicing, repairing, and replacing physical assets — from as small as a bearing to as large as a building — in an industrial setting. The ultimate goal of industrial maintenance is to maximize asset longevity and productivity. Poorly running machinery consumes excessive energy, leads to wasted materials, and causes costly downtime.

When industrial maintenance teams can keep assets running as designed, it helps maximize safety, output, and uptime, boosting the bottom line.

What are Some Common Industrial Maintenance Tasks?

Because industrial maintenance refers to such a wide range of assets, the types of tasks done vary widely as well. Across a variety of industries, some of the most common can include:

  • Performing preventive maintenance on a regular basis
  • Performing unplanned maintenance tasks in the event of breakdowns
  • Maintenance troubleshooting and repairs
  • Completing work orders
  • Installing new equipment or systems
  • Conducting machine disassembly as needed
  • Using maintenance KPIs to meet safety metrics and uptime targets
  • Handling all aspects of compliance and audits
A computerized maintenance management system, or CMMS, can help with many of these tasks.

Which Industries use Industrial Maintenance?

An industrial maintenace worker reviews equipment data on a tablet

Industrial Maintenance Worker

All organizations that operate machinery use some type of industrial maintenance, whether or not they have an entire department devoted to it. A few that rely on industrial maintenance to operate include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Oil & gas/energy
  • Automotive
  • Food & beverage

What Jobs are Available in Industrial Maintenance?

There are numerous types of industrial maintenance jobs, suiting a wide range of skill sets and education or training backgrounds. Demand for these roles is increasing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Apprenticeship programs are available, giving people the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and training. These apprenticeships can vary in length from one year to six years.

Most jobs in this field require a high school diploma or a GED, and in some cases, additional certifications. As technology changes, so does the field, creating new opportunities.

The industrial maintenance mechanic and industrial maintenance technician positions share similarities, though in many cases, technicians are more specialized. These jobs focus on installing, repairing, and maintaining industrial machinery. In addition, these roles are often tasked with testing and measuring equipment to assess performance.

Industrial electricians install, repair, and maintain electrical systems in industrial settings.

Industrial maintenance managers oversee people as well as assets. They ensure that their team is performing tasks correctly and on time, following guidelines and regulations, and meeting the long-term goals of the organization.

Industrial maintenance managers oversee planning and scheduling so their team has the right people, parts, and tools to perform their work. Prioritizing all of the work that needs to be done is critical to a successful industrial maintenance program. It involves communicating with maintenance team members and management, synthesizing an extensive amount of data, maintaining budgets, and more.

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (PM) is simply maintenance performed at a regular cadence in order to reduce the likelihood of failures. It is straightforward and predictable and helps extend asset life and prevent unplanned downtime.

Using this strategy, maintenance is performed at points determined by the average life cycle of an asset or based on guidance from the manufacturer of the asset. It does not account for the condition of the individual asset. While this does lead to some maintenance tasks being completed before they are actually necessary, it is still a valuable maintenance strategy because it enables teams to accurately plan their budget, inventory, and scheduling.

An industrial maintenance worker in the oil industry communicates with their team from the field
What is Reactive Maintenance?

Reactive maintenance refers to the tasks performed after an asset breaks down. In settings where teams don’t have the time or tools to prioritize effectively, reactive maintenance can become the default strategy.

While the strategy itself requires no cost to implement, it can lead to unnecessary spending on expensive replacements. Unforeseen failures can lead to unplanned downtime and production stoppages. Many maintenance leaders aim to move their team from reactive maintenance to a more proactive maintenance strategy. Today, that push is often toward predictive maintenance or prescriptive maintenance.

An industrial maintenance software such as eMaint can help teams ensure that assets are kept in peak operating condition.

Why use Industrial Maintenance Software?

eMaint can track all of the work done on every asset. When teams track, trend, and analyze asset condition data, they can make better decisions, prioritize their scheduling and spending, and reduce costs.

Increased visibility into industrial maintenance activities enables teams to identify trends, adapt to changing priorities, and improve their communication and processes. Centralizing all documentation — from contracts to manuals — simplifies the compliance process and ensures that maintenance team members can securely access the information they need anytime and anywhere.

To make the most of your industrial maintenance program, you need to define your goals and targets. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can track metrics, generate reports, and deliver insights you can use to reach your goals.