Column Maintenance Reliability Training Workforce

Successful R&M Requires Culture Change

Klaus M. Blache | February 1, 2023

At the most-recent Reliability & Maintenance Center members meeting, we collected answers to questions to get a feel for the current “state of reliability and maintenance (R&M)” as we usher in 2023.

All companies that I’ve been in contact with during the past year are struggling to recruit and retain skilled workers, including engineers and plant-floor technicians/trades.

Because of the many rapidly changing influences, bottlenecks, challenges, and opportunities, today’s company organizational models must change to thrive or survive. It remains that 70% of the challenge is getting the culture right. Here are our poll results. EP

Of the companies responding, 54% have adequate to very significant efforts underway to upskill their workforce. This includes upskilling operators to assist in maintenance.

Insufficient workforce availability was the largest common challenge, driving much of the upskilling initiatives.

Digital technology adoption is growing but still not that significant. Advanced HMIs have the most implementation when looking at a weighted level of adoption.

CMMS satisfaction is not effective to only satisfactory, according to 60% of respondents.

Cobots are coming, but not too fast according to the respondents.

Supply-chain issues continue to have a large negative impact (80% significant and very significant).

Finding workers continues to be a significant issue with 40% of respondents filling less than 25% of approved headcount.

Based in Knoxville, Dr. Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at



Klaus M. Blache

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