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The Perfect Maintenance Storm

As the skilled workforce ages and with few recruits to replace them, manufacturers are facing difficult decisions about how to maintain their automated systems.

A perfect storm is coming, and questions remain as to how U.S. manufacturers are going to navigate it. Manufacturers realize they need to automate to remain viable in today’s manufacturing environment, but with an aging workforce, fewer trade-skilled people entering the industry, a drive to minimize the costs associated with keeping a maintenance staff, and more and more complex automation technologies being implemented, it begs the question: How are these automated systems going to be maintained?

Nearly 12 percent of the workforce was comprised of folks 55 years and older in 1990. That number grew to 19.5 percent in 2010, and is expected to grow to 25 percent in 2020, according to an August 2013 Cornell University study. Couple that with the fact that unemployment levels are not rebounding to pre-2008 levels and it suggests that we are already feeling some swells of the storm. Continue Reading →