Maintenance Q&As

Maintenance Training | Industrial & Facilities Maintenance

Answered May 04 2019

Maintenance Training Metrics, Resources & Costs

Investing in your maintenance team is a key part of keeping your facility running at its best. Industrial maintenance training is a huge part of how technicians perform their work, and without sufficient skills training or certifications, a facility can be stuck in permanent reactive mode (always responding to emergencies, never planning for the future).

However, problems in a facility can often be tough to identify because so many factors can cause emergency and reactive maintenance. Despite this, we can identify trends throughout a facility and use these trends to train maintenance staff more effectively. Think of this less like “skills my technicians lack” and more like “ways to prepare technicians better for the facility’s needs” – this is more an investment in technician skill than a deficiency in your employees.

What is maintenance training?

Maintenance training involves the education or seminars that take place to ensure that you become an expert in your industry and maintenance program. There are a wide array of formats, whether they are in-person training programs, or online trainings. 

What training is needed to become a maintenance technician?

Maintenance technicians should have an overall background in preventive maintenance and maintenance courses. This could take place during facilities management courses, trade school classes, vocational schools, community colleges, universities, or beyond. We recommend having a basic understanding of training curriculum in your area of specialty, which could include electricity, woodworking, roofing, HVAC repair, or reliability engineering. 

How to know when your maintenance team needs more training

Not all maintenance supervisors want to admit their team doesn’t know everything. But the truth is, we’re all human and there is always a skills gap. To assess whether your team needs technical training, we list a few things to consider. 

Look at percentage of planned vs. reactive maintenance

As I’ve mentioned above, one way to investigate training needs is to look at the percentage of planned vs. reactive maintenance, especially on a per area basis. If one area of a facility is consistently performing 70-80% reactive maintenance, this could be a problem with assets or it could be that technicians lack the required training to perform their PMs.

Look at trends in reactive maintenance patterns

It’s also important to look at trends within these reactive maintenance patterns. A facility might see one hundred different reasons for reactive maintenance tasks, which isn’t super helpful, or they might see one or two frequent reasons, in which case they can diagnose a lack of training or knowledge. For example, if an asset consistently fails for lubrication, the facility can identify a need (proper training of lubrication techniques) and fix it.

Train when new technology is implemented

Another sign is the implementation of new assets, technology, or software. Too often, facilities implement something like a CMMS without worrying about the training (which is why nearly 80% of implementations fail). The facility then receives complaints about using the system despite the fact that they think it’s easy to use. Training on new technologies is vital for making sure maintenance staff can even use them (let alone perform maintenance on them).

The importance of maintenance training

Many industry studies show that downtime can be significantly reduced with adequate training. For example, an electrical distribution equipment company projects that roughly three-fourths of unplanned shutdowns are caused by human mistakes. (Source: https://www.onupkeep.com/answers/facility-management/how-much-should-i-be-spending-on-training-for-my-maintenance-team/)

Breakdown of maintenance training costs

Like many questions, the answer to this one is that it really depends on many factors. However, if you’re looking for a world-class benchmark, you can shoot for 4 percent of your total labor costs, which can be dedicated to training.

The best place to start in making this decision is to evaluate or measure what you’re currently spending on training.

Calculating Maintenance Training Metrics

You can calculate your average training cost per employee by simply dividing your total cost for training by the number of internal maintenance employees. Variations include looking at the measurements as a percentage of total maintenance costs as well as divided by job classification, depending on how you want to view your data.

When you’re looking at your total training costs, you should include all the wages paid during training as well as transportation, travel, registration and other fees, and material costs. Your maintenance employees should include all your direct, indirect, salaried, and hourly maintenance staff.

Maintenance training courses

The number and kind of training opportunities are numerous and varied. You definitely want to ensure that your maintenance team is trained on all safety requirements including OSHA, LOTO, and JSA. In addition, you may invest in leadership or managerial training for your maintenance managers as well as in CMMS, software, and strategy courses. Organizations such as FMEA and RCFA offer certifications in reliability-centered maintenance.

Maintenance technicians may benefit from technical skills training such as welding, balancing, and blueprint reading courses in addition to certifications in specific areas such as thermography and ultrasound. Many conventions and conferences also offer continuing education seminars and workshops that should be counted in overall training.

See a full list of our recommended maintenance training courses here.

Example of Budget Breakdown

Your actual training budget will need to be based on your unique number of maintenance employees as well as selected training courses and certifications. However, here is a possible example:

Let’s say you have a maintenance team that includes one maintenance manager, three maintenance shift supervisors, and a dozen maintenance technicians. Over the course of the year, you might spend $2,000 on safety training, $7,000 on hydraulic systems training, $1,000 on team-building, $2,000 on CMMS training, and $4,000 for conference participation. That would average out to $1,000 of training expenses per year. If you have a total labor budget of $400,000, you’d be at world-class training expense levels.

Conclusion

In conclusion, investing in your maintenance team training could have a long-term return on investment. In order to shift from reactive to preventive maintenance work orders, you need to equip your team members with the skills to prepare for utility issues before they arise. With a strong maintenance training program, you will be well on your way to becoming a leader in the maintenance and reliability industry. 

 

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