While 55% of firms do not currently outsource maintenance and asset management, they planned to study its potential over the next year. A spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Firms were picking up business and looking to bring in outsourced maintenance workers on the short-term as cover.”
Food and drink manufacturers accounted for about 15% of firms included in the survey, he added.
Nearly half (41%) of firms reported that the current economic climate had not forced them to postpone major planned investments in new equipment.
Nearly eight in 10 maintenance and engineering managers said they expected their budget to increase or remain the same this year. Matt Benyon, md of EasyFairs UK and Ireland, said: “Businesses are still finding it tough, but many realise that cutting back on maintenance budgets is false economy.”
More than a third (36%) of firms surveyed said they planned to use their maintenance budget to improve plant productivity by increasing machine efficiency.
Over two-thirds (70%) of respondents said their firm’s directors judged productivity to be the main measure of plant performance. That was followed by downtime (61%) and running costs (42%).
Reflecting those priorities, 55% of firms reported that that their budgets would be spent on predictive maintenance technology to “extend plant longevity, improve efficiency and avoid catastrophic, costly plant failures”, saidthe spokesman.
In addition to predictive techniques, 45% of firms said that they planned to use part of their maintenance budgets on training, 42% on energy management and 39% on inventory and spare parts management.
Brussels-based EasyFairs organises Maintec 2012, an exhibition for the industrial maintenance sector. The event will take place between Tuesday 28 February and Thursday March 1 at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.
Meanwhile, ease of maintenance has emerged as a key requirement in the design of new fork lift trucks (FLT), according to our sister publication Food Manufacture.
Nathan Leach, assistant distribution manager at chilled foods company Samworth Brothers, says more rugged FLT designs are needed to keep pace with modern warehouses. A reduction in forklift servicing charges would also help to keep down the cost of maintaining vehicles, he added.
Convenience foods manufacturer Greencore shares Samworth's concern. "The biggest issue on forklift trucks is the price of maintenance," said a Greencore spokesman.
"The 'up-time’ and performance of the vehicles in the environment is key because these vehicles are costly to maintain. Future designs need to last because manufacturers can't work with equipment that requires constant servicing.”
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