June 27, 2024

| 5 min read

10 Ways Maintenance Can Help Conquer Today’s Biggest Business Obstacles

What can maintenance teams do to help meet the biggest business challenges of 2024? The impact of maintenance goes far beyond just downtime, so let’s dive into the results of Rockwell Automation’s 9th annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report (SoSM) to uncover the top obstacles facing manufacturers, how maintenance teams can help, and the useful technology investments delivering results.

State of smart manufacturing book

Get your free copy of the 2024 SoSM Report

Download (opens in new tab)

The State of Smart Manufacturing

If you had to summarize this year’s SoSM report in one word, it might be “optimistic.” While the challenges facing manufactures are real, so are the potential solutions. In the face of economic headwinds, labor shortages, skills gaps, and cybersecurity concerns, decision-makers are turning to advanced industrial operations technology like AI to meet their concerns (SoSM, pg. 5). But before we get to the solutions, let’s breakdown the report’s top challenges to manufacturing growth in 2024.

By automating data analysis to generate predictive and prescriptive actions, industrial organizations can realize efficiency gains and overcome key challenges.
– Sandy D’Souza, Fiix Product Expert

The Top Obstacles to Growth in 2024

As in previous years, this year’s SoSM report distinguishes between external and internal obstacles to growth.

Top 5 External Obstacles to Growth

  1. Inflation
  2. Rising energy costs
  3. Cybersecurity risks
  4. Shortages of skilled workers
  5. Supply chain disruption

Unsurprisingly, rising inflation and energy prices topped the list as global events and supply-demand mismatches continue to impact companies in all sectors. In fact, inflation tops the list of external obstacles for the second year running. These pressures hit manufacturers particularly hard because they depend on physical inputs and often run comparatively energy-intensive operations.

Interestingly, the emergence of cybersecurity risks in the number three spot speaks to the double-edged nature of technological progress: As manufacturers invest in the interconnectivity between the physical and digital worlds through OT and IT technology, this progress has also brought with it novel security concerns.

Finally, skilled worker shortages and supply chain disruption continue to dampen growth, although there are some encouraging signs on the horizon that the supply chain issues may be finally coming to an end.

Top 5 Internal Obstacles to Growth

  1. Attracting new employees with desired skillsets
  2. Deploying and integrating new technology
  3. Internal budget constraints
  4. Balancing quality and growth
  5. Capturing and contextualizing data to improve

Topping this year’s list of internal growth obstacles, the global skilled labor shortage rears its head once again, with respondents agreeing on the difficulty of attracting new talent. Related to this, the challenge of deploying new technologies took the number two spot, with the difficulties compounded by the skills shortage.

Budget constraints and the endless tug-of-war between quality and growth took the number three and four spots, respectively, reflecting perennial business concerns.

Finally, the challenge of collecting and interpreting data for improvement was revealed to be widespread, capturing the number five spot.

How Maintenance Teams Can Help

Maintenance teams have a unique role to play in addressing these obstacles to growth. Far from being a silo or cost center, maintenance is in fact uniquely poised to help manufacturers rise to their challenges.

Here are the top ten ways maintenance teams can help meet both the external and internal challenges to growth we explored above.

External Obstacles

  1. Inflation: Control maintenance costs by optimizing equipment performance, minimizing downtime, and extending asset lifespan, thus mitigating the impact of inflation on operational expenses.
  2. Rising energy costs: By implementing preventive maintenance schedules and energy-saving strategies, teams can reduce equipment inefficiencies and energy waste, resulting in lower energy consumption and cost savings over time.
  3. Cybersecurity risks: A high-quality CMMS offers robust security features and data encryption protocols to protect sensitive maintenance data from cyber threats, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of critical information within the system.
  4. Shortage of skilled workers: Enhance workforce productivity by providing intuitive tools and resources for maintenance teams, enabling them to work more efficiently and autonomously, thus mitigating the impact of skilled labor shortages on maintenance operations.
  5. Supply chain disruption: Minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions by optimizing spare parts inventory management, identifying alternative suppliers, and implementing contingency maintenance plans to ensure equipment uptime and operational continuity during disruptions.

Maintenance impacts all three components of OEE – Availability, Performance and Quality. With modern technologies, maintenance teams can proactively identify the early warning signs of issues that can negatively impact OEE and thereby improve profitability.
– Sandy D’Souza, Fiix Product Expert

Internal Obstacles

  1. Attracting new employees with desired skillsets: Enhance workforce attraction by adopting modern, cloud-based, and user-friendly technologies that help improve productivity and organization. Its intuitive interface and advanced features attract skilled workers looking for simple solutions to help with everyday tasks and decision making.
  2. Deploying and integrating new technology: Simplify the deployment and integration of new technology by seeking solutions that offer seamless compatibility with existing systems through easy-to-use APIs, ensuring smooth implementation and minimal disruption to operations.
  3. Internal budget constraints: Understand the ROI of operational tools like a CMMS, which offers transparent pricing models and flexible subscription options, which allows organizations to align their maintenance software investment with budget constraints without compromising on functionality or performance.
  4. Balancing quality and growth: Balance quality and growth by optimizing the maintenance processes that reduce downtime and improve asset reliability, thereby enabling manufacturers to meet increasing production demands without sacrificing product quality or customer satisfaction.
  5. Capturing and contextualizing data to improve: Use a CMMS to take advantage of advanced data analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing your organization to capture, analyze, and contextualize maintenance data to identify trends, optimize performance, and drive continuous improvement across their operations.
State of smart manufacturing book

Get your free copy of the 2024 SoSM Report

Download (opens in new tab)

How Manufacturers Are Responding

Meanwhile, prompted by these internal and external pressures, manufacturers are stepping up technology investment to counter risks and meet their growth obstacles head-on. In fact, technology investment in manufacturing is up 30% year-over-year (SoSM, pg. 9)!

The Top 5 Investments for ROI in 2024

  1. Cloud/SaaS
  2. GenAI or causal AI
  3. 5G
  4. AI/ML
  5. Supply Chain Planning (SCP)

To meet 2024’s unique challenges, manufacturers are rallying behind Cloud/SaaS and GenAI solutions, voting them in as the first- and second-best choices for return on investment. More general AI/ML solutions also make the list, coming in at number four. And in fact, AI/ML were also selected as delivering bigger business outcomes than any other capability in 2024 (pg. 10)! Essentially what we’re seeing is companies using Cloud and AI technologies as a lever to offset the pressure of multiple external obstacles.

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) rocketed up the technology priority list over the last twelve months, creating fierce demand for industrial applications embedded with this transformative technology
– SoSM, pg. 4

Manufacturers and their maintenance teams can take advantage of these new technologies to overcome business obstacles by adopting a cloud-based, AI-powered CMMS solution like Fiix CMMS. Without a doubt, a CMMS like Fiix can exert a positive influence on every single one of the 10 internal and external business growth obstacles discussed above, digitizing existing process while unlocking entirely new ways of using your maintenance data to make decisions. But don’t take our word for it: Try Fiix for free today!

Paired with a data-driven culture, a modern CMMS can help establish corporate standards, set KPIs, and most importantly, measure operational performance and improvements over time.
– Sandy D’Souza, Fiix Product Expert

About the SoSM Report

The State of Smart Manufacturing Report is an industry benchmark report detailing how manufacturers, OEMs, EPCs, SIs, and others are using and planning for technology in response to the challenges and opportunities they’re facing. The quality of any survey depends on a representative sample, and by drawing upon a large base of global industrial expertise, Rockwell Automation has made the 9th annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report their largest to date. Here are some key facts about this year’s report:

  • 1,567 decision-makers in manufacturing participated in the survey
  • 17 of the world’s top manufacturing countries were represented
  • 64% of respondents work for firms with >$1B in revenue
  • The top industries surveyed were electronics/semiconductors, automotive, metals, and CPG
Fiix State of Manufacturing Report thumbnail
State of smart manufacturing book

Download the full SoSM report now to find out what’s working for leading manufacturers. Plus, get a 10-step checklist for technology adoption success.

Download (opens in new tab)

Get a nine-step plan for modernizing maintenance

See it in The Business Leader's Guide to Digital Transformation in Maintenance

Download the guide

Business leader's guide to digital transformation

Want to see Fiix in action?

No problem. You can try it today.

Free tour

fiix dashboard screenshot