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Maintenance manager: A changing role

13 September 2018

From 24th to 27th September 2018 the European Maintenance Association EFMNS, BEMAS and Reliabilityweb.com will welcome hundreds of visitors from all over the world for the 23rd edition of Euromaintenance 4.0.

It is the largest maintenance conference held in Europe. Developments in the field of maintenance have been rapid in recent years. Just think of the rise of IoT and predictive analyses, that enable operators to anticipate impending malfunctions. The EFMNS European Maintenance Manager Award will be presented to one of the four nominated candidates during the European Maintenance Manager Award night, held on September 25th, 2018. 

Henriëtte van Norel Salvetti Foundation and EFMNS nominated four candidates from all over Europe for this prestigious prize. The nominees for the European Maintenance Manager Award 2018 are: Mario Cikojevic (Maintenance Manager with Cemex in Croatia), Marc De Kerf (Global Expert Maintenance & Asset Management Petrochemicals, with BASF in Belgium), Jimmy Öberg (Technical Manager with Kopparberg in Sweden) and Antonio Ros Pau (former Maintenance Manager with SEAT in Spain).

Marc De Kerf has been nominated for his vision of maintenance of the future on the operational as well as the conceptual level. De Kerf says: "At BASF Antwerp, where I worked as a Maintenance Manager until 1 year ago, I was responsible for managing the maintenance activities within a cluster of 3 BASF chemical companies and carried out shutdowns of some 20 to 25 weeks annually.

:During this period, I introduced many new working methods, together with my team. Examples are 'Planning and Scheduling (including work permits) in SAP, laying the foundation for SAP budgeting and drawing up a knowledge matrix for the service. Before this period, I participated in the migration of our SAP system and the reorganization of our maintenance structure. Therefore I set up the Heavy Duty Large Rotating Equipment department and we started data-monitoring of the machines as a base for a predictive maintenance system. In the reorganization of the maintenance structure, the traditional role of the maintenance manager was divided into two functions, namely the Maintenance Manager and the Asset Manager. Two officers with different characters who have to work together very closely.”

"The Maintenance Manager is the expert focussing on short-term activities. The 'people manager' who sees troubleshooting, often under high pressure, as a real challenge. The Asset Manager, on the other hand, focuses on long-term activities and is responsible for the reliability of the installation. Like no other, he/she knows which actions are needed to guarantee the reliability of the installation at all times and to bring it to a high level." The division described above created an interesting dynamic. Certainly, in comparison with the earlier model. After all, the Maintenance Manager was responsible for both the short and long-term activities. In practice, this meant that the short-term activities were always done, and that the long-term activities, such as carrying out analyses, were often neglected due to lack of time. Nevertheless, in order to be able to implement improvements in the production process, one often went for a gut feeling.

New model and new roles

“With the introduction of the new roles, new working methods and an improved SAP system, the efficiency of the work preparation increased on one hand and the data quality was improved on the other. This was crucial for the Asset Manager, who constantly needs be able to generate cost drivers and performance killers. Noteworthy is the result achieved: previously, in 40 to 50% of the cases BASF was allocated the costs at the correct 'equipment' level. Now that is 90%.

"The Asset Manager therefore no longer has to make decisions based on a gut feeling, but can do so on the basis of reliable data. Now, he has not only a better grip on the costs, but also a higher installation availability.

 Focus on reliability

The second candidate, Mario Cikojevic, comes from Cemex, one of the largest internationally operating construction materials distributors. He owes his nomination to his successful manner of positively influencing his employees’ mindset. Mario engages each team member to actually contribute to the realisation of organisational objectives. For example, Cikojevic and his team are responsible for ensuring that all installations within the Croatian cement factory operate optimally, day in and day out.

All this must be achieved at a minimum cost and with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Says Cikojevic: "It soon became clear to me, that even the best ideas would not land if the people within the organisation doubted their usefulness. Therefore, it was essential for me to demonstrate that my ideas constituted the correct approach.” In order to share his ideas and experiences, Cikojevic wrote 'Maintenance Strategy - of Industrial Facilities through RCM Methodology Implementation'; a handbook explaining the advantages of RCM, how it should be implemented and how it should actually be applied in practice.

CMMS as the basis for preventive maintenance

The third nominee, Jimmy Öberg of the Kopparbergs Brewery from Sweden also recognizes the importance of good leadership in achieving an objective. Jimmy explains: “Based on the company´s established strategic plan that was to work in accordance with the concept of World Class Manufacturing, I accepted the task and I had a clear picture of how I want to manage the operation. With given objectives, I have developed a strategy that has been transformed into practical working methods and improvement activities focusing on plant availability. As part of the follow-up I have seen measurability over the years as important to demonstrate the effect as well as to communicate results as a motivation for operational improvements.

"In 2014, we invested in the implementation of a new maintenance management system within our organisation, both to reduce the number of failures, and support the process of strategic maintenance to support the higher availability requirements in production. The new software tool was introduced in phases. Implementation took about 1 year and it went smoothly. A well-defined maintenance process was created, which included facilitates the reporting. Today, maintenance is based on the developed processes and the use of the maintenance system is high. The reporting rate for maintenance technicians is over 80% of the reported time."

According to Öberg, the biggest challenge was to create an understanding of system use: "Show employees what you are doing, explain the new system’s benefits and how they can benefit from it. After all, in systems of this kind, there are always people who first look on in a wait-and-see manner. It is important to ask what you can do for them to make it even better. Involve them in the process and give them sufficient feedback and instil trust. The success of the approach was subsequently reflected in the results. In the old situation, the Technical Service employee spent 60% of his time actually repairing  failures. Thanks to the strategic plan and the well defined work process this now only amounts to 20%. Moreover, the number of acute failures has been substantially reduced, while the focus has shifted to preventive maintenance and to the development of long-term plans.

The foundations of Maintenance 4.0

The fourth nominee, Antonio Ros Pau, a former Maintenance Manager at SEAT in Spain. Ros Pau owes his nomination to the various projects he carried out at SEAT, empowering the maintenance department in this company. As a result, the department is no longer seen as a cost item but as a centre of expertise, effectively contributing to increasing the automotive manufacturer’s profit margins. Among other things, Ros Pau introduced SCADA and opened several control rooms in order to completely centrally monitor the data from various SCADA systems.

In this way, Ros Pau took the first steps at SEAT on the road to digital transformation, as well as towards performing Big Data analyses in maintenance. Ros Pau also carried out intriguing projects in the field of energy saving. In 2011, for example, he invested in a complete renovation of the 20MW CHP plant while implementing Euroenergest within the factory. This is an energy management system with artificial intelligence. Two years later, he commissioned the installation of a photovoltaic system, which has generated over 112 million kWh of solar energy for SEAT since the system was put into operation.


With 106 speakers, 50 case studies, 20 workshops and a focused exhibition with 60 innovations, the conference is an opportunity to learn how maintenance, reliability and asset management can contribute optimally to the best possible results of a company, thanks to the right combination of good practices and new intelligent solutions.

There are still seats available for the European Maintenance Manager Award Night held on September 25th, 2018 (www.euromaintenance.org).