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A mixed report

25 January 2013

An online survey conducted by easyFairs in conjunction with Industrial Plant and Equipment had as its focus the role of maintenance and asset management.The survey was completely anonymous to encourage maximum candour fro

An online survey conducted by easyFairs in conjunction with Industrial Plant and Equipment had as its focus the role of maintenance and asset management.The survey was completely anonymous to encourage maximum candour from participants.The results make interesting reading

During January 2010 chief maintenance officers, engineering and plant managers drawn from 130 companies took part in a detailed survey to identify key issues, plans and trends within their businesses. The findings represent the views of companies across the size spectrum.More than one third (38%) have a turnover that exceeds £20m, over 23% a turnover exceeding £50m and, representing smaller businesses, 17% have a turnover of less than £1m. 71% of participants work for a company that has between 1 and 5 plants; one in 10 of those surveyed works for a company with more than 25 plants in operation in the UK.

Planning ahead Despite the continued credit crunch, and the pressures on businesses to reduce costs, the companies questioned still have ambitious plans for the year ahead. Over half (50.4%) plan to expand their operations and more than one in five (21.7%) plans to launch a major new product. Similarly just over a third (33.3%) plan to move into new product areas in the coming year, and launching a major new environmental initiative is on the agenda for one out of five (19.4%) There is a sense of steadiness across the board. For instance only one out of 10 (10.9%) say they will be streamlining their product range this year and again only one in 10 (10.1%) say they predict a contraction in operations. This renewed vigour and confidence is impacting their growth plans for the UK, with almost one in five (18.6%) planning to move to new geographic markets over the next 12 months.

Many new initiatives are planned for the next year, with the main focus being particularly on improving performance and reducing costs. For instance over half (51.4%) will be implementing production innovation to reduce costs, while more than a third (36.9%) will be implementing production innovation to enhance product performance. New products for existing markets are planned by 30.6%, and nearly half (43.2%) plan to create a new service for existing customers. Similarly extending an existing brand is being pursued by one 26.1%.

Long term success There is no doubt that maintenance and asset management is a key ingredient to the longterm success of a business. This is highlighted further with the large amount of board-level support it appears to have. For instance when asked to assess their boards' attitude to maintenance and asset management, 77.4% said their Boards would agree it was an invaluable part of the company's success, and 72.8% said it was a real priority The recession has had a huge impact on maintenance and asset management. Over the last couple of years maintenance and asset management has become as important as ever. This is supported by the fact that over one third admitted that they have seen an increase in its importance.

59.4% describe how their maintenance is conducted as being 'planned preventative.' More and more businesses understand that being precautionary is not necessarily going to be a drain on budgets, but can be a very a cost effective way in which to run a business which also provides a safety net if anything were to go wrong.However in saying that, it is interesting to see that over one in five (21.7%) conduct their maintenance on a reactive basis, suggesting that maintenance is still perceived as a false economy Only half (55.7%) of respondents said that they were adequately equipped to perform their job, with over one in ten (12.3%) saying that they are only just equipped to do so. This suggests that outsourcing maybe the best option for these businesses, especially as more than half (54.7%) don't outsource maintenance & asset management at present.However, if outsourcing wasn't an option, the tools that maintenance managers would be keen to use in the future to help them with their jobs, and therefore equip them better, would be Thermography (23% asking for this), and Vibration Monitoring (16% requesting this).

Despite fears that the economic climate would result in environmental maintenance and asset management initiatives being pushed onto the back burner, this hasn't been the case.Nearly half (47.2%) have said that their commitment to their eco agenda remains firm for the next 12 months, while 43.4% said it was either more important or much more important than ever.

Matt Benyon, MD of easyFairs UK (pictured), says: "It's great to hear that so many companies have ambitious plans for the coming year.

However, it's clear that to deliver these plans and contain spend, they will need a maintenance strategy that squeezes every last drop of value out of their assets.