By Kevin Clark, VP, Fluke Reliability
We’ve made it to 2020. It shapes up to be an interesting decade, with massive changes expected to unfold in how maintenance and reliability professionals do their jobs. Here is a look at some trends to watch for in 2020:
- Fewer people are seen on the plant floor: The increased use of automation and wireless solutions, plus a growing concern for worker safety, begin to reduce the number of people on the plant floor. While plant-floor jobs start to dwindle, opportunities are expected to open up in other parts of manufacturing, such as data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), and more.
- Data volumes mushroom: More and more companies will invest in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems, leveraging sensors, software, and the cloud to generate asset condition data to help guide maintenance-management decisions. This means increasing volumes of data, which increasingly require AI and machine learning (ML) to help detect patterns and develop insights from the data. Investment in AI and ML will grow in 2020 but only slightly, especially if the economy slows.
- More machines become connected: Significantly less than half of all industrial machines are now connected. But as more companies adopt IIoT in 2020, we will get closer to the 50% mark. Also, wired systems continue to decline in favor of wireless solutions—though some companies will still remain challenged in upgrading their infrastructure.
- Reactive maintenance gradually declines: Companies will continue to strategize about making their maintenance less reactive and wasteful. Strides will be made in 2020 as more companies transition to predictive maintenance. Through technology solutions such as the Fluke Connected Reliability suite, the move to predictive maintenance becomes less daunting and more of an urgency for many companies.
- Acoustic imaging continues its rise: More companies will recognize the value of leak detection. Acoustic imaging tools greatly simplify the process of leak detection, making it easier for companies to save energy and reduce costs.
- Augmented reality becomes real for maintenance teams: Augmented reality (AR) devices enable maintenance pros to overlay virtual videos and images onto what their eyes can see right in front of them. With this dual view, they can, for example, scrutinize a video on how an asset repair is successfully done and compare it with their own attempt at such a repair. Or they can view a repair manual at the same time as they are work on an asset. Expect wearable devices with AR to be in vogue soon.
- Generational shift moves into a higher gear: The tide of baby boomers retiring escalates, with millennials stepping in to fill their shoes. And look out, Gen Z (the generation behind millennials) is now joining the workforce. Veteran maintenance pros from all generations who want staying power must improve soft skills and also become more digitally savvy.
- Increase in clean energy spurs rapid job growth: Wind and solar are the fastest-growing power sources, making up 62% of new power generation investments in 2018. Utility-scale solar will grow by 10% this year and is expected to grow 17% in 2020 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As more photovoltaic systems come online and older systems age, the demand for technicians to operate and maintain them will grow, increasing the need for tools and technology required for installation, commissioning, fault detection, and maintenance.
Kevin Clark, CMRP, is Vice President of Fluke Reliability. He has more than 25 years of experience in operations leadership focusing on engineering, asset management, IT, supply, manufacturing automation, and safety systems.
For more on what 2020 will bring in terms of automation, AI, machine learning, and Industry 4.0, please watch this Fluke Accelix Best Practice Webinar on-demand.