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What Is Industrial Maintenance? A Simple Guide

Apr 5, 2023 ·

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Have you ever heard of an industrial maintenance technician (IMT)? These types of technicians typically are employed in energy and manufacturing industries and maintain machines imperative to operation.

They’re responsible for minimizing breakdowns to support business productivity and savings. Industrial maintenance can be an exciting career for people who enjoy working with their hands, have a keen attention to detail and are up for a challenge. If this sounds like you, keep reading.

This blog post will define industrial maintenance, provide examples of how it's used and help you decide if industrial maintenance is right for you.

What Is Industrial Maintenance?

Industrial maintenance is a plan of action that businesses take to keep their assets, or equipment, running efficiently for as long as possible.

A team of industrial maintenance technicians, planners and engineers are responsible for developing and carrying out a maintenance plan. They use their mechanic knowledge, experience with specific machines, data collection and data analysis to craft a maintenance plan with actionable items.

An industrial maintenance technician is typically responsible for enacting the plan.

There are a few ways to approach industrial maintenance, but some strategies are more effective than others.

Industrial Maintenance Strategies

There are four primary maintenance strategies a business may enact. Each company’s available funds, unique needs and equipment condition will determine the best plan for them.

1. Reactive Maintenance

Reactive maintenance has a low cost upfront. In this type of plan, maintenance technicians address issues as they arise. A poorly performing or failed machine will prompt diagnosis and repair. This is the least preferable of the four as it can lead to permanent damage and productivity loss and prove more expensive in the long run.

2. Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is preferable to reactive maintenance. In preventive strategies, technicians reduce shutdowns and maximize productivity by performing maintenance according to a set schedule.

The only complaint against preventive maintenance is that it rarely utilizes industrial maintenance technology to predict failure and allocate resources responsibly.

3. Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance relies on industrial maintenance tools, like device sensors, to alert businesses of potential issues. For example, if a part is underperforming on a particular machine, the sensors will notify a computer maintenance management system (CMMS), bringing it to the technicians’ attention.

Predictive maintenance gives technicians an up-close look at machine performance so they can address issues before breakdowns or complete failure occurs. This strategy designates resources more effectively than reactive or preventive maintenance.

4. Reliability-Centered Maintenance

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) has a high level of data collection and analysis processes that allow businesses to pinpoint common equipment failures and take early actions to prevent them.

RCM takes predictive maintenance one step further through continual monitoring. The strategy continually monitors each piece of equipment through CMMS software and high-tech industrial maintenance tools.

Continual monitoring supplies a wide breadth of data that industrial maintenance workers use to create individual maintenance plans for each asset. Tailor-made plans for every piece of equipment optimizes resources and maximizes reliability. 

How Industrial Maintenance Technology Is Used

Several energy and manufacturing plants employ industrial maintenance technicians to keep their equipment up and running. Investing in industrial maintenance also helps them meet their business objectives.

IMTs can work for nuclear, gas, oil, coal or solar power plants, maintaining and repairing various machines and their related components. Within these industries, here are some common entry-level industrial maintenance careers:

  • Industrial maintenance technicians perform diagnostics, check the performance of machines, replace defective parts, clean machines and conduct tests on damaged parts to determine the necessary repairs.
  • Field service technicians can work for factories, manufacturing plants, power plants or construction sites providing on-site services like diagnostic testing and repair.
  • Installation technicians install, maintain and repair equipment and electrical or mechanical systems. They may also assist engineers in resolving machinery issues related to installation and floor layout.

Most new grads start out working as entry-level technicians or in other entry-level roles.77 As with any industry, over time, you may be able to advance in your career with hard work. Here are some advanced energy technology careers:

  • Powerplant operators oversee equipment, their maintenance and maintenance employees. They typically work in the manufacturing or energy industry.
  • Facilities managers oversee all manufacturing or energy plant operations. They analyze data to determine the best course of action when it comes to maintenance and repair.

Industrial Maintenance Technician Career Outlook

Industrial maintenance can be an exciting career for critical thinkers who enjoy working with their hands and overcoming challenges through problem-solving. If this sounds like you, consider supplementing your traits with the skills an industrial maintenance school can provide.

IMT skills are in demand. For industrial machinery mechanics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 42,500 estimated average annual industrial maintenance technician job openings in the U.S. between 2021 and 2031.68 At 14%, this growth is faster than career fields in other industries.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for industrial maintenance technicians in the United States was $59,840 in May 2021.60 This means half earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area. Keep reading to learn what an industrial maintenance career looks like day to day.

Typical Day in Industrial Maintenance

The typical day can vary depending on the type of industry. For example, an IMT who services wind turbines will likely have different safety standards to adhere to, a different environment in which to perform maintenance and a different knowledge base than one who services boilers.

With that in mind, there are still general daily tasks industrial maintenance technicians are responsible for regardless of industry, such as:

  • Testing part operation and addressing as necessary
  • Cleaning, lubricating and calibrating machines
  • Visually inspecting and listening for faulty parts
  • Following a set maintenance schedule and documenting work
  • Using diagnosis tools to solve issues

Industrial Maintenance School

Attending an industrial maintenance school like the one offered at UTI can prepare students for the industry.1

Our industrial maintenance program was created with the help of industry experts to ensure students receive hands-on training in labs that mirror the field. In addition to hands-on training, students receive in-person and online instruction from experienced instructors.

The curriculum supplies students with a firm foundation of knowledge and entry-level skills that employers are looking for. Industrial maintenance school topics include:

  • Energy Industry Fundamental and Safety Compliance
  • Math, OSHA, and First Aid
  • DC and AC Basic Electricity
  • Applied Physics and Precision Measuring
  • Materials Processing, Fabrication and Diesel
  • Industrial Heating and Cooling and Compression Systems
  • Steam and Gas Turbines, Boiler Operations, and Valves
  • Advanced Electrical Theory

We offer a 7-month program at MIAT’s Canton, Michigan campus and a 9-month program at MIAT’s Houston, Texas campus. The differences in length have to do with each program's focus. The Canton campus primarily teaches manufacturing maintenance, while the Houston campus teaches power-production maintenance.

The industrial maintenance program is also coming to UTI's Rancho Cucamonga campus in California as well as our Lisle, Illinois campus (pending regulatory approvals).

Industrial Maintenance FAQ

What is the top paying industry for a maintenance technician?

According to the BLS, industrial machinery mechanics employed in the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry were the highest earners compared to industrial machinery mechanics in other industries in May 2021.60

Is industrial maintenance a good trade?

Industrial maintenance can be an exciting trade for people who enjoy problem solving, are detail-oriented and prefer working with their hands. Additionally, the demand for IMT technicians is growing – employment is projected to grow 16% from 2021 to 2031.64

What do you learn in industrial maintenance school?

Industrial maintenance training teaches students the basics of machine mechanics, such as electrical theory, safety compliance, materials processing and precision measuring. 

Prepare for a Career in Industrial Maintenance With UTI

Industrial maintenance technicians play an essential role in the industries that keep our society running. Are you interested in pursuing a career that matters? In less than one year, you could get trained for a career as an IMT.1

Take the first step toward a career with training from UTI. Experienced instructors, hands-on practice and an industry-aligned curriculum prepare graduates for the industry. Request more info online or fill out an industrial maintenance school application

YOU COULD START YOUR EXCITING NEW CAREER AS A MECHANIC OR TECHNICIAN TODAY.
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.

60) The Energy Technology and Industrial Maintenance Technician programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as wind power technicians or industrial maintenance technicians. Estimated annual salary is for Industrial Machinery Mechanics as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for graduates. UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary. Graduates’ achievements vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as wind power technicians and industrial maintenance technicians, such as installation technicians, field service technicians, boiler technicians and plant technicians. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Industrial Machinery Mechanics (49-9041) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $37,420 to $55,050 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled wind power technicians and industrial maintenance technicians in North Carolina is $27.11 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages, Industrial Machinery Mechanics). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $22.36 and $17.74, respectively.

64) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/industrial-machinery-mechanics-and-maintenance-workers-and-millwrights.htm. BLS projects total employment will increase from 384,800 in 2021 to 447,900 in 2031. UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary. For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures for UTI and www.miat.edu/disclosures for MIAT.

68) For Industrial Machinery Mechanics, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 42,500 job openings between 2021 and 2031. Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. See Table 1.10 Occupational separations and openings, projected 2021-31, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, viewed October 13, 2022. The Universal Technical Institute family of schools are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

77) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI prepares graduates for entry-level careers using the provided training. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than those listed.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

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