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Maintaining High-Tech Assets: A Talented Fix

Original article posted on Jan. 4, 2023 and written by Executive Editor of Industry Week, Jill Jusko. Reposted with permission from author.

Three manufacturers share the challenges of maintaining sophisticated equipment on the production floor and the tactics they are taking to maintain uptime.

Increasingly complex equipment and machinery have turned shop floors into high-tech marvels. Festooned with sensors, dependent on digital, high-cost and hard at work, these production technologies are growing ever more important with large, medium and small manufacturers. Thankfully, tool producers designed many such sophisticated machines with an eye for easy operation by production associates. But what about when those high-complexity, high-cost pieces of equipment break down? Who will fix them? Between the widely reported shortage of skilled maintenance workers and the increasing sophistication of technology, keeping production assets up and running is an enormous endeavor—and not one easily achieved.

IndustryWeek recently spoke with three manufacturers, large and small, to find out more about their maintenance challenges and to share a few of the tactics they employ to help achieve their uptime goals.

KLN Family Brands: Adding Rigor to Maintenance & Reliability

  • Perham, Minnesota

  • Family-owned manufacturer of human and pet treats

KLN opened a new Tuffy’s Treat Co. manufacturing plant in Delano, Minnesota, at perhaps the most challenging time possible—December 2020 with COVID still in full swing. Not surprisingly, the new site, which makes pet treats and more recently, wet, canned pet food, immediately struggled to hire qualified employees for production and maintenance roles.

That challenge is ongoing today, particularly in maintenance, and it has prompted action. While multiskilled individuals are KLN’s preferred hires, they also are difficult to find, explains Jeff Nevenhoven, maintenance and reliability manager at the Delano factory. The hiring criteria had to be expanded.

“We had to start thinking differently [as in] ‘How do we get people here that can help us and maybe not have everything we would have liked to have, but who have some very specific skill sets that we can start with and then grow and develop them?’” he says.

View full article here.


In the world of maintenance and industrial production, operations are continuing to transform as maintenance professionals are pushed to “digitally transform” and become more data driven.

The Smart Factory Institute will be hosting the Automation, Maintenance, and Reliability Summit on Friday, February 24th, as part of this year's Chattanooga Engineers Week. This summit is aimed at plant, production, and manufacturing managers, as well as safety engineers, technical specialists, automation specialists, design/development managers, and system integrators. Join us on February 24th and explore how Industry 4.0 is enabling digital transformation decision-making and ensure your maintenance and technical staff are up to speed on the latest advancements in technology.

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