Maintainer of the Future

Ensuring that assets deliver on organisational objectives depends upon executing proactive work to ensure assets perform as required and to restore asset functionality as it deteriorates. Maintainers are at the front line of both of these activities; they are the people with the skills and experience to perform this work. Quality work from Maintainers directly impacts future asset reliability, their competence and speed determine system availability. Intriguingly, despite the value maintainers can add (or destroy), we know relatively little about the background, motivations and aspirations of maintainers.

Key questions for this study include:

  • What motivates maintainers?
  • What demotivates maintainers?
  • What do maintainers value in the work environment?
  • How do maintainers resolve technically difficult issues?
  • How does the maintenance team culture shape work attitudes?
  • How does operations behaviour shape maintainer’s response?
  • What is the lived experience of maintainers, male and female?

These questions are being examined by Bonita Carroll as part of her anthropology PhD study at UWA under the supervision of Associate Professor Martin Forsey (Sociology and Anthropology) and Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz (Engineering). Thanks to the generous support for this project from resources companies Bonita has spent over 8 months with maintenance teams in the Pilbara to collect data for the project. Her thesis is due at the end of 2018.

This anthropology study builds on prior organisational psychology investigative work on maintenance teams by Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz, Professor Mark Griffin, Dr. Lisette Kanse, Dr. Kathy Parkes, and Dr. Xiowen Hu 2014-2017 sponsored by a major mining company. This work resulted in two publications examining compliance with work procedures.

Prior to this the same team worked on a global project for the Oil and Gas International Regulators Forum to develop a Fitness to Operate model.