Why Maintenance Technicians are Thriving in Distribution & Logistics
Like many other skilled trades, maintenance technicians are in high demand. Employers — across various industries — need more people who can maintain pneumatic, hydraulic and electromechanical systems. The increase in demand is improving wages and providing new career paths.
Many of these new job opportunities are with distribution and logistics companies. Warehousing is an expanding industry and — for some maintenance technicians — it provides the right combination of work environment, advancement opportunities and challenges.
To learn the details of working in warehousing, we spoke with Aerotek Sales Practice Lead Grant Brindle. He has over 14 years of experience in helping warehousing companies find the best workers for their job openings. He explains why maintenance technicians should consider roles with distribution and logistics companies.
An evolving industry is creating more opportunities
Warehouses aren’t only expanding, they're modernizing. Maintenance technicians in warehouses do more than repair conveyor belts and the occasional forklift. They’re now maintaining robotic and automated systems.
“In distribution & logistics, maintenance technicians need to be comfortable with evolution and change. They need to be excited by it because things are changing so quickly. It’s not just about forklifts placing boxes on a truck. Robotic arms and computer systems are becoming more common,” says Brindle.
Maintenance technicians may still repair equipment using traditional skills, but they’re also using tablets and computer software to diagnose errors. The emphasis on digital and computer skills is changing the profession.
“Companies are looking for people who can interface with software and computer systems. I was recently asked to find a maintenance technician who spends time playing video games,” says Brindle.
The demand for traditional mechanical skills remains strong. However, updates in warehouse technology are creating new and exciting roles for maintenance professionals.
Warehousing provides a unique work environment
Every industry has different working conditions, requirements and expectations. Warehouses offer a unique mix of challenges and benefits that may match what many maintenance technicians are looking for.
Maintenance in distribution and logistics can be less stressful compared to other industries. The consequences for a delay in production for a food & beverage or a pharmaceutical company are different. Failure to find a solution quickly could cost the company thousands of dollars. Their products may be highly regulated or perishable and could become unusable.
Warehousing companies also want to prevent delays, but they are less likely to lose products due to a mechanical failure.
Brindle also highlights how other industries tend to have differences in routine maintenance. In warehousing, the schedule for cleaning equipment can be more flexible which makes the work less complex.
“Food and pharma both have stringent standard operating procedures. Every time you switch product lines you have to go through an aseptic cleaning process. This adds a level of complexity to the role,” says Brindle.
Advancement opportunities and wages are improving
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index, compensation cost increased 4.3 percent for maintenance workers in the 12-month period ending in June 2022. The demand for maintenance workers is expected to grow by 8 percent through 2030. This could keep wages high as more experienced technicians retire.
Along with rising wages, new advancement opportunities are emerging. Traditional opportunities for career advancement — like management or supervisory roles — are available, but Brindle has seen one role become a popular goal for maintenance technicians.
“The position being created by the increase of robotics and automation is controls or mechatronics. It’s almost like an engineering position that technicians can work towards. It involves more desk work than other roles. You’ll be troubleshooting and fixing errors remotely so it’s a good option for a broad range of workers.” says Brindle.
Robotics and automation are driving the distribution & logistics industry. Warehouses are relying on these systems to become more efficient and they’ll need maintenance technicians to keep them running.
No matter which industry they choose, maintenance technicians should be optimistic about their future. They’ll have opportunities to explore different companies and figure out what works best for them. Many may find that the distribution & logistics industry provides the challenges and advancement opportunities they want.
If you’re interested in finding the right maintenance technician role, search our job board today.