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The following is an abstract from a new research project on the adoption of Maintenance 4.0 and Machine Learning-based Predictive Maintenance. The study was conducted by Emory University students and sponsored by Presenso.

 Research Objective

The objective of this question was to identify the extent to which:

1) Senior executives have devised a formal Maintenance 4.0 strategy

2) Senior executives have communicated this strategy broadly within the organization

3) There is employee buy-in of the Maintenance 4.0 strategy

Maintenance 4.0 Findings

  • 43% of respondents indicated that, to the best of their knowledge, there is no formal Maintenance 4.0 strategy.
  • 37% of respondents stated that there is a Maintenance 4.0 strategy, but that it has not been clearly articulated.
  • Only 9% of respondents stated that the strategy has been clearly articulated, but that there is NO employee buy-in.
  • 11% of respondents stated that the Maintenance 4.0 strategy has been articulated and there is widespread buy-in.

 Analyst Reports / Third Party Research Findings

  • A 2018 Deloitte surveyof 361 executives across 11 countries found that 94% view digital transformation as a “top strategic objective” for their organizations. However, only 14% are highly confident that their organizations can fully harness the changes.
  • A 2018 PCW surveyof 1,100 executives at global manufacturing companies indicated that only 6% of executives from manufacturing and process industries consider their organizations to be “Digital Champions.” However, a significant percentage of executives (26%) classify their organizations as “Digital Innovators.”


Most of the analyst research conducted on Maintenance 4.0 and Industry 4.0 focuses on the perspective of senior management. Our findings, based on O&M perspectives, suggest that a disconnect exists between (1) senior managers who are committed to Maintenance 4.0 based on the business value and (2) plant-level employees who are either unaware of or not committed to Maintenance 4.0.

Our research suggests that there may be a breakdown in communication between key decision makers and O&M workers. This must be addressed as part of program rollouts.

Another troubling finding relates to employee buy-in. Among the 20% of respondents who indicated that a Maintenance 4.0 strategy had been articulated, an almost 50/50 split existed between those who believed that there was employee buy-in and those who believed that there was NO employee buy-in. This hesitation on the part of O&M employees could have several potential reasons, including job security and concerns that plants lack the resources (e.g., Big Data scientists) for implementation.


Without discounting the importance of enabling technologies (IIoT infrastructure, Maintenance 4.0 Industrial Insights and Predictive Maintenance platforms, 3D printing, etc.), decision makers should consider the fact that change management is integral to the adoption of Maintenance 4.0.

From a practical perspective, internal change champions and evangelists should play a role in gaining plant-level buy-in, communicating Quick Wins, and engaging key stakeholders across the organization.

Maintenance 4.0 will not be a top-down decision. It requires the input and support of O&M staff members who will ultimately be responsible for its implementation.

Maintenance 4.0 will not be a top-down decision.  It requires the input and support of O&M staff that will ultimately be responsible for implementation. 

Further Research Information

Maintenance 4.0 Research Infographic

2018 Emory Research Project:  The Future of IIoT Predictive Maintenance

Further Reading and Guidance from Presenso

Are O&M Employees’ Concerns About Maintenance 4.0 Justified?

How to scale Machine Learning-based Predictive Maintenance solutions

Is the Smart Factory a Good Investment? An Incremental Approach to Digitalization


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