Maintenance Management Blog: CMMS Software Features, Tips, Resources

Using CMMS Software To Schedule Preventive Maintenance Work Orders

Posted by BA . on Aug 20, 2015 1:42:00 PM

maintenance_plannerCMMS software aka maintenance management software helps organizations manage maintenance of their equipment, facilities and other enterprise assets. Companies that use a maintenance program typically see a significant reduction in the maintenance costs besides seeing cost savings due to fewer equipment breakdowns. They also see improved equipment and facility performance that results in better quality and higher customer satisfaction. A maintenance management software package not only helps manage breakdown or corrective maintenance but it also helps you schedule & track preventative maintenance.  To schedule preventive maintenance the software typically offers a variety of scheduling options that make it easier to do regular needed maintenance on equipment & other assets.

Common Preventive Maintenance Scheduling Options

  1. Scheduling by dates: This is the most used way of scheduling preventive maintenance. You may specify a work order frequency e.g. every Wednesday, every 45 days, the 6 months and so on. While fairly easy to setup, the downside is that you may schedule maintenance less optimally than required – for example too early if a machine is not used much because of a plant shutdown or too late if a machine is run for longer hours than normal due to a production deadline. Preventive maintenance done too late runs the risk of an equipment breakdown – a major risk especially when you have a production deadline!

  2. Scheduling by meter readings or equipment usage: Here you keep track of how much the machine is used and based on the usage you schedule preventative maintenance. For example on a vehicle you schedule an oil change after every 3000 miles, on a machine making widgets it could be after every thousand widgets produced and so on. This can produce a more optimal maintenance schedule but can involve more work because you need to enter meter readings either by entering them manually or importing them. Another option is to use an “estimated meter use” that we have in our FastMaint CMMS. Here the system estimates equipment usage and schedules maintenance based on a work calendar. This allows you to enter working times, holidays and other shutdown times into the calendar once and have the maintenance program estimate usage and schedule maintenance dates based on this calendar for different equipment that use this calendar.

  3. Scheduling based on another work order or task: This means that a maintenance task is scheduled some number of days after another maintenance task work order is completed. This is useful if you need to “chain” work orders together for example when a maintenance job consists of two different tasks done by two different sub-contractors. You can also schedule a task based on its prior completion say the preventive maintenance task is done 30 days after the previous time it is completed.

  4. Scheduling based on an alarm condition: This allows you to define some external condition say an alarm that when it occurs means that you have to do some preventive maintenance - for example an overheat condition on a machine means that you have to lubricate all bearings. This also covers “alarms” or maintenance requests scheduled using a condition monitoring or predictive maintenance system. These can be external specialized systems separate from the maintenance management software that analyze equipment data to flag potential issues or predict that maintenance is due. Such systems can raise something similar to an alarm condition that can be used by the CMMS software to schedule multiple maintenance tasks on different enterprise assets.

Reduce Maintenance Scheduling Dependencies

As can be seen above these cover a gamut of ways to schedule and manage preventive maintenance on different assets. Of these "scheduling by dates" or "scheduling based on another work order" offers the easiest way to schedule maintenance without having to depend on external systems for input (meter readings, alarms, etc.). This can become an issue if these external systems may be unreliable or if you use a manual process that involves a lot of effort to bring the information in – for example someone has to manually collect meter readings and input them in. Be aware that even if you have an automatic input process if you lose some alerts or readings due to failures in the data import or collection you may not schedule needed maintenance. So make sure that any equipment or facilities that have such maintenance scheduled will not suffer catastrophic failure if some preventive maintenance is missed because input from an external system was not provided in time. While it may be rare – it can happen!

CMMS Software Selection Tips

If you are looking for CMMS software to help with maintenance management at your organization you will find our "CMMS Selection Guide" very helpful. It has a variety of tips and advice on items to look for and how to identify the right CMMS package for your needs.

Download Maintenance Software Guide

Additional Reading

  1. 7 Breakdown Maintenance Planning Tips With CMMS Software

  2. Are you doing too much preventive maintenance management?

Topics: Using CMMS Software Features

Benefits Of Installed On-Premises CMMS Software vs. Cloud Based Maintenance Software

Posted by BA . on Jul 15, 2015 5:57:47 PM

With the availability of low cost cloud infrastructure we have seen an explosion of different cloud based software as a service solutions from a variety of software vendors. It makes it easier for customers to get started or trial them since they do not have to install anything on their systems and it becomes cheaper and easier for vendors to support since everything is managed by them. So what are the downsides that can “rain on this parade”?

estimate_maintenance_work

Are Cloud CMMS Software Costs That Low?

While a cloud based maintenance management solution may seem attractive it has many potential downsides. While the monthly fees may look low we have frequently found our customers have been using our on-premises installed FastMaint software for six years or more. We would have collected a lot more money if we had made our customers pay us monthly fees rather than a one-time payment over those six years! You are also vulnerable to arbitrary pricing changes or changes in the software licensing. While some cloud vendors may promise a fixed fee for life it usually means they sub-class your account after a few years and limit features that they are offering out of the box for newer higher paying customers. If you want those features you will have to start a new tier of service and pay the new price. Besides this monthly fees are frequently tied to the size of your database – as it grows you may be forced to pay up for a higher tier of service.

Keeping Your Data & System Safe

An installed on-premises software makes a lot of sense especially if you have confidential data and processes like many small to large size manufacturers or for companies that need to secure their data for audit or other purposes. While many cloud vendors may promise high levels of data security the recent data breaches at several large organizations which have more money & expertise than most cloud vendors should give pause. You also do not want to be locked out of your system because the cloud vendor is being hacked or because of a “denial of service” attack. You also have to consider the stability of the cloud vendor – you do not want to lose all your maintenance data because they ran into financial issues and shut down. While cloud based companies may claim security and 99.999% uptime remember those are basically promises for the future. Loss of availability can happen due to infrastructure changes, vendors or their sub-contractors can run into financial difficulties, get purchased by others and so on. For example customers of 2e2 got only two days notice when it went into bankruptcy in 2013, while customers of Nirvanix got two week’s notice. Will you have enough time to find an alternative?

Problems Within Your Organization

Now consider issues you may face due to problems within your organization. You may run into problems with your credit card or invoices do not get paid or are paid late because of problems in accounts payable. Will this mean that you will lose access to your online maintenance management system till you get this resolved? You also have to be concerned if it takes some time or you have multiple delays with your payments. Your account and data may be deleted or removed by the cloud based vendor. Another common problem is senior management or a re-organization cuts your budget so you no longer can afford the monthly or annual fees. You can keep using on-premises maintenance management software since it is already paid for – you may just lose some support and access to future updates (which you can frequently get if you buy an upgrade at a later date). Another common occurrence is a corporate mandate to standardize on some other platform. Will you get time and money to keep paying monthly fees till you migrate to the new platform? You can frequently buy time but getting a budget to pay monthly fees on cloud based maintenance software may be out of question. Installed software is a sunk cost so you can keep using it till you are ready to move to a new platform. Another issue you may face is the willingness of your Information Technology/ Systems Department to support your cloud software if you have any problems. Since everything is on the cloud vendor’s system they will find it really difficult to help you out. Third-party consultants can help with many installed programs – this is extremely unlikely with cloud products.

Is This Really A Good On-Premises System?

Some cloud vendors may offer an installed solution. However, these solutions are frequently entry level systems that encourage you to move to the cloud based solution since you will outgrow them soon. Alternatively you may be able to get the full cloud solution installed in-premises – but beware since setup, integration & support costs will usually be very high since these systems are not built out of the box to be user installed. This also makes installing upgrades a potentially complex process.

Based on this make sure that using a cloud based CMMS software solution will fit in with your organizations needs – currently and in the future. While initial startup & costs may seem low remember that most products get used for a long time. Bad decisions could potentially haunt you for years to come.

CMMS Software Selection Tips

There are hundreds of packages available so identifying what you need and what will work for you can be quite a challenge. Have a look at our free CMMS Selection Guide. It has a several tips that can help you find the best CMMS package for your needs.

Download Maintenance Software Guide

Topics: CMMS Software Selection Tips

Use CMMS Software & 5S To Deliver Better Maintenance Services

Posted by BA . on Jun 4, 2015 12:50:00 PM

Impact of 5S on equipment maintenance

5S is a powerful lean manufacturing tool that can offer many benefits to any maintenance department. Even if you are doing commercial facility maintenance and not industrial maintenance, 5S can help you deliver better and more consistent maintenance services. Originally developed in Japan it is now used by many manufacturing organizations worldwide to improve industrial operations & safety. Fundamentally it is a workplace organization method based on five principles: 

  • Sort – Sort out materials, choose items to stay and items to go.
  • Set in Order – Create organization and put items in specific places.
  • Shine – Ensure efforts are proactive so areas are clean, tidy, and methodical.
  • Standardize – Standards should be created so processes and organization are uniform.
  • Sustain – Audits combined with new practices and disciplines are sustained.

How CMMS software can help implement 5S ideas in the maintenance department

5S is all about organization. Using maintenance software to organize and setup relationships between your equipment, spare parts and locations makes it much easier and faster to fix problems or identify potentially related issues e.g. power surges on a specific pump are causing failures in other equipment on the same line. If a specific machine is being retired it becomes easier to identify spares used only by that machine. You can then dispose of these unwanted spares reducing clutter and space used in your stock rooms. Having maintenance requests submitted by email or over the Internet makes it easier to track them and reduces the amount of paper forms you keep around in maintenance work areas.


Waste can be removed – One of the important steps to 5S is to eliminate waste. This usually happens in the “sort” phase of 5S. By utilizing the help of a CMMS system, waste such unneeded paper records can be eliminated as records are now stored in the maintenance program database. Unwanted parts and supplies can be sold off when equipment is retired.


When using set in order - the second “S” of 5S you organize maintenance supplies & spares effectively. CMMS software can achieve better inventory control by tracking & updating spare parts and supplies being stored and utilized. Using task templates you have a pre-built list of parts and supplies required for each work order. This makes it easier for technicians to pull up all the items they need to complete the work order before they head out to complete the work.


The third “S” (Shine) means that you are proactive so work areas are clean and tidy. Standard work order instructions can include instructions for cleaning up & disposing old parts & supplies. Instructions can be provided on how to leave machinery clean & free of debris that could cause future breakdowns – e.g. “make sure to clean up any oil spills on shaft housing before closing panel”, “make sure harness is clear of reversing gear before closing access port”.


Increased labor productivity – Standardize, the fourth step in 5S focuses on standardizing practices and pairs well with scheduling specific tasks using the CMMS system. For example, maintenance staff is used more effectively as more work is completed in a timely manner due to clearly defined and delegated tasks. The tasks themselves can be standardized using templates so that the proper procedure is followed each time. This reduces time wasted in looking up information or technicians having to contact other technicians for work order updates and so on.


Reduce Costs and Downtime – The last “S” in 5S is to Sustain practices and environments. This is the most critical piece of 5s and is the common step where 5S fails. Using a CMMS program you can schedule routine maintenance inspections, machine/area condition monitoring, and overall scheduling of other periodic tasks for employees. The core of a maintenance management system is setting up and managing preventive maintenance. This ensures that work orders are correctly scheduled and proper work practices are followed each time. Effectively the software helps keep you on track. Using reports provide by the software also allows you to check progress and detect when you are slipping back.

CMMS software selection guide

If you are looking for maintenance software you can download and try out a free 30-day trial of our FastMaint CMMS. If you are undecided or trying to decide whether having a computerized maintenance management system will help you, download our free “CMMS Software Selection Guide”. It has a variety of tips & suggestions that will help you identify the right product for your needs – all maintenance departments are not the same!

Download Maintenance Software Guide

Conclusion

We hope you are able to implement 5S principles with the help of your maintenance program and see the benefits it brings. Many thanks to the folks at Creative Safety Supply who suggested many of the ideas how on 5S principles could be used with CMMS software. You can learn more about 5S on their 5S Study and Research Page. They also offer a variety of variety of workplace supplies & tools that you may find useful in your maintenance department.

Topics: Using CMMS Software Features

How Maintenance Services Should Manage Maintenance Request Forms

Posted by BA . on May 4, 2015 1:39:00 PM

maintenance_teamMaintenance managers and maintenance planners know that the best laid maintenance plans get affected by unplanned events – machines break down or people need maintenance work done ASAP. While good preventive maintenance planning can help reduce the frequency of breakdown maintenance, handling ad-hoc maintenance requests can be more challenging especially when maintenance technicians are already booked up and have other work to attend to. You need some way of receiving such requests, tracking them and scheduling them to be done as time permits. Requesters also want to know the status of their requests.

          This is where your maintenance software can help with a good request management system. For example in our FastMaint CMMS every request that is received is automatically given a number and it is possible to email this number back to the requester. The work requester now has a way to identify their specific request and maintenance planners have a way to track all the requests coming in. Maintenance planners can convert these requests to work orders or cancel them (if they are duplicates or no longer needed). Multiple maintenance requests can also feed into one work order if many people make the same type of request. With this linkage between work requests and work orders it is possible for the maintenance requester to check the status of the request & associated workorder using the work request number or email additional updates to the work request.

           Being able to send requests by email or SMS text messages makes it more convenient for non-maintenance personnel or customers to report problems or request maintenance without having to send in a work request form. It also becomes simpler for the maintenance administrators to handle such requests since they do not need someone to man the phone and receive such requests. In FastMaint such emailed requests are converted to work requests and given a number. A reply is sent back to the requester with the work request number. This way they know that the request was received and they have a reference number to follow up on. Simultaneously an alert can be sent to maintenance administrators so that they know that maintenance requests have been received. They can get into the system and convert these requests into work orders or send back emailed replies to requesters to get additional information.

          This sort of workflow makes sending in maintenance requests and handling them a lot more easier and convenient for maintenance requesters and the maintenance department. Having reports on pending requests makes it less likely that they will be forgotten resulting in higher end user satisfaction with the maintenance department. In addition the system can collect statistics about pending & closed maintenance requests which is valuable to management.

Simplify your maintenance work request management

If you have been considering getting a solution to manage work request forms from non-maintenance personnel you can download and try out our FastMaint CMMS software. Download a 30-day fully functional trial that can be used to try out work request management. See how receiving & handling maintenance work requests by email or text makes life a lot easier! We have 5 minute video tutorials that can help you setup FastMaint quickly and get started.

Download FastMaint Trial

Topics: Using CMMS Software Features

The Business Case for CMMS / Maintenance Software

Posted by BA . on Dec 10, 2014 4:28:00 PM

cartoon_maintenance_technicianMost maintenance managers and planners are well aware of how CMMS software aka maintenance management software can improve maintenance operations and reduce expenses. However, it can be difficult to get buy in from senior management or business owners to purchase such software and put it to use. After all there are several other areas besides maintenance software where such capital expenditures can be made – nearly all of which can improve business operations. How does one justify putting limited budget dollars to get maintenance software versus spending it elsewhere?

      Maintenance is one of those unheralded areas which is frequently ignored when there is no major crisis. Here we will attempt to show how the reports and features available in maintenance software like FastMaint CMMS can be very helpful to senior management and business owners to cut costs and improve profitability.

      FastMaint CMMS software has applicability to wide variety of businesses. In our examples we will consider two different business types – a small to mid-size manufacturing operation and a small to medium sized commercial facility that provides services to different customers (e.g. a hotel/ resort, an office complex, a restaurant, etc.). However, they could just as well be applicable to other operations that have a lot of equipment and/ or facilities e.g. utility operators, refiners and so on.

Statistics Report:

One of the single most valuable reports in FastMaint CMMS is the one page Statistics report. This has been specially designed to be shared with senior management or business owners. You do not have to have access to FastMaint CMMS - the maintenance manager can print it out and give it to you. It contains no complex and difficult to understand statistics. The report shows performance in a current period (Last 30 Days) versus performance in two prior and similar periods. This makes it easier to catch possible issues or trends. Some items you should look for:

  1. Pending work orders from prior periods: You should see if an unusual number of work orders created in prior periods are still pending. If any of these are for important assets (equipment or locations) you have cause for concern. Incomplete maintenance on an asset can mean poor product quality or service or even loss of revenue if product or service cannot be delivered.

  2. Preventive vs. Breakdown Time Spent: This ratio is expressed as a percentage. A low percentage means that most maintenance is of the breakdown type. This is expensive since it means that an asset (an equipment or location) is unexpectedly out of service. If you have a manufacturing operation you probably have lost production or product quality. If you are a commercial facility you probably have upset customers or have lost revenue because you cannot rent the facility (e.g. hotel rooms) to customers.

  3. Equipment with most breakdown work order time: Even if the “Preventive vs. Breakdown Time Spent” ratio looks good, check and see if the same equipment keeps cropping up as having most breakdown work orders. Make sure that it is not a critical asset whose lack of availability will hinder delivery of product or service. If it is a critical asset, you may need to talk to your maintenance and operations managers to see if it is time to replace it or do a complete refurbishment.

You can see "Key Maintenance Management Statistics For Maintenance Planners" for a more in-depth look at other statistics.

Work Order Analysis Report:

This is another report that can be printed out and given to you for review. You want it to use the “Cost & Duration Variance” report template showing aggregates by Month. This report shows you how the costs and durations of different classes of work orders have varied from estimates. If you see large unexplained variances it typically means there is a problem with maintenance and operations. You need to dig in deeper and find the underlying causes – it could be maintenance and operations are not working well together or some assets may have reached the end of their lives and require more maintenance than planned. Both these issues besides increasing maintenance costs will probably result in revenue and customer loss due to delays delivering products or services.

Equipment Maintenance Calendar:

While this is not a report that executive management typically needs to see it has important implications for co-operation between maintenance and operations staff. Basically it shows when equipment is expected to be unavailable because of planned preventive maintenance. Timing is everything since equipment or facilities being unavailable during a peak period will be unacceptable. So you want to ensure that information in this report is shared between departments and adjustments are made to maintenance schedules as needed.

Asset Register & Asset Replacement:

Most industrial plants and commercial facilities have quite a few equipment and other assets which have been purchased over several years. Frequently there is no centralized list of such assets and their costs. This is where an asset maintenance program can really help. FastMaint CMMS can be used to maintain a list of such assets and also track ongoing maintenance costs incurred on them. Purchasing equipment is normally a significant capital outlay. You will be offsetting these costs by making provisions for depreciation based on expected equipment life. What happens if the equipment needs to be replaced earlier than expected due to missed maintenance? On the converse side what are the benefits to be expected if say the equipment lasts 10% longer on average because of better maintenance practices made possible with support from the CMMS software? These sorts of items will impact your balance sheet and profit & loss statements.

Maintenance Software Selection Guide

If you are considering maintenance management software and are not sure where to start, this free “CMMS Software Selection Guide” will be quite useful. With a variety of questions and checklists it can help you identify the right product for your organization or you can pass along the PDF guide to others who may be responsible for the selection process.

Download Maintenance Software Guide

Topics: Using CMMS Software Features, Equipment/ Asset Management

CMMS Maintenance Software – More Trouble Than They Are Worth?

Posted by BA . on Aug 11, 2014 5:41:00 PM

cmms_software_benefitsRecently one of our sales people was in touch with a possible client regards the value of CMMS software for maintenance of equipment and facilities. They had some serious concerns whether a maintenance management software program would help them or hinder them.

CMMS software concerns/ complaints:

  1. It takes too much time to update. It forces maintenance personnel into a different sort of workflow where they have to keep updating items in the software. Tracking all your equipment and entering information about them makes it an unwieldy system to use and eats up a lot of staff time.

  2. You will not be able to capture all data and interactions in the software. Even if it was possible it would take a lot of time and most likely maintenance technicians and others will skip doing it since it holds them up from doing their jobs.

  3. Without all the data the statistics you capture are probably inaccurate and do not give you a true picture of your maintenance program. Managers and others unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of the maintenance program will use this inaccurate data to make decisions.

These concerns are quite valid. However, using maintenance software even if you are not able to exploit its full capabilities still provides benefits. You have to aware of the limitations of using it as part of your maintenance management program. Let us try to address each of these concerns:

  1. It takes too much time to update: It may seem that using a CMMS program wastes time because you have spend time entering or updating information instead of working on a maintenance job. However, being able to track and capture job status provides a valuable benefit. You are less likely to miss critical maintenance work. You also have a good idea of what is pending so that you can adjust your schedule to get critical jobs done. The concerns of a convoluted workflow that slows down work are quite valid. This is why we have put in the ability to email or text work orders to technicians and to process their email or text responses to update & close these work orders in FastMaint. This makes a much simpler workflow and allows technicians to do their jobs and easily send back updates without having to spend time navigating through different screens and entering data. This can also make the life of the maintenance planner or manager simpler since you can have the system send out reminders to technicians if work orders are pending for more than say 3 days and so on.

  2. You will not be able to capture all data and interactions in the software: It should be understood that you really will not be able to track all data or interactions in the software nor is it desirable. While it may seem good to have a large amount of information in the system most of it will not be relevant to taking care of maintenance management. Collecting all such information will take up time – hence it is likely to be skipped or entered inaccurately after some time. The critical information you need is work orders pending and work orders completed. Everything else is really secondary. Even in terms of work orders, you do not need to track all possible work orders – some will be for less critical tasks. What matters are the critical breakdown and preventive maintenance work orders that you have to do. These work orders if not done will keep critical equipment or facilities unavailable due to a breakdown or cause them to perform poorly to deliver a poor quality product or service.

  3. Without all the data the statistics you capture are probably inaccurate: Since you cannot capture all data or interactions only a few critical statistics will be accurate and useful  (see "Key Maintenance Management Statistics For Maintenance Planners"). This is why in our FastMaint CMMS software program we try to gather these few statistics in a single page Statistics report. These handful of statistics provide a good view of how your maintenance program is running and what areas you may need to address. While it may be tempting to look at various colorful graphs or meters showing different statistics and probabilities remember that with time most of the data being collected is probably inaccurate. Making decisions based on them is not a good idea. Plus even if accurate many items will not tell you the entire picture and could lead you down the wrong path.

Download CMMS software trial:

If you are thinking about getting CMMS software for maintenance management of your equipment and facilities we hope this has convinced you of their worth. You can download and try out a fully functional 30-day trial of our FastMaint CMMS and see how it will work for you. We also have 5 minute video tutorials that can help you setup FastMaint quickly and get started.

Download FastMaint Trial

 

Topics: CMMS Software Selection Tips, Using CMMS Software Features

How To Start Using CMMS Software In Your Maintenance Program

Posted by BA . on Jul 17, 2014 3:18:00 PM

Maintenance technician cartoonWhen your organization buys a CMMS/ maintenance software program one of your first challenges will be how to set up & use your new system. While your IT department, consultants, etc. can install and do some initial set up the system for you, you as the maintenance planner or maintenance manager have to decide how to setup and use the system.

      You will need to find some way to start using the system without bogging down or slowing maintenance operations. After all the critical job here is ongoing equipment & facility maintenance – the maintenance management software is just a tool and should not hold up or delay maintenance work because it needs to be set up or it has a complicated workflow. How can one do this with a minimum of disruption?

Some CMMS software setup decisions to make:

  1. How will you enter data into the system? What order should you put in the data? Do you need to put in all your data? One of the first items you will put in is your equipment and facilities. If you have the information in a comma delimited file you probably will be able to import much of it in. Comma delimited text files are something most programs can create e.g. if you have a list of equipment in a spreadsheet you should be able to use Excel to save it to a comma delimited file. Once you have all your assets and facilities in the system you will want to add other information in such as spare parts and supplies, technicians and so on. Once you have some information in the system you can start defining the different types of unplanned and planned maintenance tasks you may have on different equipment or facilities. Since this process can take up some time, you may initially just want to start with a few breakdown type tasks or a generic breakdown task for any type of maintenance so that you can start creating work orders and using the system. See "CMMS/ Maintenance Software – Setup Tips For First Time Users" for suggestions on how to proceed especially if have not used CMMS software before in the organization.

  2. What type of maintenance – breakdown or preventive, should you target first? You probably should target breakdown maintenance work first. Create task definitions for this type of work and create work orders. To make it faster to start using the system you may want to create a few generic breakdown tasks and create work orders. As you use the system you can add more specialized tasks and instructions. The faster you can start managing breakdown maintenance, the faster you can get it under some sort of control – this is the most expensive maintenance and the cause of most dissatisfaction and operational problems and delays.

  3. What sort of maintenance workflow will you use? Who is going to be responsible for sending out work orders and collecting feedback? You will normally have a workflow where someone accepts work requests, creates work orders, schedules preventive maintenance and passes them on to technicians or contractors to complete. This person will basically play the role of the maintenance planner or maintenance supervisor (see "Role Of The Maintenance Planner In Maintenance Management Programs"). In small maintenance setups the person could even be an office administrator or some other non-maintenance person. Once completed there has to be some way the work order status and any other feedback gets updated into the system. Depending on the capabilities of the maintenance software package you use, this must be done manually by someone or in an automated way by the technicians themselves. Still the maintenance planner or supervisor has to keep an eye on things and make sure that work is completed in time and not left pending.

  4. What sort of results do you expect? What reporting or data analysis will help you identify if you are getting those results? Reporting is a very important component of your maintenance management system. Without it you and others have no way of knowing for sure how you are performing. Ideally the maintenance software must be able to present you with a short summary of useful statistics like work order backlog, average days to complete work orders, pending work orders and work requests, equipment requiring most breakdown maintenance time and so on. See "Key Maintenance Management Statistics For Maintenance Planners" for more information. Use this information to identify areas of concern and improvement. You should start seeing a gradual reduction in breakdown maintenance over time and a corresponding increase in planned/ preventive maintenance. Once this happens your maintenance management software is well on the way to paying for itself!

Maintenance management software selection guide:

If you are currently looking for a CMMS software package for your organization you will find the CMMS Software Selection Guide very useful to help you make the right choice. With a series of questions and checklists it can help you identify the right choice for your specific needs among several competing products.

Download Maintenance Software Guide

Topics: Maintenance Management Tips, Using CMMS Software Features

Six Technical Tips For Successful CMMS Software Deployment

Posted by BA . on May 15, 2014 2:39:00 PM

CMMS Software SalesmanWhen an organization purchases CMMS software (maintenance management software) besides the usual features comparison, ease of use and other criteria there are a few technical items that one needs to be aware of. These items if ignored during the software selection and evaluation process can result in much grief at a later date. These items are really not specific to CMMS software but can also trip up other types of software deployments.

  1. Maintenance database: Different CMMS software products use different database systems to store the maintenance data. Ideally you want the type of database to be a well known and well supported platform e.g. Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, IBM DB2, MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL and so on. This will become very crucial in case you have database problems or need to integrate other applications with the database. A popular and well supported database system will have a wealth of third-party consultants who can help you with troubleshooting, optimization, setup and integration. You will also have a variety of third party tools that can be used to extract information, create custom reports and so on. Make sure to have some process in place for regular database backups. Databases are not invulnerable and can sometimes get damaged or corrupt.

  2. Software as a service (SaaS)/ Cloud based CMMS: If you are looking at SaaS applications (e.g. CMMS software hosted on a vendors website) remember that your data will be on their servers. You should take periodic backups of this data and download the files. This will provide you some level of protection in case the SaaS vendor runs into problems and goes out of business. If one of the reasons you chose a SaaS application is to allow remote access or multi-device support, check performance with a lower bandwidth network subject to connection drops (e.g. a cell phone network) as well as the devices you plan to use. See if the support and help pages are usable on smart phones if you plan to use them.

  3. Upgrade path: Frequently you may start with a more limited edition of the CMMS software. However, as you use it you may need to upgrade to an edition with more capabilities. Ensure that the vendor has a good upgrade path. You do not want to lose your existing data if you have to upgrade to a different software edition.

  4. Transferring data: When purchasing a CMMS software package you should also consider how easy it will be to bring in any existing data you may have. Most CMMS packages will allow you to import much data in comma delimited formats. You also want to consider how data can be exported from the system. This will be useful if you need this data in a separate system (e.g. purchasing, costing, etc.) or in the worst case you decide to move to a new maintenance software package at a future date!

  5. Adding more users: How easy is it to add more users? Some packages may require you to move to a completely different product if you want to upgrade from one user to multiple users. You should check and see if the pricing and ease of adding users makes sense if you plan to do this soon.

  6. Hardware & software required: Make sure you have the technical skills available to manage any special hardware or software that may be required. Keep track of installation disks, software downloads and passwords. We frequently have found that administrator passwords are lost and no one in the organization knows them! Losing downloads and installation disks is less of a problem since most software vendors will be able to provide you software download links for even old versions if you have proof of purchase.

CMMS Software Guide:

You may find the free maintenance software selection guide below very useful in your CMMS software selection process. It has a set of questions and checklists that you can use to identify the right products for your needs. With hundreds of products available it can be very hard to find the right one for your organization. This guide will make it a lot easier!

Download Maintenance Software Guide

Topics: CMMS Software Selection Tips, Using CMMS Software Features

7 Ways CMMS Software Helps Public Utility Maintenance Managers

Posted by BA . on Apr 22, 2014 1:11:00 PM

hydroelectric power plant dam

Public utilities cover a wide range of services from power generation & distribution, water supply, gas supply, waste water treatment and more. They provide essential services in a specific geographic area and have unique challenges. Most are heavily regulated and are required to provide uninterrupted services with few or no complications.

    These demands pose unique challenges to public utility operators. Failure to deliver service produces hundreds if not thousands of irate customers. Pricing changes for services are regulated and need to go through formal approval processes so profit margins are usually slim. Infrastructure costs are very high and very expensive to replace and maintain.

    This means that equipment and facility maintenance becomes a very critical function. Equipment failure leads to inability to provide service or in the worst case hazardous conditions (e.g. a waste water spill, a gas line leaks, a retention pond fails and so on). Equipment and facility replacement is very expensive – so good maintenance helps them have a long working life and reduces replacement costs. An effective maintenance management program requires the right tools to be effective and CMMS software (maintenance management software program) is one of them.

Ways Utility Maintenance Managers Can Use CMMS Software Tools

  1. Schedule preventive maintenance & calibration activities: With a variety of different equipment each with its own preventive maintenance tasks and calibration tasks there are quite a few maintenance tasks to schedule and keep track over the year. Maintenance software make it much easier for the utility maintenance manager/ planner to organize and make sure they are done.

  2. Identify problem equipment that needs to be replaced or overhauled: Equipment can be very expensive to replace – however, they do need to be replaced or completely overhauled at some time! A good maintenance software program offers a variety of reports (e.g. an equipment history report) that can be used to review maintenance costs, maintenance work duration and recorded problems over time. With this information it is possible to identify equipment/ facilities that are causing a majority of maintenance issues and their costs – so it makes it easier to justify doing a replacement or overhaul.

  3. Identify missed or delayed maintenance that can result in equipment breakdown: With so many maintenance work orders to do, it is quite common for some to fall by the wayside. Maybe it got bumped off the list because of a more urgent job, there was not enough time to complete it, spare parts were not available or the equipment has problems that require troubleshooting from an expert and so on. Sometimes the most mundane of missed tasks results in a big problems later e.g. not checking a cooling water intake filter for debris results in an entire plant/ generator shut down because the cooling water intake gets blocked. With reports provided by maintenance software it is easier to identify such missed/ delayed/ incomplete maintenance work.

  4. Work request management so that maintenance can be requested: External users and others such as equipment operators need a way to report problems or request maintenance. This information can be used to generate maintenance work orders that are tracked. Work request submitters can also have a way to check the status of their requests rather than having to call maintenance staff for updates.

  5. Integrated asset management: Since you will be entering information on all your facilities and equipment you now have a database of all equipment and facilities and their relation to each other. For example you could create an equipment hierarchy. So if a sub-equipment breaks down or needs to go out of service you can easily see what other equipment will be affected. You can do roll-up reports of all maintenance work done on an equipment and its sub-equipment or all equipment at a specific facility/ location.

  6. Reporting that is useful for compliance purposes: You may need to provide regular reports for auditing or regulatory purposes. In the worst case for an investigation after an incident. The maintenance software reports will be very useful to show what maintenance work orders were done, if anything was missed, if any problems were reported and so on.

  7. Spare parts & supplies management: Maintenance software typically come with spare & supplies management. While typically not a full inventory control system it has enough features for you to track consumption of spare and supplies, the costs involved, the equipment it is used for, vendors, etc. When planning/ generating work orders it can help you ensure that you have enough spares on hand to complete the job. You can re-order in advance and avoid delayed maintenance. Being able to identify good vendors for spare and supplies ensures that you have good quality spares. Poor quality parts can lead to problems completing maintenance or even worse result in equipment failures.

Maintenance Software Selection Guide

You may find our free “CMMS Software Selection Guide” useful to help you identify the features you need from your maintenance software. With hundreds of different products available it can be quite difficult to identify which ones will meet the needs of your public utility. The free guide offers tips and questions you should ask to find the right maintenance software program for you.

  Download Maintenance Software Guide

Additional Resources:

  1. Analyzing Machine/ Equipment Breakdown Reports From CMMS Software

  2. Maintenance Backlog Management For Equipment & Facilities

  3. Six Ways CMMS/ Maintenance Software Can Improve Vendor Management

Topics: CMMS Software Tips By Industry

5 Benefits CMMS Software Offers Manufacturing Plants

Posted by BA . on Nov 13, 2013 1:25:00 PM

maintenance manager does it allUnfortunately in many manufacturing companies big and small there is a tendency in higher management to see maintenance as a not very important but necessary evil. It is really not something they wish to deal with. They frequently see the maintenance team not as a crucial part of the organization – sometimes possibly a few steps above the janitorial staff! This unfortunately results in disastrous decisions being made for the maintenance team. CMMS/ maintenance software gets selected on how nice it looks (beautiful and extensive reports are always welcome!) or how well it integrates with other software (ERP, financial and so on) rather than functionality that will help the maintenance team.

        We have even spoken to maintenance managers who have told us they have had to threaten to quit before they could purchase our FastMaint CMMS software! While this may sound unbelievable it is a sad fact that in many manufacturing organizations the maintenance team “gets no respect”. Here we will attempt to list some benefits that CMMS software can offer a manufacturing plant – this may make it easier to get the approvals you need to purchase the right product for your organization.

Manufacturing Problems That CMMS Software Can Help Reduce:

  1. Unable to deliver product because of machine breakdown: This can be an extremely expensive problem that CMMS software can help reduce. When you have a wide variety of equipment each of which performs a crucial step in the manufacturing process, breakdowns of any of them creates a logjam where no more product can be made or delivered to customers. Each machine will have its own maintenance cycles. Some cycles will be based on time, others on quantity of product made and so on. CMMS software helps maintenance managers create preventive maintenance (PM) tasks and work orders based on these frequencies. Many CMMS software programs also enable keeping track of maintenance inventory (spare parts & supplies). Not being able to bring a machine back into service because you do not have the spare parts on hand can cause significant product losses.

  2. Unable to deliver quality desired because of machine not working to specifications: This can be a much more insidious problem and may not be caught early enough if product quality control is not rigorous. The worst case results in poor quality product being sent to customers. Dissatisfied customers then cancel orders resulting in enormous losses to companies. This can be fatal if the company is selling to a few big customers – losing them may force the company into bankruptcy. Again proper maintenance of machinery especially preventive maintenance helps ensure that equipment is running as per specifications. Having records from CMMS software of maintenance work done can help identify problem equipment that need to be replaced.

  3. Machines requiring early replacement because of poor maintenance: This results in large costs over the long term. If the maintenance team is able to maintain and keep equipment up to specifications they usually will not need to be replaced early. In many industries replacing machinery is a big capital expense. CMMS software can help keep track of maintenance requirements on different equipment so that they do not get forgotten and are done correctly.

  4. Regulatory penalties due to non-compliance: In quite a few industries there are various regulations that companies need to follow during the manufacturing process. Not being able to show or prove that maintenance was properly carried out after certain “incidents” or when inspections are done can result in significant financial penalties as well as become a public relations disaster. Again the record keeping offered by CMMS software can be very helpful in providing a record of work done as well as show that the manufacturer was diligent in maintaining assets and equipment.

  5. Inability to manage costs of maintenance & equipment downtime: Maintenance statistics collected by the maintenance software makes it easier to report to upper management on the status of the maintenance management program. These statistics can be put in a short easy to understand report that can be easily shared and understood. More detailed analysis can help maintenance managers identify problems with equipment, staffing, spare parts and more resulting in a much more effective maintenance management program over time.

Maintenance Management Software Selection Guide

Since there are hundreds of CMMS software products available it can be quite a challenge finding the right one for your manufacturing plant. To help you identify what you need we have a free “CMMS Software Selection Guide” that you can download and use.

  Download Maintenance Software Guide

Additional Reading:

  1. "Equipment Failure & The Cost Of Failure" from Bin95.com provides a detailed analysis of different costs.

  2. "Quality Costs" from the Wikipedia attempts to categorize different costs that arise from trying to maintain product quality or lack of it.

  3. "Equipment Breakdown Insurance" an article on Smart Business Online discusses the benefits of purchasing this insurance and its availability.

  4. "The value, and cost of quality" from Plant Services Magazine discusses how quality starts to slowly go bad due to bad practices.

  5. "Software solutions can simplify on site compliance" from Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation Magazine.

Topics: CMMS Software Tips By Industry

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