ERP and CMMS: The ties that bind

A best-of-breed computerized maintenance management system can fulfill requisite integration with an enterprise resource planning system to share cost data and reduce redundant data entry.

03/17/2014


Whether you follow engineer-to-order (ETO), make-to-order (MTO), batch process, or any other manufacturing style, there’s an enterprise resource planning (ERP) strategy to fit your firm. Manufacturers invest in ERP to gain control of major business processes. Depending on the size of their organization, manufacturers can pick and choose from a range of ERP systems with a choice of modules to automate both business and production processes—from sales, service, inventory, and accounting, to production, supply chain, and shop floor management.

But not all ERP modules are created equal. When it comes to maintenance management, ERP may fall short in ease of use and quick implementation. Expensive customization can be required to fit the ERP’s enterprise asset management (EAM) system to the maintenance organization’s workflow, including routine preventive maintenance (PM), work orders (WOs), and detailed asset-maintenance analysis.

However, maintenance managers do have a choice. A best-of-breed computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that has proven to cut maintenance costs and increase machine uptime can often stand alone and act independently from an ERP system, but it also has the capability of integrating with the ERP if your organization wishes to integrate asset information. At the same time, the CMMS can be faster to implement and produce better return on investment (ROI).

A best-of-breed CMMS tends to have functionality that can be comparable to an ERP EAM module, yet packaged in an easier-to-use interface.The CMMS ties together asset documentation, maintenance production, and parts inventory. Its database can handle a heavy load of information about an asset, and users can easily add custom fields to append images, schematics, manual instructions, and more. A powerful CMMS also turns a simple WO into an asset’s audit trail for repair history, safety maintenance, and contractor relations.

An ERP EAM tends to naturally be more complex, given its operational breadth. Its functionality may require many more steps to enter a piece of equipment, like adding a PM or issuing a WO. This is an important point, whereas best-of-breed CMMS should shorten the learning curve for users, from implementation to routine, daily usage to asset maintenance analysis, with a modern intuitive interface that enables them to accomplish their goals in as little steps as possible.

This comes by way of vertical scrolling and few horizontal tabs. Modern CMMS solutions enable users to scan for information instead of searching through numerous tabs at the top of a screen to get to other pages. While this type of vertical scrolling is commonplace on smartphones and tablets, modern CMMS user interfaces are adapting to present-day user behavior.

But a best-of-breed CMMS also fulfills requisite integration with an ERP, shares cost data related to maintaining assets, and reduces the need for redundant data entry. Take spare parts, for example. Within two or three clicks of a mouse, the user scans the part into a WO and the CMMS automatically adjusts inventory.

Best-of-breed CMMS can also sync with ERP purchasing, inventory, and order management, and share cost information related to asset maintenance. When a WO requires spare parts to be used, those parts are noted in the WO, and the CMMS seamlessly adjusts inventory and order management on the ERP side and generates or shares an ERP purchase order if parts need to be replaced.

And when the user closes out the WO, the CMMS automatically adds the spare parts to a bill of materials.

At the end of the day, there are options when it comes to maintenance management, particularly within an organization utilizing a corporate ERP system. Today’s best-of-breed CMMS solutions can come with the integration points necessary to bridge the gap between maintenance operations, accounting, inventory, and other organizational functions—all while providing the simple user interface, powerful functionality, and quick implementation maintenance managers need to ensure their department stays on target.

Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.