Sales pitch on CMMS: Increased capacity, profits

The maintenance team should not simply be considered a cost center. What is the opposite of reducing downtime? Increasing uptime!


An older, wiser maintenance consultant, who mentored me many years ago, posed a question: “What does maintenance do?” My nearly automatic response was, “They fix broken things.” His answer reminded me of my elementary school teacher’s retort: “Well…that is correct, but give me more.” As I continued to talk about how maintenance fixes what is broken, he finally interrupted me and said, “Yes, that’s true. But the main thing they do is increase an organization’s capacity.”

Those words have stuck with me ever since. The maintenance team should not simply be considered a cost center. What is the opposite of reducing downtime? Simple—increasing uptime! A strong maintenance plan and well-oiled team keep operations running smoothly, using less spare parts, less overtime labor, and fewer resources such as electricity and water. And that helps preserve costs and increase profitability.

Sales isn’t the only profit-making department in the organization. The maintenance team, typically relegated to the basement, is keeping production running efficiently, increasing capacity, and positively affecting profitability. Yet they are often the unsung and under-appreciated members of the organization.

At the core of maintenance operational success is a well-conceived plan, a well-trained team, and a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). Without a CMMS driving the schedule for performing critical tasks in advance of potential equipment failures, the goal of increasing the organization’s capacity will not be achieved.

CMMS helps differentiate strong performing assets from weaker ones to show where to earmark precious people and dollar resources in an intelligent manner, thereby increasing uptime and decreasing downtime expenses. This allows management to make smart repair-versus-replace decisions with proven vendors; the staff gains credit for work well done; and PM schedules get adjusted to avoid future issues.

An added benefit is improved cash flow resulting from “not getting surprises” that an expensive piece of equipment suddenly needs to be replaced but was not in the budget.

Also, since CMMS captures activity related to asset repairs and keeps a running history, it prevents duplicate repairs and unnecessary costs. CMMS is very useful for looking at cost progressions in maintenance for planning capital budgets. It tells maintenance whether it is more costly to continue repairing an asset or to replace it. CMMS benefits the bottom line.

You have likely heard this scenario over and over again: It’s a hot day and the temperature in your office is too high. The problem is related to the HVAC in your office area. Employees wonder, “When will maintenance get here and fix this?!?”

Or maybe a production line is down, delaying an important order, which incurs overtime and parts costs. Since the default perception of maintenance is that a technician gets called when trouble strikes, it is natural to associate maintenance and repair with problems the staff likely didn’t create.

Even with preventative maintenance, it sometimes forces equipment to be taken offline, preventing the flow of production—and that too generates negative perceptions upstairs, which puts the burden on maintenance staffers to prove their value. It is the maintenance director’s job to explain to management: “We are not just fixing broken things—we are increasing our organization’s capacity and saving significantly on asset management!”

Solid reporting and analysis will help create a smooth-running operation. Again, CMMS reduces emergencies and the maintenance team blends into the background. This is good news as it typically means a reduction in downtime and an increase in uptime.

But you need to let upper management know why a CMMS is needed. CMMS at the core of your maintenance operations will improve your team’s ability to help the organization lower costs and increase profitability. It will also kick out the reports to prove it, should inquiring minds in upper management want to know.

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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.