The role of information technology in maintenance management
With margins getting narrower and facing intense competition from giants in every industry, many companies are looking to optimize their inventory and maintenance management. Well maintained equipment can mean the difference between a profitable year or a heavy loss.
For many leaders, it’s clear that a robust information technology (IT) system can decrease downtime and lower equipment cost while also improving safety and efficiency across the board.
Maintaining the lead
Companies today need to keep an edge over the competition by whatever means necessary. Thanks to powerhouses like Amazon, the standards of efficiently has drastically increased and your customers have grown to expect similar standards from you.
The "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" attitude has led to companies not upgrading their IT systems for maintenance in years, or if they have upgraded, it’s not in line with international best practices.
With the availability of modern CMMS systems this resistance to change leaves a lot of opportunities untapped. IT budgets for marketing, sales and ERPs are growing but the maintenance portion often gets neglected.
Additionally, when a company goes through large changes (such as expansion, mergers or revamps), it can outgrow its existing IT solutions. This leads to the equipment that isn’t properly taken care of, problems with data aggregation, and an overall drop in efficiency across the board.
That is why you need to be aware of the scalability of your IT solutions. Some maintenance software can scale up to meet the new demands, but a lot of them cannot.
Improving maintenance management through IT
From its humble beginnings, information technology was developed with a purpose of streamlining and automating our personal and professional tasks. Its role in improving maintenance management is not much different.
The prime example can be found in facilities management.
Information technology (or in this case a maintenance software) equips facility managers with the tools they need to identify individual tasks, due dates, and task progress – ensuring nothing is overlooked.
It can provide both a bird’s eye view of the whole building maintenance system as well as drill-down views.
One of the biggest benefits of maintenance software is increased labor productivity, since the system can help plan and track the work that needs to be done.
This allows technicians to complete their tasks without interruption and significantly speeds up the information flow between the maintenance team.
We can spend the whole day listing the advantages of introducing IT into maintenance management.
From inventory management and asset tracking to communication flow and maintenance schedule management, the applications of information technology in this field seem endless.
Key benefits of IT in maintenance management
Quality maintenance software will enable you to automate most maintenance tasks by setting notifications, scheduling routine maintenance, tracking repair history logs, optimizing inventories, decreasing mean time to repair (MTTR) and organizing important documents for each of your assets.
This won’t only save maintenance managers time and boost compliance rates, it will also make inspections and audits a breeze since everything is documented and easily accessible.
The answer, as seen from industry surveys, is a resounding yes as 37% of respondents are planning to increase investments in CMMS/EAM in 2018.
In a customer satisfaction survey, it was reported that the companies experienced 20.1% reduction in equipment downtime, 19.4% savings in lower materials costs and a 28.3% increase in maintenance productivity. The average payback for all systems was 14.5 months.
IT’s impact on maintenance management
Many companies that are in the business of producing quality products are moving towards implementing reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) and condition-based maintenance (CBM).
One of the most exciting prospects for the future of IT in maintenance management is the adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
IIoT holds the potential to transform maintenance and save costs because it can:
- Provide real-time health statistics of equipment.
- Issue work orders based on current conditions by interfacing with the CMMS
- Identify and reorder parts needed for condition-based maintenance requirements
- Provide detailed feedback to operators to support total productive maintenance (TPM)
- Provide follow-up on maintenance activity to verify it was completed correctly and on schedule
- Cut down product losses due to equipment failure and/or unplanned maintenance downtime
- Accelerating defect elimination and financial gains identified from the reliability-centered maintenance program.
How quickly will the industry move to integrate IIoT in maintenance management, remains to be seen.
With the exciting prospect of the IIoT on the horizon and the advanced features in existing CMMS systems, companies have more options than ever before to optimize their maintenance operations and increase productivity.
With your competition investing in their maintenance systems to boost uptime and product quality, you cannot afford to be left behind.
If you need help to decide which maintenance solution would work best for your business, you should consider talking with respected consultants or reach out to software providers for a free demo.
Bryan Christiansen is founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants’ Blog. Ultra Consultants is a CFE Media content partner.