Three perspectives on maintenance management software

Maintenance management software helps to streamline the data-capturing process and creates a more efficient plant floor,

By Trent Maw September 30, 2022
Courtesy: Cincinnati Incorporated/Steve Rourke, CFE Media and Technology

Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) Insights

  • Manually tracking machine data is tedious and can lead to inaccuracies and inefficiencies.
  • Maintenance management software helps to streamline the data-capturing process and creates a more efficient plant floor in terms of maintenance.
  • Even though it might be difficult to convince workers that switching to a maintenance management system is beneficial, it is worth it in the long run.

Have you ever heard a word repeated so many times that it starts to lose all meaning? That’s called semantic satiation, and it’s a good way to describe what happens when you spend a lot of time researching manufacturing solutions like maintenance management software.

Maintenance management software, defined

“Maintenance management software” is an umbrella term covering two things:

  • Computerized maintenance management software (CMMS): If using CMMS, a business is getting data about equipment performance, work orders and other key elements of your maintenance program. It’s technically a form of asset management, but it’s heavily rooted in the physical elements of maintenance work.
  • Enterprise asset management (EAM): As the name suggests, EAM solutions take asset management to the enterprise level by gathering more data about your equipment. They create richer context by providing insights, asset performance analytics and more, giving a more complete picture of necessary maintenance care.

While a CMMS and EAM are each important in their own right, their usefulness is entirely dependent on how they are done. There are three basic approaches to maintenance management overall:

Manual methods

If you need a pen and paper to answer basic asset management questions or perform a single maintenance task, you know you’re stuck in the rut of manual methods. They may have been functional in the past, but not anymore. These days, they’re not just eating away at asset maintenance efficiency, facility management simplicity and even your ability to keep up with regulatory compliance; they’re increasing asset downtime and maintenance costs at the same time.

For many manufacturers, that often means progressing to traditional CMMS and EAM.

Traditional CMMS and EAM

Although they’re far more efficient than their manual siblings, traditional CMMS and EAM approaches still leave much to be desired. They may be disjointed, difficult to integrate or incapable of gathering all the asset performance and maintenance schedule information needed to automatically create work orders. They get the job done, but not as effectively as possible.

Modern maintenance management software solutions

The best way to handle maintenance management is through a cutting-edge, user-friendly software platform. This approach puts the maintenance team’s thumb on the pulse of the entire plant. It integrates data from a variety of sources, helps leverage insights from maintenance care needs and gives the power to take control of asset management — all from a single platform.

Better yet, this approach allows the utilization of both preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance when pragmatic. What’s the difference? Well, preventive maintenance relies on usage- or time-based triggers to create a work order; meanwhile, predictive maintenance uses software and sensor-generated data to identify issues and predict the best maintenance operation. These both exist in contrast to reactive maintenance, which can increase maintenance costs by forcing you into a break/fix pattern.

“Maintenance management software” means both CMMS and EAM. It also doesn’t refer to traditional CMMS and EAM, which both stand to be improved by the advanced tools and smarter techniques integrated into modern maintenance management software.

Maintenance management on the factory floor

Almost everyone on the factory floor is likely to say maintenance software benefits them somehow. However, the truth is the people actually responsible for maintenance care probably see the biggest and most important advantages.

Easier data management

Modern maintenance work is all about data. With an outdated approach, that data is difficult to capture. Even if a maintenance team does get the info they need, it’s likely to end up siloed in a variety of disjointed systems — which means they’ll still need to manually stitch together the different sources to get something even resembling a clear view.

That’s why maintenance management software is such a big deal.

Instead of layering new technology on top of fundamentally flawed approaches, maintenance management software reinvents the data capture, display and utilization process. Using wearable technology and mobile devices, workers can create and capture information as they work. This data is displayed side-by-side with asset performance metrics and other key equipment information, creating a single view a maintenance team can use to create and act on each work order.

Simpler, clearer tasks

With all that data right at their fingertips, a team will always know exactly what to do and when to do it. It’s because maintenance management software enables preventive and predictive maintenance measures, giving workers the insights they need to structure and perform simpler, clearer tasks. The software can also provide key maintenance history, including a view of every previous maintenance request, to eliminate redundancy.

Reduced downtime

When a maintenance schedule or asset management practices are messy, a few different things can happen:

  • A business could perform unnecessary maintenance work, which leads to downtime.
  • A business could miss the signs maintenance is necessary and experience an equipment breakdown, which leads to downtime.
  • A business could rely on the wrong asset performance metrics and end up with a maintenance program that addresses symptoms instead of problem sources, which leads to downtime.

No matter its cause, downtime puts pressure on the entire manufacturing workflow. However, the maintenance team experiences this pressure most intensely because they’re the ones who have to fix it. The good news is maintenance management software helps plan and direct maintenance work, resulting in less downtime and clearer action plans when something does go wrong.

What maintenance management means for your equipment

It’s clear maintenance management software is good news for workers.

Sure, your equipment may not have a mind of its own, but because these machines are an important part of the manufacturing workflow, it’s helpful to view maintenance management software from that perspective.

Here are a few things to appreciate about maintenance management software.

1. Fewer breakdowns. With maintenance management software, it’s easier for employees to gather asset performance data and turn it into actionable insights. That means they always have the information they need to make fast, accurate decisions about necessary maintenance work. As a result, many breakdowns can be avoided, and those that can’t are handled more efficiently — all of which is good news for the equipment.

2. Better, more timely maintenance. In some cases, poorly timed maintenance is just as bad as no maintenance at all. Incorrect or improperly performed maintenance is even worse.

Luckily for the machines, maintenance management software helps workers understand what’s required as well as when and how to do it. Built-in monitoring features can flag when a task isn’t performed correctly and which steps should be taken to solve the problem. Better yet, maintenance management software includes the ability to track the results of maintenance work — so if a new best practice is discovered, it can be replicated across the entire asset management program.

3. Longer lifespan. Although maintenance management increases productivity, reduces costs and otherwise supports manufacturing workflows, one of its most important tasks — at least from the equipment’s perspective — is increasing asset lifespan. When every element of a maintenance operation is moving smoothly, machines experience fewer damaging incidents and last longer overall.

Longer equipment lifespan means less money spent on repairs and replacements, simpler asset management, clearer spare parts management and more. Plus, a business won’t have to pay for new machines quite as often (or navigate the downtime created by removing old equipment and installing the new model).

Five benefits of maintenance management software

Is there any part of your manufacturing workflow that doesn’t benefit from a better maintenance program, simpler work order management, improved asset performance and streamlined data capture?

As a matter of fact, there is.

Think about it this way: old processes — whether it’s an outdated computerized maintenance management system, a spreadsheet or even a pen and paper — probably aren’t happy about the change. After all, nobody likes being replaced.

Here are a few ways modern maintenance management software improves on outdated approaches:

1. Speed: Old or disjointed systems tend to add unnecessary delays to a maintenance schedule. That’s not to mention the time it takes to maintain the systems themselves. With maintenance management software, you can count on quick data capture, work order creation, asset performance monitoring and more.

2. Accuracy: If a business is still collecting data with a whiteboard or other manual process, they probably aren’t getting the truth. Even a computerized maintenance management system that doesn’t integrate with other tech solutions will eventually lead to data silos and inaccuracies. Luckily, modern maintenance management happens in a single, easy-to-use platform that helps eliminate human error across the board.

3. Efficiency: Technology is no replacement for the creativity and flexibility of human workers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together. In fact, maintenance management software is the perfect opportunity for people and tech to boost efficiency in ways neither could accomplish alone.

4. Flexibility: Outdated approaches don’t leave much room for updates or new discoveries. They trap a business in a pattern of layering new devices on top of old foundations, which ends up being a tech-for-tech’s-sake approach. Instead, maintenance management software reinvents a maintenance program from the ground up, allowing the ability to build flexibility, adaptability and other digital-first benefits right into the DNA.

5. Digital transformation: At the end of the day, stagnant, outdated processes are the anchor keeping from exploring the wide-open ocean of digital transformation. Although asset and maintenance management are certainly not the only manufacturing processes that deserve digitization, they’re a good first step into the world of tomorrow.

Put simply, the old ways have been keeping businesses from all the things a plant is capable of. Modern solutions, tools and software can help make a difference.

L2L is a CFE Media and Technology content partner.

Original content can be found at Leading2Lean.

Author Bio: Trent Maw, senior director of marketing, L2L (Leading2Lean)