Tips on how to achieve multisite CMMS success

How four companies accomplished multisite CMMS implementations, gaining a consolidated view of operations and standardized maintenance practices

By Raymond Lattanzio August 3, 2020

One of the most common reasons an organization with multiple plants and locations decides to implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is to standardize asset management processes and workflows. Often, its facilities either do not have a CMMS, or the present one is inadequate and not a cloud-based solution. Or the plants are using an array of outdated, splintered systems.

If an organization plans to roll out a CMMS and deploy at multiple company sites, it must first confirm whether the system of choice can handle the requirements, including internet connectivity — both Ethernet for traditional desktop PCs and Wi-Fi for tablet-based use.

A few websites, such as Gartner Insights, rate enterprise asset management (EAM) software — generally, a CMMS designed for larger enterprise customers — based on user reviews. A one-size-fits-all system will not be enough, so it is worth checking out. Case studies, such as those found on the eMaint CMMS website, are another excellent resource.

Of course, not all CMMS implementations are successful, whether it is two rollouts or dozens. According to several reports, failures can be as high as 90%. Careful preparation, planning, scheduling and coordination are critical to any implementation.

Consider these seven examples of how four diverse organizations achieved multisite CMMS implementation success.

1. Make sure you have CMMS vendor support

Any progressive organization must consider the immediate need to embrace technology to compete in an increasingly data-driven world. Some web-based CMMS software is far more capable of enabling data imports from siloed sources and of integrating easily with technologically advanced tools such as wireless condition monitoring sensors. If your organization plans to accelerate its reliability journey, consider whether the CMMS vendor can move with you into the future.

You also should feel confident that you can count on your vendor for support before, during and after the rollout. Being able to contact your provider easily and receiving an answer to a question or need quickly is essential. Once your organization begins to see and understand how a CMMS can enhance asset reliability, the more it will want to use and capitalize on its capabilities.

For example, a snack food manufacturer needed to gain a centralized, facility-wide view of maintenance operations at its nine locations. The organization chose a CMMS software company known for its stellar customer service and support.

“I think having the support and being able to have access to getting help from our CMMS vendor whenever is great. There are not a lot of systems that will let you make changes without mentioning, ‘Hey, you’ll need to pay for this. You’ll need to pay for that,’ kind of thing. And I know it’s not all about money, but it is nice to be able to say, ‘Hey, I need this done. Help me walk through it.’”

—Snack food manufacturer

Since implementing the CMMS systemwide, the company has improved its asset reliability by adding remote monitoring sensors to several critical assets, including its compressors. Now, if a sensor picks up a change in condition outside of set parameters, a notification is automatically sent to the maintenance team, enabling team members to act on the data immediately and avoid potential failure.

2. Take the CMMS for a test run

Running a CMMS pilot program is one of the best ways to test a system. It allows a company to start small and determine if the software fits its needs.

A water/wastewater company wanted to implement a CMMS at more than 75 separate utility operations. Its services include the management and maintenance of 30,000-plus assets on behalf of municipal, industrial and commercial clients. Before a full-scale rollout of 46 separate eMaint systems, the organization chose to participate in a pilot to bolster success.

“We started with one system implementation, but the pilot consisted of three eMaint implementations serving different utilities. So, we hit hard on one, and then we moved into the second and third. We were using a lot of diverse systems, depending on where we were. So, by being able to move to a common platform and with the visibility across all the systems, it really gives us the strength from the amount of information we can pull together.”

—Water and wastewater operations

Once it decided to implement the CMMS systemwide, the company took a crucial step by performing a comprehensive assessment of its assets to identify which ones were the most critical (see Figure 1).

3. Understand what you will do with the CMMS data

One of the many benefits of having a CMMS is the ability to act on the collected and stored data. Before implementation, an organization should know how the data will be managed, who will look at it and how it will be used. Define your metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) from the start and establish a review process to keep continuous improvement efforts on track. Consider adding a consolidated account that houses all operational data in one place.

“We get reports out of the consolidated account that summarize where everyone’s work order backlog is. As part of our monthly review, we look for possible yellow flags, indicators that maybe there’s something wrong. We can then get the right support functions in place before something becomes a problem.”

—Water/wastewater operations

4. Maintain standardization and CMMS data integrity

A Tier One automotive supplier wanted to achieve standardization at its 12 plants. The company provides parts to BMW, Nissan, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford and General Motors and has more than 40 operating divisions.

A multisite implementation takes time, hard work and diligence throughout the process and beyond. A CMMS’s ability to collect and store asset data is exceptional. But, if the information is not reliable because of incorrect or missing entries, you will lose one of the chief benefits of a CMMS. Build in strict rules and processes to ensure data integrity.

“With the support of our CMMS provider, we have a better structure from my point of view and from an overview of the consolidated account. We gave everybody rules to follow so that plants look the same, everybody has the same capabilities and everybody has the same reports. We basically created a system that if they did not follow it, we would take control over it. It gave them a little bit more incentive to follow.”

—Automotive parts supplier

An intuitive, straightforward CMMS encourages usage. If it’s difficult or cumbersome to complete a work order, maintenance personnel will avoid using it and not make the necessary entries. Choose a system that is easy to learn and use.

5. Prepare, prepare, prepare

A water/wastewater company’s various contract operations used a maintenance management system, but each system was independent, which prevented the organization from obtaining systemwide visibility. The company’s aggressive goals, including 46 planned rollouts, made preparation critical. Detailed organization, joint teamwork, the right CMMS and a relentless commitment to reliability helped the company move through the seven-phase implementation (see Figure 2).

“Part of the key to our success was that we had a very well-organized and coordinated implementation. A lot of effort went into planning the process and identifying roles, responsibilities and holding people accountable. And that is key to how we were able to accomplish the amount of work that we got done in the timeframe that we did.”

—Water/wastewater operations

6. Conduct CMMS training sessions

A system is only powerful if employees are adequately trained to use it. Some companies forego training, which can impede the ability to realize the full value of the software. Other providers offer countless opportunities and options, such as in-person and web-based training, including boot camps, webinars and workshops.

A manufacturer that produces millions of square feet of corrugated cardboard each year needed a system that could help it manage the increased demand for its product due to the packaging needs of online shopping companies such as Amazon. With the CMMS in place, the organization is tracking and analyzing the collected and stored data to measure success.

“The first year I was here, after we put in the new CMMS, year-over-year, we increased production output by about 14%. The year after that we increased about 6% and this past year we increased 8%. That’s more than 20% in the last three years, and a good portion of that is because we have our maintenance a little bit more in control now.”

—Corrugated cardboard manufacturer

The company chose to have in-person training and took advantage of the vendor’s CMMS sandbox, which enabled maintenance professionals to try out the system before going live.

“Having the trainer here, going through specifics, running it in the sandbox where they would not be intimidated or concerned with making mistakes was a turning point. It really helped our users.”

—Corrugated cardboard manufacturer

7. Maximize the CMMS capabilities and build in accountability

A person or people who become an organization’s CMMS expert(s) and fully understand its capacity will enhance optimization. Most successful companies assign an administrator to manage, coordinate and ensure the system is used effectively. The more it is maximized, the quicker everyone will see a return on investment.

“We chose a system that’s easy to use. Once we started using the capabilities, we understood and exploited more of its functionality. The more we’ve used it, the more we’ve seen a return on investment.”

—Snack food manufacturer

The company’s maintenance and repair (M&R) teams also create reports to identify weak performance trends, root out causes early and make repairs before equipment fails. The data also helps provide proof of concept and shows executives how the CMMS affects the organization’s output and bottom line positively.

“Once you start giving them information, they want more. They’re asking for increasingly more. We’ve piqued the corporate attention with a lot of things, so it’s getting additional traction.”

—Snack food manufacturer

Whether an organization plans to implement a CMMS at three sites or 46 sites, choosing the right one is vital (see Figure 3). Once a system goes live, the job has just begun. Ultimately, if the CMMS is not used or its functionality and features aren’t maximized, it merely becomes a storage unit. To fully benefit from a CMMS, you must be able to depend on the vendor and your in-house implementation team to ensure ongoing standardization and strategic data usage to support continuous improvement goals.

Author Bio: Raymond Lattanzio is a senior implementation consultant at Fluke Corp. and a certified reliability leader. He has nearly a decade of experience with software, software as a service (SaaS), databases, implementation and project management. In various roles at Fluke, as well as Target Corp., he has focused on driving adoption and improving team performance and efficiency.