Are You Using CMMS to its Full Potential?

As the benefits of a well-designed and implemented web based Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) become apparent, more businesses are making the move towards this type of technology.  And it makes good business sense; a modern system is proven to increase workflow, improve employee accountability and provide companies with a quick return on investment.  Some businesses are going a step further by having their software custom configured with their particular needs and issues in mind.  In this manner, the companies are using exactly what they need; no more and no less.

But no matter what system you have—or are considering for purchase—how do you know exactly what you need?  Or what you’re missing?  It’s generally agreed that all systems should have the “basics”.  Preventive maintenance software should automatically generate and track PM Work Orders.  It should provide a way to schedule repairs and manage request from building occupants while automatically tracking part and supply consumption.  But even with these basic features, some systems have been developed that have obvious advantages over others to keep equipment running longer and more efficiently.  For instance, by using a web-based system instead of desktop-based software, you have the advantage of accessibility and visibility to the system wherever you or your field technicians are.  Smart Phones and Tablets can be used to dispatch workers and track work performance as it happens.  And by using barcode technology, assets maintenance and repairs are systematically documented, along with additional information such as maintenance schedules, issues and warranty information.  Plus, if you have one of the more advanced systems, your supervisors can perform mobile quality inspections, cutting inspection time by up to 50% and cutting reporting time by up to 90%.

A lot of systems offer some form of employee management, but usually it’s very limited.  If you want to manage your employees more effectively in a way that increases their accountability, a basic system may not be enough.  A better solution will feature a complete human resources suite, providing you with the information necessary to build a better workforce.  Imagine being able to know exactly where your employees are, what tasks they’re performing, how they’re performing those tasks, and where they need improvement.  Some CMMS products assist you even more by having employees clock in and out of each task they perform right from their cell phone, making work management more efficient.

While most systems have some form of inventory control, some of the better developers have utilized barcode technologies in this area, making it easier than ever to get a handle on your inventory needs.  Using barcodes can be done with Smart Phones or Tablets, lowering costs, improving utilization, and providing part and supply consumption as it happens, helping you to manage inventory more effectively.

If you don’t have these features on your present system, you may be missing out on some potential time and money saving features.  And if you do have them—and aren’t using them—it’s time to get the most from your investment and use your CMMS to its fullest.

Effective MRO Inventory Management

Mobile technology has changed the way many organizations manage their parts, supplies, and tools inventory.  The old ways of managing inventory are not only prone to inefficiency; they are no longer a truly effective method for supporting maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO). The importance of a well-run storeroom goes without saying, yet this is one of the main issues where managers encounter problems. Despite the fact that most maintenance software products have built in Barcoding functions, which makes inventory management easier and more efficient, the benefits can’t be realized unless these functions are actually used.

What is Barcode Technology?

The ability to read Barcodes is prevalent in nearly any modern mobile device, including Smart Phones and Tablets.  You no longer have to purchase expensive barcode readers that are used only for a specialized purpose.  Any Smart Phone you give your staff can be a barcode reader, eliminating extra costs and providing the ultimate in convenience.  Essentially, there are no longer any reasons not use Barcode Technology to help manage inventory in your facilities.

How do Barcodes Work with Asset Management Software?

Modern asset management software will have barcode technology built in by default, with applications, or Apps, that can be downloaded to manage your inventory. You don’t need an Internet connection to use this type of system, so if your storage area does not have a cell phone signal, this is no problem.

Inventory Apps enable you to quickly and accurately receive inventory, transfer it from one storage location to another, and perform physical inventories periodically to ensure your actual inventory matches what your asset management software says is present.  If you want to track everything in real time, you can scan an item whenever it leaves your store room, tracking who has the material, where it is going to be used, and keep a full consumption history of everything you purchase.  This also makes accounting easier, since there is a seamless data transfer between the different departments.

What are the benefits?

Utilizing barcode technology has a lot of benefits particularly when it comes to inventory management. Below are a few of those benefits:

  • Proper accounting of parts, supplies, and tools
  • Speed in data collation and transfer
  • Reduces the error which comes with manual recording of data
  • Provides detailed records of every facet of each transaction
  • Reduces the incidence of unavailable parts or supplies by keeping detailed records of what is available in the storeroom
  • Automatic transaction histories improve budget management and reordering whenever the stock falls below the minimum stock requirement

Barcoding and Asset Management Software automates a great deal of the inventory management process, but only if the functions are fully utilized. A systematic approach can go a long way to make your storeroom more orderly and less of a problem zone for facility managers and technicians.

Mobile Technology for Modern Facility Management

Mobile technology has become much more relevant to facility management in the last two years. Maintenance and engineering professionals are mobile by nature, and have relied on paper, phone calls, emails, and text messages to get their job done.  Although these different methods of communication have been somewhat effective, there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made by using modern web based Computerized Maintenance Management Systems, or CMMS products.  With the advent of Smart Phones and Tablets, more facility managers are realizing the positive impact these technologies can have in their facilities.

Older Methods Don’t Produce the Same Results

Even though mobile technology is gradually becoming popular in the industry, there are still those who prefer older ways and have not incorporated the new technology into their facility management processes.

The older methods usually involve paper, phone calls, and manual data entry.  This means that when maintenance technicians and mechanics need immediate access to information, they have to wait until they are on site and even then, may have to wade through huge files from the administrative office in order to find what they are after.  This method is not only tedious; it wastes time and substantially reduces productivity.

The result is a maintenance process that is compromised and productive methods such as predictive maintenance become impractical or in some cases, impossible to implement.

Where Mobile Technology Comes in Handy

When utilizing web based CMMS products, mobile technology enhances the performance of employees and leads to lowered costs for the facility and for the workforce.  When applied in the following areas, mobile technology has far reaching effects:

  • On Demand Work Orders:  The largest improvement made is in automated dispatch of workers to handle client Service Requests and Asset Repair Orders.  Workers don’t need to be called or stop by the office to pick up their Work Orders – they are sent automatically to their Smart Phones or Tablets.  The workers can start and stop the Work Orders in the field, giving accurate field work times.  They can document what they did and even take pictures before, during, and after the work is done to document the work completely.  When work is completed, everyone who is involved knows instantly, and the worker can be assigned their next task immediately, reducing travel and down time.  An added benefit is the elimination of double entry and the errors that happen as part of that older documentation process,
  • Preventive Maintenance Work Orders: When work is completed for On Demand Work Orders, the workers have a scheduled list of Preventive Maintenance Work Orders that they can immediately begin.  All of the details they need to complete the work can be automatically sent to their Smart Phone or Tablet, increasing their productivity and minimizing the amount of work their supervisors need to perform.  Just like the On Demand Work Orders, workers can start and stop the PM Work Order in the field, documenting their work with notes and also with pictures.  Everyone who monitors Preventive Maintenance will know that the work is done, and follow up documentation becomes much easier.  Of course, the same benefit for eliminating double entry is useful for PM Work Orders as well.
  • Quality Inspections:  Supervisors can perform Quality Inspections of both On Demand and Preventive Maintenance Work Orders with their Smart Phone or Tablet.  Their start time and end time is automatically documented, and they can record everything they find with easy drop down menus to prevent a lot of typing.  Inspectors can also take pictures of any deficiencies they find or also document when a job is well done, so there is a complete and accurate record of the work performed.  Analysis of Quality results becomes a lot easier, as reports are generated automatically to improve their productivity.
  • Asset Inventory: This is another important area where the effects of mobile technology can be experienced as receiving, tracking, and performing physical inventories become much faster and more productive.  Inventory results can instantly and automatically be sent into the web based CMMS, eliminating transcribing errors and improving accuracy.

Without a doubt mobile technology is the next big thing for savvy maintenance professionals and when properly integrated with their chosen CMMS, it provides great opportunities for effectiveness, productivity, and accountability.

The Importance of Training in CMMS Implementations

The smooth implementation and start up of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems or CMMS depends on a few key factors.  One of these is the proper formatting of data prior to installation, and when this is flawed, any system will replicate the flaws until corrected.  The good news is that experienced implementation professionals can help you avoid implementing flawed data.

However, even a system that has been correctly implemented can give rise to unsatisfactory performance.  This is usually because one of the most important aspects of a new CMMS implementation has been neglected:  Employee Training.

Why Training is Key

Your CMMS is going to be run by people, yet top management executives continue to cut back on training to “lower” cost.  What they end up doing is accruing more costs, due to errors their employees make while using their asset management software until they understand the best way to use their new tool.

In order to avoid this, it is not just important that the employees be trained in the proper use of the CMMS, there needs to be recurring training and knowledge retention evaluation as each new upgrade is introduced.

Who Should Train?

When planning employee training, there might be the temptation to hire corporate trainers to carry out the training program.  If these individuals are true systems experts, this could be a reasonable path to follow.  However, unless they are willing and capable of spending the time needed to learn the CMMS fully, this path should be resisted.  While corporate trainers might have general knowledge of a number of asset management software products, each system has its own methods and special features.

One advantage some CMMS products have is built in training videos.  These mini training sessions usually cover the same material taught in live training sessions, but they are broken down into 3 to 5 minute bites.  Employees can review the videos whenever they feel unsure about what they are doing, without having to ask someone for help.  One other advantage is the ability to learn at their own pace, and reinforce any live training they have received as they start using their new CMMS.

Who Should Be Trained?

The true effectiveness of a CMMS system depends largely on how completely it has been embraced by the members of an organization.  Everyone needs to be involved when it comes to the smooth running of a facility, and everyone should receive some level of training if their jobs are scheduled or managed by the CMMS.  Of course, individuals who are not going to directly log into the system don’t need extensive training, but it is helpful for them to know what the process is for work management and their role in a successful facility.

Benefits of Proper Training

When the employees in an organization have undergone proper CMMS training, there are several benefits which the organization enjoys:

  • Smooth running of the facility
  • The ability to take advantage of all the features of the CMMS, improving ROI
  • Cost effectiveness due to a reduction in flaws or mistakes
  • Increased accountability and an “ownership” mentality
  • Improved documentation of systems and work performed
  • Better employee performance measurement

To get the most out of your CMMS implementation, comprehensive training is a wise investment that will give benefit in every aspect of asset management.

Improving Maintenance Sustainability using CMMS

Experienced Facility Managers understand the importance of a computerized maintenance system to keep assets functioning as designed.  Not only does a CMMS cut overall operational costs, but it improves facility utility consumption, provides a healthy work environment, and ensures that assets remain at top functionality for as long as possible.  However, in order to keep getting the most out of your CMMS, it is important to keep track of asset sustainability by reviewing system use and maintenance performance trends.

The Importance of your CMMS to Sustainability

If you want to get the most value from your CMMS, you should treat it like an asset – in essence make sure it is properly implemented and maintained.  Let’s assume you had a perfect equipment list, perfect work instructions, a perfect PM schedule, and a perfect work force.  Why do you need to maintain your CMMS?  Even in this “perfect” scenario, equipment condition changes, the needs of the facility change, the demands of your tenants change, and all assets are consuming their “useful life”.

In order to prevent asset degradation, you must review the performance of your team as well as the performance of your equipment and make appropriate adjustments to keep everything on track.  When reviewing Work Order documentation, it is easy to spot missing information or readings that don’t make sense.  It is much harder to understand work quality and what your staff did to correct the deficiencies they found.

Employee Work Performance Measurement

When you evaluate employee performance, work consistency is just as important as work completion.  If your workforce is doing a great job most of the time, you will still experience asset degradation on the days when work is not as good as usual.

Having a built-in measurement tool within your CMMS is the best way to monitor work completion and measure the quality/consistency of work performance.  Work inspections will tie directly back to work performed, and trends can be easily identified over time.  You will also have the ability to measure consistency for individual employees, which helps you understand the level of supervision and training needed for each staff member.

New and Continuous Training

Of course, system and trade based training is a component of sustainability, but how do you determine the best training material and methods for your staff?  This is one aspect that is usually neglected when it comes to facility management. Even though CMMS makes it possible for a facility to be efficiently run and managed with a limited number of staff, they still need to be trained to keep the facility running efficiently. New employees should be trained on the proper use of the CMMS software while experienced employees should go through continuous education as trends in the industry change.

Use of Add-on functionality

Most CMMS vendors create an allowance for add-on functionality in order to expand the use of the software. The reason why it is necessary to take advantage of these is that it enables the CMMS software to grow with the specific needs of the facility.

Regular CMMS Upgrades

Whenever CMMS software goes through an upgrade, it usually includes more efficient tools for better management. In order to get the most of the software, it is important to make use of recent versions. The sustainability of CMMS can be greatly improved if these vital tips are implemented. Improved sustainability means a more efficiently run facility, which in turn will lead to greater cost effectiveness.