How CMMS connects workflows for preventive maintenance and asset management

April 14, 2023
From pre-installation planning and engineering to decommissioning, CMMS software helps organizations track and manage their assets.

There is a saying in maintenance: “If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.”

Manually tracking processes and documenting work takes a lot of time and has many points where errors, miscommunication and lost paperwork can happen. Digitizing and centralizing those efforts brings teams onto the same page. And the best way to do that is with computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. The benefits of CMMS include greater consistency, improved recordkeeping and seamless, more robust reporting.

A CMMS can be used to manage many types of assets across an organization. An asset can be anything from production equipment to vehicles to buildings. No matter how many assets an organization has, asset management can be time-consuming. But using a CMMS streamlines and bolsters asset management to extend the useful life of each asset and focus time where it is needed most.

Asset management is about maintaining an optimal level of performance from assets, at the lowest possible cost spanning each asset’s life cycle, so an organization can offer the production or services customers expect. With this goal in mind, organizations can weigh when to repair and when to replace assets.

From pre-installation planning and engineering to decommissioning, CMMS software helps track and manage assets. And with real-time insights into the health of assets, organizations can better plan, schedule and perform maintenance.

Integrating CMMS software and tools

The right CMMS software can also pair with the tools maintenance teams use the most. Whether it is condition monitoring sensors on critical assets or software tools such as Power BI for data visualization, a CMMS can bring existing tools together. And through integrations with vibration sensors or other condition monitoring devices, a CMMS can help teams with around-the-clock awareness of asset health — even vibration analysis.

Tools that work together can do more and offer a fuller picture of operations. By combining software with hardware, such as condition monitoring sensors, teams can gain a more complete picture of maintenance activities and real-time asset health in one place. Equipped with a holistic view, organizations can make better decisions, save time and money, and more effectively and efficiently manage assets. Again, organizations can get the most out of their assets by getting the most out of the tools the team is already using.

And with the reporting features in a CMMS, sharing meaningful insights across teams or throughout the organization is simpler and more effective. For example, teams can analyze historical costs and trends to identify priorities or showcase KPI tracking.

A CMMS can also help manage and streamline resources, including parts and labor, while also making necessary tasks easier. Audits and regulatory compliance are simpler to manage with a centralized, digitized trail of documentation and work done. Think of it as a digital paper trail — easily find and compile all the information that regulatory agencies need to demonstrate that all necessary standards have been met. Even warranty claims are easier with robust recordkeeping.

The importance of tracking and trending

If there is a required level of service or output, tracking and trending assets and performance over time will help determine what needs to be done to maintain that level.

Reactive maintenance, which is what happens when something fails or shuts down, tends to increase maintenance costs because of the prices of labor overtime and expedited parts. Even preventive maintenance, which is maintenance work done based on usage or time elapsed rather than on asset condition, can lead to unnecessary spending. Any maintenance that is done when it does not actually need to be done uses time and parts and introduces risk that something could go wrong.

Tracking and trending asset condition over time and getting insights from a CMMS can alert teams to asset decline. With an early warning of potential problems, organizations can identify the actions that need to be taken, schedule them as needed and even have extra time to order parts. Planned maintenance is less expensive — and safer. Real-time data from a CMMS paired with condition monitoring devices leads organizations to more informed decisions.

With a CMMS, it is easier than ever to achieve asset management best practices. Tracking the maintenance history on assets gives organizations the ability to make data-driven decisions that use resources most effectively. Labor hours, parts and budgets are not infinite, so it is important to use them all effectively. With a CMMS, teams can use the data to determine what needs to be done and when, reducing both failures and unnecessary work.

Documentation ensures consistency

Work orders are a crucial part of any maintenance program. A CMMS offers work order capabilities that keep teams up to date on projects, problems, requests and more. Mobile capabilities allow team to receive, track and complete work orders on the go.

Prioritizing work, from backlogs to urgent repairs, is easier when work orders are digitized and centralized. A CMMS helps ensure that the work gets done, and that it gets done on time. And again, such documentation helps organizations when it comes to compliance. 

With a CMMS, teams can effectively manage workflows and minimize downtime. Keep tabs on asset health to know what needs attention and when. Using a CMMS software means teams can level up their asset management programs and improve tracking and analysis of maintenance KPIs.

Transparency is another benefit. Sharing data and documentation across teams and sites can eliminate data silos and provide one single source of truth. Over time, teams learn what works — and what does not — to implement best practices across the organization.

Real-world examples of the benefits of CMMS

Here are a few ways CMMS users have taken advantage of the features and capabilities to improve their asset management:

A manufacturing company has standardized maintenance across 33 plant locations. Using a single CMMS across the sites made reporting and oversight possible at the enterprise level. A consistent asset hierarchy and consistent naming conventions have brought everyone onto the same page. The company is now able to track and trend KPIs consistently across the organization, making continuous improvement possible.

A warehousing company has streamlined and improved its inventory management. It has 17 sites and used to hold spare parts at every single site. Obviously, an inventory of that size takes up a lot of space, money and time. Now, using a CMMS, the company can manage its overall inventory much more effectively. The company can ensure it has enough spare parts for all of its assets and communicate in one centralized place. The right parts get to the right sites when they are needed, and the company does not need to buy, store and track duplicate parts across 17 sites.   

A cooperage producing barrels for a distillery has to maintain its production equipment while also running a dust mitigation system. Using the work order feature of a CMMS, plus machine-mounted vibration sensors, helps one cooperage plan and prioritize the work that it does. The cooperage is able to separate the project-based, longer-term tasks from the more urgent, real-time response needs.

Why asset management matters

Effective asset management is important for a number of reasons. Done right, it prolongs equipment life, makes effective use of maintenance resources and helps ensure consistent, quality production or services. Organizations can make sound budgets and plan for replacements or critical repairs when they know how long assets will last.

With a CMMS, organizations can take asset management to the next level. By decreasing maintenance costs and increasing asset reliability and availability, asset management becomes a way of adding value to a business — and providing an edge in today’s competitive environment.

As a mechanical application and product specialist with Fluke Reliability, John Bernet works with customers from all industries to successfully implement their reliability programs. He has more than 30 years of experience in the maintenance and operation of commercial machinery and as a nuclear power plant electrician in the U.S. Navy. He holds a Category II Vibration Analyst certification and is a Certified Maintenance Reliability Professional (CMRP).

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