MRO Magazine

Auditing Maintenance Operations

A few weeks ago we were in Las Vegas, holding a conference there for our customers. At the end of our conference we spent a day auditing one of our manufacturing customers just outside the city. The p...

Machinery and Equipment Maintenance

June 1, 2006
By Peter Phillips

A few weeks ago we were in Las Vegas, holding a conference there for our customers. At the end of our conference we spent a day auditing one of our manufacturing customers just outside the city. The plant was given five days notice of the audit and was sent documentation identifying the 10 components we would audit and the key questions and criteria we would address.

This facility has had a CMMS in place for 18 months. When we implemented the software at this manufacturing plant, we followed an implementation plan that supported 10 critical areas that were needed to have a successful beginning and evolution of a CMMS.

Those 10 critical areas affected how we originally set-up the CMMS. We designed specific data fields and processes within the software to easily measure the performance of the CMMS and its users.

We’ve talked about auditing in a previous article but this time we’re going to get into the details of what we specifically look for.


Audits can be done in different formats and can be administered in-house or by outside consultants. Our audit can be done by either method but is primarily designed as a self-audit.

A scoring grid is designed into the audit process. Although the scoring is important, it is secondary to the recommendations provided by the auditors. Recommendations are specific, obtainable and manageable.

The audit form breaks each area into three key questions. The audit format provides the auditors with the criteria to look for in each question. The job of the auditors is to find evidence to support the listed criteria.

The first area we audit is safety. We look for systems that ensure the safety of the maintenance and production personnel. Lockout procedures and permits should be evident. All CMMS software provides the ability to identify safe work practices and attach files that contain permits, etc. These documents and instructions can be printed with the work orders.

The second area to examine, second only to safety, is called ‘Visual and Goals’. The questions and criteria for this very important topic revolve around support from upper management for the work order- and parts-management processes. We can’t stress the importance of management support enough; without it the whole system will fall apart. The support has to filter all the way down to the shop floor. The work order process and spare-part management procedures must be impressed upon all CMMS users.

The third area closely examines Spare Part Management. Organization is a critical factor, including cleanliness and labelling of bins. There needs to be methods in place for craftsmen to find parts quickly. Accuracy of the part location and quantity on hand are scrutinized by random sampling. We simply look to see that the parts in the CMMS match the physical stock in stores.

The fourth component reviews a section of the facility. This could be a specific manufacturing process, building or department. Here we do a comprehensive analysis of the maintenance activities for the equipment in this area. This particular audit concentrated on a section of the production line.

The equipment must have three keys ingredients: (a) An accurate CMMS equipment list, as it’s hard to track equipment history if the list is out of date; (b) Preventive maintenance schedules and procedures, since PMs need to be in place and updated regularly; and (c) There needs to be a listing of the spare parts for the equipment in the CMMS, since knowing what parts belong to each piece of equipment reduces the time it takes to do planned and breakdown maintenance.

This fourth audit item should be a perfect model that is mirrored in all other areas of the plant.

The fifth area we examine is the Work Order Flow. We’re looking for diagrams, communications and personnel who understand of the work order processes.

The work order process must follow each and every work order from the time it is created until it is updated and closed in the CMMS software. All employees need to know their roles and responsibilities in the work order flow.

Clear evidence of a good system will be the control of work order backlog through reports and rescheduling. Effective planning and scheduling of all work orders should be a daily routine for the planner or scheduler.

Communication is a key ingredient to keep work requests coming in. Yes, that’s right, more work requests being submitted by maintenance and production personnel. It is vitality important that people who submit work requests to the CMMS receive a response and updates on their requests. Maintenance and production operators know the equipment and can alert you before breakdowns occur. If they receive no feedback, then they will stop taking the time to enter work into the CMMS. You don’t want this to happen.

A successful CMMS and maintenance program must be sold to its users like any other product we see advertised on television. Advertising, selling and looking after customers are components of how all good products are sold. Think of your CMMS, work order flow, parts management and customers as a successful product in the marketplace. It’s really no different. Take opportunities to show results from your maintenance successes, and take the time to promote what you do.

Next issue, we will look at the final five areas of the audit and some the underlining factors that affect CMMS performance and the performance of the maintenance department.

In this case, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas.

Peter Phillips of Trailwalk Holdings, a CMMS consulting and training company based in Nova Scotia, can be reached at 902-798-3601 or by e-mail at He is available to answer your questions on CMMS issues or problems. His previous columns can be viewed at