MRO Magazine

Internet boosts work order efficiency

Useful add-ons that can be used with your CMMS program were explored our previous column, where barcoding was the focus (Machinery & Equipment MRO, Nov. 2004, pg. 23). This article covers another...


Industry

December 1, 2004
By Peter Phillips

Useful add-ons that can be used with your CMMS program were explored our previous column, where barcoding was the focus (Machinery & Equipment MRO, Nov. 2004, pg. 23). This article covers another popular add-on, one that allows the remote entry of work requests and purchase requisitions via the Internet.

Let’s examine the reasons you would consider the purchase of this additional software. As you expand the number of people who have access to your CMMS, you will begin to realize a couple of things.

First, the cost of purchasing additional ‘seats’ or licenses for your CMMS can range from $400 to $1,000 per seat. The purchase of the additional seats becomes necessary as more people require access to all functions of the program.

Second, in most cases, you’ll find your people do not require full access to all the functions of the program and simply only need to request work or the purchase of parts, materials or services.

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To address these factors, CMMS software developers offer programs that remotely connect to your CMMS database and allows users to enter requests. But how do these programs work and why would you use them?

The software is loaded on your computer server and accessed through the Internet or through your company’s intranet. Examples of this software include Datastream’s RequestLink and WebLink; these and others perform basically in the same manner. Simple-to-use screens with drop-down menus interface with your database and make it easy to fill in data fields to create a request. Once a request is entered, the CMMS database is updated.

The benefits are:

1. The cost of this type of add-on program is less expensive than purchasing additional seats for your CMMS. Typically, this software ranges in cost from $2,000 to $6,000, depending upon the number of concurrent users to be allowed. To access the program, the users need to use a web browser on their computer workstations. The CMMS web pages can be bookmarked as Favourites so that the needed request page can easily be found and opened.

Prices for such access will vary with the CMMS vendor. I’ve seen where $2,000 will give you 12 users and other programs that will give you 500 users for about the same money.

2. People entering requests can log on to the system at any time to view the status of their requests. Also, the people that the requests are sent to can view and approve the request online, without having to log into the full CMMS system. This means that people working away from the plant can log on to the CMMS via the Internet and approve and schedule work orders and purchase requests, as well as view previous scheduled work orders and purchases.

3. It’s easier to train people to operate user-friendly software than it is to train them to enter the same request in the full CMMS program.

4. You can eliminate the old paperwork requests that usually stack up on the maintenance supervisor’s desk. You’ve likely had to deal with these piles of requests and trying to manage them can be a pain. They get lost or overlooked and you may rarely get back to the person who submitted it.

Another problem is that requests called in by phone or are given verbally often don’t get written down. These situations lead to a lack of communication and frustration when work doesn’t get done. The Internet request software module takes care of most of these problems and improves your ability to manage work.

Where and why would you use them?

Typical applications for Internet access software are in large industries, hospitals and universities where assets and equipment are spread out over a large facility. Instead of having a centralized place to access the CMMS, computer terminals can be set up in strategic locations throughout the facility, where people can enter requests.

In a manufacturing facility, production supervisors or operators can enter work requests from the shop floor to keep the equipment in good operating condition. They can also review the status of their requests, and the expected start date of the work. In hospitals, nurses can request work needed for their departments. In universities, anyone with a computer connected to the Internet can enter a work request regarding maintenance of their dorm room.

Allowing people to enter their own requests can be time-efficient. Without one of these programs in place, requests need to be manually entered into the CMMS. In large organizations where the number of requests can be staggering, entering them into the CMMS can be a full-time job.

The request software speeds up the process from the time the work or purchase is requested until the job is completed. A permanent record is created in the CMMS that allows you to create reports and graphs showing where the work requests are coming from. Analyzing this information can assist with the reliability of equipment and other assets and keep your facility and your customers happy.

Next issue, we’ll take a quick look at more add-on software. Some of these products are pretty neat and they may end up on your got-to-have list.

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 peter@trailwalk.ca. Phillips encourages the submission of questions from readers on specific CMMS issues or problems.