MRO Magazine

Taking full advantage of a system’s benefits

By Peter Phillips   

To wrap up my final CMMS Solutions column for 2009, I'm going to look back at the past 12 months and provide a year-end review of CMMS successes.

To wrap up my final CMMS Solutions column for 2009, I’m going to look back at the past 12 months and provide a year-end review of CMMS successes.

It’s been a year of production slowdowns, budget freezes and many cutbacks. Maintenance departments have seen lots of equipment availability in order to do maintenance work, but very little money to do it with. Even though this has been the norm across almost all manufacturing sectors, there have been some bright spots along the way, where companies have managed to move their maintenance departments ahead.

Let’s review some of these successes.

CMMS purchasing


Anyone who purchased a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) this year will find the software market has been very competitive. Negotiating a lower price for the software has helped many facilities, as it has been a great time to buy or upgrade maintenance software.

Many companies have taken advantage of this competitive situation. In particular, the drywall industry, which has been severely affected by the housing market, has taken the time for, and spent the money on, CMMS software upgrades. During the upgrade procedures, these companies also took the opportunity to clean up their databases.

For example, every CMMS has standards to be used in key fields of the software. Over time, and with untrained users, these standards often are ignored. What happens then is the software starts to slow down and frequent errors occur. So fixing these issues during the upgrade creates a clean start.

CMMS record update

Other sectors have taken this slow business period to review their CMMS. They’ve updated their equipment list, reviewed the preventive maintenance (PM) instructions and created equipment spare part lists. These activities don’t require a lot of money but do take a fair amount of time.

For example, a petrochemical plant in Kitchener, ON, pulled its resources together and created a plan to revamp its CMMS. It has updated its equipment list so it can have a more accurate equipment history.

It has several parts rooms that are being organized and documented. Spare parts lists are being created and linked to equipment so that repairs can be planned and done more quickly.

The whole maintenance department has been involved in meetings to improve the CMMS. Every maintenance department has been assigned tasks to make the CMMS a more effective tool. We’ve helped facilitate these changes and have noticed the complete buy-in of every maintenance person. They are very eager to make things better. They know what the results will mean to them in their every-day maintenance activities. The team has clear vision of where it wants to be with its maintenance strategy.

Saving the environment

In another case, a transformer manufacturer in Burlington, ON, has taken many steps to move towards a paperless CMMS. In its purchasing process, everything is electronic. Purchase requisitions are created in the CMMS and the approvals are totally electronic. E-mails are sent to managers automatically to inform them that approvals are waiting for them to okay. Once approved, purchase orders are generated from the requisition and e-mailed directly to the vendors.

The next project at this facility will see work orders become completely electronic. Maintenance personnel will carry their work orders on Intermec handheld PCs, which comibine the advantage of consumer PDAs and high-end industrial mobile computers into a single rugged package.

They will be able to record parts, comments and labour hours on the devices, and the data will be uploaded into the CMMS. They will also be able to create work orders from things they observe as they do their daily rounds, or from breakdown repairs they have just completed.

Of course, this all sounds pretty sophisticated. However, this is a high-tech plant and all the maintenance people are computer literate.

Creating benchmarks

Some companies have taken the past year to create benchmarks to measure their performance. They have developed documentation for maintenance standards that includes acceptable levels of work order backlogs, PM completion rates, downtime statistics, mean time between failures (MTBF) and work order response time, to name a few key performance indicators (KPIs).

Reports and graphs have been created to measure performance. Multi-site facilities have adopted the benchmarks across the organization. Every site is measured the same way and the results are shared across all sites. Successes and failures alike are communicated so everyone benefits from the experience of the other maintenance departments. Everyone in the organization is using and recording data in their CMMS programs exactly the same way to make these measurements possible.

Performance reports and graphs (see Fig. 1) created by the CMMS are shared and displayed corporately on the company’s local area network and plant bulletin boards. This way people can see the results of their efforts. Corrective action plans are created to address problems areas. Every effort is being made to take advantage of the successes of the other plants and to share equipment and processing knowledge.

Safety: Lockout locations

A large multi-label food processing company we are associated with has not only taken the time to do everything we have mentioned here so far, but also has used the past year to document every equipment lockout location.

This information has been added to its CMMS. When work orders are created, the lockout locations and procedures print on every work order, helping to protect both maintenance and production personnel.

Indeed, this past year has been a challenge for most companies, which have been trying to do more with less. Yet many have taken on projects that did not break the bank and they have managed to make improvements regardless of the state of the economy.

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 sending him some of your CMMS successes and challenges for use in future articles.

For More Information

You can use the Reader Reply Cards in this issue to obtain more information. For Intermec Technologies Corp., circle No. 406. For details on improving your own CMMS system, circle No. 407.


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