How to Maintain an Equipment Registry

Bob Schindler

The equipment registry is one of the most important tools in your kit when it comes to maintenance and reliability. It can be the foundation of your planned maintenance, lubrication, training and repair programs, as well as help with regulatory compliance and safety programs.

Your spare parts management program depends upon a complete and accurate registry with the requisite analysis for regular service parts along with the insurance spares identified through failure modes and effects analysis. Don’t forget that your financials are also tied in through depreciation, amortization and cost center assignments.

Equipment history gets tied to the registry along with manuals, drawings, procedures, labor costs and reports. That is why it is the foundation upon which so much is built, and that is why it is so vital that you get it right and work to maintain its accuracy.

While it has an initial cost and a maintenance cost, the payback can be significant and continuous, so make the investment even if you have to bump something else down the list. The man-hours that you save long term will repay your investment many times over. You can consider the downtime and spares savings as icing on the cake.

What the Registry Should Look Like

If you have an enterprise asset management (EAM) or computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), you are already set up with specific fields in a database. Review those fields to be sure that they satisfy your needs and then examine the registry for completeness and accuracy. You may be able to rename some fields to suit your needs.

If you don’t have an EAM or CMMS with built-in equipment registry, or you are evaluating a program for your plant, then be sure that it provides a minimum number of data fields for the basic information you need. This is one of those cases where more is better. Of course, smaller plants can manage with cheaper versions of programs or even with simple spreadsheets if they are configured correctly.

As a bare minimum, you will need fields such as equipment name, manufacturer name, model number, serial number, location installed in the plant, description and date installed. You can add fields for service vendor, warranty period, capacity, functional location, superior equipment number, bill of materials (BOM) file number (if not included as a separate function in your software), and the original purchase order number if desired.

Equipment Name

This is what you call it for your records. Make this understandable to everyone, and don’t be afraid of abbreviations or acronyms if they are common to your process. You can form the standard here for your plant, so think about it up front. You will put this on labels, reports, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) screens, procedures, and work order titles, so it needs to have a structure that makes sense. A standardized structure will be necessary because you will also sort data like work orders by this name.

Manufacturer Name

This is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and not the guy who sold it to you or installed it. List that outfit under the vendor name or in the comment section.

Model Number

This number connects you to OEM manuals and services, and works with the serial number to tell your vendor exactly which machine you are talking about when you call for help.

Serial Number

The serial number with the model number is very important information. With just the model and serial number, the OEM can usually pull up any information you need on parts and procedures. Verify that what you have recorded matches the actual nameplate on the unit. Some manufacturers maintain separate part numbers and drawing numbers for each serial number unit. Plus, there may be some subtle differences in your unit because of a special requirement that is only recorded in the manufacturer’s specific serial number record. You don’t want to order a $10,000 part, wait eight weeks for it to arrive and then find it doesn’t quite fit.

Date Installed

You use this date for warranty coverage, for depreciation financials and for setting up initial service and preventive maintenance schedules. It can also help managers decide if it is time to upgrade.


This is your in-house location code. Some large companies include country and plant codes on the front, but the basics are building, floor and quadrant. You can also use column numbers in the place of or in addition to the quadrant code to narrow it down even further.


This is the time when you establish your standard nomenclature for your equipment. It needs to be descriptive, standard and universally understood. Limit this to 40 to 60 characters for ease of sorting later.


The comment field is a free-form text block that you use to capture what the equipment does for your plant and any special information that you want available for use, such as the vendor name, unit capacity or anything else you feel is important. If you don’t do it anywhere else, take this opportunity to record the design capacity and the machine’s relationship to other equipment (e.g., supply fan 04 for HVAC unit 03-03-12 with capacity of 1,500 cfm @ 5″w.c.).

The importance of your equipment registry cannot be emphasized enough. Your technical training, spare parts, financials and work order systems all depend on accurate equipment records. Good records can shorten the troubleshooting times, facilitate training of new personnel, capture modification events, contribute to better management decisions by providing timely and dependable financial data, and increase reliability over the lifespan of the equipment. Couple these records with a labeling program and you can expect to enjoy good experiences with your installed equipment base.

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