Creating Competitive Advantages with CMMS Software

Jeff O'Brien

The modern manufacturing business is located in multiple locations throughout the world to get close to target markets or to take advantage of local talent or natural resources. As an organization grows to additional locations or acquires its competitors, the number of moving parts increases, creating inefficiencies that can impact the bottom line. This includes different processes, cultural thinking and information technology (IT) systems that prevent the organization from scaling efficiently.

One consequence of an expanding global footprint is the various computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) applications installed across the organization. These disparate solutions place obvious limits on extendibility, scalability and effectiveness of the CMMS, which result in business process inefficiencies, IT software management challenges and a lack of communication and collaboration across the organizations maintenance teams.  

Challenges of Disparate CMMS Systems

Productivity, Workflow and Process Inconsistency – Different sites manage maintenance in their own way, so the most efficient way of working is not commonplace across the organization. As a result, inefficient processes lead to a reduction in productivity and human error. Additional resources may be required to manage process inefficiency across disparate systems, which in turn leads to additional costs.

Tardy Visibility Across the Organization – In today's fast-paced environment, the right decisions need to be made quickly. Continuous improvement is dependent on the ability to analyze what has happened in the past so changes can be made going forward. It takes longer to pull data across the organization from multiple CMMS systems for analysis. Countless hours are spent trying to tie information from disparate systems together to measure business performance and make informed decisions. It may seem like comparing apples to oranges.

Spiraling IT Costs – With so many disparate CMMS systems, IT wastes an enormous amount of time dealing with different databases, interfaces, update schedules, security, replacement cycles and license agreements. Managing multiple CMMS systems can be an IT logistical nightmare.

Customer Loyalty – Maintenance doesn't just affect asset availability; it affects all aspects of business including customer service, product quality, energy efficiency and ultimately the bottom line. Customer loyalty will fluctuate from location to location as levels of service and product quality vary from site to site.

Redundant Parts Inventory – A spare part becomes redundant when it exceeds its useful life. This is common in organizations with different CMMS and/or parts systems. It is difficult to determine which parts in which locations can be used elsewhere or sold, so these parts remain on shelves far beyond their useful life.

Standardizing technology across an organization is key to eliminating silos, reducing costs, maximizing productivity from staff, keeping customers happy and getting your organization on a steady growth path. When it comes to maintenance, moving to a single enterprise-wide CMMS drives out redundancy and leads to a number of advantages.

Advantages of Enterprise-wide CMMS

Easy Access to Data – You cannot improve what you cannot measure, so data is the lifeblood of an organization. With a single enterprise-wide CMMS, maintenance-related data can be pulled instantly online for one or more locations. Asset managers and production planners can use this to make informed decisions that improve the organization's overall performance.

Reduced IT Costs Software uniformity across the business reduces the IT hardware and software costs required to maintain numerous disparate CMMS applications. By centralizing your IT efforts in one CMMS application, you can reduce the resources needed to support, maintain, train, upgrade and renew multiple preventive-maintenance software systems. A single CMMS frees up valuable IT resources and time that can be used elsewhere to make the business more efficient and profitable.

Process Efficiency – Implementing a uniform best-practice way of working through standardized operating procedures ensures personnel at all locations are performing maintenance tasks in the most efficient manner. This reduces overhead and human error, improves quality, increases customer satisfaction, decreases costs and drives growth.

Easy Reporting – With an enterprise-wide CMMS, you can compare the performance of different sites using advanced reports. This gives better visibility on where to focus your efforts and do things better, thus improving the organization's overall performance.

Organizational Culture –Standardizing technology helps create a more uniform organizational culture where every technician uses the same software and procedures to perform their jobs.

Best Practices Through Improved Communication – When managers and technicians complete a work order and fill in all required fields, they are in effect sharing their expertise in the CMMS. Over time, this knowledge captured in the CMMS is transferred to other employees throughout the organization regardless of location.

Shared Inventory – With multi-site CMMS, inventory is shared across the organization so technicians can search the entire parts database. For older equipment, parts may not be readily available or may need to be custom-built. Therefore, it may be more cost-effective and timely to get a part shipped from another site rather than order a new replacement from the supplier.

Supply Chain – When each site uses its own CMMS system, maintenance managers may order the same parts from different suppliers. Organizations using a multi-site CMMS can order parts from a single supplier and get them shipped and billed to different sites, thus taking advantage of bulk discounts and minimizing administration time processing parts orders.

Compliance – Enterprise-wide CMMS helps provide a centralized view of compliance across the organization. If everyone is working the same way and using the same standardized operating procedures, compliance managers can be sure the organization is ready for audits.

Health and Safety – Standardizing the way work is performed through one CMMS system reduces the chances of safety-related incidents. Procedures and operating manuals can be uploaded directly to the CMMS so users have access to safety-related information on the production floor. Lockout/tagout steps can be automatically populated on each work order if needed.

Simply put, one enterprise-wide CMMS is cheaper and more efficient than many disparate systems. Enterprise-wide CMMS software helps enforce a common way of working across the organization while streamlining maintenance processes. A multi-site CMMS can help an organization standardize its maintenance while delivering significant cost savings through efficient use of resources. It can also free up employee time to complete more productive tasks that drive value to the bottom line. This macro harmonization across the organization results in simplified internal maintenance processes, greater reliability, higher quality production, improved consumer confidence and ultimately sustained competitive advantage. 

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About the Author

Jeff co-founded Zoidii—the maintenance solution that gives you real-time visibility of maintenance cycles, labor assignments, parts allocations, and maintenance costs. Jeff has managed ove...