Maintenance Management: An Overview

Jonathan Trout, Noria Corporation

Maintenance Management is the process of maintaining a company's assets and resources while controlling time and costs, ensuring maximum efficiency of the manufacturing process.

Maintenance Management  

What Is Maintenance Management?

Maintenance management is defined as the process of maintaining a company's assets and resources while controlling time and costs, ensuring maximum efficiency of the manufacturing process. Maintenance management has gone from a rather archaic, tedious, handwritten process to a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) — a software that plans, tracks, measures and optimizes all forms of a maintenance program in one central system.

Maintenance management isn't just a software system, however. It's a combination of software, best practices and trained personnel all focused on the same goal. Maintenance management programs are highly customizable and centered around the type(s) of maintenance employed at a plant. Whether you're using a condition-based maintenance program like predictive maintenance or a more time-based maintenance program like preventive maintenance, it's important to focus your program on the type of maintenance used and its role within your organization.

Why Maintenance Management Is Important

Maintenance management is vital in ensuring the long-term success of your maintenance program by monitoring quality assurance, maintaining operational efficiency and keeping assets in optimum running order. Properly maintained assets and resources keep your production stable and greatly minimize the chances for unplanned downtime. Unplanned downtime causes a snowball effect, leading to a spike in unexpected costs associated with things like repairs (overtime labor, spare parts, etc.), delayed shipments, lost revenue or complete breakdowns of machines.

Maintenance Management Benefits

Maintenance management helps improve operational efficiency of plant facilities, which contributes to revenue by decreasing operating costs and improving the quality (and quantity) of manufactured products. In addition to cost savings, other benefits include improved workplace safety, enhanced productivity and minimized human error.

 

The Objectives of Maintenance Management

All forms of maintenance management share the common objective of analyzing production and finding the best practices and processes within a specific field. Analyzing reports from a CMMS, for example, lets you control costs, schedule work properly and efficiently, and ensure failures and breakdowns are kept to a minimum. The main objectives of maintenance management include:

  • Cost control/budgeting: Maintenance management tools provide managers with the information necessary to properly allocate funds from the budget. Cost control is important because some costs are a better use of the company's funds than others. For instance, a maintenance manager might need to buy a replacement part for an asset. She might have to choose between a cheaper part that's less durable and a more expensive, longer-lasting part.
  • Scheduling work/allocating resources: Scheduling work and allocating the resources of time and labor so they're at their most productive play a key role in efficiency. Maintenance management gives a manager ultimate understanding of the overall process to help decide priority levels of various activities. For example, if the maintenance manager needs to verify the timely delivery of a product, she might be inclined to prioritize forklift maintenance to ensure the product can be moved around the warehouse and onto the delivery truck without interruption.
  • Compliance and regulations: Maintenance management tools help organizations comply with regulations at the local, state and federal levels. For instance, it may seem like the cheaper option to assign one operator to a particular asset, even though the law states two employees should be assigned for safety reasons.
  • Minimize downtime/loss: A good maintenance management program helps mitigate the loss of productive time due to failure by establishing a planned maintenance program. Fewer production stoppages mean less lost revenue.
  • Extend asset life: Organizations invest heavily in machinery. Maintenance management programs help ensure equipment and infrastructure are always in good condition. Regular maintenance extends the useful life of machinery, facilities and other components by minimizing wear and tear.
  • Enhance equipment: Spinning off the objective of extending the life of assets, maintenance management also enhances existing equipment through modifications, extensions or new low-cost items.
  • Training: Maintenance management programs should include training personnel in specific maintenance skills; improving operational safety; advising on the acquisition, installation and operation of machinery; and enhancing the quality of the finished product.
  • Uncover maintenance trends: Looking into historical data helps managers get a clear picture of what exactly goes on during day-to-day operations. CMMS software, for example, can uncover things like why an asset seems to be consistently underperforming.

Maintenance Management vs. Asset Management

One big component of maintenance management is working with assets to ensure their reliability. There are a few key distinctions between the two.

  • Asset management: Asset management is the culmination of activities and practices that track the performance of an organization's assets and using that information to improve production. Asset management systems should be aligned with the overall business plan to ensure the success of the company. Asset management processes let businesses see benefits like whether equipment is performing as intended, operating costs are being reduced and if they're getting a higher return on investment (ROI) on their assets.
  • Maintenance management: As we've defined, maintenance management is essentially using intuitive software like CMMS to track a business's resources, like labor, materials and equipment. Information from this system lets you make informed decisions about creating or improving maintenance processes. Maintenance management ensures your company's equipment remains in exceptional working order, which minimizes downtime and unexpected repairs.

So, what's the difference? Although they're both technically different, asset management and maintenance management are often integrated together and complement each other nicely. Maintenance management deals more with the physical performance and maintenance of equipment, while asset management analyzes all the data for the work needing to be done on each asset, identifying and prioritizing that work to help with the ROI of each asset.

Most modern CMMS software integrates the two functions, so maintenance personnel can see both sets of data in one centralized location.

 

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a software platform designed to simplify maintenance management. This type of intuitive software package keeps a computer database of information about a company's maintenance operations and can produce status reports and detailed summaries of maintenance activities. Once analyzed, this information is meant to allow maintenance personnel to do their jobs more effectively and enable maintenance managers to make informed decisions, helping them manage costs and allocate resources.

A CMMS lets organizations eliminate manual data tracking and allows for the tracking and organization of multiple facets of the business into one centralized, digital location. CMMS software is highly customizable, enabling organizations to add components like equipment data management, preventive and predictive maintenance task management, work order systems, scheduling and planning scheduling and planning, vendor management, inventory control, and more.

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CMMS packages are either cloud-based (more modern) or on-premise (more traditional) systems. Cloud-based systems are hosted on an outside server, usually by the company selling the software, while on-premise systems require the company buying the software to host the product on its own in-house server. Some of the drawbacks with on-premise servers are higher costs, complex implementation and constant maintenance (backing up and updating hardware and software).

  1. Work order management: A CMMS with work order management capabilities greatly simplifies each step in the maintenance work order process. Maintenance managers can design, prioritize, review, assign and track work orders from their desktop or mobile device, while operators can submit work requests.

    Preventive maintenance can also be incorporated by using time-, usage- or condition-based triggers to automatically alert the software when a scheduled task needs to be done. This allows for automatic scheduling of work orders and can even alert inventory to make sure parts are in stock.

    Technicians and managers can all interface with the software and see real-time updates. Technicians can look at their daily tasks, mark jobs as complete and switch the status of an asset from offline to online. Likewise, managers can see when jobs are completed.

  2. Asset performance/reporting: A company-wide CMMS gives the organization a great way to collect and analyze data from each asset, so maintenance managers can more easily see areas that need to improve efficiency and productivity. A big part of maintenance management is tracking the use of your assets and how they're performing. This includes looking at operational hours, time-based gauge readings, mileage and more.

    A CMMS automatically builds asset profiles with this information and includes asset-specific things like maintenance checklists, failure codes, safety information and single-point lessons. From these profiles, you can get a complete look at your maintenance operation by creating custom reports on things like asset downtime and how each asset affects the cost of inventory.

  3. Inventory management: Keeping track of spare parts is a daunting task. A CMMS helps you get and stay organized by automating inventory purchasing, so you can have the correct parts when you need them, in the correct amount.

    Many CMMS systems let you log all spare parts and note where they are stored, when they were purchased, how to use them and their availability at all sites across the organization. This way, technicians know exactly what parts they'll need for a repair or preventive maintenance task, where those parts are and how to use them.

    Finally, a CMMS helps you maintain optimal inventory through tracking inventory costs, referencing order history, cycle counts, usage data and first-in/first-out details.

  4. 4Audit capabilities: Preparing for audits is made much simpler by having a continuous, searchable record of every task. This allows the maintenance management team to audit an asset's maintenance history. Many CMMS software systems let you create user profiles that automatically monitor certifications and renewal dates, and embed standardized training videos for those needing to renew and stay compliant. All work orders, task lists and photos are archived, giving you any proof you may need to ensure ISO certification.
  5. Mobile capabilities: Nearly all modern, cloud-based CMMS software comes with the ability to access the CMMS remotely from a tablet or smartphone. This is vital since maintenance workers spend most of their time in the field, on the plant floor and away from the office. Mobile capabilities enable maintenance technicians to record what they're doing as they're doing it. This includes taking pictures and requesting help onsite. A CMMS with a mobile app offering offline capabilities allows for these kinds of updates even when there isn't a Wi-Fi connection.
  6. Integration capabilities: One of the best things about modern CMMS software is the ability to integrate it with other systems within your company. For example, incorporating your sales software with your CMMS gives the sales team an inside look into data to which they normally wouldn't have access. A good CMMS provider has a variety of integration options, allowing you to customize the right combination for your organization.

Who Should Have Access to Your CMMS?

Maintenance management access

It's often debated who should have access to your CMMS; in some companies, only a few maintenance managers have access. Over time, this can lend itself to a couple of problems. The fewer people using the system, the more work is dumped on the individuals who are using it, making this small group of users responsible for handling everything from logging work orders to running and analyzing reports.

Another issue is the fact that it limits the impact of everyone on the team. Team members who can't see the overall picture of maintenance operations tend to be confused about their jobs, miss work more, make misinformed decisions and eventually have lower morale.

Conversely, giving a variety of team members and departments access to your CMMS can be beneficial by making maintenance management a shared responsibility across your organization. This frees up the maintenance team to improve in other areas. It also lets other departments make data-driven decisions based on analysis from all areas of the company.

Let's take a look at some of the various groups who should have access to your CMMS.

  • Maintenance manager: Probably the most obvious choice, the maintenance manager should also be the system administrator. System administrators oversee the daily use of the CMMS and are heavily involved in choosing the right system, implementing it and optimizing it. Almost all aspects of maintenance go through the maintenance manager, from creating, scheduling and prioritizing work orders to managing assets and creating reports.
  • Facility/operations manager: Giving access to your facility manager(s) allows them to see maintenance information, schedules, metrics and overall performance across multiple facilities. This data can help them improve efficiency, decide on budgets, prepare for audits and purchase inventory.
  • Reliability engineers: Reliability engineers are the people who crunch the data from CMMS reports and turn it into actionable information. Giving them access to all the data generated by a CMMS lets them more easily and accurately create reports and process improvements.
  • Inventory managers: We've mentioned what a big role a CMMS plays in inventory management. Inventory managers can use the information provided by a CMMS to log and track information on spare parts, check into historical data, set minimum quantities and send purchase requests. The benefits of this flow downstream to the maintenance team, as improved inventory tracking and purchasing helps guarantee they have the right parts in the right place every time they need them. It also ensures records are better kept and spending is monitored.
  • Safety personnel: Having all safety and health information in one system helps the organization stay compliant. All employees can have access to certifications, policies, checklists and audit results.
  • Technicians: Another no-brainer, technicians should always be included as CMMS users, as they are the ones who use the system's features the most. While you don't need to give all technicians administrative access, they should be able to see work orders, get notifications, add information to asset profiles and perform other tasks that directly relate to repairs and inspections. Having access to this information will enable them to be efficient and accurate, as well as give them the ability to log data in real time.
  • Production personnel: This group includes machine operators, line supervisors and other team members who work with the equipment on a daily basis. Often, production personnel are the first ones to notice impending failure, so having access to the CMMS gives them the ability to submit a request or add details to work orders, making the repair process more efficient. Maintenance managers can also assign operators basic maintenance or autonomous maintenance tasks like cleaning the equipment through the CMMS.
  • Contractors: Contractors or technicians who aren't directly affiliated with your company but perform fairly routine tasks should have guest access to your CMMS. This way, they can see work orders, task lists and available resources. They will also be able to better communicate with maintenance managers via mobile access.
  • Executives: Finally, the executive team and senior leadership use all the data they can to make data-driven decisions. Having access to the CMMS is an easy way to keep them in the loop about performance, achievements, key performance indicators (KPIs) and more.
 

CMMS vs. EAM

In the past, CMMS and enterprise asset management (EAM) systems were viewed as very different solutions for maintenance management. Modern systems have since blurred the lines between the two, with many software systems including the capabilities of both into one enterprise software package. It's important to note; however, they are not the same thing.

CMMS software packages include databases with real-time and historical information about the operations of a company. CMMS software is also used to schedule and assign work, improve efficiency, support regulatory compliance and help maintenance management make more informed decisions. CMMS systems are a bit more focused than EAM systems and are specifically designed to deal with functions related to maintenance and materials management. Many organizations fill the gaps by integrating their CMMS with scheduling, purchasing and accounting software, for example.

EAM focuses on optimizing the life cycle of a company's assets. It gives a comprehensive view of the physical assets and infrastructure throughout the entire life cycle. This includes design, implementation and procurement, as well as operation, maintenance, disposal and replacement. EAM software was developed after CMMS and includes maintenance management capabilities, but it considers the total cost of ownership of a company's physical assets.

EAM systems serve every facet of a company that deals with asset management. This includes maintenance and inventory, procurement, engineering, project management, accounting, operations, reliability management and strategic planning.

CMMS vs EAM

As you can see, these two systems have very similar capabilities, but what truly sets them apart is their philosophy and scope. A CMMS focuses on maintenance and starts tracking and gathering data once an asset has been purchased and installed. An EAM system is more comprehensive. It starts with design and goes to the end of an asset's life. Below are a few features that you will see in an EAM system but won't in a CMMS:

  • Budgeting management capabilities
  • Calibration monitoring
  • Energy monitoring
  • Fleet management
  • Interactive maps, floorplans and schematics
  • Linear assets
  • Process management

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