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For a business, maintenance management is a lot like caring for a car. If you perform regular maintenance on your car, such as oil changes and tire rotation and if you keep accurate records of the maintenance, you can keep your car in good working order. If you wait until problems occur, the repairs will cost more, will take longer to complete, and you’ll be without your car while it is being fixed. On top of that, your car will need to be replaced sooner and it won’t be worth as much when you sell it.
Former Methods Were Problematic
Managers have always been tasked with keeping track of their equipment and logging when checkups or repairs were done. Office managers even had to keep notes on office equipment such as copiers and fax machines.
The problem was that records were kept on paper, perhaps in a ledger book and were subject to human error, illegible entries, lack of organization and inefficiency. Like the miniature logbook that you might have kept in your car’s glove compartment to record gas purchases and maintenance, it was easy to forget to note a specific action in the logbook or you discovered that your pen had suddenly run out of ink. Analyzing data or anticipating needs was so time-consuming that managers often reacted to problems instead of preventing problems by planning efficiently.
What Is a CMMS?
CMMS stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System (or software). Early programs to manage maintenance tasks began appearing in the late 1980s. Now, they’ve been tested, improved and perfected to make maintenance record keeping so much easier that they have become an indispensable management tool for asset maintenance. Pieces of equipment are vital business assets. Maintaining those assets, and keeping accurate, up-to-the-minute records of their maintenance, helps those assets in first-rate working order, as well as maintaining their value to the business.
Plan, Prevent and Predict
The big benefit of a computerized maintenance system is that when you make an entry, such as a preventive maintenance checkup or a work order, that entry automatically goes to any and all of the other places it needs to be according to how the system is programmed.
Plan. So after entering a work order, for example, you can easily pull up all the work orders and prioritize them according to what makes sense for your productivity. Maybe you decide to prioritize by the amount of time each repair or inspection will take, so you can get some parts of production back to work quickly. Or, perhaps one machine needs to be up and running quickly because it handles the most profitable piece of your business.
Prevent. By pulling up a list of scheduled regular inspections, you’ll know exactly when those pieces of equipment will be out of commission and plan around it. No more being surprised by a safety inspection you forgot about. You’ll prevent injury by ensuring your equipment is working according to safety standards. Meanwhile, you’ll prevent employee downtime by having the heads-up to schedule a necessary employee workshop during the time the machinery will be down for inspection.
Predict. Any time a material or part is used, employees know to note that in inventory. It’s so easy to do that there’s no excuse for bypassing that step. You can easily assess inventory at any time and know if you have what you need for future projects.
Assess, Analyze and Decide
A good CMMS frees you from what used to be a paperwork nightmare for maintenance managers. With the ability to pull up any data you need, you’ll be able to analyze it from many angles. As long as you and your employees input the data as they go, all the information you need will be at your fingertips. No searching for one paper here and one there from the huge piles that line your desk.
That gives you more time to analyze the efficiency, energy usage, productivity, possible losses and equipment life of one decision versus another and you can easily make adjustments as needed.
A CMMS is not a genie that magically gives you the answers. You still make the big decisions. But with a CMMS, you have all the information you need to be confident that the decisions you make will result in increased equipment reliability and employee safety with less loss of inventory, wasted time and employee injuries, all adding up to increased profitability.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area who has written about careers and education for work.chron.com, workingmother.com, classroom.synonym.com and more. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards for her writing.