- Deployment & Decision-Making
- Calculating Costs
- Choosing a Vendor
- Comparison Checklist
- Glossary of Terms
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Overview OF CMMS Software
The primary goal of a CMMS is to extend asset lifespan and improve asset utilization by automatically:
- Scheduling periodic preventive maintenance
- Ensuring that maintenance is performed as scheduled
- Generating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate operational effectiveness
- Providing real-time inventory to more effectively allocate, control, and protect assets
The net result is lower operating costs and improved productivity of maintenance staff.
Deployment & Decision-Making
The technology is either on-premises, meaning the system is installed on in-house servers, or Web-based (increasingly referred to as cloud-based). On-premises systems have higher upfront investment costs, with the added required expense of in-house support. The server may be hosted at the vendor's location (called SaaS, or Software as a Service), or on your own site. The advantage of SaaS is that most technical support is the responsibility of the vendor (but, of course, you pay for this); while if you load the software on your server, the IT support costs are primarily your responsibility. If you have minimal or no IT resources, SaaS is probably the better choice.
Web-based CMMS have little upfront expense and are typically paid for on a per-month basis. There are also hybrid systems that allow for remote Web access to in-house systems. Mobile applications are increasingly popular to allow technicians in the field or on the factory floor to collect data and synchronize it to the cloud immediately, providing managers with real-time data.
CMMS can help you better manage your equipment maintenance and repairs. But, it's much more than just a way to automate routine tasks. Because CMMS captures data from work orders that can be analyzed by many parameters and compiled into any number of reports, CMMS are decision-making tools that improve your organization's bottom line.
For example, say that you have two pieces of similar equipment-one six years old, and the other only four. You don't need both of them anymore. Which do you get rid of?
Your first inclination might be to decommission the oldest equipment. But a CMMS can run a report that details the fact that the four-year-old equipment has broken down an average of three times a year, while the older piece has run smoothly without a major repair problem over its lifetime. Parts for both are out of warranty, but those for the four-year-old equipment are nearly double that of the older equipment. And, it turns out that both your mechanics are manufacturer-certified and experienced with working on the six-year-old equipment, while the other equipment was just bought again by a manufacturing conglomerate no one has ever heard of.
Now, which one do you buy? Having the knowledge to make the right decision, rather than going with a seat-of-your-pants decision, saves you time, money, and resources.
Admittedly, in a small five-person shop, for example, you might have been able to figure that out on your own. But even in a small business, CMMS can help you get the answers without having to spend too much time deliberating.
For more on the kind of decision-making CMMS can help you with, see Paul Lachance's article "Data Mining from CMMS Shows How Well You're Doing," featured in Consulting-Specifying Engineer.
- Data Collection. Allows mechanics to easily input equipment deficiencies from which the system can automatically generate PM (preventive maintenance) work orders.
- Data Display. Shows preventive maintenance (PM) workload by week/month/year.
- Recording Repairs. Records show repairs by mechanics, and actual time spent servicing the equipment.
- Multitasking. Supports multiple activities on the same asset.
- Repair or Replace? Identifies situations where repair/maintenance work is more costly than equipment replacement.
- Data Importation. Allows data input from other systems.
- Reporting. Generates reports that relate the cost of PM activities to the cost of corrective and emergency activities in terms of hours/materials.
The cost savings of CMMS result from:
- Improved information about what's happening in your maintenance department
- More accurate information about cost drivers
- Better and more accurate tracking and scheduling of PM work
- Fewer things you overlook, forget, or miss that require PM
- Fewer equipment breakdowns
- More accurate staging of both human and material resources
- Improved auditing of routine work
- Higher equipment uptime
- Better identification of failure causes
- A 10% to 20% reduction in maintenance costs
One word of caution: While a CMMS is a great aid in making maintenance decisions and controlling costs, it doesn't necessarily mean that you now have a good PM program. What it means is that you now have the tools to implement a good PM program.
If the current maintenance practices don't line up with the goals and expectations of your CMMS, some adjustments will need to be made. You may discover that the human side of this equation is more difficult to manage than the machine side.
However, the best and easiest way to address this issue is to involve your maintenance people in the development, selection, and implementation of the system right from the start. After all, they're the ones who are doing the work, and the sooner they buy into the benefits, the sooner you will all begin to enjoy them. Low rates of employee adoption are a major reason why a CMMS fails to generate potential benefits, and can lead to disappointing results overall.
- Changing Vendor Profiles. Many large ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) vendors have either significantly improved their CMMS module or have acquired a CMMS vendor. Large plant-automation companies are also acquiring or forming alliances with CMMS vendors; the software is a natural fit for shop-floor-level data collection.
- It's a Web, Web World. Users want CMMS access through the devices they're used to-smartphones and tablets-that can be used anytime, anywhere, from any part of the world.
- Open Architecture. Proprietary systems are less common. CMMS vendors are working with other hardware and software companies to integrate with their systems to provide added value to enterprise-wide applications. And the growth of Web-based applications noted above also drives the development of packages that can run on multiple platforms.
- Supply-Chain Management. The Web is also transforming supply-chain functions with electronic catalogs, supplier Web portals, electronic quotations, and purchase orders. CMMS vendors are developing features to better integrate with these "e-procurement" functions to manage spare-parts inventory and supplier performance.
- It's a Niche, Niche World, Too. CMMS vendors are getting more specialized, catering to a specific industry, such as nuclear or pharmaceutical, where regulatory requirements drive the need for custom tracking and reporting. Other industries, such as transportation and pipeline companies, also have unique requirements that general applications do not address.
- Condition Monitoring. Companies are using condition monitoring to minimize product variability with more controls on equipment-usage processes, environment, and operation. Sensors monitor the condition of a machine-or the output of one-and anything outside of the ordinary triggers a maintenance call or automated maintenance. Sensors can be such items as cameras, scanners, or gauges measuring specific parameters such as pressure or humidity.
- SaaS. Software as a Service is growing in popularity. Companies are attracted to a pricing model based on a monthly fee that offers unlimited training, support, and hosting-freeing up their own IT staff to work in other areas.
- Getting More User-Friendly. Users are tired of wading through screen after screen to locate information. The smarter CMMS providers realize the value of getting the software to conform to the user, not the other way around. More CMMS packages today are easy to learn, simple to navigate, and flexible enough to accommodate each user's specific requirements for data entry, analysis, and reporting.
Of course, costs depend on the size and complexity of your business. Off-the-shelf packages can run less than a thousand dollars if you just need something basic, with no need for customization. Custom-designed, multi-site CMMS integrated into larger enterprise-wide systems range in the tens of thousands of dollars.
In between those extremes, a system for a small business can cost between $1,500 and $10,000. Mid-range systems for larger companies start at $10,000 and go upward to around $50,000. These prices are usually based on a general software license fee with additional per-user fees for each employee.
Customer support and software upgrades are an additional cost, usually an annual fee that runs about 20% of the total purchase price. Sometimes training is included; sometimes there's an additional charge.
Web-based CMMS typically charge a monthly fee based on the number of users. A company with 10 or fewer users might pay $100 or less per month, while mid-sized and larger companies might pay several hundred dollars per month.
Choosing a Vendor
Here are a few general tips to consider when selecting a CMMS vendor:
- Define the scope of what you need your CMMS to do. Can it be accomplished with off-the shelf software? Do you require customized reports? Do you expect your system needs to expand in the future, and if so, how soon? Do you need to integrate with other systems?
- Clearly delineate workflows and test procedures for verification of software functionality. Set implementation milestones, and do not proceed until you're satisfied with the results.
- Require the vendor to assign a single project manager. Someone who just came in to replace the person who was there last week has a whole new learning curve. You're not there to help the vendor's latest project manager figure out what's going on; this person is there to make sure the CMMS is not only satisfying your needs, but satisfying the needs you didn't even know you had.
- Collaborate with your IT people. Don't present the CMMS as something they have to learn, but rather, bring your IT team in from the start to help define and design the system. Employee buy-in and training are essential to successful adoption of a major new CMMS.
- Negotiate on value, not price. Okay, price is important. But the idea is to achieve value for what you pay. Be clear on how a CMMS solution improves your bottom line and the anticipated ROI. That should be a critical decision point. A less costly system may require a lower initial outlay, but if it doesn't achieve your objectives, you've spent money for nothing. Similarly, a system that has tons of bells and whistles won't improve your bottom line if you really don't need all those features.
- Involve people on your end who understand the workflows. Nobody knows better what happens on the shop floor than the people who work there. Involve them from the get-go to define workflows and needs. Don't impose a solution from on high that everyone must conform to, especially if that solution doesn't address what's actually going on.
- Keep it simple. There' no need to hire expensive consultants or purchase an expensive CMMS unless you require a custom solution, or the potential savings are large enough to warrant it. Otherwise, find a good low-cost CMMS to start and learn from. For a small business, there are many that you can download from the Internet for under $300 and also set up yourself. Once your maintenance department becomes comfortable with computerized maintenance scheduling and tracking, you can go to the next level-if your needs demand it.
There's a wide range of CMMS vendors to choose from. The comparison checklist below can help you determine what these different vendors have to offer.
Some of the key factors you should take into consideration when comparing vendors are listed below.
Glossary of Terms
- Asset Life: Time span from when an asset is first installed until it's retired.
- Condition Monitoring: The use of sensors to detect problems with a machine or the output of a machine. Sensors hooked into a CMMS can generate maintenance calls and, in some cases, trigger automatic maintenance to repair the condition.
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI): Sets a trigger level at which corrective action is indicated when a specified threshold is exceeded-e.g., 500 hours of continual work time. Some typical KPIs include:
- Budget compliance
- Critical equipment availability
- Number of breakdowns
- Overtime worked against plan
- Time taken to answer maintenance calls
- Lockout-Tagout (LOTO): A safety procedure to ensure that machines are properly shut down and restarted to prevent injury.
- Preventive Maintenance (PM): Increases efficiencies by reducing reactive repairs in response to emergency conditions. Allows for early identification and resolution of problems to significantly increase the lifecycle of equipment, lower capital expenditures, and improve capital budget planning.
- Return on Investment (ROI): A measure used to calculate how quickly an investment pays off. A typical way to calculate ROI is (Annual Savings-Annual Cost) / Initial Cost = ROI.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): The CMMS software is maintained on the vendor's equipment; typically, pricing reflects the data center and support costs associated with the vendor maintaining the software. On the other hand, SaaS requires less hardware outlay by the purchaser.
- Work Order (WO): A form that includes a task description, details of an asset, tracking number, date requested, due date, mechanic assignment, priority, allotted hours, inspection, and general notes.
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