Covering your assets

By Steve Gabauer   

Industry Operations Manufacturing CMMS efficiency Inside maintenance maintenance manufacturing productivity

Tap into a CMMS system's by avoiding common application pitfalls.

Technology will enable your plant to meet its goals more productively. PHOTO: FOTOLIA

Like most plants, you have bought a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and implemented it. You now have the tools, but how do you maximize the value and avoid common pitfalls?

CMMS is 90% about people, processes and culture, and only 10% about technology. Misunderstand that and you are heading for failure.

Here are some thoughts on achieving success.

The system provides the framework and information tools needed to integrate a plant’s assets, technical and work management activities to minimize asset failures, consequent losses, operational costs and risk.


When data is selected, interpreted and analyzed carefully, then chosen for evidence- and data-based decision-making, the system will yield a series of benefits such as: providing a central repository for the majority of data and information about a plant’s physical assets; managing and controlling the workforce and materials; and providing an effective interface with supporting systems and useful feedback for analysis.

Plants that have successfully implemented a CMMS and its supporting processes have claimed a 10% to 30% reduction in maintenance-related expenditures.

Accruing these benefits requires the right people who know the CMMS, the business processes, the plant and the implementation. But like any tool, the system will not do anything for you if it sits on the shelf.

Managing expectations

Many manufacturers purchase CMMS software expecting that maintenance will operate more efficiently instantly. But its effectiveness depends on what you put into it.

Abrar Ahmad presented a technical paper at a MainTrain maintenance conference convened by the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada (PEMAC) that noted some of the factors that impede the effectiveness of a CMMS.

Ahmad, PEMAC’s Alberta chapter president who is an asset management pro and manager of business process integration at Suncor Energy in Calgary, observes that it’s the process that drives the software, not the other way around.

There are many reasons why CMMS implementation fails to meet expectations. Some of the most common pitfalls are: an inadequately defined scope; unresponsive technical support; ineffective training; and people who resist the project.
An out-of-the-box CMMS is like a blank page. It must be configured to run the company’s business process.

The gap between business process expectations and CMMS capabilities must be as small as possible. Consider this when selecting software, because it’s much more difficult (though not impossible) to do afterward.

Master data management is a journey. Continuously check data health, periodically review the business process and work with maintenance to enable a team.

When building your support team, be sure you have the right people and the right team structure. And the fewer people who have the access and/or ability to add, change or delete data, the better – good advice if you want to maximize the return from your CMMS investment.

Steve Gahbauer is an engineer, a Toronto-based business writer and a regular contributing editor.


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