Plant & Works Engineering
The Four I’s of successful CMMS
Published:  14 October, 2014

At one time, the maintenance department in many organisations was regarded simply as an overhead cost, one which was unfairly placed first in line when it came to budget cuts. These days, it is generally accepted that the maintenance function can – and indeed must – play a pivotal role in improving operational efficiency, supporting regulatory compliance and reducing costs. Andy Neilson, marketing & communications manager, Spidex Software Ltd reports.

Most maintenance departments use a CMMS (computerised maintenance management software) package to record, plan, schedule and report on their workload. Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons, too many CMMS implementations fail to deliver operational or financial benefits.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Selecting and operating a CMMS effectively can be achieved simply by ensuring that your project scores highly in 4 key areas which, handily, all begin with the same letter.

These are the Four I’s of Successful CMMS.

Input: A crucial component of a successful CMMS project is how easily the system can be used. If a new maintenance work order cannot be entered into the CMMS as quickly as one could be written down on paper, the system will come to be viewed by the department as a management tool which makes things more difficult without offering anything in return. In time, such a system will fall by the wayside.

Ensure that you select a CMMS that is straightforward to use, particularly for employees who may not have prior experience of IT systems. Fortunately the ethos of software design in recent times has put ‘user experience’ at the forefront of the best CMMS products so that your staff, be they time-served engineer or tech-savvy graduate, should be able to raise, view or close a maintenance work order in a few seconds.

Most CMMS systems can now be deployed on a range of hardware such as touchscreens and mobile devices so that input and retrieval of maintenance information can be carried out in the work area and on the move.

Inform: Your CMMS must be a reliable source of data or there is a danger that it will become disregarded. Users should be able to access a range of vital day-to-day information quickly and easily, from today’s work orders and on-hand parts quantities to method statements and circuit diagrams.

Just as importantly, accurate CMMS data can make an immediate improvement to an organisation’s performance in external audits by customers and other regulatory bodies. The ability to retrieve the entire maintenance history and PM schedule for any plant item at the click of a mouse will swiftly tick a box that may otherwise have presented a problem.

It should also be possible to maximise the value of your CMMS as an information resource by linking it with other software systems, for example, finance, health & safety and plant automation.

Implement: It is of paramount importance that your supplier is able to implement CMMS in your maintenance department in a way that benefits engineers, managers and the organisation as a whole. What that requires is a project manager with an engineering background.

An IT technician who comes to site, gets the software working and runs through its basic functions can only do so much. In order to fully realise the benefits of CMMS, the implementation should be guided by a project manager who understands engineering maintenance and its importance. That person will best be able to advise you how the system should be set up, what can be achieved, where the benefits can be realised and help to ensure that those objectives are met.

Improve: The determining factor of a successful CMMS project is the extent of measurable improvement that has been achieved. Whether your objective is a percentage increase in planned maintenance, a reduction in machine downtime, rationalisation of inventory or simply cutting the cost of maintenance, your CMMS should be able to support it.

Your CMMS must offer a library of reports that enable you to establish very easily where problems exist and what their root causes are. Some modern systems not only give access to historical data, but offer web-based dashboards that display departmental performance and KPIs in real-time, so that remedial action can be taken and best-practice established.

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