Plant & Works Engineering
Are you making the most of your maintenance system?
Published:  06 March, 2015

Whether it’s implementing a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for the first time or replacing an existing one, many maintenance managers have a set idea of what they are looking for. However, Nicola Byers, group marketing manager at Real Asset Management, questions whether they are missing a vital trick by just looking for a system to carry out the exact same manual processes they already have in place, but electronically - without asking how a system can help to increase productivity, improve planned maintenance, decrease asset down time and save costs?

If used correctly, CMMS packages can help drive the efficiency increases that so many organisations are in desperate need of, although many are not being implemented and used in the this way. In order to improve ROI, maintenance teams must be more proactive and not base their decision on what system to implement on its ability to replicate current procedures and how it looks.

Best Practice

When it comes to getting the most out of a CMMS, there are a standard set of calculations and questions that should be considered:

1. Asset Life

If we take a car as an example, when it is serviced regularly the chances are that it will last longer. So over time, the money spent servicing the car actually provides greater value to the owner as they do not have to replace it as quickly or face expensive repairs. The same methodology needs to be applied to an organisation’s assets. By looking at the lifespan of an asset, assessing what maintenance needs to be done, why it needs to be done and when, the life of that asset will be extended. This will undoubtedly achieve significant budget savings as an organisation doesn’t have to spend money replacing or fixing their assets as frequently.

2. Downtime

When an asset is not operational (e.g. it’s broken or people are working on it to fix it) it will effectively not be doing what it was designed to do and will crucially not meet the needs of the business. If an organisation is able to carry out more strategically planned maintenance schedules, it will reduce the amount of times an asset breaks down which will have an immediate knock-on effect in terms productivity and overall costs.

3. Parts and Stock

By knowing what jobs are coming up and having a planned maintenance structure in place, rather than a mostly reactive one, maintenance teams will know what parts will be needed to fix an asset and when, and will therefore be able to ensure they have the right parts in stock at the right time. The alternative of waiting for things to break down before fixing them risks not having the necessary parts in stock. This approach ultimately involves ordering parts in and allowing added time for them to arrive, during which time the asset cannot be used. Furthermore, an organisation may end up paying more for parts than they need to by not allowing enough time to research the best supplier, the best prices and any offers available to help lower costs through bulk buying.

4. Purchasing

Through having a planned maintenance schedule, purchase orders (PO) for costly parts or specialist contractors can be generated based on a known need. This approach drives down costs and facilitates good budgetary control.

5. Overtime

If equipment breaks down out of normal working hours, more often than not the repair will end up costing more money through having to pay engineers overtime. Whereas, with planned maintenance, assets will not break down as frequently and the chances are that all maintenance work could be done during normal working hours, reducing the overtime spend. A further consideration for planned maintenance is that this maintenance can be scheduled and carried out at the times that have minimal impact on the business.

6. Productivity/ wrench time

It’s beneficial to look at the whole picture: from the engineers available to do the maintenance work, to looking at the required parts and how much time is spent waiting for things to happen. As a result of centralising this information, organisations can plan maintenance work and have more of a structured approach, rather than an ad hoc one. Productivity will also be increased as engineers are working on jobs that have been booked in and are not waiting around for parts or for assets to break.

7. Utilities

Where assets are maintained properly, they will be using less gas, electricity and water to function, thus effecting savings on an organisation’s utility bills.

8. Quality costs: scrap and rework

CMMS systems can help reduce costs related to scrap and rework by keeping machines operating at peak efficiency and avoiding catastrophic material loss. If equipment is correctly maintained and operates to its highest standard, the chances are that the quality of the products being manufactured will be better. Whereas, if equipment is getting old and is not being looked after, it may not be working as it should be or to its full specification. This will have an impact on the overall customer offering and potentially impact negatively on brand reputation.

While there are systems on the market that can simply be used as a tool to record information, it’s becoming more important for engineers and maintenance managers to get extra value from a CMMS and increase profitability and ROI. So why are they not implementing solutions that fundamentally help the company? In tough financial times, organisations should be investing in processes that help save money and improve efficiency. Management teams should therefore be challenging the business to be more forward thinking so that quality, standards and compliance can all be significantly improved – which can be achieved by installing the right CMMS and getting the most out of it.

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