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How Not To Fail With MTBF

7 min read

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The MicroMain Team

Okay, let's be real — failure is a part of life. Losing a button in the frantic shirt tug to look good for a meeting? Failure. Trying to remember a story so badly you mix up the end with the middle and forget who you're talking to? Double failure. Laying a bottle of wine so carefully like a newborn baby in your shopping bag but a pack of eggs cracks, unloved, on the way home anyway? Well, that's still a success, to be honest. Whatever you do, it's important to recognize that failure is all around us. Especially if you're in charge of asset maintenance. Plenty of machines, tools and equipment last for a set amount of time before they break down. These failures are inherent. You can't avoid them. However, you can make them less frequent and impactful. A solid maintenance strategy can tell which assets are likely to stop working and whether repairs or replacements are paying off. Ironically, then, you can fail at dealing with failure. Or succeed. We're going to show you how — all with a pivotal metric, Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF). Soon enough, the only thing cracking will be those eggs in the bag, instead of your asset protection. MTBF, MTTF and why they're important What does Mean Time Between Failure reveal? You guessed it: The average time it takes for an asset to cease functioning properly. MTBF tracks the number of hours you have before there's a serious issue. And, remember, we're talking about failure. That means the issue will prevent the asset from operating safely or completely. MTBF only applies to assets you can repair, laying the groundwork for preventive maintenance that can fix the problem prior to breakdown. In this sense, it's different from Mean Time To Failure (MTTF), a metric that measures your assets' finite (and irreparable) operational lifespan. MTTF is used to calculate when an asset must be retired or replaced. Therefore, by contrast, MTBF suggests that a piece of equipment can be used again with the right repairs, adjustments or new parts. MTTF doesn't. Think of MTBF as signs en route to a destination, whereas MTTF shows you where the last stop is. Nobody wants a low Mean Time Between Failure rate, because it proves either that your maintenance management plan isn't working, or the asset itself might require too many hours or resources to maintain. On the other hand, a high MTBF suggests that you're fixing equipment promptly, it's running well and the maintenance work is satisfactory and reliable. How to calculate MTBF Finding a failure rate is fairly straightforward. You just have to divide the number of failures by the asset's total operational hours in a given period. This generates an average figure. Calculate MTBF with: Mean Time Between Failure = time the asset was active ÷  X amount of failures Let's use an example. We have an industrial press running for 10 hours a day, five days a week. In three months, it fails four times. The formula would look like this: 600 hours ÷ 4 = 150 You can apply MTBF to one asset or groups of assets, assessing how they perform side by side. This is a great technique for understanding what a healthy rate of failure is for certain types of equipment. So, if we return to our industrial press and add five more presses — all working through the same period, but with 16 failures in total — we arrive at: 3,600 hours ÷ 16 = 225 That's a higher MTBF on average for the entire asset class compared to 150 hours for just that first asset. What does that tell you? Something's wrong with the first asset's preventive maintenance, or it's suffering a more terminal operational decline. A quick word on Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Before we move on, we must mention another metric: OEE. You might've heard of it. As Lean Production explains, OEE measures "the percentage of planned production time that is truly productive." In other words, it shows which assets are delivering the most usable output (whether that's materials, goods or interactions) during the hours in which they're meant to be active. Ideally, you want a 80-90% OEE rate or higher. Downtime will, of course, reduce output and make your assets less profitable. MTBF, then, is often linked to OEE. By inadequately preventing or dealing with failures, you're harming productivity. When MTBF scores are higher, you should expect OEE to rise, too. Common causes of poor failure rates We've alluded to a couple of reasons behind a low MTBF calculation. But, here, let's examine what a high failure rate can tell you about your asset and component maintenance. There's more to investigate than you might think. You aren't conducting the right repairs on schedule Keeping equipment humming reliably depends on knowing when it's about to break and what should be done to fix it. Your maintenance team requires a precise, prioritized workflow to step in and repair the asset according to best practices. When there's a low MTBF, it may reveal that you're conducting maintenance too late before the asset shuts down, or your technicians are making mistakes. The asset isn't worth keeping Alternatively, the fault may lie with the asset — a damaged, defective or low-quality tool that doesn't justify your investment. This is why it's crucial to have a baseline for assets from one supplier: It helps you compare singular performance against the rest of the assets' Mean Time Between Failure rates. That being said, the same machines or equipment could be failing regularly en masse, which calls for extensive replacements. Your inventory isn't sufficient Maintenance personnel need the correct tools for the job. If assets are failing more often, your repair inventory — including any component for small, internal replacements — might be emptier than you realize. Subsequently, you should check with technical experts or asset manufacturers to see whether you have everything you need for reliable maintenance. Your processes demand newer models The ways in which you work, even if some of them are tried and true, can influence MTBF. That's because you might be mixing new and old processes, trying to keep up with the sprint to Industry 4.0. Reliable machines must withstand extra strain as your productivity climbs. With a low MTBF rate, you have the necessary evidence to make smarter business decisions, reinvesting across the board in the latest equipment that can handle additional operational pressure. Or, maybe your processes need tweaking instead. How to improve MTBF At some point, you'll have to wave goodbye to your assets and let them go. Until then, dry your eyes. There are plenty of routes you can take to boost a Mean Time To Failure rate throughout your business. Here are several methods we've gleaned after decades of consulting with manufacturers, leisure centers, healthcare providers and other maintenance clientele. Finetune preventive maintenance The better you're able to forecast when an asset will break, the earlier you can repair it without too much downtime. For example, you might discover that a gym cross trainer lasts for 280 hours on average before demanding maintenance. In that case, schedule your repairs for the 250-hour mark. You'll cut inactivity to a minimum and retain peak performance. Conduct deeper inspections What's the problem? Why did it occur? Is this something you expected, or is it something you didn't plan for? Thorough tests and root cause analysis may bring unknown factors to light. For instance, you might find out that a component causes more failures and then choose to restock your inventory with a superior alternative. Or, your technicians aren't following the asset manual to a T. Consider retraining them. Another metric, Mean Time To Resolve (MTTR), is handy in this instance to gauge whether useful repairs are being made too quickly or slowly. Close the gap between failures and alerts When an asset breaks down, you should know about it straight away. Real-time alerts are a key part of the maintenance equation. They tell you when planned and unplanned failures occur, launching your maintenance squad into action. Modern maintenance management software keeps you in the loop 24/7 about which assets are functioning, due for a repair or shutting off completely. Maintenance teams are also alerted automatically with zero delays. More on that soon! Separate MTTF assets Trying to maintain equipment with a defined shelf life is pointless and sucks manpower from repairs that actually have an effect. So, if you haven't already, identify the assets that will fail forever at some point after sustained use — those that count toward MTTF. By making full replacements at the right moment instead of wasting time on futile repairs, you can focus on improving MTBF elsewhere. Try to correlate an increasing failure rate In many cases, assets begin to wear out after years or decades of use. This decline — rather than a manufacturing or maintenance error — can account for an increasing failure rate. If you're seeing trends emerge for older assets, pay attention to them — they could signify that equivalent replacements are on the cards now, instead of much later. Everything we've just discussed relies on tracking the equipment in your care, how it's behaving and what maintenance work is done day after day. So, how do you do it? As always, the answer lies with data collection and clever workflow controls. It's about time we introduced ourselves … Take your asset management up a notch Too much failure will bite into your profits, safety record and brand's reputation. However, with MicroMain, you'll never suffer these misfortunes again. Our software treats asset failure as a fact of life but helps you manage it, every hour of the day. MicroMain's computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) absorbs all the asset information you have and monitors their performance. Piece by piece, it builds a complete maintenance log. Whenever there's unplanned downtime, the software uses that data to calculate MTBF for you. It's immediate, automated and 100% accurate. Other metrics such as MTTF, MTTR and OEE are integrated, too. You have a single dashboard in which you can see them all, displayed in various charts and tables. Similarly, we've designed our CMMS to record supplementary info: corrective and preventive actions, for instance, and root cause analysis. You can set a pinpoint maintenance workflow that notifies technicians when they should conduct a repair, then receive their reports when they're done. This creates an ongoing digital library of the steps you're taking to perform maintenance tasks and how effective they are. Every work order has an assigned priority level along with a list of the necessary tools and components, so you know whether your inventory is up to scratch for the job.  MicroMain also lets you clone asset categories for simpler, faster organization. There's no limit on the number of assets you can group like this. As a result, you can test MTBF trends for specific machines or equipment, generating a more granular analysis. Whether you're seeking sharper reliability predictions or a firmer grasp of your assets and service teams' efficiency, it makes sense to embrace CMMS. What's more, MicroMain ties together multiple sites for a unified view on maintenance activity. If you're going through a growth spurt or struggling to stay on top of several facilities, our software is worth a try. Book a demo! We want to make failure work for you instead of against you. Then, when an asset does eventually expire, you'll know you've done all you could to keep it in good health. Don't break down over breakdowns. There's a better way.

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What is EAM? The Circle of (Asset) Life

8 min read

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by The MicroMain Team

So, you're running a business with dozens or hundreds of assets at your feet. How are they operating? Are they healthy? Does one piece of equipment impact a specific process in ways you've scarcely imagined? Asset maintenance can be a daunting task. It's your kingdom, after all. In terms of generating value and revenue, no part is too small. Cue Elton John. While we don't want to Disneyfy your management strategy, acknowledging your assets' true state is akin to the opening scene in "The Lion King" when Simba is presented to his subjects. You need to be able to see the ecosystem below you with piercing clarity — the large machines, the tiny components; the full facility in the context of breakdowns and optimized repairs. It's the asset lifecycle: an ever-changing perspective on what you should fix or replace at just the right time. Like Mufasa dispensing pearls of wisdom as your asset management matures, we want to explain how to master the environments you're in charge of, reducing downtime, repair costs and production or performance issues on any scale. There's one phrase to solve it all: EAM, or Enterprise Asset Management software. Join us as we analyze what EAM represents, why it's unique and how a modern EAM system tends to work in practice. Don't worry. There aren't musical numbers — just the regular kind. EAM software: The truest view on your maintenance The more you know about your assets in real time, the better you can optimize them. Enterprise asset management software is used to control and care for your machines and equipment. In a nutshell, it tackles preventive maintenance across your entire inventory. You'll see how every asset behaves, runs and stays at peak output, which allows you to set a precise maintenance schedule workflow. Whether you're a facility manager handling several sites or a line and safety supervisor in a complex production environment, you need this technology to improve results, avoid accidents and limit maintenance expenses. EAM software, therefore, reveals the ongoing status of your assets from the minute they're first activated through to their eventual decommission. That's why we mention the lifecycle — aggregated, ongoing asset data reporting on faults, risks, maximal performance and the results of your maintenance team's work until the asset isn't useful anymore. There's more to it, though. An EAM solution should consist of: Real-time asset lifecycle information visualized in graphs, charts and tables on a simple dashboard. Predictive analytics to forecast repairs or replacements. Work order management to notify technicians when maintenance is due. Cost controls for inventory and repair tasks. Contract management for additional specialists when you need them. More data surrounding work order costs, project budgets and integrated financial platforms. Ultimately, then, you aren't just overseeing assets but controlling everything that makes maintenance effective and affordable. EAM software sheds light on the tools, skills, money and information required for optimal repairs, as well as tracking trends for iteration. With EAM, you can set priorities for technicians and alert them to new repairs, giving them more context and guidance. It's the end-to-end platform that never leaves anyone in the dark. Where it differs from CMMS management You may have heard of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), or already use one. It's similar to EAM software, but there are key differences. They might decide the course of your next asset investment. CMMS has been around for almost four decades, primarily serving manufacturing and specialized plants.  Like enterprise asset management, it automates your maintenance schedule, creating detailed registers with work plans and component data. The software sets tasks, priorities and alerts for your engineers, directing them towards critical projects or telling them when inventory drops below a desired level. It also generates reports on all maintenance activities. However — and here's that phrase again — CMMS doesn't monitor the asset lifecycle. In other words, you have a centralized database and automated task manager for maintenance, but can't see how these endeavors tie back into performance, budgeting, compliance or some aspects of human competency. For example, a good CMMS tracks how long an engineer takes to finish the job, yet it doesn't share perspective on whether the repair brought your asset back to optimal functionality. It can't link asset uptime to profitability. That means you might be fixing a piece of equipment over and over, unsure whether the time, effort and funds are worthwhile. Equally, you're missing procurement and disposal details, which suggest when and how the asset should be retired, as well as how much a modern replacement might cost. CMMS doesn't account for warranty periods, either. That being said, there are situations in which a CMMS might be preferable to EAM: CMMS is generally more affordable upfront: If you have limited funds for preventive maintenance, or want to test the waters before committing to a larger investment, you might favor this platform. EAM suits enterprise business: While EAM is incredibly useful for any organization, it becomes more effective when you have a huge spread (hundreds or thousands) of assets on your hands and complex costs to weigh up. CMMS helps you manage a handful of asset vendors: More vendors bring additional agreements, warranty conditions and invoicing demands on your business, which EAM is well-placed to support. Side note: You may have also come across the term Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). This refers to software that helps you manage all business activities e.g., maintenance and beyond. Finance, sales, HR, marketing and other disciplines are guided from a single data center. Since ERP supports more, broader use cases, it's less essential for asset-heavy businesses. Of course, you can integrate both platforms; this is a common method for installing EAM. Insights for Professionals has a great explainer on the split between ERP and EAM and their mutual benefits. How EAM software works Okay, so let's get to the nitty gritty. How does enterprise asset management software launch and start tracking everything in your facilities? Installation and integration At MicroMain, we have a clear six-step process for bringing your EAM online. We get to know your current system, the premises you're managing and the outcomes you're looking for. Step #1: We'll schedule a kickoff call to discuss the project's timeframes, deliverables and requirements. Afterward, we'll send you Excel data templates and documents to make the transition more seamless. Step #2: Next, we offer pre-data import consultation, improving data transfer by discovering how you work and what systems support it. You'll have a database engineer and Software Implementation Specialist (SIS) for guidance throughout this meeting. This is when we'll start to fill out those Excel templates together. Step #3: The asset data is imported after you've done the final sign off Step #4: We'll arrange a meeting to review the quality and consistency of the data we're transferring. If anything appears false or needs to change, we'll resolve it. Step #5: In our penultimate step, the SIS provides a three-day on-site consultation and training service, so your key maintenance personnel get a grasp of EAM. Step #6: That's it — we're ready to go live! Real-time data collection Once the EAM software is active, it'll gather data across your organization: equipment, sensors, IoT devices or whatever else reveals your assets' condition. Additionally, it'll receive information from existing CMMS or ERP software. Geographic data, meanwhile, helps the EAM pinpoint necessary asset maintenance activity at several sites. All of these details are immediately analyzed and displayed to your users. MicroMain's EAM solution uses several core metrics for variables like the Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) across the asset lifecycle.  Asset groups Maintenance is easier when your machines and equipment are sorted into neat and tidy boxes, each grouped under custom parameters. For instance, you might want to view a particular type of physical asset in one location. High or low-performing assets can be separated, as well as those undergoing or due for maintenance. Grouping assists inventory management, too, digging into the specific tools and materials you have on hand at any given time. Automatic alerts and updates EAM software constantly looks at asset performance indicators and plans maintenance for you. When a repair is on the cards, you don't need to do anything. The platform will alert the relevant team members and map out their workflow, reporting on what they're doing and when it's complete. Throughout the process, you have a digital paper trail for compliance standards, which can also be used to benchmark vendor quality. Finance support Remember when we talked about financial insights? They live here, too. Enterprise asset management software stores reports for your finance department, informing cash flow and expense claims. From the dashboard, you can set alerts around your budget, discovering when repair tasks or replacements are creeping over the line. That's the grand overview, but there's much more to explore once your EAM is up and running. For now, let's explore the advantages you can look forward to, making your maintenance kingdom a bountiful place for decades to come. What maintenance mastery brings to your business Once a choir starts singing and you're a grownup Simba surveying the asset landscape (metaphorically speaking), your business has a lot to celebrate. For starters, every asset will be working more consistently and effectively. Preventive maintenance leaps to action ahead of time, so you're almost never caught off guard for repairs. That doesn't mean that surprise breakages won't happen — they're inevitable. But when sudden asset downtime does occur, you have the confidence and awareness to send the right technicians out to fix it. Since these professionals have defined workflow orders, they know what to do, which tools to use and where they need to be. Therefore, you'll return to peak production much faster than you would without an EAM. If several repairs aren't showing good results, however, then something's wrong. Either the asset has a severe malfunction or your maintenance teams aren't using the appropriate techniques. This opens the door to further investigation. You might want to retrain the technicians on best practices, use third-party specialists or replace the asset altogether. One metric in particular, Mean Time to Failure (MTTF), reveals how long machines or components tend to last before they're irreparable. Are you seeing a high number of low MTTF rates? It's probably wise to reinvest and switch suppliers, because these assets are costing your business more than you may realize. Either way, the burden of responsibility is taken off your hands, letting you focus on other tasks while the schedule continues and reports on maintenance activity. As EAM data piles up, you'll make stronger business decisions based on your most profitable assets. It's a cost/benefit equation. In effect, you're working smarter, not harder. Future investments have much firmer ground for a positive impact on your business model. So, you'll optimize output, repair tasks, inventory management and investment strategies. What about the customer experience? Better maintained assets allow you to meet product quotas and delivery deadlines. If you're a customer-facing business (a gym or sports center, say, or remote working environment), then preventive maintenance chases gremlins out of your system before they become a problem. With less asset downtime, people place more trust in whatever product or service you're providing to them. Customers aren't let down or frustrated. Steadily, you'll strengthen your reputation in key markets. Customer, supplier and wholesale relationships improve, leading to repeat orders, subscriptions or memberships. We can't leave without mentioned health and safety, too, both for employees and anyone visiting your sites. Restoring or replacing your assets before an issue occurs limits the risk of a serious injury. It's another mark in your favor for trust, accountability and consistency. And even though we're Lion King fans here, "hakuna matata" has no place in our maintenance philosophy. We should worry about the assets in your care. Squaring up to the reality of the asset life cycle — and all of its complexities — improves your stake in a competitive industry. With MicroMain, you have the only EAM software you'll ever need. We'd be happy to show you a demo or discuss your asset goals. Okay, Elton. You can go home now.

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Property maintenance and professional sports

There's no doubt about it — property maintenance can feel like you're marshaling a team onto the soccer pitch, except the goal moves now and then. By the time someone's ready to score, they look up and it's shifted again, a few feet to the right. Timing (and good boots) are everything for keeping a venue in pristine condition, along with the whole squad knowing where to aim. Maintenance on a sporting facility can be especially tough. Not only do you have to check walls, floors, lights and heating, but an array of athletic installations must be kept safe and clean. From lobbies and changing areas to shared outdoor courts, property management is a never-ending contest: It's you versus the building, and the score resets every day. So, why not give your team a performance enhancer? The totally legal kind. Let's discuss the host of environmental challenges facing you, and how you can act faster — with more precision — to make property maintenance a winner. Property maintenance defined If property management is about finding tenants and clients before collecting their rent and service fees, then property maintenance is the essential treatment that ensures your facility is sought-after. That means basic upkeep: the inspections, repairs, replacements and cleaning routines making it gleam like a trophy for new and prospective members. Property maintenance basically upholds the quality, safety and practical functions of the space you're managing. Sometimes, it's included within a property management service, but these are subtly different. Management is your overarching control over a facility's admin, accounting and operations, whereas maintenance is the grunt work that retains its looks, feel and functionality. They still have a lot in common. Both require a work order for what to do and when to do it. They give skilled employees a role to enact at the perfect time. You're looking at everything overhead, assigning and documenting tasks that keep members happy and generate more business. However, a sports center has way more maintenance considerations at play than many other spaces. Examples of facility management include: Fixing, repainting and polishing floors, walls and ceilings. Cleaning and checking courts and astro turf. Testing gym equipment so it isn't faulty or dangerous. Providing safe athletic gear such as nets, trampolines, crash mats and punch bags. Cleaning pools and changing rooms. Making any necessary exterior repairs (for leaks, erosion, wind damage etc.) Guttering, draining and landscaping. Getting rid of mold. Conducting electrical, gas or network repairs. Taking care of trash and pest control. Checking smoke detectors, security systems and other protective measures. With a good maintenance team, you'll prevent assets from breaking or causing harm, or jump in to fix them immediately — an important thing when people are testing their limits at your site, en route to becoming superhuman. Preventive maintenance is the golden goal. Inspection schedules can flag any issues before they get out of hand, so you can spend the right costs and manpower on a quick solution. It sure beats reactive maintenance, where you're responding to a service request on the fly. But you'll always deal with these issues too. A-game maintenance handles the preemptive and fast-acting restoration of a property and its assets, with the best data to guide those decisions. How property managers are like GMs Okay, bear with us. You might not stalk the edge of a pitch in a black coat. Your hair may be entirely real, and you don't clap every 30 seconds when someone's legs move. Yet a property manager analyzing maintenance demands is very much like a general manager. You're in charge of a formation, a group of individual talents. They have to come together seamlessly or drop the ball on game day. Which is every day, pretty much. Creating a work order, for instance, is no mean feat. Someone has to collect details for the maintenance task: the asset's condition, issue and benchmark for optimal performance. Then you have to send the right specialist to perform the job. Meanwhile, a repair order must be logged, stored and describe the activities carried out. Doing this properly relies on strategic thinking and fine attention to detail. More generally, though, you need a full asset inventory — not only showing what you may have to clean, replace or repair, but the available tools for the task. Cataloging every asset helps you flex a team around the resources you have and the challenges inherent in one or several sports facilities. With that knowledge, you can bring players (employees) on or off the bench, alerting the most appropriate property maintenance staff to their next duty. And of course, a manager doesn't just want to win when the whistle blows — they want to succeed at upholding a brand's legacy. Keeping to a strict maintenance schedule and dealing with service requests at lightning speed makes the facility so much safer and more appealing. Property management and maintenance attracts more members, who'll spread the word about how amazing your space is. They might not have their own team scarves (yet) but they'll associate your brand with unmatched quality, indispensable when you're expanding to new sites. So, now that you're imagining soaking up the cheers of a thousand fans, can we reveal what's going to transform your facility management forever? It's simple, really: property maintenance software that smashes the opposition. Same game, different property maintenance software Collating, arranging and tracking maintenance responsibilities becomes far easier with the latest CMMS software. MicroMain is your platform for doing more with less. Its features will kick your facility management into another league, with unrivaled implementation support for backup. MicroMain monitors everything you'll depend on for property management and maintenance activity: pricing, equipment, asset lists, incoming requests and inspection schedules. It automates every work order using data to pinpoint and prioritize key tasks. Wave goodbye to last-minute leadership with staff who aren't sure what they're doing or where they're meant to be. Our software alerts teams for regular and ad hoc maintenance requests, generating reports so you don't have to. These reports are sent to regulatory agencies as well, giving evidence for compliance. It also creates asset condition reports for better cost control and lifecycle awareness. This lets you know which assets are due a makeover or replacement soon — for example, applying a fresh coat of paint on your sports hall, mowing your golf club's grounds or consigning a rowing machine to history. You'll gain insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each asset class. Then, when the work is due, you can customize each service request so it fits the exact shape of your organization. More information leads to appropriate pricing. MicroMain bends with you, like a sympathetic sports therapist. Along with asset tracking, our CMMS software observes how long it takes to solve a service request. As this data builds, you can estimate a realistic repair timeframe and reward good work. These maintenance management features come into their own anywhere, rolling the same system across your sports venues. The result? More freedom to wrap up accounting, billing, member or tenant screening, rent collection and maintenance costs. Sounds like an open goal, no? Take a free MicroMain trial to master a work order and push your team forward like never before. We can set the property maintenance management software up in no time and walk you through basic and advanced functionalities. Otherwise, read our FAQs for CMMS breakdowns, or chat to our specialists today.

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A Corrective Maintenance Object Lesson with Tacos

A Corrective Maintenance Object Lesson with Tacos When you're a maintenance manager upkeeping your facility, equipment eventually breaks down - sometimes it just cannot be avoided or prevented. Corrective maintenance fills this need to restore critical systems that break down, but it's often viewed as a last resort to earlier forms of preventive equipment care. That's an easy misconception. Corrective maintenance has its place and, when used correctly, it can be a huge value-add for your maintenance operation. Allow us to explain why corrective maintenance action works with an analogy of a taco restaurant. Think of equipment maintenance as a kitchen Imagine your favorite taco stop. You know what the street looks like, the music that's playing and the sounds of the kitchen as you wait for your order. You can smell the spices, the produce and the grill at work. Great, now everybody's hungry. Similarly, there are plenty of applicable identifiers and imagery when it comes to your facility. It may not be nearly as fun to describe what a conveyor belt sounds like, but you're getting the idea. Just as there are many approaches to preparing a taco, corrective maintenance is working with what you find in your kitchen. That can lead to something great you wouldn't have considered before. Corrective maintenance, also commonly known as reactive maintenance, is good to plan for when working with a variety of equipment, systems and facility processes. It often is needed when preventive maintenance just won't do, whether due to cost, time or resource scarcity. Let's give a few examples of what this looks like: Two of your forklifts breakdown in a day An HVAC filter expires early, leading to heating problems A bird invades the facility and takes down a critical light structure Servos on the production line wear down resulting in unplanned maintenance or corrective repair Corrective maintenance is about sustaining a peak operational condition as long as possible, and then scheduling a maintenance task when absolutely necessary. Say you're walking into your favorite taco shop. You know your order, you know what to expect and you know what type of salsa you want. You reach out to grab your usual lime Jarritos soda except they're out. You look up in disappointment, and they confirm that not only are they out of lime soda, but there's a recall on a lot of the ingredients they use with this taco. Your go-to order is not available. Do you leave? Or do you trust the restaurant enough to try out something different? You ask what's available, and due to the mass recall, they've got this really quirky fusion thing of chicken, mango and fried avocado. This isn't remotely what you're used to eating when you come here. But hey, y'know what, you've got an hour for lunch, you're already here and this place has proven itself time and time again, so why not? You grab a different Jarritos, maybe guava or mango. You wait, enjoy a few sips of your soda, taking in the same sounds and the same smells and then they deliver your tacos. And it is one of the best things you've ever eaten, maybe not as much as you love carne asada, but it was worth trying out. "Not exactly what I had in mind, but it ended up being worthwhile" is the best-case scenario when it comes to corrective maintenance. A corrective maintenance plan originates out of necessity, and often with two key distinguishers: A run-to-failure strategy. An asset is allowed to run until failure and then is replaced or scheduled for repair Condition monitoring. Condition based maintenance and monitoring are performed as an aspect of preventive maintenance, as both are attempts to identify problems before asset failure Corrective maintenance may often be a fallback plan. However, if you know when to identify and implement corrective action instead of other forms of maintenance, it can result in major benefits. The pros and cons of a corrective maintenance strategy Corrective maintenance activities can be random and unexpected, but getting equipment back up to speed after failure can be effectively planned for. Asset management means considering these kinds of advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of having a reactive maintenance strategy can look like the following: Cost-effectiveness for non-critical equipment. When you plan for corrective action to be taken after failure, it can save you from excess maintenance costs by only paying for equipment failure. When it's something less critical, costs can be way lower than scheduling preventive maintenance. The benefits may be less inventory and time spent on unnecessary maintenance Time saved on planning. Time is often your most important resource. Knowing that you run a particular asset until it can't anymore helps you save time. You and your operation know what non-critical equipment is down and how to plan around it. Maintenance doesn't kick in until it's absolutely necessary, which saves you mental energy Straightforward per case. Did it break down yet? No? Okay, wait till it does. Your maintenance team can focus on other priority tasks and then pivot back to re-establish resources when it's necessary. Deferred corrective maintenance can be the best solution in certain situations, setting aside cash and time in run-to-failure But like with most strategies, there can be holes in this approach. Understanding weaknesses is what helps your maintenance operation improve. Potential disadvantages of corrective maintenance often look like these: Safety issues. If a run-to-failure strategy is used on the wrong asset, it could be dangerous. You can't send out food with E. coli. Corrective maintenance is about controlling what you can Different compliance standards. If you're not hitting compliance standards, it can compound safety issues. Standards change across the board and if you aren't careful, it can lead to problems for your operation Uncertain expenses. Depending on the asset, costs can fluctuate quickly. Knowing what your running-to-failure strategy will typically cost is how you mitigate large purchases. When it's a bad idea to outright replace or repair an asset, that's when you correct it with a predictive maintenance strategy Preventive maintenance — or a surplus of ingredients While it can be fun and lead to worthwhile value, you can't run a restaurant entirely on makeshift ingredients. Plenty of customers come in looking for their lime soda and carne asada and if they can't get it, they're likely to find some other shop that will. Some advantages of preventive maintenance that corrective maintenance doesn't usually offer are: Fewer disruptions on essential equipment. Giving the essentials the attention they need keeps your operation running smoothly Reduced maintenance costs with regular repair. Your essential equipment is likely more costly if you implement a run-to-failure approach. When you do little fixes along the way, you can cut down those purchases immensely Less energy consumption. This can be both physical energy and mental energy of your staff. When you have a schedule of little fixes, it can prevent breakdown of both your facility and your people. Maintain both to gain better performance Preventive maintenance is like a fully stocked kitchen with more insights on the front end - but it can cost you a whole lot more money. You may have all the ingredients you need from the offset but this may lead to excess food waste if you're not taking regular inventory. A preventive maintenance plan has a lot of the same components, such as scheduling routine fixes or implementing run-to-failure on non-critical equipment. Some unintended consequences of preventive maintenance can include: More resources spent. You're doing a lot of leg work in the beginning, stocking the kitchen and making sure everything is operating well above capacity. You don't want to run out of ingredients or spare parts, but this can lead to excessive regulation and burnout of your staff. You can't be stressing your technicians planning for corrective task calendars two years out - that can come later. Over maintenance. Too much of a good thing leads to issues. Throwing out perfectly good ingredients because you have a new shipment that just came in can lead to issues. There is balance that can be found in keeping things fresh. The same is true with over-maintaining your resources just to check boxes. Preventive maintenance and corrective maintenance aren't at odds with each other. Both are required for a well-oiled machine — or in a taco shop. Conclusion: Do what's best for the kitchen Corrective maintenance is a necessity that all facilities will deal with, whether planned or not. With a definitive approach, maintenance activity doesn't have to be costly. Condition monitoring allows you to let some inexpensive and easily-replaced, non-critical parts run to failure. With the right amount of prep, you can ensure replacements are available in stock and technicians have what they need to complete their tasks. When thrown into the mix without proper planning, corrective maintenance will be costly to both your workforce and your operation. Maintenance cost, downtime and stalls can be taxing for your entire workforce. It's worth the effort to plan ahead and help your staff get their "tacos" out the door on time. To get the most out of corrective maintenance, it's best to pair it with a preventive maintenance strategy so that technicians can adjust based on the problems they face. Maintenance is then planned in the moment before critical failure comes. Preventive and corrective maintenance is made even easier with an EAM software — and MicroMain is inviting you to a free trial option. To learn more about MicroMain visit our FAQ page or contact us. For more reading, check out our blog and subscribe to our newsletter (more food metaphors may be included)!

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The Ins and Outs of Preventative Maintenance: How the Burrito is Made

Preventive maintenance, also known as preventative maintenance, service is how you keep production moving at a brisk pace. Having an effective preventive service game plan means maintaining the assets producers need to do their jobs. Getting down to brass tacks, here are the ins and outs of preventative maintenance services couched in the same simple terms anyone can use to make a great burrito. Preventative maintenance defined Preventative maintenance means keeping heavy machinery and mission-critical assets up and running by providing upkeep and regular performance checks. Regular maintenance tasks are meant to repair things before they break the flow of your operation. Asset health monitoring and operation data analytics provide your management team the insight they need to keep things running smoothly and lead to reduced crises and emergency service repair requests. So, making sure that your produce is up to snuff and that the guacamole and special sauce are ready to go before you open your restaurant is a no-brainer — and scheduling regular inventory updates to mitigate delays of orders to customers. That's what preventative maintenance means. Understanding how and why preventative maintenance is performed means getting a maintenance plan on paper for your team to execute. Developing a preventive maintenance plan Every maintenance plan requires three key phases for your metaphorical burrito shop to flourish. These aren't overly complicated or detailed — but by considering them as you develop your plan, you will prevent headaches later on. 1. Inventory Start by accounting for every asset. Every facility manager should understand which assets need to be repaired or replaced, track asset usage schedules, and use historical data to predict when an asset is likely to break down. Understanding how the asset or part is priced,  knowing other suppliers who provide the same part, and what alternatives you have in case you need them is an important part of the inventory process. Once these factors are accounted for, you can use these variables to create an optimal maintenance schedule. Remember, you're accounting for all the ingredients that go into your burrito: the salsa, tortillas, meat, veggies and sauce. 2. Condition When preparing an asset for repairs or replacement, you need benchmarks. Compare the current state of the equipment to its factory standard — those tomatoes were looking a little funky yesterday, are they still up to standard? How fresh is your beef before it's cooked? Establishing food standards is essentially what conditioning your assets means. 3. Maintain Now that you've defined your standards, your system is now ready for planned maintenance work orders. Assign and schedule technicians to perform designated tasks. Using preventive maintenance can minimize and improve production standards, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a healthier bottom line. The best burrito places maintain high-quality standards and take into account the opinions of their employees and customers. It's all about maintaining a higher standard and continuing to improve — which leads to some killer food. Here's a stat to drive this home for you: preventive maintenance costs 10%-30% of what reactive maintenance does. Your checkbook will feel the difference if you take the time to get things in order. CMMS software and preventive maintenance Using CMMS software is one of the most effective ways to organize a preventive maintenance plan. MicroMain helps you reduce downtime, offset costly repairs and even extend the life of assets by centralizing your operations manufacturing process with asset accounting, scheduling work orders, inventory and labor tracking. This level of asset management is essential to not only keeping your operation moving but growing to scale, (and making the meanest burrito you can think of). MicroMain also offers standardized reporting,  giving you detailed information and insights to find weaknesses and turn them into opportunities for optimization. Tracking, preserving, restoring and replacing these assets are essential before they fail, and a CMMS software like ours gets the job done. Our world-class preventive maintenance software is available for you to use right away with our free trial option. Explore its robust and powerful features and observe how agile it is for yourself. To learn more, visit our FAQ page or contact us. For more reading, check out our blog and subscribe to our newsletter (more burrito metaphors may be included)!

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8 Proven Ways to Reduce Your Maintenance Costs

While the C-suite might treat maintenance costs as a necessary evil, the ramifications of poor maintenance are far more costly than sticking with a robust maintenance plan. Maintenance costs include labor, parts, tools, and other equipment required to keep assets in optimal condition. For example, in a manufacturing facility, your maintenance costs would include wages paid to maintenance technicians, replacement parts for heavy machinery, and the tools used to repair them.    These costs are necessary because they extend an asset’s useful life. While the costs of preventive maintenance may seem high in the short term, your organization saves money in the long run by preventing asset breakdown and extending the asset’s Mean Time To Repair (how long a repairable asset can run between maintenance intervals) and Mean Time To Failure (overall runtime for non-repairable assets).    Maintenance costs are recorded in the profit & loss (P&L) account and are considered a cost center. However, maintenance plays an indispensable role in business continuity and output. These costs take different forms depending on the asset in question. For example, maintaining a fleet of vehicles is very different from maintaining real estate.   The extent of maintenance on an individual asset depends on its worth, its importance in the production process, and whether or not the asset can be easily repaired/replaced. Low-cost, non-repairable assets (eg: lightbulbs) can be allowed to run to failure without causing unscheduled downtime.    Note: Some maintenance costs are considered overheads because they are required by regulation. For example, government regulations require landlords to maintain living and safety standards—providing heating, cooling, and ventilation—and regular upkeep including snow removal, roof replacement, HVAC maintenance, and mold removal.    What is the best way to reduce maintenance costs? The best way to reduce maintenance costs is to reduce reliance on reactive maintenance. Proactive maintenance is one of the best cost management strategies. Also, you must train technicians to use machinery properly. When performing maintenance tasks, follow OEM recommendations closely. Improvisation is rarely advisable.    1. Double down on preventive maintenance (and evaluate performance over time) Reactive maintenance is the most expensive type of maintenance, especially when it leads to emergencies and unscheduled downtime. According to one study, downtime costs can run up to $22,000/minute. Reactive maintenance involves responding to equipment malfunctions after they occur. Worse equipment damage equals greater repair costs.    Left unchecked, a single component can trigger a domino effect of failures that debilitate an entire production line. A 2020 study by Plant Engineering found that 60% of manufacturing companies still perform reactive maintenance, indicating that organizations are bleeding money unnecessarily.  Preventive maintenance is the practice of scheduling maintenance on an asset ahead of expected failure based on a specified time interval or usage threshold. Maintenance frequency may be determined by OEM recommendations or historical data. Because preventive maintenance is expensive, as it involves servicing an asset regardless of its operating condition, this strategy is typically reserved for the most high-value assets critical to production continuity.    Most organizations use a combination of strategies for different assets.    Breakdown maintenance involves letting cheap assets that are easy to repair/replace run to failure. However, this constitutes a conscious, cost-cutting decision rather than a lack of maintenance planning.  Corrective maintenance is a controlled, cost-effective way of maintaining medium-priority or ancillary equipment. This means checking equipment regularly for signs of wear (eg: vibration analysis, oil check) and initiating maintenance as needed.    2. Switch to predictive maintenance Preventive maintenance may lead to over-maintenance because maintenance follows a set schedule regardless of asset condition. Predictive maintenance uses historical data to calculate the ideal maintenance interval based on prior equipment failure. Sometimes, assets on a preventive maintenance plan fail before scheduled maintenance is due. Predictive maintenance reduces the chances of error. More importantly, it automatically adjusts maintenance intervals as the asset ages—an important feature seeing as older assets require more frequent maintenance.    Another study by Plant Engineering found that the chief cause of unscheduled downtime is aging equipment (34%), followed by mechanical failure (20%) and operator error (11%).    To gain the full benefits of predictive maintenance, install IoT (Internet of Things) sensors on your equipment to receive real-time alerts about asset conditions. This allows you to perform condition-based maintenance with less labor (technicians no longer have to inspect equipment regularly) and enriches the predictive maintenance dataset, leading to more accurate predictions.    3. Use a maintenance checklist  A maintenance checklist is a logbook technicians use to document equipment maintenance inspections. The checklist ensures maintenance is on schedule and done according to specification. It records maintenance inspections on an asset for quality and safety purposes.    A maintenance checklist should include: Asset location When it was last serviced Photos/videos of issues or concerns during maintenance Details of the specific maintenance request Location and specifications of associated parts and tools    These checklists can be used to create detailed, comprehensive work orders so technicians can access maintenance instructions, part locations, and an asset’s complete maintenance history. Work order management is a crucial part of maintenance operations because it prevents inefficiencies resulting from confusion, lack of information, and time wasted locating parts or searching for OEM manuals.   4. Track and manage inventory  Poor inventory management can prolong unscheduled downtime if necessary parts are out of stock during an emergency. Automate the process of ordering parts ahead of anticipated machine failure using a CMMS. This schedule is usually determined in tandem with an asset’s preventive maintenance schedule.  Just-in-time inventory management allows you to use historical data to anticipate when to order parts and avoid warehousing costs from having to overstock items or incurring a financial loss from unplanned downtime. Inventory often represents as much as 40% of total capital at industrial organizations and represents an area for improvement that must not be overlooked.   If you neglect inventory management, you risk production bottlenecks, resulting in irreparable reputation loss for companies operating in competitive industries.        5. Invest in training Training your technicians reduces the chance of accidents and equipment failure while increasing the maintenance team’s speed and capacity. Periodically train your existing employees on how to use equipment and detect signs of malfunction. Re-evaluate your onboarding process for new hires regularly to ensure training remains up-to-date. Training is required for compliance with OSHA safety standards, so don’t neglect it.    Trained technicians are also more versatile, allowing them to respond to emergencies and fill in for other technicians in case of a staff shortage. Training also boosts employee morale because it leaves them feeling confident and capable and provides a sense of career progression.    Tip: During training, don’t focus exclusively on machine operation. An effective technician has a combination of experience, technical knowledge, and problem-solving skills. Teach technicians how to respond in emergency situations, delegate tasks, and take greater ownership of their role—especially if your facility uses Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).    6. Use high-quality parts from trustworthy suppliers  Having a close relationship with your suppliers enables you to accurately understand their capabilities and limitations. The goal is to source a reputable supplier who can produce a quality product and turn around large orders on short notice. Purchasing cheap parts or raw materials will only lead to defects, reworks, and scraps. When comparison-shopping suppliers, ask about fulfillment times, minimum order value, and comparative pricing.    7. Use a CMMS A CMMS provides a comprehensive database for maintenance operations, allowing you to manage inventory, schedule work orders, track maintenance costs, and evaluate technician performance.  Track service and maintenance costs A CMMS records every asset’s complete maintenance history, including the labor and parts associated with each maintenance task. This way, you can make strategic cost-cutting decisions by tracking recurring service and maintenance costs. Say a particular group of assets is going through spare parts quicker than it should; you can investigate the root cause.  Set up preventive maintenance plans to prolong asset lifecycle  Use your CMMS to automatically schedule and assign preventive maintenance work to available and qualified technicians so nothing falls through the cracks.  Create, assign, and schedule work orders A work order is an approved service request containing details about the nature of the problem, documentation/instructions on how to service the assets, and details on associated parts and tools.  Evaluate employee performance  See each technician’s wrench-on time, their MTTR (and the MTTR of individual assets), and the number of work orders associated with each employee. You can also see how many work orders they send to your maintenance backlog.  Reduce downtime  Keeping up a steady preventive maintenance regimen reduces the likelihood of equipment failure.  Improve inventory control You can set minimum and maximum quantity thresholds, generate email alerts for low inventory levels, generate purchase orders, track insights on parts usage and costs, and use barcode scanning to update inventory as new items are added or used.    8. Plan for emergencies Being unprepared for emergency situations leads to prolonged downtime due to inventory being unavailable, technicians that are inadequately trained to handle emergencies, and a general lack of processes and procedures for emergency handling. All of these factors contribute to rising maintenance costs.    Come up with an emergency response plan for different contingencies. For example, what parts of the production line can continue to run safely if X asset breaks down? What are the procedures for shutting down equipment? If technicians are working on other tasks when the emergency occurs, what is the process for rerouting technicians to attend to the emergency? Which technicians have the right qualifications to respond to an emergency situation and which ones require additional training?    Marshaling people, processes, and tools ahead of time reduces the chances of being caught off guard in an emergency situation.   

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How To Shorten Your Maintenance Backlog in 4 Steps

  The education sector has a significant problem with deferred maintenance. As institutions face declining revenues due to changes in enrollment and public support, public institutions are experiencing lengthening maintenance backlogs.    These backlogs aren’t only an administrative burden: they create potentially hazardous conditions for the teachers, students, and support staff who frequent education facilities each day. In the US, 35% of higher education facilities were built in the Post-WWII construction boom between 1960 and 1975, and many of these buildings require significant renovations. According to an executive report by EAB, public institutions have seen a 24% increase in their deferred maintenance backlog per square foot from 2007-2015—meaning costs are rising 66% faster than inflation.   The corrections industry has also postponed numerous maintenance tasks due to a lack of funding. About ⅓ of prison facilities in the US are over 50 years old. The Federal Bureau of Prisons  reports a backlog of 185 major (projects that cost $300,000 or more) modernization and repair (M&R) projects with an approximate cost of $370 million.    When essential maintenance tasks are put off long enough, organizations pay dearly in the long run. Sometimes, a “repair” becomes a “replacement” as an asset is subjected to continuous usage or wear-and-tear.  According to FacilitiesNet, the cost of deferred maintenance can be 30x greater than the cost of early intervention.      What is a maintenance backlog, exactly?  A maintenance backlog consists of work orders that have been approved for scheduling but have not been completed. However, most maintenance backlogs aren’t simply a repository for reactive maintenance tasks or routine inspections—those seemingly insignificant tasks teams put off to fight bigger fires. Backlogs often consist of planned maintenance work—the crucial maintenance tasks that keep the lights on.    For example, the backlog might list daily and weekly corrective repairs, preventive maintenance tasks, predictive maintenance tasks, and jobs planned during periods of scheduled machine downtime.    Note: A backlog can consist of orders that are past due or planned maintenance work that is waiting to be scheduled.    An excessively long maintenance backlog means your technicians are operating in fight-or-flight mode—everything they do is reactive, and planned maintenance is mostly out the window.    Here are some reasons why organizations might build up a backlog over time: Deferring maintenance work due to emergencies or lack of funding Not having spare parts available to complete the work  Maintenance technicians with the required skills aren’t available to do the job The facility is understaffed Poor work order management (someone forgot about the work order or there is no digital trail) An outside specialist’s expertise is required for troubleshooting   When many work orders are generated each day, it’s easy for some of them to be missed—especially if you don’t use work order management software or have a maintenance planner. An overreliance on reactive maintenance also creates a backlog. When an emergency occurs, technicians are forced to drop whatever they’re doing to attend to it, which leads to work piling up.  What’s wrong with having a maintenance backlog?   A long list of unclosed work orders or deferred repairs can lead to more expensive problems down the line. A backlog also reduces technicians’ capacity to attend to current maintenance needs, leading to a vicious cycle.     Furthermore, it usually signals a bigger problem such as understaffing, poor work order management, or a lack of inventory control. Maybe you don’t have enough technicians, or technicians don’t have the right information to complete and close out work orders, or they’re spending too much time hunting for parts rather than using a barcode system to find necessary parts and tools.    Here are some potential causes for an extensive maintenance backlog: Low technician wrench-on time (the percentage of a technician’s shift spent on actual maintenance work) Lack of work order standardization  Poor inventory control (parts are missing when technicians need them) Lack of planned maintenance (preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, and routine inspections) Understaffing  Overreliance on reactive maintenance forces teams to defer scheduled maintenance How to shorten your maintenance backlog one step at a time  Even if the situation might seem helpless, especially if your maintenance department is facing a funding shortfall, there are several ways to cut your maintenance backlog. Start by investigating what is causing the backlog— sometimes the problem has nothing to do but with budgets or staffing.  1. Identify what needs to be done  Examine your maintenance backlog. What types of tasks are neglected the most? Which assets are being impacted? A low-risk asset (i.e. equipment not integral to production which is inexpensive/easy to repair or replace) can tolerate longer delays. However, high-risk assets should be tended to immediately.    Organize past due work orders in your CMMS according to asset, type, location, available resources, or other criteria.    Questions to ask: How important is each task?  How frequently is the asset used? What is the potential monetary and reputational impact of asset downtime or failure?   Another option is to organize work orders based on the reason they were deferred. For example, some work orders might be missing vital information. Every WO should at least include the name and location of the asset, a description of the problem, the scope of work needed to rectify it, required parts and tools, health and safety information, and a deadline.      Standardize the work order request process to prevent technicians from contacting the original requester to obtain the necessary information. Only accurate and complete work orders should make their way to the schedule. If your maintenance planner or supervisor is approving work orders that are missing vital information, you may need to revisit the WO approval process as well.    If you discover many work orders that weren’t closed due to missing parts, investigate the problem with your inventory management team. Just-in-time inventory management is a form of inventory control that requires working closely with suppliers so that parts and tools arrive shortly before maintenance is due. This is especially important for high-priority planned maintenance tasks—delaying these repairs can be financially ruinous.    Tip: Watch out for duplicate work requests and work requests that are missing vital information. You will need to remove these from the backlog.  2. Schedule past-due tasks alongside new ones Establish a system for triaging work orders and assigning them alongside ongoing projects. Tasks related to safety should receive high priority, as well as any repairs that might impact production or the functionality of your facility. A high-priority job on a critical asset should take precedence over low-priority work on an auxiliary asset.    If asset usage fluctuates seasonally, take advantage of equipment downtime to perform repairs. Also, review the due dates for each work order.    Maintenance due dates are tricky because they are often meant to be flexible—except for high-priority assets or emergency situations. When a WO is initiated, the due date depends on its relative importance to work that is already in the backlog plus any WOs that may be generated in the future.    Rather than making a subjective assessment of which WOs are critical, you can create a priority index. Assign a criticality number from 1-100 for every piece of equipment (the higher the number, the more critical asset). Next, assign priority to work orders based on the same scale.  Priority Index = Asset Criticality x Work Order Priority Now, multiply the asset criticality score by the work order priority score. The result is the priority index. Now you can schedule work according to its priority index.    Tip: Have the operations team check and approve your criticality rankings beforehand. Seeing as they use the equipment daily, they may have better insight into which assets are most critical.  3. Determine what resources you need  Now you can move on to planning and scheduling. How many labor hours are needed for each work order? What tools or parts are needed? Are they all referenced in the WO? What parts are not available? Have they been ordered yet? What is their delivery status? CMMS calendars help with maintenance planning and scheduling upcoming tasks. Use your CMMS to assign WOs to team members and determine if you need to outsource any tasks.    Remember, if you need to outsource work or increase staffing costs temporarily, don’t hesitate to do so if it means you can permanently erase your backlog.  4. Review and revise your plan  Pick a time to evaluate how your plan to reduce your backlog is going. Are you creating even more of a backlog as new WOs come in but technicians are busy dealing with past due work orders? If so, you might need to increase headcount or outsource tasks. Use your CMMS to identify open WOs and update schedules.   

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Everything you need to know about IoT (Internet of Things) in predictive maintenance

Every industry wishes they had a crystal ball to help them make better predictions about when equipment will fail, which markets to enter (and which to avoid at all costs), and which products will turn into bestsellers.    While there’s no cure-all to alleviate the risks of doing business, Internet of Things (IoT) devices have proven highly valuable in enhancing preventive maintenance and allowing businesses to predict equipment failure with near-perfect accuracy.    IoT sensors collect machine data (eg: operating temperature, supply voltage, vibration, etc.) and wirelessly transmit the data to a cloud-based, centralized data storage platform in real-time. Artificial intelligence automatically analyzes the data to detect anomalistic patterns that might portend imminent machine failure. If an anomaly is detected, the platform automatically generates a work order request, which is sent to your CMMS in order to be assigned to an available technician.    IoT in predictive maintenance: What is it about? Unlike reactive maintenance, the main objective of predictive maintenance is to plan ahead to avoid unexpected equipment failure. The costs of unscheduled downtime vary widely by industry. Automotive manufacturers lose $22,000 per minute of downtime. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. In fact, 59% of Fortune 500s experience at least 1.6 hours of downtime per week, which costs them $4.6 million per year in lost productivity.   While preventive maintenance is typically based on a calendar or usage schedule, most equipment failure (82%) occurs randomly, according to a study by the ARC Group. In fact, only 18% of equipment fails due to age. Preventive maintenance draws on historical failure metrics and OEM recommendations to schedule maintenance at an optimal frequency, but it ignores real-world conditions.  IoT-assisted predictive maintenance allows maintenance supervisors to collect machine data to monitor the operating condition of high-value assets in real-time. The system automatically collects data on availability, reliability, and metrics such as Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR). Machine learning models learn from this data over time to make better predictions regarding machine failure.    Real-time equipment monitoring also enables facilities to respond faster to emergencies—especially when a work order request is automatically triggered at the first sign of equipment breakdown.     How does it work?  IoT devices communicate using Machine to Machine (M2M)—technologies that allow machines to automatically exchange data. M2M enables networked devices to exchange information and perform actions without the manual assistance of humans.    For example, if an IoT sensor detects irregular vibration patterns in an asset, it can send a work order request to your CMMS to schedule preventive maintenance and circumvent asset failure.   The main components of an M2M system include sensors, RFID, a WiFi network, and autonomic computing software that is programmed to help a network device interpret data and make decisions.    M2M technology was first adopted in manufacturing and industrial settings where other technologies such as SCADA and remote monitoring helped remotely manage and control data from equipment. It is now used in a variety of industries including healthcare, business, and insurance.     For example, ECG units already exist that transmit information on the blood pressure, pulse, or blood sugar level of the patient to doctors in the nearest hospital while the patient is being transported in the ambulance. This technology enables medical professionals to prepare for the patient’s arrival and start treatment quicker—which can save lives.    What are the benefits of IoT asset tracking? Every business has valuable assets, from manufacturing equipment to vehicle fleets and even livestock. IoT asset tracking extends the useful life of assets by automatically generating work order requests and maintenance schedules based on real-world conditions.    Outside of maintenance management, IoT asset tracking provides a myriad of benefits including better inventory management, theft prevention, and cost savings.    Implement predictive maintenance - Transition from preventive maintenance (time-based or usage-based maintenance) to predictive maintenance, in which maintenance is scheduled strictly when needed. This allows organizations to cut down on the costs of over- or under-maintaining an asset.  Gain real-time data insights - Tracking equipment conditions and whereabouts in real-time lets you make better business decisions. For example, tracking fleet whereabouts allows you to optimize routes according to traffic conditions, weather, etc.  Improve inventory management - Replenish inventory at the right time in just the right amount. Having access to real-time inventory data enables organizations to implement just-in-time inventory management and cut down on warehousing costs and avoid losing revenue due to understocking.  Locate and identify lost equipment - Identify lost or stolen items to improve theft prevention and recovery Reduce costly problems - Monitor alerts and take immediate action to reduce negative impacts from malfunctions/equipment failure or asset theft. Image credits: 1. Check Time by Smashing Stocks from NounProject.com 2. Lan Network by VectorsLab from NounProject.com  

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How to Turn Inventory Management into a Competitive Advantage

  When companies take stock of their top competitive advantages, inventory management rarely comes to mind. After all, it’s a behind-the-scenes function— and a cost center, at that— but it underpins every successful operation, helping businesses deliver the right products in a timely manner while consistently meeting quality standards.    Too much stock results in unnecessary warehousing costs, while too little can lead to lost sales, so there’s a lot of money at stake. Data shows that ⅓ of businesses will miss a shipment deadline because they’ve sold an item that wasn’t actually in stock. This is typically due to low visibility in inventory management flows—sales, marketing, and fulfillment teams aren’t sharing real-time sales and inventory data.    Inventory management represents an important decision variable at all stages of product manufacturing, distribution, and sales, in addition to being a major portion of current assets. In fact, inventory often represents as much as 40% of total capital at industrial organizations.   If you neglect inventory management, you run the risk of production bottlenecks, which can result in irreparable reputation loss for companies operating in competitive industries.    Here’s how you can optimize your inventory management to kick butt.  What is stock control?  Stock control means ordering enough stock of a product that sells well. To achieve this, you must have high-quality data for tracking item cost, sales forecasts, and sales figures.   1. Data quality is everything Good inventory management comes from accurate demand forecasting. Reliable forecasts are needed for decisions around assortments, purchasing volume, and safety stocks (extra stock which is stored in the warehouse to prevent an out-of-stock situation). Use historical data together with knowledge about inventory turnover, current order levels, and expectations for future sales.    Remember that inventory management doesn’t apply only to the raw materials you use to produce goods. It’s equally important to stock the right tools and replacement parts to perform planned maintenance tasks— especially preventive maintenance. Consequently, having robust maintenance operations data is also an important part of inventory management.    Here are the most important data points you need to know at all times: Which items need to be stocked How much of each item is needed to stock to avoid stockouts and lost sales Reconciliations of inventory balances  Inventory lead time/vendor lead time Actual and projected inventory status  Sales rate/demand forecast     2. Create processes and procedures to avoid confusion While this might sound like needless paper-pushing, you’ll finally understand the importance of having procedures in place the next time a huge shipment arrives and you’re out of warehouse space because there’s a pile of deadstock nobody knew what to do with. Standardizing processes helps you run a tight ship.    Here are some things to look out for:   Replenishment techniques. Determine minimum and safety stock levels for each product in your lineup. This can be used to trigger automated warnings when inventory falls below ideal stock quantities. Make accurate entries on every stock receipt.  Guidelines for controlling excess inventory or dead stock. Form agreements regarding the handling of excess inventory. Some suppliers allow you to return items for a refund or credit. Alternatively, you can sell excess inventory to a liquidator or divert the inventory to a different product or plant. Similarly, deadstock can be offered as a clearance sale, donated, offered to customers as a free gift, or bundled with other products.  Create an organized record system in a centralized database. Set up a database structure of showroom locations, distribution centers, delivery trucks, warehouses, and web inventory so you know where inventory resides in every part of your supply chain.  Assign product classification to all items. Product classifications include product category, group, collection, vendor, and brand. Your inventory should also designate stock items, custom orders, and merchandise you plan to sell as-is.  Maintain accurate product information. If products are sold online, make sure the product descriptions, dimensions, prices, and other product data are managed centrally so the information is consistent wherever the product is sold (online or at a brick-and-mortar location).  Audits. Perform an annual full physical inventory to determine a true inventory valuation against your financial records and determine your annual shrink (loss of inventory attributed to damage, administrative errors, etc.). Implement a regular cadence of cycle counts and pick random areas of your warehouse to spot check weekly to keep tabs on your inventory throughout the year.    3. Be buddies with your suppliers   Having a close relationship with your suppliers enables you to accurately understand their capabilities and limitations. The goal is to source a reputable supplier who can produce a quality product and turn around large orders on short notice. Purchasing cheap parts or raw materials will only lead to defects, reworks, and scrap parts. When comparison-shopping suppliers, ask about fulfillment times, minimum order value, and comparative pricing.    4. Keep tabs (literally) on your inventory using RFID chips and IoT sensors  RFID chips enable businesses to track inventory whereabouts in real-time. RFID for inventory management requires a scanner that uses radio waves to communicate with an RFID tag. The tag contains a microchip that allowers the reader to scan data and write data to the tag for real-time tracking.    These tags help to automate and expedite inventory checking as there is no manual data entry. Also, RFID tags do not require “line of sight” scan like barcodes; it is possible to read them at a distance for fast inventory processing. However, note that unlike barcodes, which can be read by a mobile app, RFID tags can only be scanned using RFID readers.    5. Use a CMMS Inventory management software provides quick and easy access to detailed inventory and ordering information. When you use a CMMS, you can also keep track of inventory data for your maintenance operations— including parts, tools, and other equipment needed to repair or replace major assets. Remember, preventive maintenance hinges on proper inventory management: you need to have the right parts on hand ahead of an asset’s scheduled maintenance.   Poor inventory management will only derail preventive maintenance, create a maintenance backlog as technicians wait for parts to arrive, and lead to more reactive maintenance down the road. This is why inventory management is a crucial aspect of reducing unscheduled downtime. 

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6 Top Use Cases for Big Data in Manufacturing

With so much data being generated in real-time from smart sensors and IoT devices in manufacturing plants across the country, manufacturing companies are feeling the pressure to embrace big data analytics as part of their standard operating procedure.    Thanks to the pandemic, the pace of technological advancement in manufacturing has become more of a quantum leap than a gradual trickle. In May 2020, Forbes predicted that due to COVID-19, manufacturing will experience five  years of innovation in the next 18 months. What’s more, the big data analytics manufacturing industry, which was valued at $904.65 million in 2020, is expected to reach $4.55 billion by 2026.    While there is enormous potential for big data analytics in manufacturing, most companies are still playing catchup. A study by IBM found that manufacturers are lagging behind their cross-industry peers in their ability to create a competitive advantage from analytics. Only 53% of industrial manufacturers report that the use of big data and analytics is creating a competitive advantage for their organizations compared with 64% of cross-industry respondents.    Despite this setback, manufacturers are working hard to develop data maturity and generate gains from big data. The study also found that three-quarters of industrial manufacturing companies have either started developing a big data strategy (45%) or are piloting and implementing big data projects (32%) on par with their cross-industry peers.  In this article, we’ll look at the types of data generated in the manufacturing industry, why big data matters to manufacturers, and the most common use cases for big data in manufacturing.  So where does all this big data come from?👀 Data is constantly generated from assets like sensors, pumps, motors, compressors, and conveyors. Data can also come from outside partners, vendors, and customers (eg: customer feedback, supply chain and logistics data). In fact, IoT sensors enable manufacturers to track data points from non-computerized machines as well. This is known as condition monitoring—the process of monitoring the condition of an asset in real-time to anticipate its maintenance needs. These sensors enable global manufacturers to collect real-time shop floor data (business intelligence) that allows them to continuously adapt their processes.  Collectively, this data feeds into dashboards, scorecards, and databases. The data is used to generate reports as well as real-time business intelligence.  The sheer quantity of data generated by factories today requires modern storage and processing tools in order to mine the data. In many cases, manufacturing data is stored in data lakes via the cloud and is processed on GPU clusters rather than traditional CPU processors.  Sounds good. But what can I do with all this data? 🤔 Big data matters because companies are increasingly competing on minute differentiators like speed, consistency, and customer service rather than competing on a product. In critical industries, the insights generated by data analytics can spell the difference between life and death. Automakers, high-precision parts suppliers, medical device manufacturers, and F&B companies know that maintaining high-quality standards is essential for safety and compliance.  Manufacturers must be ready to apply AI and machine learning to discover patterns and build models to make predictions and continuously improve their business processes. Data can be used to look for signals such as defects, downtime, or yield, with dashboards and applications that can monitor key KPIs in real-time. Manufacturers can also build models to make advanced predictions regarding production volume, equipment failure, and product quality.       Did you know? A McKinsey study found that the appropriate use of data-driven techniques by manufacturers “typically reduces machine downtime by 30 to 50 percent an increases machine life by 20 to 40 percent.” What are the top use cases for big data in manufacturing? 🤓 1. Predictive maintenance Manufacturing profits depend largely on maximizing asset yield, so performance increases from reduced asset breakdowns can lead to massive productivity increases. Preventive maintenance—performing maintenance on an asset ahead of anticipated failure—isn’t always optimal because it hinges on doing maintenance earlier than needed, which reduces Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE). Maintenance engineers are increasingly moving towards predictive maintenance, which is more accurate. Maintenance tasks are scheduled only when warranted, which keeps costs down.    Predictive maintenance uses historical data to determine an optimal maintenance schedule. It also involves using sensing equipment to collect data in real-time. If the software detects an anomaly in your operations or a potential equipment defect, a work order is automatically triggered. Predictive maintenance keeps the maintenance frequency as low as possible because a work order is only triggered under specific conditions.    Over time, the predictions grow more accurate based on the data generated by the real-time monitoring of an asset (condition monitoring), work order data, and benchmarking MRO inventory usage. Predictive maintenance sensors can perform vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermal imaging, and equipment observation. Examples include: Monitoring the temperature of computers and machinery to prevent overheating or using smart HVAC units to control building temperature and save energy.  Monitoring pressure in a water system to predict when a pipe could fail.  Monitoring oil particles in construction or fleet vehicles    Tip: Predictive maintenance hinges on processing multiple datasets associated with different sensors and other maintenance detection devices. However, combining data from multiple sensors requires additional investments in data processing tools. For example, you might need to integrate data stored in a dedicated sensor database with data stored in your CMMS.    2. Anomaly detection  Anomaly detection means identifying data points that lie outside of the norm. There are three types of anomalies:  Point anomalies - a single datapoint that deviates from the rest of the material Contextual anomalies - abnormalities in a specific context (eg: time delay due to environmental influences)  Collective anomalies - a collection of data points is anomalous relative to the rest of the data.    Manufacturers can use anomaly detention to determine where and when abnormal behavior has occurred. Isolating the anomalous data points helps with performing a root cause analysis to determine why a particular asset failed or why product quality did not pass muster.   3. Supply chain management  Supply chain analytics uses data to improve decision-making across the entire supply chain. It expands the dataset for analysis beyond the internal data held on ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and SCM (supply chain management) systems to include point-of-sale (POS) data, inventory data, and production data. Aggregating data points from different junctures of the supply chain gives managers insights into every facet of real-time operations.    Amazon, for example, has patented an “anticipatory shipping” process in which orders are packaged and pushed to the delivery network before customers place an order.   Other use cases: Optimizing delivery systems Delivery routes must account for variables like changing fuel prices, road closures, and changing weather conditions. Sensors on delivery trucks, weather data, road maintenance data, fleet maintenance schedules can all be integrated into a system that looks at historical trends and makes recommendations accordingly Cold chain monitoring Cold chain monitoring technology supports temperature-sensitive product logistics through data logging. In industries like F&B, pharmaceuticals, and chemical processing, even a slight change of a few degrees in product temperature can render the product unusable. Monitoring technology allows logistics professionals to track temperature situations in real-time and adjust heating and cooling remotely.    4. Demand forecasting Demand forecasting is the process of making predictions about future customer demand based on historical trends. Doing so helps businesses make informed decisions about pricing, business growth strategies, and market potential. Here are some other wins you can achieve with demand forecasting: Optimize inventory management and reduce holding costs Forecast upcoming cash flow for more accurate budgeting  Improve production lead times (the time between an order being placed and the manufacturer completing the order)    Most businesses forecast demand by performing a time series analysis to identify seasonal fluctuations in demand and key sales trends. If you don’t have a lot of historical data on hand, you can use qualitative data—expert opinions, market research, competitor analyses— for demand forecasting until you gather enough data to make reasonable predictions.    5. Product life cycle management (PLM) PLM is the process of managing a product from inception to retirement. Businesses use PLM software to track and share data long the product value chain, from design to manufacturing and sales.    Research from MIT shows that the introduction stage— when you first launch a new item on the market— is where 70-90% of product lifecycle costs accumulate. Sales are slow as you work to build product awareness. At the same time, your organization is spending a lot of money on marketing the product.    This is where data insights prove most useful: finding opportunities to reduce waste and choosing marketing channels with the highest ROI. Market data shows you which kinds of products generate the biggest ROI and what kind of pricing structure is necessary to turn a profit.    As you move through the product life cycle, you’ll start collecting more data about customer preferences, which you can use in your decision-making strategy. For example, you might discover that customers are willing to buy at a slightly higher price point, or that the ideal demographic for your product isn’t the audience you’ve targeted thus far.    6. Quality assessment  Quality assessment is the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the degree to which the final product conforms to predetermined standards. This is key to ensuring customers receive quality products devoid of defects. If the quality is unsatisfactory, then you must perform a root cause analysis to determine why.    Manufacturers can reduce variability using standard operating procedures (SOPs) and keeping equipment in good condition via an effective maintenance strategy.    Data enables manufacturers to track the most important quality assurance KPIs, including: Specification compliance Low percentage rate of defects On-time shipping Shipping results in delivery without damage to the product or packaging Speed of response from customer service (response times, first-call resolution, etc.)

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