So you bought a shiny new software solution (yay!), trained your employees on how to use it, and now you’re pumped to overshoot all your business goals this fiscal year. Often, when companies purchase new software, a pervading sense of 'what now?' sets in after they sign on the dotted line. Software implementation is one thing—getting your new system up and running and integrating it into your existing workflows—but now the pressure is on to, well, “do better”—whatever that means.
Setting metrics-focused maintenance goals is a great way to ensure software adoption goes according to plan. For example, if unscheduled downtime totaled 17 days last year— the average amount of downtime across all industries— what is your target for this year? Which of your high-value assets should be on a preventive maintenance plan by Q2? How will you measure the ROI of your preventive maintenance efforts?
A CMMS can go a long way towards improving productivity—you can automate maintenance scheduling, make data-informed inventory forecasts, and receive maintenance requests from a website request form—but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes legwork needed to achieve the results you’re looking for. Surveys show that 74% of CMMS users believe that this tool improves productivity, while 58% consider it cost-effective in general.
If you’ve recently purchased a CMMS or you’re wondering how to get more out of your software, here’s a roadmap to help you get the most out of your software as quickly as possible.
1. Track employee performance and crack down on the slackers (Just kidding! Sort of.)
A CMMS gives you a big-picture view of employee performance that tells you whether or not a) You’ve hired the right employees; b) You’re assigning the right tasks to the right workers; and, c) Your workers are adequately trained and equipped with the right resources to do their jobs.
Granular data allows you to drill down into each technician’s wrench time (the percentage of an employee’s shift that is spent on actual maintenance tasks), the number of work orders handled in one scheduling, and time spent on specific tasks (also known as Mean Time to Repair). If an employee spends too much time on one task, maybe they need additional training or don’t have the right tools to get the job done.
Many companies will train employees as part of their initial onboarding and then stop there. However, workers need guidance on how to use and maintain their work tools, periodic refreshers on workplace safety recommendations, and procedural guidance overall. They also need to learn incident management best practices—how to intervene in the event of an emergency or equipment malfunction.
A CMMS enables you to store documentation, instructions, and OEM recommendations in a centralized location, so employees should have access to the information they need at all times.
If you’re unsure about why you’re seeing certain patterns in the data, such as a swelling maintenance order backlog or unusually high Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), ask your employees about what’s getting in their way. Training may be the issue.
In a recent study of over 3000 businesses by the National Center on Education Quality of the Workforce, those that increased employee development/training saw an average increase in productivity of 8.6%. The study also found that companies that invest the most in workplace learning yielded higher net sales and higher gross profits per employee.
2. Practice good data hygiene because dirty data sucks
Your CMMS is, first and foremost, a data repository for all things maintenance management. Treat your database like a temple. Poor data hygiene makes it harder to make accurate predictions using your data, which can lead to major errors when it comes to making data-driven business decisions, like how to allocate the maintenance budget this year or determining if you have the bandwidth to sign a new client.
While the initial data entry to get your software up and running was most likely handled by your CMMS provider, you need to police the day-to-day data entry done by your employees to ensure that it fits certain standards. From inputting equipment data such as model number, serial number, purchase data, installation data, and so on to inventory parts information and labor information, there are many opportunities to “corrupt” the data. Here are some things you can do to avoid the problem of “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
- Have your technicians enter the data themselves - Technicians should have direct access to the CMMS so they can enter relevant data as soon as they accept a work order. This is a better alternative to having technicians fill out a paper form and then pass it on to a data entry clerk or administrative assistant. The information may be illegible or the paper may get lost, and it takes more time to document the data.
- Make rule-based forms for data entry - Each field in your data entry forms should have rules regarding acceptable inputs. This helps guard against inaccurate data entry from careless mistakes or negligence. For example, technicians shouldn’t be able to input letters in a numbers-only field. Certain fields should have acceptable ranges (eg: a percentage field should be 0-100), units of measurement ($, feet, lbs), or specific formatting rules (eg: social security numbers must be formatted XXX-XX-XXXX). Where possible, add a dropdown menu so technicians can select from a menu of options, rather than typing into a text field. Misspellings, missing data, duplication, or incorrect units of measurement can result in dirty, unusable data.
- Restrict user permissions - Restrict user access to relevant parties. Say you operate several distilleries. Technicians from one distillery should be able to view the data from another distillery but not edit it.
- Regularly review your CMMS hierarchies - Large enterprises typically have inventory hierarchies set up within their CMMS to distinguish between different manufacturing plants or worksites, each with a corresponding hierarchy that shows where assets are located and sorted into specifics such as floor, aisle, shelf, or bin. When circumstances change—say you opened a new plant or moved a number of items into a different storage unit—you need to update these changes in your CMMS so you can keep an accurate inventory count.
3. Tighten up your inventory management (no more stealing pens from the office!)
Done right, just-in-time inventory management can be a major competitive advantage. Using historical data on asset failure and automated alerts when inventory runs low, you can forecast when parts are about to fail and preemptively order replacements ahead of time. This means keeping inventory costs low while never being caught off guard without a crucial replacement part. A CMMS tracks data over time so you’ll know when to order parts, how many spare parts to keep in stock, and which parts need to be replaced with better-quality ones.
CMMS provides cloud-based inventory management so that data on accurate stock levels is available to every user. By tracking data over time, you can find patterns. You can identify which parts technicians use frequently or infrequently and match parts with pieces of equipment on which they are used.
Tracking inventory location is another powerful feature of a CMMS. Use real-time inventory tracking to keep tabs on every piece of company inventory, mapping it not just to a specific facility but an aisle, shelf, or bin. When inventory managers need a specific item, they can just look it up in the CMMS instead of calling different locations to track down the item.
4. Start tracking MTTF—because your cheap, replaceable assets need TLC, too
Those “cheap” ball bearings, fan belts, and light bulbs that keep the lights on (no pun intended) at your manufacturing plant can lead to massive downtime and lost revenue if they fail unexpectedly. Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) is a crucial failure metric that measures the average amount of time in hours that a non-repairable asset operates before it fails.
Since this metric applies to assets that cannot be repaired, MTTF can also be thought of as the asset’s average lifespan. Here, “failure” refers to any disruption significant enough to result in unscheduled downtime or prevent an asset from functioning as intended. Generally, technical teams aim to extend MTTF as long as possible.
The longer the interval between part failure, the less frequently parts need to be replaced, the less time teams spend replacing parts, and the less money the organization spends replacing physical components. Additionally, a longer MTTF means teams are less likely to be caught by surprise when a machine fails.
Here’s what you can do with MTTF:
- Know when to stock replacement parts and how many of them to keep in stock
- Make sure you’re getting the highest quality parts at the most competitive prices (and switch suppliers or parts if you need to)
- Schedule preventive maintenance tasks more accurately based on the MTTF of your low-value assets.
For your high-value assets, pay close attention to MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), which measures the average amount of time in hours that a repairable asset operates before needing repairs. MTTF and MTBF are closely related because the inexpensive, non-repairable assets are what keep your expensive, repairable assets running.
5. Get started on preventive maintenance yesterday
CMMS providers are always harping on about preventive maintenance—for good reason. Preventive maintenance refers to regular, routine maintenance to keep equipment in good operating condition. The point is to prevent unplanned downtime stemming from unexpected equipment failure. An effective PM plan requires careful planning and scheduling of maintenance tasks based on historical failure metrics such as MTTF and MTBF. In 2020, 76% of companies in the manufacturing industry worldwide prioritized preventive maintenance.
Preventive maintenance tasks include inspections, cleaning, lubrication, oil changes, adjustments, repairs, or replacing parts. The exact type of preventive maintenance required will vary based on operation and type of equipment. PM is typically reserved for high-value assets because of its high upfront cost.
A CMMS enables you to coordinate preventive maintenance tasks easily. The software stores the organization's maintenance data in the cloud so technicians can keep track of inspections, repairs, and replacements, and receive automatic work orders. The system can plan and prioritize maintenance tasks based on production schedules and other ongoing maintenance work, thereby minimizing disruptions.
6. Bonus tip: Consider implementing Total Productive Maintenance
If you’re ready to overhaul your maintenance operations and really kick things up a notch (or ten), Total Productive Maintenance is a philosophy that entails using maintenance management as a competitive advantage. TPM strives for total perfection—no downtime, no accidents, no lost revenue—by doing several things:
- Requiring employees to undertake autonomous maintenance. Training employees who operate machinery on how to inspect and repair equipment. Employees are expected to do routine maintenance tasks like cleaning, lubrication, and assume ownership over their work and their workspaces.
- Eliminating waste. Any process, task, or item deemed redundant (i.e. it does not add value to the customer) must be eliminated.
- Sharing maintenance responsibilities throughout the organization - Forming small, multidisciplinary teams to do preventive maintenance and autonomous maintenance (operators maintain their own equipment).
- Standardizing work processes to minimize error.
- Engaging in continuous process improvement to ensure tasks are being done in the most efficient way by using data insights to guide the approach.
Total Productive Maintenance was invented by Seiichi Nakajima of Japan between 1950 and 1970 and was first implemented at Nippon Denso (now Denso) a company that makes parts for Toyota. Implementing a TPM plan can greatly increase your overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) over time. While TPM allocates jobs normally done by maintenance technicians to all plant personnel, it does not eliminate the need for a dedicated maintenance team.
CTA: See something you like and want to implement it at your organization but aren’t sure where to start? Check out our upcoming events or sign up for our newsletter to receive ongoing maintenance management advice.