For immediate assistance, please call us at (512) 328-3235

Blog

How to maximize the useful life of your assets

Anyone who’s ever driven a used car knows that the better you take care of it, the longer it lasts. The same goes for your organization’s assets. Understanding asset life cycle is the number one way to ensure the highest return on capital. This means tracking things like depreciation, repairs and upgrades performed on the asset. By doing so, you can maximize the asset’s useful life, thereby optimizing the profit generated from that asset.  Here are the five stages of asset life cycle management you should follow to optimize the profit generated from your assets.    1. Procurement (purchasing the asset) The first step is to purchase an asset that meets business requirements and falls within budget constraints. This involves creating a purchase order, obtaining management’s approval for the purchase and adding the purchase to inventory. The asset must be properly accounted for by recording and reporting the receipt of the asset via data import or manual add in your CMMS or EAM software.  Using asset management software allows you to easily create inventory reports and keep your asset management information in one place even if you have multiple locations or distributed data centers. Remember that insurers and auditors may require this information for compliance purposes, so always have it handy.    2. Deployment (preparing to use the asset in production) Before the asset can be used in production, it must be assembled and installed correctly. Preliminary checks are done to check for physical defects or design/engineering problems so you don’t wind up with an emergency work order shortly after deploying the asset.    3. Utilization During the asset’s useful life, it’s vital to schedule and keep track of regular upgrades, patch fixes, new licenses, scheduled scans and compliance audits. Continually check asset performance to prevent unscheduled downtime and get the most output from it.    If the asset is expensive to replace and could cause significant production delays in the event of a breakdown, put it on a preventive maintenance plan (regular, scheduled maintenance regardless of asset performance).    Extra tip: Maintaining accurate asset records is not only important for maintenance management but also financial accounting purposes. Calculating asset depreciation may be required for long-term, high-cost equipment.    4. Maintenance (repairs, calibration and preventive maintenance) Proper maintenance is crucial to keep the asset running smoothly. Corrective maintenance may be needed if unexpected breakdowns occur. With Micromain’s CMMS, you can generate a unique QR code for each asset. When you need to create a work order, simply scan the QR code on your mobile app and fill in the details. You can even attach images or documents if needed.    5. Disposal (getting rid of an asset at the end of its useful life) When an asset is no longer usable, it must be disposed of properly —  and accounted for in financial records. The data must be wiped and the asset dismantled piece by piece. Store reusable parts and send parts to scrap. If certain parts can cause an environmental hazard, make sure you dispose of them as dictated by local environmental law.  Image attributions: lego by Pham Duy Phuong Hung from the Noun Project launch by praveen patchu from the Noun Project Shop by LINDA WATI from the Noun Project build by Justin Blake from the Noun Project Garbage by David from the Noun Project

Read More

4 Ways to Optimize Your Maintenance Planning

  Maintenance planning is the secret ingredient that takes your overall approach to maintenance from patching holes while the boat is sinking to running circles around your competitors. The goal of planning is to tamp down equipment downtime and labor costs for maintenance work from the perspective of people, place, time and tools. This process involves identifying the parts and tools necessary for routine maintenance work, making sure they’re available and located in the right place, and preparing job plans with sufficient instructions on how the work order should be completed.  Consequently, even if you’re still in the phase of doing “firefighting” reactive maintenance instead of proactive maintenance, you can use maintenance planning to optimize labor hours —  increasing wrench-on time by determining maintenance scheduling at least one or two weeks in advance. Here are four steps you can take for effective maintenance planning.  1. Make a job plan A job plan contains a set of instructions and specifications for how a routine maintenance task should be done. It should include metadata like number of technicians required, job duration, a list of tools and equipment needed to complete the job, as well as any files or notes left by people who have completed the job in the past. If the job requires welding, how many welders are needed? How many assistants does the engineer require?  Outlining a thorough job plan allows maintenance planners to focus on key “housekeeping” activities to ensure jobs run smoothly, such as: Ordering non-stock parts Staging parts Managing breakdowns and vendor lists Quality assurance 2. Create weekly schedules Weekly schedules enable your maintenance workers to focus on top-priority work orders without having to worry about the backlog. Make sure to assign work plans for 100 percent of available labor hours to prevent over- and under-scheduling.  Even with the right planning and organization, s**t happens sometimes. Define ahead of time what constitutes emergency work and document a process for how to prioritize and handle non-urgent work vs. emergency work. In general, it’s best to postpone a job that hasn’t been started than to interrupt one that is currently in progress. Creating different types of maintenance plans for various scenarios means you’ll know what to do if disaster hits.  3. Focus on future work Plan ahead as far as you reasonably can. For a large enterprise, this could mean running maintenance scheduling 12 weeks in advance, especially in anticipation of major scheduled downtime (also known as “shutdown maintenance planning”). For a smaller business, a one or two-week frontlog is sufficient. Long-range maintenance planning allows crews to work primarily on planned work instead of reactive work, thereby increasing wrench-on time and labor efficiency.  The more data you have, the more accurately you can plan ahead. Provide feedback to the planner after each job is completed so they can improve their estimates of labor hours and costs for future work. The best way for a maintenance planner to self-evaluate is to put some meaningful KPIs in place, such as: Task duration Materials/quantity of materials Labor requirements (are you overstaffing or understaffing?) Unanticipated requirements (eg: scaffolding, extra labor, cranes, etc.)  4. Understand your logs Your backlogs are instrumental to maintenance planning, because you can’t forge ahead with new maintenance work until you’ve handled your backlog. The backlog refers to any work that has an execution date prior to today’s date, which can occur for two reasons: either the work wasn’t completed before its scheduled date, or there’s a cost settlement issue preventing the closure of the work order. Maintenance management software can help you keep track of your backlog by assigning different priority levels to unfinished tasks.  This list needs to be monitored regularly to ensure backlogged work is rescheduled accordingly. While some backlog is unavoidable, try to keep it as small as possible.  How to Learn More With so many CMMS options available, you’ll want to find the right maintenance solution that pays for itself, makes life easier for your maintenance team, and helps you stay on task and on budget. Watch our demo videos to see MicroMain’s CMMS software in action.     

Read More

4 "Bonus" Features of a Modern CMMS You Can't Do Without

|

3 min read

|

by Admin

  A “good” worker gets the job done, a remarkable one goes above and beyond. The same goes for a CMMS —  or indeed, any AI-powered technological asset you invest in. Beyond core features like preventive maintenance and work order management —  the basic flesh and bones of a CMMS —  what other ancillary features should prudent buyers should look out for? Choosing a modern CMMS that goes above and beyond standard capabilities could mean the difference between getting your maintenance management under control or wasting money. Here are five must-have though less obvious features to look out for. 1. A mobile-first product Technicians who work in a large square footage facility or leave HQ for offsite work need to access the CMMS wherever they are. A mobile-first CMMS synchronizes between all mobile devices so technicians can remotely enter data, create work orders, and access information about assets and repairs from a tablet, smartphone or laptop. However, an adaptive software interface that flexes to whichever device you’re using isn’t enough. A truly mobile product is built around group collaboration, with features like an internal chat/messaging system and the ability to ‘@’ tag team members, make comments when updating a work order and annotate reports. You should be able to share dashboards, request status updates and view real-time data. MicroMain’s Mobile Technician App lets GLOBAL users out in the field complete tasks while offline. GLOBAL is cloud-based, so you can access it from any internet-connected device even if you’re not in the office. 2. Funding forecasting  When a C-level executive greenlights a CMMS purchase, they do so with one objective in mind: cutting maintenance costs. It therefore goes without saying that any maintenance solution must have tools for financial forecasting to enable teams to track maintenance-related outlays, stay on budget and maximize their asset life cycle. Forecasting is an advanced feature that many companies don’t offer or charge extra for. Basic forecasting capabilities enable users to organize receipts and foresee upcoming expenses, but the best CMMS tools integrate these features with asset inventory. Equipment and asset management help minimize the chance of equipment failure by tracking performance data and scheduling preventive maintenance. The EAM software should provide insight into repair history, work orders, floor plan management, and associated costs for each. 3. Meaningful data reporting Data collection that doesn’t generate actionable insights is a futile endeavor. Your CMMS reporting tool should help you answer questions like: How much time did we spend on safety audits last month? Is it time to replace X piece of equipment? Is our facility understaffed or overstaffed? Go one step further beyond actionable insights (fixing what’s wrong) and you get proactive recommendations (preventing a breakdown), where the data shows you how to finetune scheduled maintenance beyond a manufacturer’s recommendations. Ideally, the CMMS should cross-reference work order data by assigned technician, asset type, time to complete and so on to generate meaningful reports. Prioritize CMMS data collection that simplifies complex metrics into charts, graphs and KPIs to aid decision-making. 4. Document storage While the purpose of a maintenance solution is to record maintenance activity, it should serve as a repository for equipment-related documentation. A CMMS should come with file storage where users can upload critical documentation, like O&M manuals, equipment warranties, receipts from work orders and so on. These documents should also be accessible via the mobile app as downloadable items. 5. Web request system With the help of a CMMS, maintenance teams will have their finger on most equipment breakdowns and maintenance needs before they happen. However, sometimes s**t happens. If you run a large hotel or apartment complex, or you oversee several major power grids all at once, the first person to notice a problem might be a customer or an employee outside the maintenance team who doesn’t have CMMS access privileges. A web request system allows non-licensed users to submit work requests through a simple web form. You can customize the form to include the information you need, such as task type, building area, room numbers and the requester’s contact information. How to Get Started With so many CMMS options available, you’ll want to find the right maintenance solution that pays for itself, makes life easier for your maintenance team, and helps you stay on task and on budget. Book a demo  with one of our specialists today to discuss your business needs and to see if MicroMain is right for you.  

Read More

How Virtual & Augmented Reality Are Changing The Maintenance Industry

3 min read

|

by Admin

      Virtual reality and augmented reality are two technologies that are changing the maintenance industry. Maintenance professionals use virtual reality training to learn and practice skills before going on-site. Once on the job, technicians use augmented reality to help them perform tasks. Virtual Reality Training Virtual reality uses computer technology to create a simulated environment. Users interact with the virtual environment through specialized equipment such as headsets and hand-held sensors. You may be familiar with the use of virtual reality in video games that can be played using headsets available from companies like Oculus, HTC, and Samsung. These headsets let users feel like they are actually in the simulated environment, which can be anything from the driver’s seat of a race car to the surface of an alien planet. Though not as much fun as zipping across the (virtual) finish line, virtual reality is also being used in maintenance training to help technicians develop skills. Wearing virtual reality headsets, maintenance technicians can learn new skills quickly. Flexibility in scheduling and location mean technicians don’t have to spend time waiting for physical equipment to be available or offline in order to practice tasks, reducing overall training time. Minimizing training time is important for the many companies experiencing talent shortages as older workers retire and take years of expertise with them. Younger workers are available, but many lack the skills necessary to fill open maintenance positions. In a virtual environment, technicians can practice skills as many times as needed until they are mastered. Technicians with virtual reality training are familiar with equipment and procedures before they arrive on the job site and commit fewer errors once on the job. Inside a virtual environment, technicians can safely repeat and learn dangerous procedures without personal risk. Virtual reality training also allows technicians to perfect tasks before they enter a high-risk environment, such as a nuclear plant. Training in a virtual environment protects equipment as well. Technicians can practice new skills and techniques repeatedly without risking damage to equipment. Augmented Reality Resources Augmented reality technology overlays computer-generated information on the user’s view of the real world as seen through a device such as a smartphone. Television sports broadcasts use augmented reality to overlay information such as the first down line in an NFL game on your screen. Augmented reality is also seen in vehicle heads-up displays and the photo filters available on social media apps. Augmented reality does not require special equipment and is available on common devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as hands-free devices like Google Glass. The accessibility and portability of augmented reality help maintenance teams while out performing service activities. With augmented reality, technicians can scan a QR code and quickly access important information about a piece of equipment. Technicians can use a smart phone, tablet, or laptop to remotely access documents like manuals, plans, and part lists. Augmented reality also delivers information by superimposing it over the real world view as seen through a smart device display. For example, a technician can use their smartphone camera to view a piece of equipment and see a 3D diagram of the item overlaid on the real-time image on their phone screen. Wearing Google Glass or a similar headset, a technician can look at a piece of equipment and view maintenance instructions “right in front of their very eyes,” leaving their hands free to perform the task. Technicians can use augmented reality to collect data from equipment sensors. Sensors that monitor equipment conditions such as temperature, humidity, and vibration are used to help develop predictive maintenance plans, reducing unnecessary reactive and preventive maintenance. With augmented reality, on-site technicians can also get immediate access to current or historic equipment data to determine maintenance needs, diagnose issues, and monitor the success of their maintenance efforts. Augmented reality allows users to consult with remote experts in real time. These experts may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away, but they can see a live view of the work site and deliver instant feedback and instruction. Remote experts can give live verbal guidance and overlay visual information on the technician’s device screen. Remote experts can provide a variety of visual information to technicians, including labels identifying parts and animated instructions showing procedural steps. The ability to access expert knowledge helps technicians reduce errors and perfect skills on the job. Using remote viewing, experts can visually evaluate equipment and direct technicians through appropriate procedures without having to travel to the site. With fewer errors and no travel time for experts, maintenance is performed promptly, with a minimum of equipment downtime. Some companies are using augmented reality to offer similar services to end users. Customers can connect with support teams through augmented reality for help with troubleshooting and repairs. Support staff can see a live view from the customer and provide real-time instruction and guidance.  

Read More

More Women Entering Male Dominated Industries

4 min read

|

by Admin

    Women and men are almost equally represented in the overall United Sates labor force, but men still hold the majority of jobs in certain industries. In addition, overall median earnings for women continue to lag behind men’s overall median earnings. Coming changes in the available workforce may result in increased percentages of women employed in traditionally male-dominated industries such as manufacturing, utilities, and higher education staff (those employed in skilled crafts, facilities, and service/maintenance). Women currently make up 46.9% of the overall workforce, but hold only 29.2% of job positions in manufacturing and 21.4% of positions in utilities, which includes electricity generation / delivery and water / wastewater management. Women and men are more equally represented in higher education staff, however salary differences between women and men in the industry increase the longer an employee holds their position. Salaries for men on higher education staff increase steadily based on years in position, while salaries stay mostly the same for women who have been in their positions for 8-22 years, creating a wage gap that increases with the number of years in a position, and is similar to that seen in the overall workforce, where women’s earnings are 83% of men’s. Factors Affecting the Workforce The overall U.S. workforce is getting older, with 23% of workers currently age 55 or older, compared to 12% in 1995. Primarily Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964, these workers are increasingly approaching retirement age and leaving the workforce. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1981, is almost 30% smaller than the Baby Boomer generation, leaving fewer skilled workers to step into open positions. With 30% more members than Generation X, the Millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, is poised to fill many of the positions left by Baby Boomers exiting the overall labor force. However, previous shifts in the American educational system away from teaching trades and toward a focus on academics have resulted in fewer students learning vocational skills and being exposed to careers in skilled crafts. Millennials will soon be the largest living generation, outnumbering Baby Boomers, but executives are concerned about the significant skills gap between the generations. In fact, more than half of the available manufacturing positions in 2028 could go unfilled due to talent shortages. Like manufacturing, the utilities and higher education staff industries have higher than average percentages of older workers, and will be strongly impacted by these changes in the number of skilled workers available to fill positions left by retiring older workers. Opportunities For Women The challenges of an aging and changing workforce provide an opportunity for the number of women working in traditionally male-dominated industries to increase. In the face of continued high unemployment rates and positions left open by retiring workers, employers in manufacturing, utilities, and higher ed staff, are looking for new strategies to manage talent shortages. Many organizations are seeing benefits from efforts to retain and recruit skilled women. A growing body of research shows that more gender-diverse companies often financially outperform competitors. Gender-diverse companies tend to raise more average revenue and perform better in average relative returns. These companies also have high employee satisfaction and retention rates, reducing the costs involved in recruiting and training new employees. A majority of surveyed manufacturing executives stated that on-the-job training and in-house learning are the preferred learning methods for developing employee skills. Long-term employees have acquired valuable knowledge and skills, and can act as experienced mentors and trainers for other employees. Efforts to fill skilled job openings in manufacturing, utilities, and higher ed staff can also help close the wage gap between women and men, as employers recognize the opportunity to offer higher wages to both keep and attract talent. Shifting Skill Sets In addition to changes in the workforce, advances in technology and automation are changing the skill sets needed in these industries. Traditional vocational and technical skills remain important in manufacturing, utilities and higher ed staff, but the growing adoption of digital technologies in these industries is reducing overall demand for those skills. Computer skills are increasingly important as workers need to be able to perform tasks such as programming industrial machines or interacting with engineering software like CAD (computer-aided drawing). In addition to digital skills, the demand for human skills, or “soft” skills, is growing. Employers are looking for workers who possess skills such as critical thinking, creativity and originality, problem-solving, and people management. These skills are less industry-specific, leading to efforts to attract women employed in other industries, especially to managerial roles. Having women visible in senior roles also attracts other skilled women to companies, helping to fill the talent gap. In the end, changes in the types of available employees as well as evolving technology may result in more women employed in traditionally male-dominated industries.      

Read More

Important Manufacturing and Maintenance Trends For 2020

3 min read

|

by Admin

  Technological innovations are changing the face of manufacturing and maintenance. These technologies are helping companies maximize efficiency and effectiveness and make intelligent business decisions. The role of humans in these processes is changing as well, requiring skill sets that allow companies to fully utilize these digital tools. Here are four trends that are influencing business decisions in these sectors. Mobile Communication Mobile communication continues to grow in popularity across industries, including manufacturing and facilities maintenance. Mobile communication tools allow employees to collaborate and share information in real time, with no delay. Technicians and other employees out in the field have ready access to information like maintenance history or operating instructions when they need it, where they need it. Mobile apps and tools also let employees enter information directly into systems such as Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs. Your team can add important details almost instantly, keeping your records accurate and up-to-date. Additionally, in an era when many companies are forced to run leaner and more dispersed teams, mobile communication tools are increasing productivity, helping organizations get more done with fewer employees. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) The expanded adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)is continuing across several sectors, including manufacturing and production asset management. Sensors in machines are connected to wireless networks that gather and share data and make the data available for analysis. Increased affordability of IIoT devices, expanding network options, and advancing big data analytics have combined to make it easier for companies of all sizes to start using IIoT in their operations, or to enlarge existing systems. Companies are using IIot devices to collect data across many categories. Equipment conditions can be assessed using sensors that monitor vibration data, as well as through thermal imaging. Energy usage data is tracked to analyze trends and develop strategies to reduce energy usage and shift peak usage times to take advantage of off-peak energy rates.  GPS monitoring on vehicle fleets helps companies efficiently deploy resources, as well as track usage and status of heavy equipment and other high-value assets. Maintenance as a Service (MaaS) The rise of cloud computing has led to more companies offering or utilizing Maintenance as a Service (MaaS) programs. You may be familiar with cloud-based maintenance services offered by some auto makers. In addition to delivering reminders for scheduled maintenance such as oil changes, these services track vehicle diagnostics and alert subscribers to more urgent or unexpected service needs. MaaS is a similar service for machinery and industrial equipment. MaaS systems collect data from sensors on equipment, then use the power of cloud-computing to analyze equipment conditions to develop predictive maintenance schedules and alert users to potential failures. A variety of equipment vendors are offering MaaS programs for the machines they sell, and third-party vendors are offering MaaS for manufacturing and other industries. Both equipment vendors and third-party companies offer a spectrum of services within their MaaS products. Some of the services offered by MaaS vendors include maintenance service recommendations, maintenance training services for on-site staff, and even full maintenance operations management including technicians who perform the work. Like many other cloud-based services such as asset management and data storage, MaaS are available as subscription services. This lowers the capital costs of on-site computing, shifting costs to monthly or operational expenses. The flexibility and scalability of MaaS make it affordable for organizations of all sizes. Companies pay only for what they need, and can easily adjust services to adapt to changing needs. Workforce Trends With near historic unemployment rates, the labor market is tighter than ever and the average time to fill an open position is increasing. The rate of retiring professionals is outpacing the number of new workers coming into the workforce. New workers joining the work force are often “digital natives” familiar with computers and other technology. Traditional methods and skills are still needed in maintenance and manufacturing, but there is a growing shift to more digital and automated methods in the workplace. Knowledge of analytics and data interpretation are becoming more important as more companies adopt data-tracking solutions. Networking and telecommunication skills are also in demand as they are needed to build and maintain the systems that make cloud-based and other digital solutions possible. Maintenance and manufacturing continue to adapt to a changing, interconnected world. Many companies are adopting technological solutions and skills to improve operations and stay competitive. CMMS Software Looking for a way to better manage your maintenance tasks? Our industry leading CMMS software will help you streamline your maintenance operations resulting in less equipment downtime, lower maintenance costs, and increased productivity. Learn more about our CMMS software today!  

Read More

How a Mobile CMMS App Can Improve Your Maintenance Operations

3 min read

|

by Admin

Computer Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are powerful tools for handling predictive maintenance, work orders, asset records, and more. Many CMMS solutions are available as Software as a Service (SaaS), also referred to as cloud-based. Cloud-based software is convenient, but some cloud-based CMMS companies are going a step farther and offering mobile apps for smartphones and other mobile devices. These mobile apps can help maintenance teams in numerous ways. Inventory Control CMMS and mobile apps can keep your inventory counts up to date automatically, tracking parts as they’re assigned to work orders, as well as any parts field technicians may need to add as they complete tasks. Technicians can use their device cameras to scan codes on parts and take them from the online inventory instantly. There are no extra steps or delays in recording which parts have been used, helping you stay on top of ordering inventory before it hits a critical level or runs out entirely. Parts are in stock when technicians need them, and you avoid extra costs like expedited shipping paid when you have to place an emergency parts order. Keeping track of inventory is a complex process. You might even say it has a lot of moving parts, especially if you stock inventory in more than one location. Mobile CMMS apps show technicians which parts are assigned to work orders and the part inventory locations. Technicians know what they need and where to find it, saving time that too often is lost to unnecessary trips between different locations, or showing up at a location only to find the part not in stock. With mobile access to key inventory information, technicians arrive at the work site with the parts they need, ready to complete the work order efficiently, and move on to the next job. Labor Costs and Productivity With a CMMS mobile app, technicians have all the information they need to complete work orders right at their fingertips. They can see which parts are needed for the job and make sure the parts are stocked and ready before they arrive at the work site. This saves time that would be spent running back to the shop or to the hardware store to get missing or forgotten parts. Technicians can also access attached files such as procedures and schematics. No more hauling around paper documents that can get damaged or lost, and no more driving back to the shop to get the maintenance manual. The savings in labor costs are not just realized out in the field or in the shop, but also in the office. With a mobile CMMS app your technicians can record important details while completing maintenance tasks. Technicians can update work order status, add any parts used while completing the work, and upload photos—right in the app. Technicians can also enter the time spent on work orders. Some apps even come with built-in timers for convenient and accurate time-keeping. Getting all this information into your CMMS usually involves field technicians keeping track of these details as they work, then returning to the office so the information can be entered into your record system. With a mobile app, your CMMS records are updated automatically as technicians enter information, saving data entry costs back at the office, letting technicians stay out in the field, keeping productivity up. Workplace Changes Though traditional techniques remain vital to maintaining equipment and assets, the workplace as a whole is adapting to changes in technology and an evolving workforce. Computers are replacing traditional paper-based record keeping, and with cloud-based software companies of all sizes automatically get the latest updates. Young adults entering the workforce are “digital natives” comfortable and familiar with technology. With smartphone ownership among U.S. adults estimated at 81%, it’s easier than ever for companies to adopt mobile solutions. It’s not just new technology—many companies have also embraced sustainability goals, with every department participating to reduce overall environmental impact. Using CMMS reduces your use of paper and the resources required to store physical documents. With the addition of a mobile app, technicians have access to work orders and important documents like manuals almost anywhere, reducing the need to drive from location to location, decreasing fuel consumption and other vehicle costs. Cloud-based options have made CMMS more accessible than ever before, and more and more maintenance teams are using these options. Mobile CMMS apps make it even easier to keep your records accurate and up to date. MicroMain CMMS App Our cloud-based CMMS software combined with our powerful mobile app will help your company or organization reduce maintenance costs, increase productivity, decrease equipment downtime, and much more. Learn more about all the powerful features and benefits our CMMS software can offer!  

Read More
Content not found

Related Content

    Subscribe
      Micro Main