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Comparing Maintenance Management and Facility Management

A warehouse with sunlight coming through that stores parts for facility management.

Maintenance management and facility management functions work together to support an organization. However, these two areas of operating an organization are often viewed as being the same, leading to confusion when it comes to making decisions about the skills and tools required by the organization to carry them out. This article provides an overview of the differences between facility management and maintenance management, and how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software helps with each.

Difference between Facility Management and Maintenance Management

  Facility Management Maintenance Management
Definition Facility management is defined as the coordination of physical workplaces (facilities), people, and support services in order to support a business’s goals in the most cost effective way possible.  Maintenance management is defined as an orderly process to control the maintenance resources and activities required to preserve assets at or repair them to an acceptable working order.
Scope of Assets Maintained Keeping building and property assets in a facility in good working order to ensure that the organization can continue to conduct business in an efficient manner. Production assets are managed by the maintenance department. This includes machines and equipment required to produce the items the organization sells. Fleet vehicles and buildings and property of the organization all fall under the umbrella of maintenance management.
Value to Organization Facility management adds value to the organization by restoring and maintaining a comfortable and functional work environment for all employees. It keeps the building looking presentable for clients and customers, reduces the cost of maintenance, and protects the organization from liability. Maintenance management adds value to the organization because production cannot run smoothly unless the assets needed to produce products run smoothly. Maintenance supports an organization because it solves problems to keep operations going so the company can continue making profits.
Spare Parts Inventory Facility management may have a higher volume of products in their inventory because they receive many requests for work, but the types of products will be less varied than in maintenance management. Maintenance management has mostly MRO items in their inventory including critical spares and preventive maintenance items such as filters, belts, and light bulbs.

What is Maintenance Management?

Maintenance management is defined as an orderly process to control the maintenance resources and activities required to preserve assets at or repair them to an acceptable working order. Maintenance management involves keeping production assets running smoothly and efficiently in an organization. Maintenance management encompasses asset management and facility management; however, some facility management tasks are performed independently of maintenance management.

What is Facility Management?

Facility management, also called facilities management (FM), is the coordination of physical workplaces (facilities), people, and support services in order to support a business’s goals in the most cost effective way possible. It adds value to any organization by addressing immediate and long-term needs. Tasks that are part of facility management can reduce the costs of maintenance, protect the organization from liability, and ensure the safety of employees.

Read More: What is Facility Management?

Oftentimes, people lump maintenance management in with facility management even though they operate separately for the most part in an organization. Maintenance management is a large grouping of work types that includes facilities management and fleet management in addition to maintaining production assets.

Maintenance technicians are more highly skilled than facility management personnel. The spare parts inventory is different for maintenance management and facility management. Maintenance has MRO inventory items such as critical spares, filters, tools, and lubricants. It takes more specific skills to repair production assets, which is why skilled maintenance technicians are assigned to this work.

Facility management has a wide range of items in inventory to be prepared for any type of facility maintenance job. Any facility work that the maintenance department does not handle is part of facility management, which may be done in-house or outsourced to a third party. That includes painting walls, installing flooring, and fixing lighting—those tasks can be learned on the job. Facility management focuses on the facility as a whole, including the building’s structure, landscaping, and energy efficiency.

What a Facility Manager Does

A facility manager has a range of responsibilities. Some of them include keeping the organization’s facility up to date on rules and regulations that apply to building codes. They occasionally have to crunch data and pull reports to inform executives about potential gains and losses. Facility management has their own budget to manage and they often draft reports to present data.

Facility plans are created proactively, and some facility managers advise others in the organization about the overall direction they should take. Facility management also includes some operation management, procurement, safety and security, transportation services when applicable, and some logistics services.

Scope of Facility Management

The scope of facility management varies depending on the industry the organization is in. There are “hard” and “soft” facility management services. Hard services include any management or maintenance of the physical aspects of the building, which are essential for the organization and usually required by law. Soft facility management services are activities and planning that includes the employees, customers, or tenants and performed to make them and the facilities more comfortable and secure.

Generally, facility management includes the maintenance of HVAC systems, office equipment (if applicable), plumbing, electrical systems, lighting, fire safety systems, and elevators. It also includes taking care of the infrastructure, including painting, drywall, windows, doors, locks,  and roofing, along with landscaping, grounds maintenance, and snow removal.

The primary focus with facility management is keeping operations at an acceptable level to facilitate the daily workflow for all related departments. Another facet of facility management is to ensure the organization is compliant with OSHA and Safe Quality Foods (SQF) (when applicable). Facility management personnel leverage security for the building, assets, and company policies. Facility management has an impact on the bottom line because it impacts operational efficiencies. It also supports productivity of the facility while mitigating environmental risks and promoting sustainability.

What Maintenance Managers Do

There are a lot of activities involved in maintenance management. Maintenance managers schedule and assign maintenance work. This is done most efficiently using CMMS software. They oversee maintenance technicians to ensure asset maintenance is done in a timely manner with high quality results. Maintenance managers order MRO inventory parts and make hiring decisions.

Maintenance management activities contribute to organizations in multiple ways. Maintenance personnel resolve unexpected issues that arise in daily operations. They perform regular inspections of machine assets that are required to run for production. There are regulations that the maintenance department has to follow that have a positive impact on the organization.

Scope of Maintenance Management

The scope of maintenance management can vary with different industries and organizations, but in general, it involves performing some level of preventive maintenance, along with corrective and emergency maintenance. These types of maintenance include repairing machine assets and equipment as breakdowns or emergencies occur, inspections, and replacing parts before breakdowns occur. Finally, the maintenance department logs maintenance activities in CMMS software using work orders to create historical maintenance records.

How CMMS Helps with Facility Management and Maintenance

While CMMS is used for maintenance management, it can also help to support facility management activities. Facility managers can schedule and track any type of facility management activity. The schedule and workload can be adjusted based on the size of the facility management department, how many resources are available, and any incoming facility management requests.

CMMS software can help to ensure maintenance and facilities management has the spare parts they need to perform their work. Multiple inventory vendors and contractors can be managed in CMMS software—their contact information and pricing is stored in the system. Maintenance and facility management expenses can be tracked accurately using CMMS software. That information is used to create recurring reports that compare any combination of metrics. This information is used to set and monitor various key performance indicators (KPIs), then set goals for continuous improvement.

Keep Track of Facility Management Activities with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select allows you to track maintenance data on equipment and facility assets. Featuring powerful work order management, asset management, and inventory management functionality, FTMaintenance Select is the perfect tool for tracking, documenting, and managing maintenance activities. Schedule a demo to learn more about how FTMaintenance Select can meet all your facility management and maintenance management needs.

 

How to Choose an MRO Inventory Vendor

Maintenance worker checking MRO inventory on shelf and using tablet to look up vendor contact info.

Choosing the right Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) inventory vendors, for both goods suppliers and MRO inventory services, is important for maintenance departments when it comes to managing their inventories. MRO inventory is spare parts, supplies, and tools that are required to perform routine maintenance in an organization. Partnering with a reliable vendor ensures maintenance organizations have the parts they need, when they need them, and at the right price.

Asking suppliers the right questions, knowing the do’s and don’ts of selecting vendors, and knowing how to maintain a good vendor relationship will ensure success with managing MRO inventory.

Ask Suppliers the Right Questions

Asking the right questions will help organizations choose the right MRO inventory supply vendors. The answers that are given can qualify or disqualify vendors from the selection process. There may be some things that aren’t a deal breaker, but are important to know when working with a vendor. These questions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • What discounts are offered when a large volume of items is purchased?
  • Do you offer same day delivery?
  • Do you have a wide breadth of products?
  • What are the terms of your contracts?
  • What are your supply chain’s quality assurance policies?
  • Do you offer delivery and product quality guarantees?

Establishing a good partnership with a vendor is essential for smoothly managing MRO inventory. A bad relationship with a vendor, which occurs when the wrong vendor was chosen, can result in parts being delivered late or parts not being expedited when they needed to be. The quality of the products may be lower than what an organization is used to, or it may not meet their needs or standards. If a smaller vendor works with a large organization, they may become overwhelmed and provide poor service as a result.

MRO Vendor Selection Do’s and Don’ts

With that said, in addition to the questions asked above, there are some MRO supplies and services vendor selection do’s and don’ts that will ensure organizations find vendors that are a good fit for them.

Vendor Selection Do’s

Define Existing Problems

The organization should define any existing problems with MRO inventory and set goals to eliminate them. Depending on what the problems are, the vendors may help to solve them, or the problem may need to be worked out independently from working with the vendor. These goals will vary greatly with each organization.

Agree on Clear KPIs

The first thing organizations should do is agree on clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that have benefits for both the vendor and the organization, which may vary depending on if the vendor is a goods or service provider. On-time delivery, inventory reduction, and stock item fill rate (for a goods provider) are just a few examples that will make the most important items available at all times while keeping costs low. Other KPIs that may prove valuable to track include supply on hand (how many days of inventory are on hand) and which products currently have stock outs.

Make Sure Stakeholders are in Agreement

The next thing organizations should do when choosing an MRO inventory vendor is make sure all key stakeholders are in agreement that change in MRO inventory management is needed and will happen. Time should be allotted to get the changes put into effect.

Review Agreements Annually

If there is a vendor the organization is already working with, the maintenance department should review the agreement to determine if any changes need to be made or if they should find a new vendor rather than renew the agreement.

Vendor Selection Don’ts

There are also things an organization should NOT do when they select a vendor.

Don’t Base Decision on Price Alone

First, they shouldn’t choose a supplies vendor solely based on who has the lowest prices. The amount of money that could be saved through more reliable operations due to higher quality parts, resulting in less time spent on labor, should also be considered.

Don’t Limit to Large Distributors

Vendor options should not be limited to large distributors. Smaller vendors, especially if they are local, can have a quicker turnaround time for orders. If a part is needed right away and the vendor is local, a maintenance employee can pick up the part the same day, no shipping fees or wait time required.

Don’t Assume Who is on Board

Lastly, don’t make assumptions about who is on board with the potential MRO supplies or services vendor choices and changes in inventory management. Communication is key and the maintenance team should make sure everyone involved is on the same page.

Maintaining an Ongoing MRO Inventory Vendor Relationship

For organizations that manage their own inventory, when it comes to MRO procurement, there are numerous things an organization should do to maintain the relationships with their MRO inventory vendors.

Learn Where to Source Items Economically

Learning where to source MRO items economically is important for building multiple vendor relationships based on the types of supplies an organization needs. Some large suppliers may have just about everything while specialized suppliers will have the highest quality brands of select items that are more specific or harder to find.

Negotiate Costs Annually

Costs should be negotiated annually. If it makes fiscal sense, MRO suppliers might need to be consolidated to keep costs down. Saving just a small amount of money in the budget can improve the organization’s bottom line overall. Vendors may have fixed pricing and stick to the same or higher prices year to year. However, they may offer certain discounts or deals for long-term customers, which help to maintain a good professional relationship between the organization and vendor. It is worthwhile to evaluate MRO inventory costs each year to see where the organization can save money.

Ensure Clean Data Management

Clean data is an important part of successful MRO inventory management. While the vendor is not always involved with the management of the organization’s data, having clean data will be beneficial for both parties. When the organization’s maintenance team knows their data is accurate, it will ensure that they place orders on time for the appropriate amounts and keep track of vendor contact information to communicate with them as needed.

If necessary, the maintenance team can request inventory items to be expedited in an emergency maintenance situation. However, keeping accurate data helps to avoid the need to expedite products, which lessens pressure on busy vendors to get these orders out. Most of the time, the maintenance team will be able to give vendors more notice for their order deadlines.

When the starting point of MRO inventory management is measured through data, it can be monitored and processes can be modified for continuous improvement. Redundancies are eliminated and productivity increases.

Improve Upon Min/Max or Over/Under Approach

By analyzing data, specialized systems used by MRO providers can help to improve upon the minimum/maximum or over/under approach. The minimum/maximum approach is a method that strives to keep the current inventory on hand within a specific range, in which system users set a minimum stock level. Reorders are placed to reach the maximum stocking level of each item when needed. The over/under approach is similar—the maintenance team does not allow the stock of inventory items to go under a certain amount, and for cost savings  they do not want over a certain amount of an item in stock.

Looking at data helps to recognize patterns and plan for each part and process involved in the MRO product exchange process. Maintenance departments can discuss these strategies with their vendors to ensure they are on the same page. An experienced MRO vendor should have technology in place specifically to support their processes with their clients and provide optimal benefits to them.

Forecast Demand

Another way an organization can ensure they have a good relationship with their MRO inventory vendor is to accurately forecast demand to determine adequate MRO procurement. They should look at how inventory is used throughout each season and adjust purchasing to accommodate seasonal changes. This strategy will minimize the cost of carrying inventory and ensure products stay up to date.  By communicating these frequent changes to vendors, it will ensure they stay in the loop so they are better prepared to accommodate smaller, less frequent or, larger, more frequent orders.

Read More: What is MRO Inventory Control?

Benefits of a Good MRO Vendor Relationship

Of course, there are several benefits to having a good relationship with MRO vendors or else there wouldn’t be a need to spend much time developing these relationships.

Smoother Operations with Less Downtime

An MRO supplier that provides good service can mean the difference between a lot of downtime and smooth operations. If a vendor has a lot of delayed deliveries, has products that are often out of stock, or ships products that arrive damaged, that can leave maintenance teams scrambling to find parts when a machine is down and waiting to be fixed. However, having vendors that get organizations good quality products on time will lead to smoother operations for production and the maintenance team.

Single Supplier with Multiple Locations

Rather than choosing a different local supplier for each plant location an organization has, if there’s a single vendor with multiple locations near all of the organization’s plant locations, could result in more consistent service. Having fewer vendors is also easier for accounting purposes and helps to keep costs down.

Helps Streamline Inventory Based on Criticality

Another benefit of a good MRO inventory vendor relationship is that it helps streamline inventory based on criticality. A professional vendor will come to know what items are critical for the organization and which are non-critical. Non-critical items can be delivered on an as-needed basis while critical items should be stored in the organization’s stockroom in specified quantities.

More Consistent Pricing

When organizations have only a few vendors per MRO product type, it ensures consistent pricing for the organization and uniform product use with a standardized purpose. Maintenance personnel don’t have to look up as much information when checking inventory and placing orders because they can remember what the pricing of specific products are from using only a handful of vendors.

Product Expertise and Technical Support

Some MRO inventory vendors have stronger product expertise and technical support resources than others. Organizations should determine if the vendor they are considering can provide the level of support that is needed. Some maintenance departments handle changes in the industries for each product themselves and others appreciate vendors who update them when changes in pricing, brands, and product design occur.

Using CMMS Software to Track MRO Inventory

Once the best MRO inventory vendors have been selected, computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can be used to track the inventory items. The inventory management capabilities help the maintenance team to quickly identify where items are located, what their quantities are, and the last prices that were paid for each product. Inventory can be tracked beyond the current cost.

CMMS software can automatically update inventory counts when items are used or shipments arrive. Vendor contact information can be stored to easily place orders or contact them as needed. Local vendors can also be identified to expedite orders when needed.

Keep Track of MRO Inventory Vendors with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select has the inventory management capabilities you’re looking for in CMMS software. Request a demo of FTMaintenance Select today to learn more.

How a CMMS Improves Maintenance Budgeting

 

Paper spreadsheet, tablet, and graphs representing maintenance budgeting and financial analysis

Budgeting is a critical management activity that ensures organizations have the resources needed to do business. Unlike other departments whose expenses are fairly predictable, the variability of maintenance needs make it difficult to determine how much to budget for maintenance – that is, without the right system in place. Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software not only tracks maintenance activities, but maintenance expenses as well.

How a CMMS Improves Maintenance Budgeting

Listed below are multiple ways in which a CMMS helps you improve maintenance budgeting.

Tracking Historical Corrective Maintenance (CM) Part Costs

The unplanned nature of asset failure makes corrective maintenance (CM) part costs difficult to predict from year to year. Tracking corrective maintenance in a CMMS provides you with a basis of historical data from which to estimate future part costs.

Maintenance organizations incur part costs whenever repair parts are not in stock and must be purchased, or when replenishing stocked parts. However, it is not necessarily appropriate to “add a little” to the previous year’s budget, as many organizations do. Critical failures with especially large part expenses should be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine the root cause of the failure, whether the failure can be prevented or mitigated, and the likelihood of recurrence.

Further reading: What is a Failure Code?

Analyzing corrective maintenance work order history in a CMMS provides context to why part costs were high or low in a given timeframe. If enough historical data is available, you may average multiple years-worth of data in order to come up with a baseline CM part cost estimate. Then, adjust the maintenance budget accordingly.

Forecasting Preventive Maintenance (PM) Costs

Costs related to preventive maintenance (PM) are easier to predict because they are planned. CMMS software stores cost data related to what tasks need to be done, what parts are required, and who will perform the work. Scheduling maintenance activities in a CMMS, whether based on runtime or date-based frequencies, helps organizations forecast the costs of future planned maintenance. Some CMMS solutions also track contracted preventive maintenance services like HVAC maintenance.

CMMS software can also be used to anticipate future preventive maintenance demands. For example, if your organization plans to purchase and install new assets, you can set up PM schedules ahead of time and factor their costs into the maintenance budget. Additionally, maintenance management reports can identify assets that are under or over maintained and adjust the preventive maintenance budget forecast accordingly.

Evaluating Staffing Levels

The number of employees needed to carry out high-quality maintenance depends on the workload. CMMS software provides insights into your maintenance history, including the amount of corrective maintenance vs. preventive maintenance, the amount of labor hours spent on maintenance, whether work is being completed on time, and the size of the work order backlog. You can then use this data to justify staffing levels.

Changes to the maintenance strategy may also prompt a need for additional staff. If your organization seeks to improve asset reliability, preventive maintenance work may need to increase, possibly requiring additional staff. Organizations getting started with failure analysis, such as Root Cause Analysis (RCA), need to dedicate resources to investigating asset failures.

Justifying Asset Replacement

Maintenance teams use many assets to execute maintenance work including vehicles, dedicated tools, or specialized equipment. At some point, these assets reach a point where they become too costly to repair. Tracking maintenance assets in a CMMS enables you to compare the cost of repair versus replacement.

Tracking the Maintenance Budget

CMMS software not only provides that data from which to build a maintenance budget, it also helps you track your performance against budget goals throughout the year. As you complete work orders, maintenance costs are automatically attributed to cost centers, ensuring that costs are attributed to the correct budget account.

Depending on the system, you can set budget goals by month, fiscal year, or other accounting period. Maintenance reports, dashboards, and data views help you visualize how closely you are meeting your budget goals and allow you to adjust accordingly.

Track Maintenance Expenses with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select provides a single platform for tracking maintenance activities and costs, allowing you to make better decisions about your maintenance budget and resources. Request a demo today to learn more.

5 Labor KPIs for Measuring Maintenance Team Performance

Maintenance worker checking pressure of a pipe and being tracked by productivity KPIs

Labor performance tracking keeps employees accountable for completing assigned maintenance work in an efficient way. Organizations must have methods to measure the productivity and efficiency of their staff. This article discusses several labor performance metrics that you can use to track your maintenance team’s performance.

This article is part of a maintenance management metrics KPIs series. Read our other KPI articles:

Maintenance Employee Performance KPI Examples

Every maintenance team is comprised of a unique set of individuals, with varying levels of experience and skill. The employee performance metrics you track depends on the business goals of your organization.

The following productivity metrics represent common key performance indicators (KPIs) tracked by maintenance departments. Note that many of these KPIs rely on the availability of accurate time tracking data, such as that stored in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Average Service Request Response Time

Average Service Request Response Time formula

Average Service Request Response Time is the average amount of time it takes to respond to work requested via a service request. This metric measures how quickly the maintenance team responds to service requests, starting when the request is submitted up until work towards solving the issue begins.

To calculate the average service request response time, take the sum of the response time—the total elapsed time between the service request times and their related work order start times and divide it by the number of service requests submitted in the reporting timeframe.

Keep in mind what unit of time is used for the response time. Converting the output of this calculation from hours to minutes or minutes to hours requires an additional step. Convert values in hours to minutes by multiplying by 60; divide values in minutes by 60 to express in hours.

How to Interpret Average Service Request Response Time

A low (short) response time means the maintenance team responds to requests quickly. However, shorter response times should be viewed in context of the types of repairs requested. Employees are more likely to contact maintenance personnel directly for urgent issues, rather than submitting service requests.

A high (long) service request response time can mean there is a backlog of requests that are getting pushed to the backburner. However, a backlog may not be unusual because requests have to be balanced with other important maintenance work. Long response times may also indicate that requests are submitted with incomplete information. Work request management software, like a CMMS, standardizes the information required to submit requests.

Note that multiple factors come into play when analyzing average service request response time. Some organizations immediately turn all service requests into work orders. Others assign personnel to review incoming requests and prioritize them accordingly. At times, more information must be gathered before work can begin.

These factors greatly impact how quickly the maintenance team responds, thereby affecting the average response time. When analyzing response time, you may wish to select a subset of service requests that are similar in priority or complexity.

Average Task Completion Time

Average Task Completion Time formula

Average Task Completion Time measures the average amount of time it takes to complete a maintenance task. It estimates how long it takes to complete a specific maintenance and is used by maintenance managers to improve resource planning and maintenance scheduling.

To calculate the average task completion time, divide the total time required to complete the task by the number of times the task was performed during the reporting timeframe.

How to Interpret Average Task Completion Time

The average task completion time primarily applies to planned maintenance activities, where a baseline completion time is known. Owner’s manuals typically include these time estimates. Therefore, a good starting point is to compare your measured task completion time to the values provided by the asset’s manufacturer.

High or rising average task completion times mean tasks take longer to complete than expected. A logical next step is to compare task completion times between employees to determine whether the issue lies with a particular person or team. It could be possible that task instructions are not clear and misunderstood, or that additional training is needed.

Average task completion times that are close to the benchmark value provided in maintenance documentation are ideal. It means technicians are skilled and informed enough to complete maintenance work in a timely manner. Still, expect some variance in completion time, within reason.

Low or falling task completion times mean that tasks are completed quickly. Though preventive maintenance work tends to be less complex and, therefore takes less time, it is normal to scrutinize suspiciously low values. It may be an indication that technicians are rushing through work, skipping steps, cutting corners, or underreporting their work time in an attempt to look more productive.

Work Order Performance

Work Order Performance formula

Work Order Performance tracks how many work orders are completed by their due date. This metric determines the percentage of work orders completed on time.

To calculate work order performance, divide the number of work orders completed by their due date by the number of completed work orders in the reporting timeframe, and then multiply by 100 to express the value as a percentage.

How to Interpret Work Order Performance

Like average task completion time, work order performance best applies to planned maintenance work. Unplanned corrective maintenance (CM) and emergency maintenance is addressed immediately.

When it comes to work order performance, the higher the number, the better. A high value means technicians are consistently able to complete work orders on time and is a sign of high productivity.

A low value means work orders are being completed late. In this case, maintenance managers should look for patterns in which technicians have been assigned to the late work orders. If it is one particular employee or group of employees, that may be the root of the issue.

However, employees are not always at fault. Management may underestimate the amount of time needed to complete tasks or set unrealistic deadlines for work orders. Other possible causes of late work orders include:

  • Understaffed maintenance teams
  • Stockout occurrences that delay maintenance work
  • Lack of equipment availability to maintenance
  • The need to complete unexpected or higher priority maintenance work

Wrench Time

Wrench Time formula

Wrench Time measures the percentage of time a maintenance technician spends manually performing maintenance work. It does not include time spent traveling to the asset, retrieving inventory parts from the stock room, reviewing maintenance history, and other tasks that don’t involve physically repairing an asset.

To calculate wrench time, divide wrench hours by total working hours, then multiply by 100 to find the value as a percentage.

Be aware that tracking true wrench hours requires granular, consistent, and accurate time tracking. We also recognize that there are many methods of measuring wrench hours, each with varying amounts of accuracy. Therefore, wrench time remains a controversial metric in the maintenance industry. The decision whether to use wrench time as a KPI is up to your organization.

How to Interpret Wrench Time

Wrench time can be tricky to interpret, even deceiving. Remember that the time physically performing work represents a small portion of someone’s day. To add a bit of context, experts estimate that world class wrench time is 55%. In reality, the average wrench time for most organizations is between 25%-35%. For the purposes of this discussion, high or low wrench time means that wrench times are outside of this range.

Low wrench time means that technicians are spending too much time doing something besides performing maintenance. However, low wrench time does not necessarily mean that time is being wasted. As mentioned earlier, retrieving items from a stockroom or troubleshooting a breakdown is within the scope of a technician’s work but doesn’t involve physically repairing an asset. Other causes of low wrench time include:

  • Technicians not performing up to their true potential
  • Poor maintenance planning and scheduling
  • Asset not being available for planned maintenance
  • Unexpected emergency maintenance events
  • Waiting for parts and tools
  • Inaccurate time tracking

If a technician’s wrench time is consistently low, review the jobs that have the lowest scores and try to identify the underlying problems.

High wrench time is generally positive. However, wrench time that seems too good to be true can be cause for concern as well. Depending on how wrench hours are recorded, numbers can easily be inflated so as to make an employee appear more productive than they actually are.

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)

Mean Time to Repair formula

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is the average time it takes to repair an asset. Unlike wrench time, MTTR accounts for the total time a technician is actively working on solving the issue, including travel time to the asset, troubleshooting, performing the repair, and testing the solution. Though MTTR is typically used as an asset management KPI, it is impacted by the efficiency and effectiveness of labor resources.

To calculate MTTR, divide the sum of repair time (usually in hours) by the number of repairs in the reporting timeframe. Note that MTTR is calculated per asset or asset class.

How to Interpret Mean Time to Repair

Interpreting MTTR can be tricky because the number will rise and fall based on the types of repairs that were done during the time period. Therefore, it is best practice to calculate MTTR by the type of repair performed on an asset or asset class.

An MTTR value that trends higher over time means that assets are taking longer to repair. One possible cause for this trend is labor performance. Start by identifying who performs repairs on the asset and, using other maintenance productivity KPIs, determine if the cause is employee related. For example, a particular technician may not have the correct skills for making the repair.

It is important to look at low MTTR in context with other information about your assets and maintenance process. For example, aging assets are more difficult to repair than new ones. Unavailable parts cause long delays in maintenance work. Previously neglected preventive maintenance work leads to more critical, complex, and lengthy repairs.

MTTR values that trend lower over time mean that your maintenance process is optimized for speedy repairs. In terms of labor, low MTTR means that technicians are quick to respond to maintenance issues, well-trained, able to troubleshoot efficiently, and are not wasting time.

Track Employee Productivity and Maintenance Performance with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select is a powerful CMMS platform that empowers your team to stay productive by providing them with access to critical asset and maintenance information. Maintenance reports provide insight into your day-to-day maintenance operations and allow you to keep technicians accountable for how their time is spent. Request a demo today to learn more.

The Anatomy of a Maintenance Request

Keyboard with a blue Service key to represent maintenance Service Requests.

When a maintenance issue occurs, it needs to be reported, and service to correct the problem requested. In this blog post, we’ll examine what a maintenance request is, the goals for maintenance requests, what to include in a maintenance request, and how maintenance requests become work orders. We’ll also cover how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can be used to manage maintenance requests.

What is a Maintenance Request?

A maintenance request is a formal request for a repair to be made or problem to be fixed, ranging in severity from urgent to low priority, that is submitted by a party outside of the maintenance department. Maintenance requests bring attention to an issue that may be preventing a machine from working or a building from functioning properly. Other terms that may be used in place of maintenance request include work request, service request, maintenance service request, or maintenance ticket.

What are the Goals for Maintenance Requests?

While organizations may have several goals for using maintenance requests, there are a few that are most common.

For the Maintenance Team

The main goal of using maintenance requests for the maintenance team is to standardize the way they receive request information. They want to receive requests in a single channel with enough details to effectively describe the problem so that they can gather the tools and information they need to complete the work. Another goal for the maintenance team is to gain visibility of maintenance needs that go unnoticed through regular maintenance work. Maintenance workers cannot be everywhere at all times, so it’s important for others to report issues as well as workers notice them.

For Requesters

For maintenance requesters, the goal of using maintenance requests is to ensure their maintenance-related needs are taken care of in an organized and efficient manner.

Who Usually Submits Maintenance Requests?

While anyone in the organization can submit maintenance requests, some roles do so more than others.

Machine Operators

A machine operator might find an abnormality during a routine inspection or normal operations and inform the maintenance team through a maintenance request. They are likely concerned that the issue will damage the machine or interrupt their work. On the other hand, the machine may be malfunctioning already and they need a repair to be made before they can continue to use the machine.

Employees from other Departments

In addition to machine operators, employees from other departments might report maintenance issues through maintenance requests if they impact their workspace or job function. For example, a broken garage door would affect shipping and receiving duties and a maintenance technician might be responsible for fixing or replacing it. Other examples include a plumbing problem in the restroom, a warped doorframe, or overgrown weeds on the property.

Tenants

In the property management industry, tenants can submit maintenance requests for work they need done at their apartment, condo, or business unit. These requests typically have a longer turnaround time because there is not usually a dedicated maintenance team to handle these tasks. In other words, the same team that deep cleans a unit for new renters or completes renovations may also respond to maintenance requests.

In some property management companies, maintenance work is outsourced to a contracted company. However, if the company is large enough, they will have their own on-site maintenance team. There may also be an emergency maintenance hotline.

Partner Facilities

While this is less common, in some instances, partner companies will submit service requests to the organization’s maintenance team. These partners are schools and offices who use outsourced maintenance vendors to complete maintenance jobs. They will call these vendors when they have a problem or task that requires maintenance expertise.

What to Include on a Maintenance Request Form

Submitting a maintenance request won’t do much good unless complete and accurate information is included on the form.

Description of Problem

The most important detail on a maintenance request form is, of course, a thorough description of the problem. The easiest way to submit a problem description, along with other information needed in a maintenance request, is through a request system that is part of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. There are usually several lines or a large field available to describe the problem. There is often the option to add a photo of the asset part or other problem as a visual aid. If applicable, the requester can provide their opinion about what is causing the problem and a suggestion for a solution, but that isn’t necessary.

If the maintenance team finds that poor problem descriptions are being submitted, they can provide guidelines for what details to include, or create fields on the form that are required. Having an adequate problem description enables the maintenance team to act promptly and spend less time troubleshooting.

Requester Name

This seems obvious, but it’s important for the requester to include their name on the maintenance request form so that maintenance staff can go to the requester for additional information, or to provide them with instructions on what to do until the problem is fixed. It will also ensure that the right person receives updates on the maintenance task. The requester becomes the contact person for that particular maintenance request.

Date and Time of Request

The date and time the request is made should be included because it will help the maintenance team prioritize tasks that are of the same level of importance or severity but were requested at different times. It also helps them ensure the task is completed within the department’s acceptable turnaround time.

Location of Asset

It’s important that technicians know the exact location of an asset that requires the maintenance specified in the request. That includes the location within the facility and if known by the requester, the specific area or part on the machine that is causing the problem. Many times, this information can be selected from a drop down list so that the location is described in a universal way.

Read More: Maintenance Request Management Best Practices

How a Maintenance Request Becomes a Work Order

Most requests do get approved and become work orders as long as they meet certain requirements. In short:

  1. The requester fills out and submits the form.
  2. Maintenance gets notified of the request and the person assigned to reviewing requests reads the information.
  3. They make a decision about whether or not to approve the request and turn it into a work order.
  4. If the request is approved, it gets prioritized as emergency, high, medium, or low priority.
  5. Then the requester is notified that the request is approved.

With CMMS software, the work order is often created automatically upon approval.

When a Request May Not Become a Work Order

A useful maintenance request will contain information that is complete and accurate. Otherwise, the maintenance team might reject it or ask for it to be resubmitted with more information. For example, requesters should be able to identify the location of the asset and the problem. In some cases, they might be rejected due to missing documentation.

For example, if a machine operator wants the safety guards to be changed, that requires an approved engineering change order first. The problem must be described accurately, and the location of the problem must be included. It also depends on whether or not the work requested is within the scope of maintenance. Some requests might be outside the scope of the maintenance department, for example, janitorial work.

There must be resources available in the maintenance budget to accommodate the work that is requested. Oftentimes, the work does fit within the budget, but if the request entails something unimportant such as repainting an office wall, or it requires expensive parts and extensive labor, it might not be doable at the time. Some jobs might require a specific technician’s expertise, or parts and tools that aren’t in stock. In this instance, the request may be put on hold until the appropriate technician is available or the parts come in.

Finally, the priority of the problem that is described in the request will determine whether or not it gets approved. Approved requests are prioritized already, but if something is not important and the maintenance team is already busy, the request may get denied at that time.

How to Effectively Manage Maintenance Requests

Ensure Problem is Described in Full

As mentioned earlier, it is important to ensure the problem is described in full. Having required fields on the maintenance request form may help to do this. Anyone that submits maintenance requests should know what information is necessary to fully describe the problem: the location of the asset, the equipment number (when applicable), and if known, an accurate explanation of the affected parts (blower motor for example) as well as what is occurring (making a loud humming noise, won’t start).

Establish Guidelines for Submitting Requests

There should be established guidelines for submitting requests. In some instances, requesters might be making a request that requires approval before submission.

Make Work Request System and Process Simple

It is essential that the work request system and process is simple. Prioritization guidelines should be set because the maintenance department receives many requests at once from different locations. The method for prioritizing requests should be based on predetermined criteria.

Implement a Maintenance Request System

Having a standardized system for requesting maintenance work is one of the most important ways to deal with asset repairs efficiently (aside from keeping up with preventive maintenance to help avoid unexpected asset failures and downtime). The maintenance department needs to specify who can submit requests, which may include the roles we mentioned earlier, as well as individuals that are specific to the industry or organization. There should be designated personnel in the maintenance department responsible for reviewing and approving requests.

Maintenance Request Management Software

For organizations that are struggling with managing maintenance requests, software such as a CMMS can help. This will give them a good place to start when it comes to getting their maintenance request queue under control. It prevents requests from getting lost or forgotten.

For organizations that already have a maintenance request system but they want to use it more effectively, they need to remember that it saves them time because they don’t have to manually enter in these work orders. It also saves time on follow up for requesters because they will be notified about the job status. This also saves time on documentation. Instead of having to manually document work that is requested verbally, it is already done on the request form. Status updates are also handled through the software rather than manually on spreadsheets or paper.

If an organization is using their maintenance request system but need to improve the management of their service requests, they should focus on the minimum requirements first, making the system more approachable and easier for requesters. It doesn’t require much training, but requesters need to know how to use the form, so a simple instruction sheet can be helpful. The maintenance team needs to get the employees to make more requests so they can get a better idea of what tasks are being overlooked, what is being requested consistently, and what requested work may be past due.

Most maintenance request systems have useful features such as alerts about when requests are submitted and reporting capabilities. Reports may include information such as the number of requests submitted, the percentage of requests completed on time, and which requests were closed without completion.

Organize Your Maintenance Requests with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select offers superior maintenance request management functionality. Requests can be issued from a web browser, mobile device, or desktop application and automatically generate work orders. Schedule a demo today to learn more about what makes FTMaintenance Select the best software for organizing your maintenance requests.

What is Mean Time to Repair?

Maintenance technician using an asset that cuts sheet metal, one of the machines that will be included in Mean Time to Repair calculations.

Maintenance teams are commonly judged on how quickly they respond to asset failures. Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is an important asset management metric used to help maintenance teams improve recovery times. This blog post shows you how to you calculate MTTR and how you can use it to improve your maintenance process.

What is Mean Time to Repair?

Defining mean time to repair (MTTR) is the first step in knowing how to use it. Mean Time to Repair is a maintenance metric that measures the average time required to repair an asset, from the moment an incident occurs until it is returned to service. It refers to the amount of wrench time that it takes to fix a problem. MTTR also demonstrates how quickly an organization responds when an unexpected breakdown occurs. This metric can bring visibility to problems with the maintenance process as it relates to making repairs.

The Benefits and Importance of Mean Time to Repair

There are several reasons that determining Mean Time to Repair is important, as well as benefits of doing so.

Discover Areas that Impact Downtime

Over time, comparing MTTR values helps maintenance teams assess whether there are issues with the asset, maintenance tasks, parts, staffing, scheduling, and/or employees. By making improvements in these areas, downtime can then be reduced. Responding to and resolving issues with assets quickly leads to more efficient production, which helps to retain customers and gain new ones.

Helps Evaluate Asset Performance

Mean Time to Repair provides a benchmark for maintenance managers to evaluate asset performance. It can also be used to identify assets that are candidates for replacement. Reports that display MTTR and related information can show how an asset is performing compared to similar assets. If one is performing significantly worse than others, the maintenance team can show there is cause for replacement.

Identifies Asset Outliers

One of the most important benefits is that Mean Time to Repair identifies asset repair outliers, assets that are significantly underperforming and the MTTR for them is high. Keep in mind that any number near the average of MTTR is not very helpful. It may be easier to determine outliers when more assets are being compared. If a few machines out of each similar group have a high MTTR, there is likely an underlying reason for it.

If an organization has many of the same kinds of assets, all assets of that type can be compared to see which of them have a high MTTR. Location and use of the machines matter as well, so the maintenance team needs to conduct a thorough analysis to find out why each of these machines’ MTTR is different.

Some questions to ask include, do these machines get misused by inexperienced technicians? Are some machines running beyond their rated capacity? It serves as a starting point to ask other subsequent questions, dig into the history of each asset, and examine what the causes of each asset failure were. If trying other ways to lower MTTR were unsuccessful, maintenance departments can question whether or not the assets need to be replaced.

Helps Shape Future Asset Buying Decisions

The results of calculating MTTR helps shape future asset buying decisions. They may get feedback from technicians as well since they are the ones doing the maintenance work. It’s worthwhile to ask if it is a make and model issue. If so, they can choose not to buy that same machine again. When an asset is brand new, it is will have an MTTR outlier, but it will usually be low, not high, so that number is not especially useful. But over the course of the asset’s lifecycle, looking for trends from a make and model perspective will help to identify outliers on the high end.

Who Uses Mean Time to Repair Information?

The information gathered from calculating mean time to repair is valuable to many people in an organization. It is especially relevant for maintenance managers, maintenance technicians, and production supervisors.

Maintenance Managers

Maintenance managers use MTTR to examine the maintenance jobs on certain machines that are taking the longest to complete and if there are ways to shorten the timeframe of these jobs. This can include a variety of assets and wrench times, but the key is finding outliers. If it’s determined that the MTTR is longer than desirable because of assets that are in poor condition, they may use that information to show upper management that the asset should be replaced.

Maintenance Technicians

Maintenance technicians may use MTTR to (informally) evaluate their own performance. It will help them reflect on what to improve that is in their control and what is out of their control. It allows them to see patterns in repairs that take longer or shorter periods of time. In some cases, it may help them to present a case for hiring more technicians. As a team, maintenance technicians can use MTTR information to set maintenance goals.

Production Supervisor

While the production manager or supervisor is not directly involved in the factors MTTR covers, they may be impacted by its results. If they are aware of the current state of MTTR on multiple types of repairs on specific assets, it can help them to understand that while there is an average downtime number on each type of machine, downtime overall will vary greatly depending on which asset is down, how major the repair is, and what it will take to fix the problem.

How to Calculate Mean Time to Repair

The Mean Time to Repair formula is shown below. Take the sum of all repair time (for similar repairs on an asset or group of assets) in hours and divide by the number of repairs that occurred within the specified time period.

 

It’s important to note that repair time can be defined as the time from the report of the problem to repair completion, or from the start of the actual repair work to completion. Most of the time, the latent period between when a problem occurs and when it is discovered is also included. Organizations will use one method or the other based on their needs.

The number of repairs is the total number of similar repairs done on the asset that MTTR is being calculated on within the specified time period. This formula gives the average time it takes to complete the repair process.

It’s worth noting that the MTTR calculation assumes that the tasks are performed sequentially (that is, in a standardized way and in the same order every time) and by appropriately trained personnel. Finding an ideal Mean Time to Repair heavily depends on the type of asset and the time required for each repair, which may vary greatly.  Desired timeframes for repairs to be completed must be adjusted for the asset’s complexity and age.

If you are just starting to calculate MTTR and don’t have multiple years worth of data to look back on, you can come up with a number by calculating MTTR for a group of similar assets and apply that number to a specific machine in that group. It may take two or three years to get a true benchmark, whereas initially, only educated guesses can be made. Getting a good number for each repair type on each particular asset or group of similar assets is the goal.

How to Interpret Mean Time to Repair

In order to benefit from the results of calculating mean time to repair, maintenance teams need to know how to interpret them. MTTR can serve as a benchmark for future comparison. Remember that the number will rise and fall over time based on the types of repairs that were done during the time period calculated. The number should be determined for each type of repair in an asset class or individual asset as they will be different. There is no one ideal MTTR number because it depends on the type of asset and type of repair.

Another thing to remember is that initial calculations are a benchmark. MTTR values in subsequent calculations may be higher or lower. A lower number may reflect that an asset is new, since less severe problems occur with newer assets. A lower MTTR number might also mean frequent, short repairs are being made, so it’s not necessarily an indicator of how well repairs are being performed.

If MTTR numbers are higher, that could mean more major repairs were completed during the last calculation period, or it could indicate other issues. It’s important to look into what might be causing an increase in those numbers to determine if those factors can be changed or not.

Calculating Mean Time to Repair should be done at longer intervals rather than shorter ones. For example, if MTTR was calculated for a year’s worth of repairs the first time, the maintenance team should wait at least another full year before calculating MTTR again. However, after the first two years, a smaller timeframe may be appropriate to use to get quicker feedback. Comparing MTTR numbers that are too close together will not give an accurate mean time, or average number when establishing a baseline, but after that point, a long time frame is not as crucial.

An MTTR report can show how an asset is performing relative to similar assets and help to build a case for asset replacement or reflect on maintenance efforts for that asset. Many underlying issues can impact MTTR, so it needs to be determined whether changes are needed to staffing, scheduling, or inventory management.

Ways to Improve Mean Time to Repair

The MTTR metric may also help to improve maintenance scheduling, which in turn will improve MTTR values. Maintenance managers may change the frequency of some preventive maintenance, allow more or less time to complete certain jobs, or make adjustments to which technicians complete which jobs. Other ways to improve Mean Time to Repair include:

  • Provide more in-depth training on asset function and repair techniques for new employees or as a refresher for existing employees.
  • Implement predictive maintenance sensors to alert maintenance departments of problems before they become emergencies, which will result in faster, easier maintenance jobs.
  • Continually update repair procedures and instructions to ensure they are performed in a standardized way.

What are the Limitations of Mean Time to Repair?

As with all maintenance metrics, there are limitations to MTTR. It doesn’t tell you where in the process an error or failure occurred. If MTTR is calculated over too short of a time period, the results will not be accurate. For some assets and types of failure, it takes several months or a year to gather enough data and determine an accurate number. For others assets and failure types, there may be enough data to calculate MTTR after a much shorter time frame.

In many cases, an increase in MTTR can reveal issues and a decrease can indicate improvements. However, it depends on the types of repairs being made. Major repairs take more time and increase MTTR while quick repairs can lower MTTR. Only repairs that are comparable to each other (apples to apples) can be included in the same MTTR calculation. Therefore, multiple MTTR numbers can be calculated for different types of repairs for the same asset. Either way, keeping track of MTTR over time helps maintenance personnel know how they’re performing.

Steps Included in Calculating Repair Time

Now that we’ve covered what Mean Time to Repair is, why it’s important, who uses it, and how to interpret it, next is to learn what tasks are included in the repair time calculation.

Diagnosing the Issue

Once the technician has been notified of the problem, the timeframe for calculating MTTR begins. The technician will come over to the machine and attempt to determine the issue. They may do an inspection, speak to the machine operator to learn more about the problem, and perform diagnostics.

Fixing the Issue

After the cause of the problem has been found, it’s time to fix the issue. Depending on what the repair is, this may be the longest part of the process. The machine is has already broken down, so production downtime has already been occurring. However, the technician will have to shut down the machine fully to begin the maintenance work. The time it takes to actually do the repair is measured closely. Any form of a lockout tagout procedure would also be included here.

Reassembling and Calibrating the Asset

After the machine is repaired, if needed, the machine is reassembled, aligned, and calibrated. If the maintenance work requires any disassembly of the machine, the parts need to be replaced.

Setting Up, Testing, and Starting the Asset Back Up

Lastly, repair time includes setting up the asset for production, testing its operation to ensure the repair fixed the problem, and starting the machine again. When the machine is fully up and running again, the period of Mean Time to Repair ends.

Calculate MTTR with FTMaintenance Select

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software helps maintenance teams easily calculate Mean Time to Repair because all work order information including labor time records and individual repair records are recorded. This creates maintenance history, which stores and displays information about how long repairs took. It also holds data on how many and what type of repairs were done on each asset, what solved each maintenance problem, and information on the condition of each asset.

CMMS software also allows maintenance managers to make adjustments in the maintenance schedule to accommodate unexpected corrective maintenance work. The maintenance reports available in CMMS software help maintenance teams to calculate MTTR accurately.

FTMaintenance Select is a complete maintenance management software solution that can be used to track asset maintenance and repair time, including MTTR, build a maintenance history, track labor hours, and run asset reports. Request a demo today to learn more.

 

 

Asset Management Best Practices

A maintenance technician performing maintenance on a large piece of equipment as part of asset management best practices.

Managing assets efficiently has always been a significant challenge; however, asset management is a necessity for maximizing manufacturing profits. It serves as a cost saving measure to maintain and extend equipment life. Manufacturers rely on these machine assets to produce the products they sell and facility assets to support their manufacturing environments. There comes a point when the cost of maintaining an asset exceeds the cost of replacing it, which is when a new asset should be purchased as part of asset management. Successful asset management is made easier by implementing best practices and with the help of CMMS software.

Importance of Asset Management

Asset management is an important part of maintenance because it keeps assets running smoothly, which leads to efficient production. When assets are adequately tracked and monitored, this ensures equipment is not continually breaking down. Maintenance managers have a lot to juggle and being able to manage assets effectively makes their job easier.

Assets have a finite useful life. The cost of the asset is spread out over the asset’s lifespan and, with maintenance costs, accumulates as the asset depreciates. However, proper asset maintenance ensures the asset’s life is maximized while minimizing maintenance costs. Once an asset is “paid off” through the revenue it generates, revenue brought in by the asset doing its job in production goes towards the organization’s profits.

Managing assets well is also important because it extends the lifespan of expensive, critical assets. It makes the maintenance team’s job easier in the long run because they can more easily predict when major repairs will be needed while emergency maintenance is lessened at the same time.

Maintenance is only one aspect of asset management. While it is the maintenance team’s job to repair assets, perform preventive maintenance (PM), and create a system where maintenance is more planned and predictable, some assets are meant to be run to failure without PM being done on them. Using assets that have already been paid off allows organizations to use money for other capital improvements.

Asset Management Best Practices

Invest in Asset Management Software

One of the best practices that should be applied to asset management is investing in computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software that will support the most critical asset management requirements. A robust CMMS system will provide a central database for supplier information, warranties, site leases and more. It will also have tools to optimize the maintenance workflow.

Automate and Improve Data Collection

One asset management best practice is automating and improving asset data collection. Data collection and access can be improved by integrating a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software use into facility, vehicle, and manufacturing asset management. The asset management feature in the software ensures maintenance teams can quickly identify what equipment they have, where assets are located, and view service history to assist in troubleshooting.

In addition to manual methods, data is collected through equipment sensors, which are put in place to conduct predictive maintenance (PdM). These sensors are able to detect internal wear that can’t be directly observed. Advanced analysis of data for predictive maintenance may be achieved through machine learning and artificial intelligence. The Internet of Things (IoT) is where data used for PdM is collected by the sensors and stored in a database. In CMMS software, there may be triggers set to generate work orders based off of specific asset conditions.

Be Aware of all Assets Owned

Having an accurate census of all assets is helpful for knowing how many of them require maintenance and when. Being aware of all the assets an organization utilizes ensures maintenance can be tracked on each machine, vehicle, or facility. This knowledge can help to schedule maintenance with the least interruption for production and assign work orders based on which technicians are most knowledgeable and experienced with each asset.

Uniquely Identify Assets

It’s also an important asset management best practice to uniquely identify all assets using a standard naming convention. There are nearly endless ways to create abbreviations for assets that make sense for an organization. The key is to make them consistent and able to be universally understood by anyone in the organization who needs to use them.

Use GPS Technology to Track Mobile Assets Locations

Keeping track of mobile assets is important, especially for organizations in industries that have a lot of vehicles. GPS technology can pinpoint exactly where a vehicle is when it is out on a job. This is useful for determining how long certain jobs take (including travel time) and can be used to determine where to send assistance faster if a vehicle breaks down.

Create Asset Tags

For stationary assets, the use of asset tags can pinpoint a machine’s location within a facility. This ensures maintenance technicians get to the right asset at the right time to perform maintenance. Asset tags can also be scanned so that information about the asset can be viewed from a mobile phone or tablet.

Use an Asset Hierarchy

Another asset management best practice to implement is using an asset hierarchy. This allows maintenance teams to see how assets and their related sub-components relate to one another. These relationships help to determine where maintenance issues are occurring most.

Have a Robust Failure Tracking Program

A robust failure tracking program should always be part of asset management. This includes asset history found in CMMS software, using failure codes where applicable, and implementing sensors to collect data for predictive maintenance (PdM) when possible.

Prioritize Safety

Prioritizing safety is another best practice when it comes to manufacturing asset management. Maintaining assets well requires attention to detail, which can make the difference between a machine operating safely or not. A system should be set up so that asset management procedures can be accessed easily. Adjustments to these procedures should be made to improve safety when necessary.

Maintain Adequate Documentation

Another best practice for asset management is to maintain adequate documentation on assets. User manuals and equipment schematics are two primary types of documentation that need to be readily available and should be stored in the CMMS.

Maintenance teams should find paper documentation and scan or enter the information into the software. If necessary, they need to look for digital files on various network drives or in email threads. They can also go to the source to get documentation, which is the vendor or manufacturer. Another way to get the documentation needed is to search the manufacturer’s website, call a representative, or send them an email.

Beyond documentation about the assets themselves, maintenance teams should document repairs and preventive maintenance tasks in the maintenance management software. Some information, such as asset history, is updated automatically, depending on how well the maintenance team is using their CMMS. This can help make decisions about whether to repair or replace assets when they break down.

When organizations purchase new CMMS software or when new assets are purchased, there may be a period of “catch up” time to get all necessary data in the system. This might seem like a tedious process, but it’s important to take the time to gather and import as much data as possible because it will be helpful for asset management down the road.

Set Quality and Usage Guidelines

The asset management process also includes setting asset usage guidelines for production staff. When these guidelines are followed, it helps maintenance staff to streamline the maintenance schedule. When assets are operated correctly, there is less chance of downtime due to misuse of machines.

Using assets properly also includes being aware of when assets need to be available for maintenance. Open communication between the maintenance and production departments before repairs or preventive maintenance tasks take place is important to avoid misunderstandings and scheduling conflicts.

Follow Warranty Guidelines

From the day an asset is purchased and throughout its early lifecycle, following warranty guidelines is imperative. Maintenance needs to be consistent with their inspections of each asset. It’s also essential to keep up with all of the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance. Equipment manufacturers have guidance for recommended maintenance schedules which outline which service tasks need to be done, the intervals at which to perform maintenance, and what replacement parts will be needed.

Failure to do one or all of these things can void the manufacturer warranty. For example, if the maintenance team fails to do regular furnace inspections and change the filter, the manufacturer will decline to replace a part that failed or the entire furnace as a result. Other things that will void a warranty include making modifications to a machine, changing a component without an authorized technician, or modifying control software on equipment without authorization.

Identify Critical Spares for Each Asset

Identifying and stocking critical spares for each asset should be a best practice for every organization that is managing assets. This can be done using a bill of materials or recorded elsewhere in the CMMS. CMMS software can also make sure critical spares are available in inventory by keeping track of the amounts of each part in stock. If regular inspections are being conducted, having spare parts on hand ensures they can be replaced whenever needed. Otherwise, the machine may be out of service while maintenance waits for a delivery.. These parts are stored in Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) inventory, which also includes supplies and tools for completing maintenance work.

How CMMS Software Supports Asset Management

This article has already mentioned CMMS software, which is a type of asset management software. There are many ways that CMMS software can provide support for successful asset management.

Provides a Centralized Database

CMMS software provides a centralized database where all information about maintenance operations can be stored and viewed in an organized fashion. Instead of looking through file cabinets and printed manuals, the cloud-based platform makes asset information available from any internet-connected device. Technicians in the field and managers working offsite don’t have to go back to a desktop computer or printed resource—they can view essential asset data directly on their mobile phone or tablet.

Visualizes Asset Relationships

It’s important for maintenance teams to be able to visualize asset relationships so the information about them can be utilized. The CMMS database includes asset hierarchies, in which parent-child relationships for equipment, subassemblies, and components are created. Knowing how assets relate to each other is a central part of asset management.

Keeps Detailed Maintenance Records

CMMS software helps maintenance teams keep detailed records. The information found in user manuals can be entered directly into asset records. Digital versions of manuals can be attached directly. CMMS software automatically creates maintenance history based on those records that can be reviewed quickly.

Meticulous asset record keeping is part of a comprehensive maintenance strategy which increases the maintenance team’s chances of scheduling maintenance early before there is serious damage to the machines. It’s valuable for maintenance managers to have data on equipment health available in CMMS software. Asset data such as the manufacturer ID, make and model, specification, and location can be stored and easily updated in CMMS software.

Offers Asset Tags

Having CMMS software in place ensures maintenance teams can utilize asset tags to easily look up asset information. These tags are barcode labels which are affixed to the asset and scanned with a barcode scanner. The scanner reads the code and pulls up information in the software, which is tied to the asset the barcode represents. This allows information about assets to be viewed in seconds and easily updated from a mobile device.

Provides a Robust Failure Tracking System

Using a CMMS for asset management will provide maintenance teams with a robust failure tracking system. This proves to be helpful when an asset needs to be repaired frequently. Technicians can look back at failures recorded in the software and see which assets are failing most often, helping to shape future maintenance decisions regarding those assets. Asset failure information can also be used for Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

Creates Bills of Materials and Identifying Critical Spares

CMMS software also facilitates asset management by having the ability to create equipment bills of materials (EBOM). Not every asset needs a bill of materials, but the most critical assets likely do. A maintenance planner (or in smaller organizations, a maintenance manager) will establish the EBOM. Maintenance planners help determine which parts to buy and which parts will be needed in the future.

While it may be excessive to include every screw and bolt, items that are needed for preventive work and critical spares should be included. If an item isn’t in stock and the supplier has long lead times, that should be indicated on the EBOM. EBOMs stored in a CMMS have a format that is easy to edit, use, and view.

Technicians can refer to the BOM and quickly identify the parts needed to complete repairs. A well written BOM can also ensure optimized maintenance scheduling, ensuring the correct parts are available for upcoming work. BOMs also reduce downtime because technicians can quickly determine which parts they need for the current maintenance job.

Identifying critical spares, which is necessary for creating equipment bills of materials and asset management in general, can also be done more easily with CMMS software.

Uniquely Identifies Assets

CMMS software is also one of the best ways to incorporate asset naming conventions. Having a naming convention in place makes it easier to search and query related data.

Read More: What is an Asset Naming Convention?

Improves Asset Performance through Reporting

CMMS asset management software allows you to report on your maintenance data and calculate metrics such as the Meant Time between Failure (MTBF), Mean Time to Repair (MTTR), and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). Through reporting, valuable insights can be gained which can direct maintenance activities in the right direction while tackling challenges that arise.

Read More: 3 Important Asset Management KPIs and How to Use Them

Schedules Recurring Maintenance

Finally, asset management with CMMS software includes the ability to schedule reoccurring maintenance. This ensures maintenance is performed on time according to manufacturer specific guidelines and warranty. It also allows maintenance managers to schedule preventive maintenance when it will interrupt production as little as possible.

Improve Asset Management with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select offers modern asset management capabilities to support the best practices you need to carry out machine maintenance. To learn more about how FTMaintenance Select is a complete asset management software solution, schedule a demo today.

How Maintenance Has Changed Due to COVID-19

Manufacturing machine lifting a box with a robotic arm which has been maintained after the pandemic.

Nearly every job has been impacted by COVID-19, and maintenance departments are no exception. Some changes that occurred were temporary; others are permanent adaptations. Even so, things are different now than they were in the beginning of the pandemic. Learn more about how maintenance teams have adjusted and how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software has been helpful during this transitional period.

What Changed During the Pandemic

While many things are close to back to normal now, COVID-19 guidance for manufacturing, including the maintenance aspect of it, had a ripple effect and is still impacting organizations today.

Some Organizations Deemed Non-essential

Organizations in some industries were deemed non-essential and had to close during the stay at home orders. Some could curtail their output and run production at a reduced level to stay in business while having only a few employees on site. Depending on the type of product the company produced, demand skyrocketed, slowed down, or ground to a halt. Many organizations had to get creative to stay afloat. For example, some companies that make alcoholic beverages produced hand sanitizer, clothing companies such as Nike began producing face masks, and automobile manufacturers produced ventilators.

Read More: Shifts in Manufacturing Product Production to Combat COVID-19

Because product offerings had to change, the types of machines and how often they are used changed to accommodate new processes. Some equipment that wasn’t used often before needed to be cleaned, inspected, and maintained while other equipment had to be shut down. This impacted maintenance programs because technicians had to change their workflows and prioritize different tasks.

All sectors of manufacturing except power and energy, water and wastewater, food and beverage production, construction, public works, and pharmaceuticals were deemed non-essential. This meant many maintenance personnel had to stay home until the stay-at-home orders were lifted.

Some Organizations Were Essential

Organizations that were deemed essential stayed open and tried to maintain or even increase production while social distancing their personnel, and with limited access to inventory supplies due to supply chain shutdowns. At the same time, maintenance and production teams had to deal with an increase in demand for some products (such as canned goods and electronics) while adapting to CDC guidance regarding sanitization and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Regardless of whether production increased or decreased, maintenance work sometimes increased in either scenario. When organizations were running with decreased production, maintenance teams had more time to complete deferred preventive maintenance. When organizations had to increase production, maintenance staff had an increased workload due to critical machines running harder and longer than they usually would.

On the other hand, maintenance teams experienced a temporary loss of maintenance personnel due to employees being out with COVID-19, leaving them strapped for resources. Other organizations experienced diminished revenue and had to cut back on maintenance work and costs. When these things occurred, a backlog of maintenance tasks grew.

Preventive maintenance (PM) was important to keep essential machines running, but there was little time to complete PM tasks. Maintenance managers had to order supplies more frequently and work with vendors based on supply chain hiccups and increased need for critical spares.

Regardless of industry, all organizations dealt with economic uncertainty about when businesses would reopen and demand would return to normal levels. They also dealt with staffing uncertainty due to a combination of the need to limit the number of employees in one space to adhere to social distancing, and on-site workers becoming infected and having to isolate. While many employees in other industries and professions could work remotely, it was impossible for maintenance technicians to do so.

Social Distancing               

From the beginning of the pandemic, everyone became familiar with the concept of social distancing. This may have been easy to do while shopping in the grocery store, but in production lines and maintenance work areas, people had to be in specific locations to operate and maintain the machines.

The need for social distancing resulted in less employees on each shift, complicating facilities management during pandemic times. Those that were still working on-site had to be spaced further apart, with plastic barriers in between where necessary and feasible. As mentioned earlier, there were also more employees out sick at the same time due to the need to isolate after a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine after exposure to a COVID-19 positive person.

What Challenges Arose after the Peak of the Pandemic

We are now seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, which is a relief for many wanting to feel safe returning to their normal lives. For maintenance teams, however, new challenges have arisen after the initial pandemic period ended. Here’s how maintenance changed after the initial shutdowns and restrictions due to COVID-19 began to ease.

Adjusting to Employees Returning On-site

There is an adjustment period for employees returning on-site. Maintenance technicians cannot work remotely, so of course, those that were either laid off or not working due to a company-wide shutdown or slowdown have had to return sooner than other employees. Many are able to work alone, so personal protective equipment (PPE) is not as important as in other positions. However, adjusting the maintenance schedule is a must. In general, it will take maintenance employees extra time to adjust to returning to work. In some industries such as food and beverage production, when maintenance teams went back to work, machines that hadn’t been used for weeks or months had to be deep cleaned. Once the initial cleaning was done, thorough sanitation procedures have continued, which takes extra time and supplies.

Some maintenance workers who returned to work had to get used to using new tools. These may include a new or updated CMMS system or machines with additional automation features or software. New procedures may be in place to follow involving more stringent cleaning and disinfecting. While cleaning was always a part of many procedures, for safety reasons, extra care and focus has been placed on frequent disinfection of areas employees touch a lot. Social distancing was a foreign concept to which employees have to adjust.

Price Increases

One result of the pandemic which is out of maintenance teams’ control is price increases for parts and supplies. Petrochemicals and plastics doubled in price. Aluminum and carbon steel have been in short supply since early 2021, and copper has become very expensive. Suppliers have been charging premium prices, and organizations have to pay these high prices. To offset this cost, organizations have often had to raise the price of their products.

This presents the challenge of keeping up with necessary maintenance while increasing the maintenance budget to offset other costs. Lower priority maintenance tasks, maintenance projects the team has been wanting to complete, and bringing on new employees might have to be placed on the backburner.

Increased Need for Critical Spares

A significant change for maintenance teams that occurred after the pandemic was the increase in the amount of spare parts, especially critical spares, required. Rather than having two week’s worth of spare parts, organizations ordered a month or even two month’s worth at a time. They also set higher reorder points. Buying extra parts is a precaution to offset supply chain delays, which organizations learned to do to avoid significant maintenance shortfall. Now that maintenance teams know the importance of having a surplus of critical spares, they don’t want to risk running out of them should supply chain delays worsen again in the future.

Maintenance teams have been more conservative with inventory management. Instead of running lean, they have had more stock on hand. Some orders that were placed a year ago have not been filled yet, so it’s crucial that they don’t run out of critical spare parts.

Increased Need to Focus On and Improve Indoor Air Quality

Before COVID-19, indoor air quality (IAQ) was important, but it wasn’t emphasized as much. Now it is more important than ever as it has been proven that air turnover helps prevent the spread of the virus. Open floor plans are conductive to good ventilation which positively impacts IAQ. Maintenance teams have had to handle maintenance requests involving modifications of the ventilation system and cleaning procedures to help improve IAQ. More frequent inspections of industrial fans and the ventilation system, preventive maintenance, and modified steps in maintenance work to improve IAQ have been added to procedures that may not have had them before.

Which Changes Became Permanent

While many adjustments that had to be made during the pandemic were temporary, some changes to maintenance management post COVID-19 will be permanent.

Automation Advances in Maintenance Management

Organizations were forced to automate more processes and tasks when they had fewer employees on each shift and fewer resources. For production, advances in automation might include robotics and more efficient processes. For maintenance teams, automation might include investing in condition-based maintenance (CbM) or predictive maintenance (PdM) sensors and software so that equipment can be monitored remotely. This eliminates some of the manual inspections a technician would need to perform in person. Maintenance teams that use CMMS software also relied on the software to automate administrative tasks that were normally done by a person.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Protocols

Of course, COVID-19 has changed cleaning and sanitizing protocols for all organizations. Production time had to be slightly reduced to make time for employees to frequently deep clean. After all employees returned to the workplace, transparency in the way teams cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized became paramount. The pandemic taught employees and managers to value cleanliness in a different way.

How CMMS Software Has Helped Post-Pandemic

CMMS software has always been an essential tool for maintenance departments. Here are some ways a CMMS has been helpful with recovering from the pandemic.

Identifies Critical Spares

CMMS software is a tool that can help maintenance teams identify critical spares by tracking usage of replacement parts. They can put a system in place to evaluate and change reorder points. Having CMMS software in places helps organizations put together contingency plans for maintaining adequate MRO inventory in the event supply chain shortages reoccur.

Monitors and Schedules Preventive Maintenance

When production requirements were lower, maintenance teams had more time to perform preventive maintenance tasks. However, when organizations begin operating at normal levels or accelerated levels, assets that hadn’t been used in a while are again needed in production. This created a queue of maintenance tasks. These tasks needed to be scheduled around available resources. Decisions had to be made about when to defer maintenance based on asset usage and availability of technicians.

With CMMS software, preventive maintenance work can be scheduled and assigned remotely. It should be scheduled at times that don’t take away from more important tasks or emergency maintenance tasks. After production was back up and running, the maintenance processes had to start over from the beginning. Maintenance managers had to set new schedules for maintenance.

Organizations had to make smarter decisions to save energy and resources due to the rising cost of fuel, raw materials, and MRO inventory items. This could mean picking and choosing which assets to perform preventive maintenance on, eliminating overtime hours, and looking for ways to increase efficiency during maintenance jobs. The need to juggle scheduling enough maintenance work while managing the budget to offset costs presents a significant challenge.

Cloud-based CMMS software has allowed maintenance managers to oversee maintenance requests, work orders, and inventory information from their home and while moving through the plant, saving the time and money that would have been spent in their offices. Schedules can be quickly updated and adjusted as things rapidly change. When costs go down again, using CMMS software makes it easy to increase the number of maintenance tasks on the schedule in a matter of minutes.

Manages Balance of Daily Tasks and Adjustment to Employee Return

When things began to turn a corner and employees returned to their workplaces, there was an adjustment period. However, routine maintenance tasks still had to be done during this time. A CMMS helps to juggle these tasks because work orders can be easily scheduled and logged.

Managers and technicians can quickly check the status of maintenance tasks without the need for direct interaction with busy employees. The schedule in the software could be adjusted for the initial period of “catch up time”. Recurring job frequencies could be changed back to more or less frequent intervals. If needed, schedules can be shared with other departments through the software rather than in a meeting.

Provides Documentation for Sanitization Processes and SOPs

With new stricter sanitization processes and updates to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), CMMS software provides a way to document them. Maintenance tasks can be created quickly that include checklists and instructions that can be repurposed for multiple recurring work orders. Work order history can prove that procedures were carried out and completed. CMMS software is a valuable tool for updating existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to include extra steps that have to do with sanitation. Digital records are more accessible and secure than using only printed materials, which have to be found in physical file folders.

Overall, CMMS software has helped maintenance managers to be more specific in their documentation of maintenance tasks. When there was a reduced number of staff available, less ambiguity in instructions including in digital work orders meant maintenance managers could feel more confident in their workers carrying out tasks with less supervision. Technicians could quickly look at the information they needed in the software and complete the tasks without going back to their supervisors for clarification.

Maintenance managers want to make sure important procedures and jobs are done the same way each time. Good documentation can help to standardize maintenance work.

Serves as a Communication Tool

CMMS software has become a more valuable communication tool. With social distancing and employee safety being number one priority, viewing information in the software has replaced face-to-face meetings where possible. However, having detailed information about work orders, MRO inventory, maintenance procedures, and maintenance requests available in the CMMS saves the maintenance team a lot of time so they can get more tasks done in a day.

CMMS software also enables the ability to run reports on new sanitation processes for audits and inspections.

CMMS software also serves as a communication tool through mobile accessibility features. Mobile CMMS allows employees to be out in the field completing maintenance work without needing to return to a touch-point such as a shared computer or work station. Technicians can update work orders and check other information from their mobile devices. It also helps technicians keep their distance rather than gathering at a central location.

Move Forward in Maintenance after COVID-19 with FTMaintenance Select

At FasTrak SoftWorks, we understand the unique challenges that have arisen due to the pandemic. As you move forward and adjust to an altered state of operations, FTMaintenance Select can help. Our CMMS software has everything you need to maintain the maintenance management changes that have been required of your organization in the last two years. Schedule a demo to learn more.

Using Change Management for CMMS Implementation

A maintenance manager advises a technician about how to enter information into a CMMS following implementation.

Implementing new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is a significant process that results in major changes for a maintenance department that is still using manual, paper-based tracking methods. Using the change management process improves CMMS implementation and makes the transition easier for employees. Read on to learn the steps in the change management process and how it fits into implementing maintenance management software.

When to Use Change Management

Change management is the method by which an organization describes and implements a change in a business process, or the start of a completely new business process.

There are a number of scenarios in which change management should be used to make a process easier. These include a change in leadership or organizational structure, a work culture or values update, a change in company benefits or policies, a merger, or when a new company-wide tool or technology is being implemented. CMMS implementation falls into the last category.

During the CMMS implementation process, user adoption is key to success, which is aided by adequate change management. User adoption is a goal many organizations focus on in the CMMS implementation process.

Where Change Management Fits into CMMS Implementation

While change management is important, it is only one of several steps in CMMS implementation, which includes:

  • Developing goals and objectives
  • Determining resources needed
  • Getting management on board
  • Developing a plan and structure
  • Confirming which assets the organization has

After the assets have been confirmed and accounted for, change management should take place. Once change management has been completed, the CMMS implementation process continues with:

  • Gathering all data needed to enter into the system
  • Importing the gathered data
  • Developing workflows
  • Creating a reporting process
  • Training users of the CMMS
  • Auditing the implementation process
  • Developing a plan for continuous improvement

It’s also important to note that some companies might not have the time or expertise to use a formal change management process, although it will increase chances of success. While the implementation can still be successful without it, the chance of the implementation failing is higher when change management is not used. There are multiple reasons why CMMS implementations fail, whether it’s lack of management support, lack of adequate training, or lack of clear goals.

What are the 6 Steps of Change Management?

There are 6 steps of change management when implementing a CMMS, and all of them need to be carried out for optimal success.

Step 1: Define the Opportunity

The first step is to define the opportunity that implementing a CMMS represents. It is the role of the maintenance manager to explain the reason for CMMS implementation to upper management (if needed) and maintenance technicians. Common reasons maintenance departments want to implement CMMS software are to better track asset management, work orders, and inventory, as well as plan preventive maintenance more effectively.

Step 2: Define the Direction

The second step in the change management process is for the system administrator and/or the maintenance manager to define the direction, meaning what the end result will look like and why the change is occurring. Implementing CMMS software means that the maintenance team will move from a reactive to a proactive mindset. With the ability to schedule preventive maintenance work orders in advance, the focus can shift to doing more proactive maintenance.

When assets are maintained regularly before they breakdown, it helps to reduce asset downtime, which means production can work more efficiently, increasing company profits. A CMMS will also reduce maintenance costs over time, making the maintenance team more effective.

Step 3: Explain What Will Stay the Same

The third step of change management is for maintenance managers to explain to technicians what will stay the same. This is the point where many technicians need reassurance that they will not be replaced in any way by software. They will still fix assets the same way they always have. Their experience is just as valuable in troubleshooting and navigating asset history and issues. CMMS software does not make them expendable. It won’t make their jobs harder, and as long as implementation is done correctly, in the long run, it will make their jobs easier. The purpose of CMMS software is simply to track maintenance processes, work orders, and inventory.

Step 4: Explain What is Changing

The next step in change management is explaining what will be changing. This is the job of the maintenance manager, possibly in collaboration with the operations manager or other members of upper management. With CMMS implementation, the way work orders are managed and how asset information is recorded and stored will change. Maintenance requests will also be managed in one portal through the software rather than through multiple methods such as email, word of mouth, and spreadsheets. The way inventory is managed will also change and become more organized. Change to specific processes will vary with each organization, so it’s important for maintenance managers to explain these changes as thoroughly as possible.

Step 5: Define Commitments and Next Steps

The fifth step in change management is to communicate the commitments from upper management and how they are supporting the change. The maintenance team may feel more comfortable with adjusting to using CMMS software when they know upper management is on their side and will be understanding during the transition process.

It’s also important for maintenance managers to explain what the next steps will be after the CMMS has been fully implemented. This can include training on new processes and how to use the software itself, new procedures for closing work orders, and learning how to incorporate CMMS use into existing daily routines.

Step 6: State Who to Contact

The sixth and final step in change management is letting the maintenance team know who to contact with questions or concerns. These contacts will vary by organization, but may include the maintenance manager, system administrator, or designated CMMS power users.

Benefits of Using Change Management

The benefits of change management are numerous, which is why the process is worth integrating into the larger CMMS implementation process.

Builds Momentum to Repeat Process

Once change management is mastered for implementing CMMS software, it can build momentum to use it for other organizational changes. The next time change management is applied, it is sure to be an improvement from the first attempt, further increasing success of the process. Change management builds trust in management to lead the rollout of new procedures. For example, upper management might use the change management process to implement other software or technology tools in their departments and follow the example of how it was used to implement CMMS software.

In the maintenance department, change management might be used again when a new maintenance manager is hired, a technician gets promoted, or when a new type of asset is purchased that would impact the long-term maintenance schedule.

Reduces Resistance to Change

Many people are resistant to changes of any kind simply because it creates a period of uncertainty. However, using the change management process will reduce the maintenance team’s resistance to future changes because they will better know what to expect. Even if the exact outcome cannot be predicted, employees will know they will receive support and up-to-date information throughout the transitional period.

Increases Likelihood of Successful CMMS Implementation

As we mentioned earlier in this article, integrating change management with CMMS implementation increases the likelihood of the change’s success. This applies to any other changes in which this process is used as well. Setting goals and having a designated employee to contact with questions ensures everyone stays on the same page.

Reduces Negative Impact of the Change

While there may be some negative impacts of the change that need to be overcome, using change management will reduce them. Keep in mind most of the things that seem negative are temporary. For example, some technicians may feel like they’re being “babysat” if they have to work closely with others to learn the software. While this close monitoring is temporary, it can make them uncomfortable if it is not explained to them that it is part of the implementation process.

Another example is the maintenance team getting used to documenting maintenance information digitally, which may be overwhelming at first. Additionally, CMMS implementation will also require making a list of all of the organization’s assets, organizing and cataloging all inventory items, and determining which preventive maintenance tasks should be scheduled in the system right away as high priority. Some employees may be assigned to gathering user manuals, inspection lists, and warranty information to scan and upload into the CMMS. Another group may need to walk around the facilities and write down the make, model, and serial number of assets to create a complete description to be added to the CMMS.

These are tasks that are outside of the normal workflow and routine, which might be stressful for some, but again, this is temporary. While these impacts are not negative in the long run, they may feel that way at first. However, with the six steps of change management incorporated into implementing maintenance management software, the challenges will be easier to handle.

Use the 6 Steps of Change Management to Implement FTMaintenance Select

Implementing FTMaintenance Select will be made easier by using the change management process. FasTrak SoftWorks offers implementation services including installation assistance and user training to help your team adjust to using your new CMMS software. For more information about the features FTMaintenance Select has to offer, schedule a demo today.

 

CMMS vs. ERP Software: Which is Best for Maintenance Management?

Woman with headset looking at desktop screen with charts and data from both CMMS and ERP software.

Finding the right software to meet an organization’s maintenance management needs can seem overwhelming. When searching for a solution, buyers must compare specialized computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software to other broader solutions, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. This article compares CMMS vs. ERP software to help you make the right decision for your organization.

CMMS vs. ERP Software

While CMMS and ERP software have some overlapping capabilities, they are distinctly different in what they help organizations do.

What is CMMS Software?

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is a computerized program designed for maintenance purposes, helping maintenance professionals with the management of their operations, and providing a defined system for documenting maintenance activities, managing the resources needed to complete maintenance jobs, and tracking the performance of the maintenance team. Common features of a CMMS system which are beneficial to maintenance management are:

  • Maintenance Requests
  • Work Order Management
  • Asset Management
  • MRO Inventory Management
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Maintenance Reports

What is ERP Software?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software manages data of an enterprise or organization, helping to organize information and communications from multiple departments, including maintenance, human resources, accounting, inventory, shipping and receiving, production, and logistics.

ERP software integrates important parts of a business into a single system, managing multiple business processes. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) involves automated accounting, invoicing, and financial analysis. It also includes striving to improve asset management, human resources management, and customer relationship management. Some organizations also choose to add a supply chain module to monitor inventory.

To give you a better idea of what both CMMS software and ERP software do, let’s compare their capabilities.

CMMS ERP
Area of Focus Focuses on maintenance Covers multiple areas of operation
Work Order Automation Automates work order processes, along with reporting and invoicing Encompasses payroll, invoicing, and reporting along with work order processes
Reporting Analyzes data about maintenance using reports Analyzes data about organization using reports
Purchasing Has purchase order capabilities Tracks, stores, and analyzes accounting data
Maintenance Requests Has in-depth maintenance request management capabilities Has some maintenance request management capabilities
Employee Tracking Contains maintenance employee records including skill level and pay rate Contains Human Resources information such as compensation management, timekeeping, insurance information, emergency contacts, and benefits paperwork
Asset Management Has in-depth asset management functions Has in-depth asset management functions as well as supply chain management functions
MRO Inventory Management Provides MRO inventory planning as well as maintenance and other tasks monitoring in a manufacturing environment Provides inventory planning beyond MRO product planning and production monitoring in manufacturing or other types of environments

Why Organizations Use ERP Software

ERP software has functions that apply to multiple processes within a business, including accounting, human resources, employee records, contracts, purchasing, and maintenance. ERP software can be an all-in-one solution for some organizations.

Using ERP software allows for data to be exchanged quickly and used on an organization-wide level. It is also quick and easy to integrate most ERP software programs with other software programs. Integration ensures that data from both is readily available and there are no compatibility issues.

ERP software does share some functions with CMMS software, including data analysis, reporting, and some maintenance management capabilities, including asset monitoring. Organizations that don’t need in-depth maintenance management features might choose ERP software rather than CMMS software. However, if an organization is seeking only maintenance management capabilities, it is not worth the investment in ERP software because of its cost and complexity.

Why Organizations Use CMMS Software

Unlike ERP software, CMMS software has dedicated work order management and asset management features that ensure maintenance work and data can be tracked down to fine details. Because CMMS software is used for all facets of maintenance, it serves as a dedicated maintenance management tool, especially for carrying out a proactive maintenance strategy. It manages all preventive and reactive (or corrective) maintenance tasks. Keeping records of work order history and maintenance history is essential for adequate asset management.

CMMS software offers comprehensive and specific work order management features, including the ability to plan ahead using multiple calendar views. Work orders can be set to print and be emailed out automatically. Preventive maintenance work orders can be set to activate automatically and require approval for work order closure.

Another reason organizations choose CMMS software systems instead of ERP software is for the advanced MRO inventory management features. Inventory counts can be updated quickly, and purchase orders can be made directly within CMMS software.

CMMS software costs less to run than ERP software—it is easier to install, runs faster because it is a smaller scale application, and typically results in faster Return on Investment (ROI) than with ERP software. This is often because CMMS software results in decreased asset downtime and increased asset lifespan, saving money on unplanned production interruptions and premature asset replacement.

CMMS software uses advanced reporting features to improve asset management decisions. Reports about technicians’ daily work volume can be created to compare to virtually any maintenance related metrics. All types of reports that can be created in CMMS software gather data from a common source so that there’s no conflicting or repetitive data.

Many organizations choose CMMS software because of the detailed, maintenance-focused features. This allows maintenance managers and technicians to keep detailed records of maintenance activities, from work orders to maintenance requests. The work order management and asset management features go into much greater detail and provide more options for creating and viewing records than ERP software. Overall, CMMS software is easier to use because it is user-focused, providing simplified ways to use the system without having to deal with functions or information the user doesn’t need.

Advantages of CMMS over ERP

CMMS software has several advantages for maintenance teams over using ERP software.

Preventive Maintenance Work Orders Managed More Easily

One major advantage of CMMS software is that it makes managing preventive maintenance work orders, along with service requests, much easier. Most systems have a simple workflow from receiving a maintenance request to creating a work order. Maintenance technicians can enter detailed information in the work orders about how maintenance problems were resolved for use in troubleshooting later.

Many details about preventive maintenance work order scheduling and creation can be added with CMMS software. This includes multiple scheduling frequency options, preventive maintenance work order checklists, labor hour tracking, records of inventory use, and inspection instructions.

Better Asset-Specific Data Management

CMMS software has better asset-specific data management capabilities. The collection and analysis of asset-specific data is far superior with CMMS software than in ERP software. This thorough data collection leads to increased productivity and efficiency.  Technicians can look at asset records to see what maintenance has been done on a machine in the past to assist with troubleshooting a current problem. Asset tags can also be scanned so that technicians can quickly look up information about an asset stored in the CMMS software.

More Seamless Mobile Device Accessibility

While both ERP and CMMS software can be accessed on mobile devices, CMMS software’s mobile accessibility is more seamless. The dashboards and modules of CMMS software are easier to view and access on a mobile device than with ERP software.

MRO Inventory Functionality

While ERP software stores raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods inventory data, CMMS software offers more robust MRO inventory functionality. This makes a CMMS system essential for maintenance departments. Reorder points can be set so that MRO parts and supplies never run too low. Items can be checked in and out to keep track of where they’re being used in carrying out maintenance jobs.

CMMS software inventory management enables purchase orders to be created and sent to vendors. Overall, when given the choice between using CMMS or ERP software for inventory management, maintenance departments will likely choose CMMS software.

System More Engaging for Users

CMMS software tends to be more engaging for users than ERP software. CMMS software interfaces usually have a more simplified, user-friendly design. There are guided prompts when needed to ensure data is being entered correctly. More maintenance management-focused communication such as messages, notifications, and emails are available with CMMS software.

Experience All Advantages of CMMS Software with FTMaintenance Select

In order to explore CMMS software further to best meet your maintenance management needs, the next step is finding the right CMMS software for your organization. Look no further than FTMaintenance Select. Our robust, easy-to-use CMMS system has everything you need to receive all the benefits that come with using CMMS software. Schedule a demo today to learn more.

CMMS Best Practices: Long-Term Use

Two technicians discussing and working on a machine as they follow preventive maintenance best practices, part of CMMS best practices for use.

Following a set of best practices helps companies maximize the benefits of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. This includes learning important functions of the software and using them correctly over time, along with adequate collection and analysis of data. All of this will help maintenance teams get the most out of their software and avoid CMMS and maintenance management issues in the long run.

CMMS Best Practices for Long-Term Use

Once maintenance teams have learned how to use CMMS software, maintenance managers should adopt a set of best practices for long-term use and instruct technicians on how to follow them.

Meet Organization’s Needs First

One of the most important CMMS best practices is to ensure the organization’s maintenance management needs are met first before the “wants” are implemented. Most maintenance departments start with using work order management capabilities before they implement other features. User adoption of the work order process, overall productivity, and process efficiency should be the focus of CMMS use in the beginning. Do not initially overburden the maintenance team with requirements the software is supposed to meet.

Instead, focus on getting familiar with the tasks that need to be done frequently in the software. This includes entering all asset information into the system and getting users used to creating, editing, and closing work orders. Once that is achieved, maintenance managers can decide what should be accomplished next with the software.

Build a Plan for Support after Implementation

After CMMS software is implemented, the mindset should not be to “set it and forget it.” There should be a plan for any support that may be needed down the road. This includes knowing how to correct any errors made while using the software, as well as how to complete upgrades or updates to the software. Most CMMS software vendors have implementation and support teams available to answer questions and fix any technical problems at any stage of CMMS use. It’s the organization’s responsibility to stay abreast of the most recent version updates and any newly available features, working with the vendor to get them installed.

Other areas to include in the post-implementation support plan are long term data management, process compliance, and report development. Overall, a best practice of the maintenance team should be to gather feedback from end users on how to improve processes, including what needs to be added or changed.

Follow Up with Power Users

After CMMS software has been implemented, maintenance managers should follow up with power users who have been assigned to champion the software from the time of purchase. Power users should continue to work with hesitant users and new maintenance employees. Power users need to become experts in the CMMS so they can alleviate others’ concerns and adequately promote the benefits of using it.

Read More: CMMS Power User Roles and Responsibilities

Set Up a Comprehensive Maintenance Schedule

Scheduling maintenance goes beyond marking the calendar with maintenance tasks to be done at specific dates and times. The reasons for performing specific maintenance work, inventory requirements and planning, and detailed work order instructions also go into maintenance scheduling. Data that has been collected about assets will become useful for maintenance work scheduling. It’s important to learn how these areas of information work together for successful maintenance management. It’s essential that all data be of high quality since much of the information about work order scheduling relies on data from other areas of the software.

Provide Adequate Training

CMMS best practices include providing adequate training, which extends beyond the initial implementation. Keystroke training to learn specific functions should be combined with overall process training. It’s important for users to understand why they need to do specific things in the software according to their roles. Training should be revisited whenever there are new employees on the maintenance team, new features are being added or used, or when there is a pattern of mistakes being made with the software.

Ensure Accurate Data Collection

Another best practice for using CMMS software is ensuring accurate data collection. In order for data to be useful, it needs to be entered correctly. One way to make sure this occurs is to set required fields. It also may be useful to have someone review data entry early on until users feel comfortable with the system.

Once the maintenance team is accustomed to entering sufficient and accurate data, it will become useful for reporting and record keeping. Past asset data can be used to make repair versus replace decisions at the time of an asset break down. Reviewing past maintenance requests, corrective maintenance work orders, preventive maintenance work orders, and inventory parts used on the asset can help maintenance managers determine if it is more cost effective to repair the asset again or replace it.

Recent work order backlog data can be used to make hiring decisions. If important maintenance jobs are past due, being completed at the last minute, or being skipped, it may be because there aren’t enough technicians to keep up with the current workflow. Having concrete data available can help justify the need for additional staff to upper management.

Work order history data can be used to back up warranty claims. If there is documented proof that corrective maintenance was required before the warranty period was up, the maintenance team may be able to get replacement parts or a new unit that is covered under warranty. This can be an area of significant cost savings, especially if an asset or asset component is defective.

Become Proficient in Entire CMMS System

Another CMMS best practice is to become proficient in the all areas of the software system. There are four software areas that need to be used correctly and efficiently to get the most benefit out of a CMMS.

The operator interface consists of methods by which the operator of the CMMS receives information from and provides commands to the software or device. With a CMMS, these include screen displays, keyboards, computer mice, barcode scanners, voice input devices, and printers. Of course, it also includes the devices on which the users access the software itself, such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.

The interface enables activity in multiple areas including creating work orders, documenting asset information, sending notifications to technicians, and checking or updating inventory information. All users (technicians, maintenance managers, and administrators) should understand how the operator interface works together.

Reporting dashboards is another area of many CMMS software systems that will be primarily used by maintenance managers. Many CMMS software programs have customizable reports that can be created to compare various maintenance metrics. These reports can be used to solve problems within the maintenance management workflow, improve inventory management, and demonstrate Return on Investment (ROI) to the organization’s upper management. Maintenance managers should know how to create and run a report, as well as what information they want to learn from the reports they choose to run.

The next area of CMMS software that the maintenance managers and IT should be proficient in is administrative settings. This includes things such as permissions for users, search term parameters, templates, and other areas to be accessed only by managers and technical support. Maintenance managers will have the ability to change them at any time and IT should be able to fix technical problems.

The last area of CMMS software to become proficient in is databases. This includes asset, inventory, work order history, maintenance request, and employee databases. All CMMS software users should be able to search for, find, and read information within any of these areas. Knowing how to use this and all other areas of maintenance management software is part of carrying out best practices for using CMMS software.

CMMS Best Practices to Apply in Areas of Maintenance Management

So far, we’ve looked at best practices for CMMS use that apply to the software in general. Some best practices can be categorized by the type of maintenance management being performed.

Work Order Management

CMMS workflow best practices include some for work order management. Work orders need to be scheduled and prioritized appropriately in a way that fits the requirements of the organization. It’s important to ensure all information is complete before submitting a work order into the queue. Before closing a work order, users should document as much information as possible in the CMMS rather than, or in addition, to on paper.

Read More: Work Order Management Best Practices

Asset Management

When it comes to asset management, using CMMS software allows maintenance departments to track assets in real time. It’s next to impossible to monitor hundreds of assets and their conditions without the assistance of software. Entering accurate, thorough data into the CMMS about all of an organization’s assets will give the maintenance department the information they need to track, monitor, and make decisions about asset preventive maintenance and repairs.

Preventive Maintenance

Best practices for using CMMS software include using the preventive maintenance features correctly. Preventive maintenance work order templates can be used to pair tasks and parts together for multiple jobs at different frequencies. Multi-equipment work orders can be created to avoid entering redundant data. Preventive maintenance checklists can be used to ensure important details are not missed, especially when they apply to more than one task.

The maintenance schedule can be viewed quickly and easily, and preventive maintenance jobs are easy to distinguish from corrective maintenance work that comes up. Preventive Maintenance (PM) work can easily be rescheduled as needed, and the calendar can be shared with other departments. A CMMS can help prioritize preventive maintenance work with minimal interruptions in the production schedule.

Maintenance Request Management

When it comes to maintenance requests, make sure they are submitted formally and correctly. These requests need to be approved before they become work orders. Certain employees should be designated as work order approvers. The maintenance request system in CMMS software is utilized by members of the maintenance department as well as users of the various assets. It provides the organization with a single channel for making maintenance requests and receiving notifications about maintenance task status.

Read More: Maintenance Request Management Best Practices

Achieve Long-Term CMMS Success with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select will help you achieve long-term success with your CMMS software. FTMaintenance Select is user-friendly and has all of the maintenance management features you need to improve maintenance processes over time. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how FTMaintenance Select can meet your CMMS needs.

What is Building Maintenance Management?

Industrial building exterior to represent building maintenance management.

Maintenance management includes not only machine assets, but structural assets such as industrial facilities, parking lots, and office buildings. Building maintenance management is a critical part of the overall maintenance of an organization. Learn more about what building maintenance management is, why it’s important, and its benefits.

What is Building Maintenance Management?

Building maintenance management involves the coordination of maintenance tasks to manage the maintenance of structural assets in an organization, which may include office or commercial retail buildings, apartment complexes, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities to preserve a safe, inhabitable, comfortable, and functional environment at all times. Building maintenance involves a wide range of tasks, from routine building repair and maintenance to electrical, landscaping, HVAC, and fire alarm system maintenance.

Why is Building Maintenance Management Important?

Building maintenance management, which applies to industrial buildings, office buildings, apartments, and condominiums, is essential for the safety, functionality, and optimal appearance of buildings.

Without regular maintenance services, any building can become an unwelcoming, uncomfortable or even dangerous environment in which to live, work, or occupy. Poorly maintained residential properties can deter potential tenants from renting. When the interior of a residential property is uncomfortable, this leads to complaints, tenants breaking the lease, or the potential for tenants not to renew their lease agreement. Poorly maintained exteriors may lead to interior problems. The structural integrity of these buildings must be preserved to prevent, in the worst case scenario, building collapse.

Building maintenance is also important to meet municipal standards for electrical, HVAC, paint, plumbing, and structural elements in order to avoid fines and significant local sanctions.

New vs. Old Building Maintenance

With all of that said, there are different challenges that arise when maintaining new buildings versus old buildings. Even new buildings may not have enough air circulation, which can lead to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems if it’s not fixed. On the other hand, age-related problems in old buildings include things like inefficient HVAC systems which can result in a less than ideal indoor climate and high utility bills. Electrical system problems are also common in old buildings.

Newer buildings might have more funds allotted to them than older buildings because investors believe they will be easier to maintain. However, it might make more sense to invest in top of the line products such as shingles that will last 25 years, for new buildings than for an old building. An old building may only have 10 years left before it will need to be completely rebuilt, so top of the line shingles may not be necessary. This is just one of several examples.

Types of Building Maintenance

Like with any specialty area of maintenance, there are different types of building maintenance required to ensure an optimal environment.

Protective Maintenance

Protective maintenance can apply to machines as well, but is especially important for buildings because it protects the structures from the elements. There may be exterior structures that need a protective paint or coating against rust and other forms of deterioration. These structures include pillars, architectural details, steel walkways, awnings, and sidewalks.

Depending on the climate, these areas of the building may need protection from ice, snow, salt, heat, and moisture. These coatings need to be reapplied over time. Paint sealant typically requires a new coat every six months while paint protection film coatings can last five to seven years.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance for buildings is carried out to avoid problems with buildings and the services they provide. Just a few examples of preventive maintenance for buildings include mildew prevention and mitigation, insect infestation prevention, and water damage prevention. Preventive maintenance may also involve the exterior areas such as parking lots, lawns, and garages.

Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance repairs a building and the surrounding property to restore it to optimal conditions as damage becomes apparent. Corrective building maintenance varies based on the type of building and the needs of its inhabitants. Just a few examples that apply to nearly every property and building include sealing parking lot cracks, replacing cracked gutters and downspouts, removing weeds, repairing roofing, fixing ceiling cracks, and replacing bricks or siding.

Areas of Building Maintenance

Building maintenance management is broken into common building systems such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and energy management. It also includes the general upkeep of building interiors and exteriors. Each of these components is explored in the following sections.

Electrical Systems

Electrical system maintenance includes inspecting new electrical installations and regularly reviewing the condition of power outlets and electrical connections to ensure they’re safe and up to current standard building codes. It also covers the maintenance of electrical equipment and circuit breakers. Regular monitoring of all electrical components in a building continuously for any damage is critical for building safety.

Regular electrical system maintenance must be made to ensure safety. Danger can result from blown fuses, grounding tests that were done improperly, and damaged electrical system installation. Maintenance technicians (or contracted electricians) need to replace frayed cords and wires to eliminate fire hazards, replace underperforming or nonperforming lighting and electrical heating components, and install new components as required when a building is remodeled or upgraded.

Plumbing Systems

Essential building maintenance includes plumbing systems such as bathroom fixtures, wash stations, and water heaters. Preventive plumbing systems maintenance is fairly straightforward and includes regular inspections and winterization. Plumbing issues that require emergency or corrective maintenance include burst pipes, leaking pipes, drain clogs, and overflowing toilets.

Public bathroom sinks that require building maintenance management, or facility management.

HVAC

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system maintenance is included in building maintenance management. Preventive HVAC maintenance such as changing the filters, ensures continued operation of the furnace and air conditioning unit. Seasonal inspections, checking the coolant and oil levels in the compressor, and cleaning the coils are all preventive HVAC maintenance tasks.

Ensuring a building has proper ventilation has always been important for maintaining a comfortable working or living environment. However, it is vital now more than ever for all buildings to have adequate ventilation and temperature control to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Water and Wastewater Treatment

Building maintenance also covers water and wastewater treatment. Maintenance technicians will make sure the water in the pipes and drinking water is safe and free of contaminants. If there is an issue with the water supply, testing and treatment must be done to correct it. If there are areas of a building or an entire building that had a prolonged shutdown and has reopened, water that sits in the pipes will pick up sediment from rust or corrosion. This “dirty” water can be harmful. The pipes will need to be flushed out to remove the old water, and the faucets must be run to put clean water back in the pipes.

Wastewater treatment needs differ in an industrial environment that is likely to have more and dirtier wastewater from cleaning machines or byproducts from manufacturing processes, versus in an office or apartment environment where there is cleaner water and less wastewater volume. Offices and residences will have wastewater from dishwashers, garbage disposals, sinks, showers, and toilets.

Energy Management

Another aspect of building maintenance is managing the energy in the facility. In general, energy management seeks to keep the building environment at an ideal temperature for its function (production, office work, or living space) at the lowest cost. Some industrial environments require the work environment to be warmer or cooler than the average room temperature. Others require supplies or machinery to be temperature controlled.

Energy management involves proper maintenance of heating and cooling systems, lighting and windows to prevent wasting energy. Preventive HVAC maintenance, sealing windows and doors properly, and cleaning ventilation systems are important maintenance tasks to keep energy costs low. Sustainability is important, and the concept must be in place to meet environmental regulations. If assets such as a furnace or air conditioner are operating inefficiently, it might be time to upgrade them to more energy efficient units.

Interior

General interior building maintenance includes cleaning common areas, and regular trash removal. It also includes repainting walls, repairing drywall, refinishing flooring as needed, and carpet replacement.

Exterior

Exterior building maintenance includes lawn care, parking lot repair, replacement or repainting of siding, bricks, and awnings, roof maintenance and repair, sidewalk repair, and other tasks specific to the land, type of building exterior, and specific property.

Who is Responsible for Building Maintenance?

When it comes to apartment and offices buildings, most of the maintenance is the landlord or property manager’s responsibility, or if the building is owner-occupied, it is up to them. However, there are some things the business tenant or renter will need to take care of on their own. These responsibilities are outlined in the lease agreement. It’s important to know what is stated in a lease agreement to avoid misunderstandings, which could turn into legal conflicts.

In general, business and residential tenants are responsible for the safety and maintenance of fixtures, fittings, and appliances that they have installed after inhabiting the building. Gas leak prevention and repair may fall on the landlord or the tenant depending on the conditions set out in the lease. The tenant is usually responsible for scheduling an annual inspection by a licensed engineer. It depends on what’s stated in the lease, however, the tenant may also have to maintain all electrical equipment in and around their unit.

A few other things that depend on the specific agreement include who is responsible for fire safety equipment and fire hazard monitoring. There are other maintenance and repairs not specified as the landlord’s responsibility in the lease and those may also be the tenant’s responsibility.

Benefits of Building Maintenance

As you’ve likely determined by now, there are numerous benefits of building maintenance management, for tenants, employees, landlords, and property managers.

Prevents Unexpected Shutdown of Facilities

For commercial buildings, regular maintenance prevents the unexpected shutdown of facilities. Emergency situations such as a burst pipe or gas leak will halt operations and often require employees to evacuate. When a business has to shutdown without planning to or preparing for it, this results in lost revenue and falling behind in production or other work. When maintenance teams keep up with regular maintenance, most of these and other problems can be avoided.

Increase Building Life

The maintenance of buildings will increase the useful lifetime of these buildings and facilities. Rather than allowing major building systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and electricity to wear out, regular maintenance will prevent the costly need to rebuild any of these systems. Maintenance technicians work to keep these building elements working like new for as long as possible.

Keeps Occupants Safe and Comfortable

Building maintenance done on a regular schedule keeps occupants safe, comfortable, and productive. Comfortable surroundings result in increased worker productivity or an enjoyable living environment for apartment building tenants. When the HVAC system is properly maintained in the summer and winter, the indoor climate of work environments and apartment units is at the right temperature and humidity level.

Sufficient plumbing, water, and wastewater maintenance ensures there is clean water for drinking, showering, cooking, and cleaning, which is essential for tenants to be happy in their homes or businesses.

Keeps Buildings Looking Their Best

Building maintenance keeps the exterior and interior of buildings looking their best, which gives customers, employees, and tenants a positive impression of the business or facility. It creates a calm and welcoming atmosphere where employees can perform optimally and residential tenants feel more at home.

Saves Organizations Money

Lastly, a benefit of regular building maintenance management is that is saves the organization (or landlord) money. By keeping up with preventive maintenance tasks, more expensive emergency repairs can be avoided and there will be fewer interruptions to production.

How CMMS Assists with Building Maintenance

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software assists with building maintenance management by improving the efficiency of maintenance processes. Using CMMS software to keep track of building maintenance work decreases the possibility of major maintenance being missed, which could result in building shutdowns. A CMMS allows maintenance supervisors to track the organization’s assets, assign work orders to specific technicians from a central database, and monitor inventory levels.

While the goal of most maintenance departments is to do as much preventive maintenance and as little corrective maintenance as possible, some machine downtime and repairs are inevitable. It’s important for maintenance teams to store corrective procedures in their CMMS system to refer to and execute quickly. CMMS software also provides a service or maintenance request portal where individuals outside of the maintenance department can submit requests for maintenance work to be done.

Maintain your Buildings Efficiently with FTMaintenance Select

Regardless of the type of building or industry, FTMaintenance Select will help you efficiently and effectively manage your building maintenance needs. To learn more about how FTMaintenance Select CMMS software will improve your building maintenance processes, schedule a demo today.

What is MRO Inventory Control?

Barcode-labeled MRO inventory items organized on a shelf and identified as part of an inventory control process.

Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) inventory spending accounts for a significant portion of an organization’s maintenance budget – in some cases as much as 45%! To minimize MRO inventory costs, organizations must understand what is happening to stock that is currently on hand. This article provides an overview of inventory control and its relationship to MRO inventory management.

What is MRO Inventory Control?

MRO inventory control, sometimes called stock control, can be defined as the process of tracking and regulating the level of MRO inventory within an organization, from the time it is received to the time it is consumed by maintenance work. It involves knowing what inventory items are available, how many are in stock, where they are located, and their condition (when applicable).

Why MRO Inventory Control is Important

Proper inventory control helps maintenance organizations in 4 key areas.

Inventory Accuracy

Through inventory control, maintenance organizations gain an accurate picture of how many units of an inventory item are in stock. Knowing these quantities helps identify which items are over or under stocked, thereby affecting replenishment decisions.

Maintaining accurate inventory levels also improve the maintenance planning process. When working from accurate stock counts, maintenance planners can schedule maintenance activities according to what parts are currently available or defer maintenance, if necessary.

Productivity

Poor inventory control affects the production of finished goods or the delivery of services. If parts needed for a repair are out of stock, organizations incur unnecessary downtime costs related to asset downtime and idling employees.

In addition, tracking the location of inventory items, along with their quantities, ensures maintenance technicians spend less time searching for parts and more time performing maintenance work.

Procurement and Reordering

Inventory tracked through inventory control activities provides valuable information for making purchase decisions. Continuously counted MRO items reveal an item’s usage and inventory turnover rates, which is used to determine ideal stocking levels. From this, organization’s can set an appropriate reorder point and avoid over or under ordering.

Held Inventory Costs

When done correctly, MRO inventory control helps reduce the amount of money tied up in inventory by allowing organizations to operate on the least amount of inventory that is sufficient to meet maintenance needs. Strict inventory control reduces the number of obsolete items held in inventory, reduces over or under ordering, and minimizes the need for costly expedited shipping if stockouts occur.

Reducing the total cost of inventory keeps the maintenance budget in check, frees up money for other projects, and maximizes an organization’s profitability.

Components of Inventory Control

MRO inventory control involves knowing what items are carried in inventory, their quantities, their location(s), and conditions.

Tracking Inventory Items and Their Quantities

In order to control inventory, organizations need to know what items are in stock and their quantities. There are multiple ways in which organizations audit their stocked inventory:

One way is to utilize cycle counting, where small portions of inventory are counted at a time. Compared to a full physical inventory count, which requires significant manual labor and temporary suspension of inventory activity, cycle counting is less disruptive, requires less labor, and can be performed any time.

Another way to identify and count inventory items is to use an inventory tracking system that stores inventory records and automatically updates stock levels as parts are consumed. Though this approach is more timely and accurate, data entry errors and unaccounted for transactions can lead to inaccuracies from time to time. To remedy these issues, organizations perform occasional physical counts to validate inventory accuracy and implement a barcode system to reduce data entry errors.

Further Reading: What is a Barcode System?

During the identification and counting process, organizations may also identify obsolete inventory which can be scrapped, sold, or otherwise disposed of. Doing so reduces clutter and frees up space for storing necessary inventory items.

Tracking Inventory Item Locations

The inventory control process includes tracking where all inventory items are located. Depending on the size of the organization, inventory items may be stored in one or many locations.

For example, there may a single stockroom, or there may be multiple stockrooms within a facility. Within each storage location are a number of aisles, racks, shelves, and bins. Further, inventory may be kept in other storage locations including cabinets, shelves, carts, vending machines, and cribs.

Location data can also impact how to organize the maintenance storeroom. In an effort to make it easy for maintenance staff to locate parts, inventory items may be organized by type or by the asset(s) on which they are used. Other aspects of an inventory item, such as its weight or size, may dictate the storage solution.

When an inventory item’s location and quantities are known, organizations are better able to assemble kits, repack items into smaller or larger units, and move groups of items from one storage location to another.

Tracking Inventory Item Movement

In addition to tracking MRO inventory items’ stocking locations, the inventory control process also tracks changes in location. For example, it is common for technicians to maintain a “personal” stock of MRO items in a rolling cart, tool chest, or vehicle. If this stock goes unaccounted for, inventory accuracy suffers and leads to increased inventory costs.

Tracking inventory item movement is also important when it comes to tools. Technicians must know whether the tools are available before maintenance work can begin and “check out” tools from a central tool crib (or other storage location).

In either case mentioned above, thorough inventory control tracks where items are currently located and who is in possession of them.

At times, inventory items are moved from one storage location to another. For example, an organization may decide to move a quantity of filters from the main stockroom to another storage location to reduce employee travel time. The organization should track the new location of the filters and the quantity stored there in the inventory management system.

Tracking Inventory Item Condition

Just because inventory items are in stock does not necessarily mean they are fit for maintenance, repair, or operations. The condition of the location in which inventory is stored impacts the integrity of the items stored there. For example, humidity causes moisture to collect on the surface of parts, leading to corrosion and degradation. Damaged parts do not perform to specification, potentially causing more harm than good.

Inventory Control vs. Inventory Management

By now, you may notice some similarities between inventory control and inventory management, and that is true. Both functions involve tracking and managing stock, though there are some key differences.

Earlier in the MRO inventory control definition, it was established that inventory control tracks and regulates inventory that is currently in the facility. In our article What is MRO Inventory Management?, inventory management is defined as “the process of procuring, storing, using, and replenishing the materials and supplies used for maintaining assets at the lowest possible cost.”

As you can see, the scope of inventory control is smaller than that of inventory management. Inventory control is most related to the storage aspect of inventory management, and ignores purchasing and replenishment. It is concerned with stock that is already present in the facility.

By comparison, inventory management involves all aspects of inventory, from tracking item specifications, monitoring usage and forecasting demand, making strategic purchase decisions to replenish stock, and managing vendor relationships. It is concerned with what is currently in the facility, as well as from where and when new stock is ordered. Many inventory management decisions are informed by inventory control.

Inventory Control Inventory Management
Definition The process of tracking and regulating the level of MRO inventory within an organization, from the time it is received to the time it is consumed by maintenance work. The process of procuring, storing, using, and replenishing the materials and supplies used for maintaining assets at the lowest possible cost.
Scope Operations-level daily tracking of MRO inventory that is currently in the facility. Higher-level tracking of MRO inventory ordering, stocking, replenishment, vendor management, and reporting.
Purpose Track the quantity, location, and condition of MRO inventory items within the facility. Ensure the organization has the right amount of stock, in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.
Helpful Resources: Looking to become an expert in inventory control and management? The following professional organizations offer learning opportunities and certification programs:

MRO Inventory Control Tools

Historically, inventory control has been managed with spreadsheets, printed paper files, and modules in accounting software. However, a better and more comprehensive way to manage and improve MRO inventory control – and inventory management – is computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

A CMMS offers robust maintenance inventory management software capabilities, and allows organizations to maintain visibility of all inventory items across the facility. A centralized system provides real-time inventory data and quick identification of an inventory item’s location, quantity, specification, cost, and more.

In regards to ordering and replenishment, CMMS software offers many benefits over manual systems. CMMS software automatically updates inventory count as inventory is consumed by work orders. Through maintenance reports, organizations can use inventory data to set appropriate reorder points and be notified when it’s time to reorder stock. Some CMMS platforms include purchasing functionality, providing an end-to-end inventory management solution.

Control Inventory More Effectively with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select makes it easy to control your MRO inventory by allowing you to identify inventory items, track stock quantities, and track and manage inventory storage locations. Request a demo today to learn more about FTMaintenance Select.

Learn more about MRO Inventory Management

MRO Inventory Management is an important aspect of maintenance management. Its complexity warrants in-depth coverage of the topic. Check out our other articles about MRO inventory management.

Applications of Barcodes in Maintenance Management

A close up of a barcode that can be used on assets and scanned with a scanner.

Effective maintenance management relies on high-quality maintenance data. However, human error causes inaccurate data to be entered into computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, compromising the usefulness of the information stored within it. Because of this, organizations often implement a barcode system to ensure accurate data entry and lookup. This article provides an overview of the many applications of barcodes in maintenance management.

Applications of Barcodes in Maintenance Management

Barcoding is a versatile technology that enhances many day-to-day maintenance management activities. The sections below describe common applications of barcodes in maintenance environments.

Asset Tagging

Asset tags are barcode labels that uniquely identify physical assets and are directly applied to asset exteriors for tracking purposes. In an ideal scenario, asset tags allow maintenance staff to walk up to an asset, scan the barcode, and perform some action using their CMMS. For example, the system might allow users to look up asset details, view maintenance records, or create a work order for the asset.

Asset tags are useful for organizations that have a large number of assets to maintain. Scanning barcodes reduces human error, ensuring technicians access and record accurate maintenance data for the specified asset.

Because asset tags are affixed to the asset, barcode labels must be able to withstand extreme temperatures, moisture, debris, and vibration without being compromised or lost. Incomplete or missing information invalidates the value of the barcodes. Organizations must choose the barcode printer and labeling materials that best suits their needs.

Read more: What is Asset Management?

Tool Tracking

Durable assets like tools are also commonly tracked via barcodes. This is because, unlike equipment assets which are largely stationary (except for vehicles), tools are mobile, shared among staff, and change location often. Barcoded tools allow the maintenance department to monitor exactly which tools are checked out, their current locations, and how many are available in inventory for use.

Tool movement is tracked through a check-in/check-out process using barcodes, similar to borrowing books from a library. When a tool is needed, technicians scan the barcode to check it out, reserving it for use. When the tool is returned, it is scanned back in to its storage location.

Read more: What is MRO Inventory Control?

MRO Inventory Management

Organizations typically stock hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands (or more) of MRO items within a stockroom. The sheer volume of unique inventory items makes it necessary to avoid misidentifying inventory items when completing work orders or replenishing the stockroom.

When applied to stockroom racks, shelves, and bins, barcode labels are useful for identifying the items stored there. This is useful for verifying parts pulled for maintenance work, adjusting part quantities when making kits, and performing physical inventory counts. Stockroom employees save time by scanning barcodes instead of manually typing numbers into the CMMS.

Alternatively, barcodes might exist in a master binder that lists all inventory items along with their corresponding barcodes. When the location of an inventory item is unknown, employees can look up its location in the CMMS by scanning the barcode information into a search field. The system then identifies the exact aisle, rack, shelf, and bin location of the item.

Read more: What is MRO Inventory Management?

Purchasing and Receiving

Barcodes are a useful tool when used with a CMMS’s purchasing and receiving functionality. When new inventory items arrive and need to be received, employees look up purchase order records by scanning a barcode on the physical PO form. From there, employees then update the status and quantities of incoming purchase order items. Having barcodes in place makes this process much faster and easier, especially when several items are received at once.

Organizations that track vendor item numbers are able to scan the barcode labels on incoming items and match it up with inventory records in the CMMS. Then, organizations are able to generate barcode labels that follow the organization’s internal numbering scheme for tracking and stocking purposes.

Barcoded Documents

CMMS software with barcode capability can generate barcoded paper documents, such as purchase orders and work orders. When these records need to be looked up and updated in the CMMS, all users need to do is click into a search field and scan the barcode. This is a huge timesaver when many items are received at once, or when a batch of work orders is ready to be closed.

CMMS Ease of Use

Depending on the CMMS, barcodes can provide shortcuts to valuable information. For example, clicking through multiple screens takes much longer than scanning a barcode. After the system recognizes the asset (or document), it can take the user to the record details or present the user with a list of options for what to do next.

Even if scanning a barcode only reduces user interaction by one click, those clicks add up over time. After all, the less time a technician spends clicking around in the CMMS, the more time he can spend actually performing maintenance work.

Benefits of Barcoding Technology in Maintenance Management

The applications of barcodes span nearly every major facet of maintenance management. Fortunately, many CMMS software solutions include barcode technology, thereby making it easier to incorporate barcoding into your maintenance process. As this article demonstrates, there are many advantages to barcoding:

  • Reduced Human Error: Barcode scanning allows information to be entered into a CMMS using a scanned code instead of manual entry, thereby preventing mistakes and improving the accuracy of maintenance data.
  • Increased Productivity: Once fully implemented, a barcode system allows maintenance workers to quickly locate information or take additional action using the CMMS. Wireless scanners and mobile barcode scanning allow employees to stay productive.
  • Better Decision-Making: When using accurate data, maintenance organizations are able to make smarter decisions about asset maintenance, inventory purchasing, maintenance schedules, and more. This leads to more efficient operations and lower maintenance costs.
  • Improved Return on Investment (ROI): Over time, organizations will be able to grow into using more advanced features of their CMMS. Combining powerful CMMS software with a barcode system provides additional long-term value to the organization, increasing the CMMS ROI.
  • Increased User Adoption: Employees are more likely to adopt a system that is easy to use. Barcode scanning provides an easy data entry method for employees of all computer skill levels.

Improve Your Maintenance Operations with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select barcode capability allows for comprehensive management of your assets and inventory, and integrates seamlessly into your maintenance work order management processes. Contact us today to learn more about the FTMaintenance Select barcode system.

The Key Stages of Asset Life Cycle Management

Injection molding thermoplastic machine displayed during its prime asset life cycle stage.

Assets are an essential resource for operating a business. Production cannot occur without assets, and the maintenance department would have nothing to maintain if it were not for assets. Learning about asset life cycle management is important for developing a robust, comprehensive maintenance strategy, which will extend the useful life of all assets.

What is Asset Lifecycle Management?

Asset Lifecycle Management (ALCM) can be defined as a method of managing assets where managers of a facility optimize the useful life of assets through planning, acquiring, installing, maintaining, and properly recycling or disposing of assets, while saving money and improving productivity at each stage. Asset Lifecycle Management is important for improving operational productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Analyzing the necessary actions to take to reduce risks and manage costs at each stage is a key part of the ALCM process.

Organizations invest in ALCM because tracking assets’ lifecycles using the right software provides a continuous flow of data. It strengthens accountability while keeping equipment maintenance and planning on track. Erroneous data is mostly eliminated, and assets can be monitored around the clock. Automated warnings on machines reduce capital expenditure, decreasing operational expenses. The records kept of maintenance activities helps to determine when making repairs is no longer advantageous and the asset should be replaced.

Asset Life Cycle Stages

There are five key stages in an asset’s life cycle. Asset life cycle stages can be defined in multiple ways, but generally fall into the stages described below. Before the first phase of an asset’s life cycle begins, the need for the asset is discovered. The life cycle of an asset continues until the asset is removed from production or disposed of at the end of its useful life.

For more information about how assets are defined, read our FTMaintenance blog post, What is an Asset?

Planning for the Asset

The first phase of an asset’s life cycle is planning for the asset, which occurs when the organization’s needs aren’t being met by current assets. The procurement team might work together with multiple departments (production, fleet, customer service, etc) to determine specific needs. The purchasing department acquires the asset or assets that would meet those needs. Budget constraints should be taken into account; however, the primary focus when purchasing an asset is whether or not it will fulfill the required need for the organization.

Acquiring the Asset

When it has been determined which asset is needed, the next step is acquiring the asset. This includes researching different vendors and choosing the one that has the best product for a cost the organization can afford. Acquiring the asset includes ordering, tracking, and delivery. One the asset arrives at the organization it must be unloaded and unpackaged.

Also included in the acquisition stage is installation and deployment, which includes assembly, testing for any issues, and inspecting for defects. The manufacturer then installs the asset, and the maintenance manager gets involved to identify spare parts that will be needed later and order them right away if there are long lead times. The maintenance manager should be aware of how the asset’s spare parts will fit into inventory. When the asset has been deployed, additional testing is done to ensure the asset is running properly. Personnel are trained on how to use the asset, and maintenance technicians are trained on how to maintain the asset.

Using the Asset

The third phase in an asset’s life cycle is initial use of the asset before any maintenance is required. This, along with the maintenance phase, makes up the majority of the asset’s life cycle. During this period of time, the asset is finally put to its intended use and is expected to produce output that efficiently contributes to the profitability of the organization. It’s important to note than continued planning for the asset’s life cycle and maintenance occurs during this phase, but planning should begin before the asset is even acquired.

The amount of time an asset runs before requiring initial maintenance depends on a number of factors. These include the type of asset, how often the asset is used, how complex the asset is, what type of maintenance resources the organization has, and what type of maintenance plan is in place.

Maintaining the Asset

Once a new asset requires its first maintenance task, it enters the maintenance stage in its life cycle.  There are multiple types of maintenance an organization will perform on its assets. They fall into two categories: reactive and proactive.

Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance (CM) is a type of reactive maintenance. It is done when something goes wrong with an asset, and its purpose is to correct the problem and get the asset running properly again. This is the most common type of maintenance to be performed because no matter how simple or complex a maintenance team’s plan is, corrective maintenance must be done when needed.

Emergency Maintenance

Emergency maintenance is a type of reactive, corrective maintenance that is done when an asset fails completely and the problem must be corrected immediately. Emergency maintenance might involve a task that will mitigate a safety hazard or prevent damage to a product, building, or other machines.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance (PM) is proactive maintenance done on a regular basis to prevent machine failure and interruptions in production. Using computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is a crucial component to performing PM with enough accuracy and consistency.

Preventive maintenance jobs include a wide range of tasks that can be simple and straightforward or complex, all of which are important for keeping assets in optimal condition. The types of preventive maintenance jobs a maintenance team will perform depend largely on which assets they have and the industry to which the organization belongs. A few general examples include changing the oil on a service vehicle, changing a furnace filter, lubricating machine parts, and repainting a wall of a building.

Predictive and Condition-Based Maintenance

Predictive maintenance (PdM) is a proactive maintenance technique which uses real-time asset data, historical data, and analytics collected by machine sensors. The sensors collect data used to forecast when an asset may fail. PdM is performed before that point to avoid complete failure. While not every organization does regular predictive and condition-based maintenance work, many large organizations do regularly, provided they have enough maintenance resources.

Read More: What is Predictive Maintenance?

The last type of proactive maintenance, condition-based (CbM), is similar to predictive maintenance, but it is only performed when needed in response to the asset’s real condition. CbM seeks to prevent unnecessary maintenance tasks from being done. This technique identifies when an asset’s performance or condition reaches an unsatisfactory level, which is also done through data collected by machine sensors.

Read More: What is Condition-based Maintenance?

Disposing of the Asset

The last stage in an asset’s life cycle is decommissioning and disposal of the asset. In a fixed asset’s life cycle, disposal occurs when an asset has reached the end of its useful life. Depending on the type of asset and the material it’s made of, it may be recycled or thrown away. In some industries, assets are repurposed before they get disposed of completely. For example, a truck that travels to worksites becomes a plow truck that stays on the property. However, repurposing doesn’t happen often with production assets.

After an asset is disposed, the life cycle starts over again with a replacement asset. This is always a good time to determine if the organization can upgrade to a better product while minimizing costs. The maintenance department can reassess the maintenance plan for that type of asset going forward to maximize the next asset’s usefulness.

Asset Life Cycle Management

Asset Life Cycle Management includes maintenance, along with other processes. When done effectively, it can extend the asset’s lifespan, reduce the cost of maintenance, and make the asset more reliable. Other benefits of effectively managing an asset’s life cycle include a more informed decision-making process for maintenance personnel, improved facility efficiency, decreased unplanned downtime, and monetary savings. In order to receive those benefits, organizations should focus on the following areas of asset life cycle management:

  • Regularly reviewing past asset records
  • Keeping track of how the asset is currently operating
  • Developing the experience and knowledge of technicians
  • Collecting accurate and complete asset data

Asset Life Cycle Management vs. Maintenance Management

Asset Life Cycle Management (ALCM) and maintenance management are related, but distinctly different. ALCM focuses on a holistic approach to managing assets that goes beyond maintenance alone. Maintenance management is focused solely on the maintenance stage of an asset’s life cycle.

As a whole, asset life cycle management includes monitoring and evaluating how assets meet an organization’s needs at each stage, from planning to installation, use, maintenance, and disposal or retirement. Multiple departments may get involved, including production, procurement, maintenance, and accounting.

Assets are in the maintenance stage for all of their useful life, which is why adequate maintenance is so important. Maintenance management controls maintenance resources and activities needed to preserve assets or restore them to working order. Ideally, maintenance management keeps assets in optimal condition and ensures less disruption in production.

Read More: What is Maintenance Management?

Asset Life Cycle Management and CMMS Software

Data collection on your assets is crucial for successful asset life cycle management. Accurate data proves or disproves ideas maintenance technicians have about what needs to be done on the assets. The location of data storage is equally as important as data accuracy.

The data for each asset should be stored in a place where those who need to review that data can easily access it. If one software program or database has maintenance management, asset management, and production management data stored in it, but it is optimized for only one of these departments, the data storage solution doesn’t serve the organization well.

Instead, best of breed asset life cycle management software is needed for each department, and the best software will generate the most important data that each work group needs to share with other departments and systems. Multiple software programs are needed to achieve complete ALCM.

Workgroup based programs support organizations by helping each team to be more efficient. For maintenance departments, that software is computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

Read More: What’s the Difference Between CMMS vs. EAM Software?

A CMMS ensures you will get the most productive life out of your assets by collecting comprehensive maintenance data. CMMS software allows maintenance managers to keep a complete cost history of all production assets, including how much labor and how many replacement parts have been used. CMMS software displays trends in machine breakdowns, keeps track of runtime reports, and determines which machines are the most troublesome. The maintenance team will discover where most maintenance expenditures come from and why, allowing them to create better work schedules to more effectively manage maintenance needs.

Maintain your Assets throughout their Life Cycle with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select maximizes maintenance team productivity and improves asset life. Our CMMS software supports Asset Life Cycle Management by allowing users to better manage asset maintenance. To learn more, schedule a demo with our sales team today.

How a CMMS Improves School Maintenance Management

A large university campus in the fall with students walking inside, demonstrating maintenance challenges in the education industry

The education industry faces unique maintenance management challenges. School campuses, from elementary schools to colleges and universities, are different environments from other facilities or industrial buildings. Read on to learn more about the types of maintenance challenges found in educational facilities and how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can address those challenges.

Education Industry Maintenance Challenges

Educational facilities require complex and thorough maintenance. In order to foster an effective environment for learning, campuses need to remain in excellent condition. Adding to this challenge, continued financial support for each school depends on how well capital investments are protected through security measures, insurance policies, and maintenance. Below are multiple reasons maintenance management challenges in educational settings.

Large Volume of Work Compared to Resources

Facilities management in schools is focused on grounds maintenance, including cutting grass in the spring and summer and salting sidewalks when it snows in the winter. School maintenance staff also has a lot of indoor tasks including mopping floors, minor mechanical repairs, unclogging drains, replacing tiles, and painting. On top of these standard jobs are unexpected repairs and maintenance requests from teachers, staff, and in some cases, students, that create a large volume of work to tackle.

Despite the high work volume, school maintenance departments often face shrinking resources due to a lack of funding. The schools are unable to hire the ideal number of maintenance staff members or outside contractors to meet demand. This results in older building elements such as worn insulation, outdated ventilation systems, and machine assets that are past their prime not getting repaired or replaced in a timely manner.

Read More: How to Combat the Maintenance Technician Shortage

Completing Urgent Jobs with Classes in Session

While most maintenance jobs are completed outside of school hours, urgent maintenance issues must be dealt with while students are in class. These can range from an overflowing toilet or power failure, to a burned out light in a classroom, or a spill that must be cleaned up immediately. The janitor or maintenance technician may need to get on a ladder, block off an area, or otherwise interrupt a class, which can be distracting for students. Schools must use discretion about which jobs truly cannot wait and which can be done when students are out of the classroom (i.e., during lunch, recess or after class).

Large Campuses with Different Maintenance Environments

Educational facilities, especially college campuses, can be hundreds or even thousands of acres in size and spread across multiple locations. Even some elementary and middle schools can be large for a small maintenance staff to walk around. Maintenance workers have to juggle the importance of each maintenance task with where each asset is located and map out their day accordingly to get work done on time.

Unlike in other industries, maintenance management in education requires the janitors and other maintenance personnel to perform maintenance in many different types of environments. Many large schools have computer labs, science labs, pools, gyms, and cafeterias to name just a few. Maintaining such a wide variety of assets requires a large array of skills and knowledge, which may warrant the help of outside contractors.

Dorms and Weekend Work on College Campuses

Colleges and universities have unique challenges not present in other educational settings. In elementary, middle, and high schools, students go home in the afternoon, leaving time for maintenance technicians or janitorial staff to work without interrupting students. On the other hand, many students live on campus or attend night classes, leaving less time for maintenance personnel to complete their work student-free. Dormitories also contain unique assets, including specialized HVAC systems, showers, small kitchen appliances, and laundry facilities that require specific skills to maintain.

Event Preparation and Cleanup

Schools at all levels have the added maintenance challenge of preparing for, and cleaning up after, events. These events can include sports games, theater performances, banquets, band and choir concerts, assemblies, dances, and school board meetings (to name just some). Maintenance technicians are often in charge of setting up seating if needed, and might be responsible for preparing, inspecting, and servicing sound and lighting equipment. After an event, janitors may need to clean up and remove trash, sweep and mop floors, and return chairs and equipment to their storage spaces. For outdoor events, they may need to mow the lawn, treat weeds, or remove leaves.

This can be challenging because it is additional work outside of keeping the school running smoothly during regular class hours. Maintenance teams must keep track of events schedules and plan the work they need to do accordingly.

Stringent Cleaning, Safety, and Indoor Air Quality Measures

Every organization has a checklist of stringent cleaning tasks that must be done regularly. Following the proper cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing guidelines is more important now than ever in order to mitigate COVID-19. There are also additional cleaning requirements to be completed during the summer and other school breaks. Books, computer keyboards, and science lab supplies for example, should be disinfected before each school year begins. Door handles and railings must be cleaned often since many people touch them frequently.

Proper water filtration management and waste management must also be high priority. This includes drinking water, cafeteria sinks, food preparation stations, plumbing systems, and drainage. When necessary, maintenance management must make the repairs or contact a local plumber to do so. Related to waste management, trash removal as well as grease trap cleaning in the cafeteria is also done by the maintenance department.

With so many people entering and exiting the building (or buildings), varying room sizes, and the large square footage of campus facilities, maintaining optimal indoor air quality (IAQ) is both important and challenging. Indoor air quality includes not only the air that passes through the HVAC system, but also radon gas, construction dust, mold, paint fumes, stack emissions, and asbestos. If the indoor air quality in a school is less than ideal, it can cause individuals to experience allergy symptoms, congestion, headaches, and nausea.

Maintenance during School Breaks and Summer

Maintenance management in the education industry includes executing appropriate maintenance tasks during winter, spring, and summer breaks when students, faculty, and staff are away from campus. In the winter and spring as needed, maintenance may scrub and wax tile floors, clean carpets and entrance mats, dust surfaces in all rooms, and deep clean the restrooms.

In the summer, these tasks are also done, but additional maintenance work is completed since there is more time with vacant facilities. Additional summer maintenance in education includes repairing cooling towers if needed, remediating mold, and washing all windows on the interior and exterior. High-dusting is also done in the summer, which includes light fixtures, high shelves, and anything near the ceiling. The walls, doors, furniture, ceilings, and desks get deep cleaned. If any renovations are needed, they are typically completed during summer, holiday, and in between term breaks.

Read More: Facility Summer Maintenance Checklist

How a CMMS Addresses Educational Facility Maintenance Challenges

The use of computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) in educational facilities helps to address maintenance challenges in this industry. Overall, CMMS can help to enhance overall safety and support a learning environment. A CMMS can help to balance the needs and demands of school maintenance with the available budget.

Schedule Work Ahead of Time

Using CMMS software boosts overall maintenance work productivity. The maintenance team needs to be aware of when classes, breaks, and events occur so that maintenance jobs can be scheduled accordingly. With that schedule in mind, maintenance managers can schedule one-time or reoccurring work orders, with customizable timeframes for daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or other periodic preventive maintenance jobs. This planned maintenance can be assigned to specific technicians or contractors with the appropriate skills.

Bird’s Eye View of Asset Relationships

CMMS software’s asset management capabilities allow maintenance departments to organize and track assets in multiple locations, giving them a “bird’s eye view”. Documents and images can be attached to provide additional asset maintenance details where needed.

Service History

Asset service history can also be maintained and viewed in a few clicks to assist with troubleshooting. When maintenance technicians are attempting to determine the cause of an issue with a machine, reviewing what maintenance jobs were done on the asset in the past can help. The type of maintenance, specific job details, dates of previous maintenance, what tools and resources were used, and the time in between maintenance jobs can all be viewed in CMMS.

Tracking Inventory

Using CMMS software in educational facilities is helpful for keeping track of maintenance parts inventory, including tools and supplies used. Since many items get checked out, moved, and then returned, maintenance management software’s inventory capabilities maintain records of which items are present, checked out, or missing. Every piece of equipment that comes in and out of inventory can be tagged with a barcode label. Barcodes can be used to scan in updated part quantities or check out items to be used in maintenance jobs.

Mobile Work Order Management and Software Access

CMMS software can be used on any mobile device, which enables maintenance technicians to start, perform, or at least earmark maintenance work as soon as a corrective maintenance issue is discovered. Work orders can be created, opened, and closed directly from the job site, saving the janitor or maintenance technician time they would have spent walking to and from a desktop computer. Mobile CMMS is especially convenient on large campuses with multiple buildings.

Maintenance Requests

School maintenance solutions such as CMMS software include the ability for faculty, staff, and where applicable, college students to make maintenance requests. This industry may receive more requests than in other industries, especially from colleges where there are dorm rooms that may need attention. CMMS software allows maintenance requests to be managed in an efficient, timely manner, prioritizing them according to severity and the date the request was made. Requesters can attach photos to provide more information about the problem requiring resolution. They will receive communication regarding when their request has been received and completed.

Maintenance Reports

Maintenance reports can help maintenance management in education to solve reoccurring maintenance issues. CMMS software contains reports, which allow tracking of maintenance operations, including assets, inventory, and work orders.

Vendor Management

CMMS software can provide a way for schools to manage their vendor and outsourced contractor information. It provides the ability to store contact information as well as update market prices for specific types of parts and services.

Maintain Your Educational Facility with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance is CMMS software that is used by educational facilities to make maintenance operations more efficient, manage assets in multiple buildings on campus, balance maintenance jobs with student and faculty schedules, and keep track of outside vendors and contractors’ contact information. Visit our education page to read more about how FTMaintenance works well for school campuses, or schedule a demo today.

What are the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices?

Meat on an assembly line with workers in the background following the FDA GMPs.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) which organizations that are FDA regulated must follow. Despite the requirements and the adherence to them being closely monitored, maintenance departments don’t always understand the role they play in supporting GMPs. It can be difficult to determine which actions the maintenance team must take. In this article, maintenance teams will learn about which GMPs are applicable to maintenance, and gain a better understanding of how to uphold GMPs that impact their company’s production environment.

What are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)?

Also called Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), GMPs are a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. Any products that are made for human or animal consumption, used topically, or used to prepare or store food are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This ensures that these products are safe and of high quality.

When it comes to drug products, adherence to GMPs assures the identity, strength, purity, and quality of the medication. With good manufacturing practices for food processing, the overall objective is to maintain sanitary facility conditions, as well as produce nutritious, wholesome foods.

Business sectors that are subject to FDA GMPs include:

Applicable Provisions for Universal GMPs

While listing the details of every Good Manufacturing Practice and its applications is nearly impossible to cover in one article, there are universal areas of GMPs and applicable provisions to highlight that will provide a clearer picture of what organizations must do to adhere to these regulations. It’s important to note that organizations should not rely on this summary of regulations for compliancy purposes—it’s up to each organization to ensure they are complying with regulations as stated by the FDA. Visit the FDA website for additional details.

Pills on a conveyor belt being produced by following FDA GMPs.

Building and Grounds Conditions and Maintenance

Good Manufacturing Practices apply to the condition and maintenance of buildings, facilities, properties, and grounds. Maintenance of buildings must be done in an efficient and regular manner. Section 110.20 outlines the requirements for adequate maintenance of the grounds, including litter control, waste removal and treatment, grounds maintenance, and drainage.

Manufacturing plants must be designed in a way that will prevent or reduce contamination. Since there are many possible variations, the focus of this area of GMPs is to create a sanitary environment, rather than on specific construction or remodeling details.

Equipment

The equipment in manufacturing facilities is subject to GMP regulations. Some examples of specific requirements that are fairly universal in FDA regulated industries include filters on ventilation systems and machines, automatic temperature regulation control, and an alarm system to alert employees of a sudden change in product temperature. Heat, cold, and humidity levels greatly impact food and medication production. Maintenance is responsible for changing these filters, inspecting machines, and making sure these alarms work (or repairing them when they malfunction).

Pest Control

In any industry, adequate pest control is vital to a safe production environment—this is especially important in facilities that produce food or drugs. Not only must pests be kept out of the building, contamination of the products must be prevented. When needed, pest control chemicals are used to deter or eliminate insects and rodents. Those who use these chemicals must take care that they do not come in contact with any machine, surface, or liquid that is used to make or store food or drugs.

Sections 110.35 and 111 (which covers dietary supplements) of the FDA’s GMPs address pest control and cleaning of food surfaces. An effective pest control program must be implemented within the food premises and surrounds. Pest control is part of general facility maintenance. The maintenance team needs to provide instructions on how to properly use chemicals.

Water Supply

The water supply must be kept clean to meet FDA Good Manufacturing Practices in all industries that are required to adhere to these regulations. This includes the 21 CFR 129 regulations for bottled water, adequate sanitary facilities, and controls for the water supply, plumbing, and hand washing facilities, as outlined in Section 110.37.

To adhere to these regulations, organizations need to have floor drains, grease traps, and hoses to use for liquid containment and cleanup. They must follow all cleaning and sanitizing procedures, which may vary for each machine and part used in the production process. Maintenance is responsible for keeping the plumbing system up and running. They need to monitor wastewater and drainage.

Trash and Hazardous Waste

As you can imagine, a lot of trash is produced in a food or drug production facility. Some of this trash is hazardous waste, such as expired cleaning chemicals. Other waste, such as juice from raw meat, carries a high risk that it will cause contamination or a bacterial infection.

Control and proper disposal of trash, hazardous waste, and high risk substances is an important part of good manufacturing practices. To do this, organizations must follow procedures to safely dispose of animal product waste, arrange for regular pick up of rubbish, and use hazardous waste bins for chemicals and other hazardous materials. Industrial sewage must be disposed of properly and any spills that cause contamination must be cleaned up as soon as possible.

In some organizations, it may be the responsibility of the maintenance department to take out the trash and use a trash compactor to dispose of waste. The maintenance team cleans clogged grease traps and makes sure chemicals get disposed of properly.

Personnel Hygiene

Personal hygiene is important in any organization; however, those who work with food, drugs, medical devices, or dietary supplements need to take extra precautions in the work environment. This includes wearing hairnets and beard and shoe coverings. Workers cannot wear jewelry or fragrance. No personal food or beverage can be near any of the production areas. These employees must wash their hands more frequently than most employees to prevent contamination. Sweat must be kept from coming in contact with product, and if employees have any symptoms of illness, they cannot attend work.

All departments, including maintenance, must adhere to these regulations, along with making sure workers wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes goggles, gloves, and face shields or masks.

Operating Procedures

When it comes to operating procedures, drug manufacturers especially need to adhere to a number of GMPs. There needs to be a written record of all of these procedures, along with instructions that provide a roadmap for following regulations and maintaining consistent quality production. Maintenance managers should provide specific, step-by-step instructions for technicians to follow when maintaining production equipment or making repairs.

Product Testing

All industries that are regulated by the FDA are required to do product testing to ensure the finished products are high quality, safe, and effective. This is especially important with pharmaceuticals—the wrong chemical compound or any contamination can make the products dangerous for the public to consume. One method of contamination could result from debris coming off of equipment and getting into the product, which is why regular cleaning and inspection of production, handling, and storage equipment assets is important.

The GMP system helps to minimize risk involved in producing pharmaceutical medications, especially those that can’t be eliminated through testing the final product. It is vital to test and reject goods that fail safety, quality, and stability testing, as outlined in Section 211 of GMP regulations.

Inspections

GMPs serve as one of the bases for FDA inspections. A manufacturer can demonstrate that they have followed GMPs by preparing proof of compliance for a government licensing inspector. This inspector will inspect the premises to assess compliance. Types of inspections that are performed in preparation for a formal FDA inspection in FDA regulated environments include:

  • Internal manufacturer’s inspections for GMP adherence to make formal FDA inspections go more smoothly
  • Manufacturer’s general review of building and worksite for compliance with regulations and customer expectations
  • Manufacturer’s comprehensive look at the level of GMP compliance

Issues that are discovered in any of these inspections should be resolved quickly, and root cause analysis should be performed to avoid a reoccurrence of the same issues.

While not required by law, many organizations that produce food also follow Safe Quality Foods guidelines.

Read More: Why You Shouldn’t Fear Maintenance Audits

Quality Management and Control

Adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices regulations includes establishing strong quality management systems and quality control operations. Raw materials for manufacturing and processes for packaging and labeling should be monitored with quality control procedures. Nutrient content for goods, such as dietary supplements and infant formula, should be examined with stringent quality control measures.

Each employee engaged in manufacturing, maintenance, packaging, labeling, or holding, along with those working in quality control operations needs to have education, training, and experience to perform these job functions.

How CMMS Helps Organizations Maintain GMPs

Comprehensive use of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software helps organizations adhere to the FDA’s GMPs. There are a number of benefits this type of maintenance management software provides that relate to maintaining good manufacturing practices.

Computerized Documentation

The most important way CMMS software can help organizations adhere to the FDA’s GMPs is providing computerized documentation. The software allows companies to say what they’re going to do, document that they are doing it, and be able to prove it was done. Having GMP information stored in CMMS software provides documentation to refer to when carrying out related tasks.

The maintenance manager can create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for maintenance work. They can create work orders that include step-by-step instructions. Documents can be attached to work to provide additional details. Checklists can be used to ensure tasks were done, and an approval process can be implemented to ensure maintenance work stays on schedule. By building details of these regulations into work order instructions, this information stays in maintenance history when work orders are closed.

Mobile CMMS

Most CMMS software can be used on mobile devices, which reduces lost wrench time. Technicians don’t have to go back to a stationary computer to record task details. Anyone with access to the CMMS system can create, edit, check the status of, and close work orders from their mobile phone or tablet. Mobile CMMS is an efficient way to receive maintenance requests from those outside the maintenance department. Whether the maintenance work is already scheduled or comes in as a request, users can access documents such as additional instructions that outline which GMPs apply when performing a maintenance job.

Simplified Planning

CMMS software simplifies the planning process for carrying out maintenance and following GMPs. CMMS systems allow maintenance managers to ensure equipment and facilities are kept in conditions that meet GMP standards. Maintenance managers are able to plan preventive maintenance and have the ability to make work orders “on the fly” when needed. Maintenance should not be done without documentation. In industries that are FDA regulated, no maintenance is completed without documentation. Work order templates allow what needs to be done to be documented ahead of the maintenance task being completed.

Streamlined Document and Data Management

Finally, storing information (including historical records and GMP-related instructions) in CMMS software streamlines data management. Having digital records accessible from a single source saves time in searching for printed paperwork and ensures the information is stored securely as a backup for physical documents.

Reports can be created using this data. For example, a report can highlight which machines fail most often, or how many preventive maintenance jobs are scheduled against how many have been completed. Then maintenance teams can look into maintenance history on assets that fail often to see if GMPs were adhered to during each maintenance job.

Make Adherence to the FDA’s GMPs Easier with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance is CMMS software that aids maintenance teams in documenting compliance with FDA GMPs. Having this documentation computerized, not only on paper, will help organizations in the pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, medical device, and other industries remain competitive. Innovation is continually happening in FDA-regulated organizations. Having robust maintenance management software will help them keep up with other organizations in their industry. Contact us to learn more about FTMaintenance.

 

 

 

 

 

FasTrak Hosts First Post-Pandemic Company Luncheon

The world events in the better part of the last two years have significantly affected all of us. A common impact on many has been changes to the way they work. Working remotely has become a long-term solution for keeping everyone safe as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. That has been the case for some employees at FasTrak. A core group of employees continue to work in the office while others have switched to remote work.

When you’re unable to see all of your coworkers in person for an extended period of time, it’s easy to begin to feel disconnected from your peers. FasTrak felt that it was time to reconnect and gather as a company, so we recently hosted an outdoor company luncheon. While enjoying delicious Mexican food from a local taco truck, employees were able to safely reunite after months of meeting only through conference calls and video meetings. As they arrived, returning employees were greeted with signs that included “Thank you for making a difference!”, “There is no challenge we cannot get through together.”, and “We are thankful to have you on our team.”

Here are a few photos from the event.

 

Two FasTrak employees greet each other with a hug.

Two FasTrak employees greet each other with a hug

 

Employees get some tacos and begin to chat as they begin to chat.

Employees get some tacos and begin to chat as they enjoy their lunch.

 

FasTrak employees catching up after lunch as the sun finally came out.

FasTrak employees catching up after lunch as the sun finally came out.

 

Whether working remotely or in the office, COVID-19 changed work for all FasTrak employees. Ethan, our Senior Communications Specialist, shares his experience working in the office throughout this pandemic:

“Our office has certainly had a different feel to it since employees began working remotely. There was definitely some shock at the beginning of the pandemic as the once-bustling office now felt empty. It was a bit unnerving to not know when you might see your coworkers again.

While my personal routine didn’t change much (other than less traffic on the highway, which has since returned), office employees had to adjust how we communicated with remote members of our team. Our office environment is fairly casual and we are a collaborative group, so in-person meetings or impromptu conversations at one’s desk were common pre-pandemic. However, email, instant message, phone, and video conference communication has since replaced face-to-face interaction, which required some getting used to. Still, I’d rather see my coworkers in person, if even just to say a quick hello. I look forward to the day when our remote employees come back.”

Like many FasTrak employees, Sarah, FasTrak’s Marketing Communications Specialist, has been working remotely. Here’s what her experience away from the office has been like:

“Working from home definitely has its pros and cons. At first, I was nervous about a sudden change in routine, but I quickly adapted. I do enjoy being able to see my two dogs and cat during the day and allowing them to be my ‘assistants’. I also like saving gas and time because I don’t have to commute to work, and being able to cook a quick lunch on my own stove once in a while is a nice perk. In the summer, being able to sit outside for short breaks was relaxing. I do miss talking to my coworkers in person, seeing their faces, and feeling in the loop about what’s happening with the team.”

While we cannot be completely certain of when, we do know things will become more “normal” again eventually. For now, the FasTrak team is grateful for the opportunity we had to meet together and catch up. We look forward to similar events in the future. Even when we are all working under one roof again, parking lot gatherings are sure to continue.

How to Write an Effective Maintenance Task

Technician holding tablet with maintenance task list on the screen, checking one off and standing in front of machine.

Writing standardized maintenance tasks is a valuable part of maintenance planning and scheduling. Well-written tasks provide templates on which to base similar future tasks, thereby saving time and reducing errors. Additionally, detailed tasks will ensure that technicians perform repairs and maintenance more effectively and consistently. In this blog post, we will go over how to write effective maintenance tasks and provide tips for improving maintenance task planning.

The Importance of Writing Effective Maintenance Tasks

Despite maintenance planning and scheduling being vital to effective maintenance management, it is often the most neglected aspect of managing assets. Many maintenance teams do only corrective maintenance and scramble to “put out fires” while doing little-to-no preventive maintenance work. Planned maintenance, accompanied by detailed tasks and instructions, pull maintenance teams out of “firefighting mode”.

It has been shown that proper maintenance planning and scheduling can increase wrench time (the amount of time during a shift spent physically performing the maintenance work) from 35% to 65%. The instructions, schedule, designated spare parts, and assigned workers or contractors guide the entire maintenance process. Writing out maintenance tasks helps planners create an outline of future maintenance work because it provides labor estimates and shows what skills/parts are required.

How to Write a Maintenance Task Step by Step

1. Identify Maintenance Problem

The first step in writing an effective maintenance task is to identify the maintenance problem to be solved by the task that will be performed. This includes identifying all maintenance and repairs that are needed. An asset’s owner’s manual outlines the most important preventive maintenance tasks needed. Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) maintenance history also provides more detailed information.

However, if a maintenance team is new to writing maintenance tasks, previous work that was completed was most likely corrective maintenance, so no existing tasks would be formally written for these jobs. Maintenance tasks can be written ahead of time or documented after the task is complete; then added to CMMS software and or maintenance procedures. They can then be used for future reference when the same task needs to be done again.

If the organization’s maintenance department is able to do so, they would likely complete a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) or look to their Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) program. Both of these strategies help to identify all possible maintenance issues, their causes, and to plan for how to avoid them in the future.

2. Plan the Task Itself

Once the problem the task will solve is identified and an outline of tasks is created, it’s time to plan each task. This includes gathering information the maintenance technician might need to complete the work such as photographs, schematics, maintenance manuals, and specific notes or instructions stored in the CMMS. It must be determined what specific work needs to be done and the priority of that work. Knowing what steps need to occur and in what order is also essential to planning the task.

3. Determine What Supplies and Parts are Needed

Next, identify and prepare the supplies and inventory parts the maintenance technician will need to carry out the work detailed in the task. This is a vital, but often overlooked step in the maintenance task planning process. It can be frustrating for the technician to make extra trips to the stockroom for items they need that weren’t listed in the maintenance task or procedure. To avoid this, document the name and part number of each item needed. Determine what tools and consumables the technician will require and ensure that are readily available when needed.

It may be helpful to write out (digitally or on paper) a complete list of parts, supplies, and tools separately and then incorporate them where appropriate in the final task. Typically, these lists are included at the beginning of the written task so the technician can grab what they need before beginning the work.

4. Schedule the Task

This task will be part of a larger set of maintenance jobs that should be outlined by a maintenance planner or scheduler. The planner should come up with an outline of preventive and scheduled corrective maintenance so that the workload can be balanced.

Failure to do so can result in an unbalanced workload (more work on some days and not enough on others). Identifying which maintenance issues to tackle the next day, week, month, or other time period is the first step in knowing for which maintenance jobs to write tasks.

General Maintenance Task Writing Guidelines

There are a number of guidelines to follow when writing maintenance tasks that will make the process easier and the end result more accurate.

Write Maintenance Tasks within a Standard Maintenance Procedure

When writing maintenance tasks as part of a Standard Maintenance Procedure (SMP), there are a few things the planner can do to prepare beforehand. They should begin by meeting with team members who performed the same work the last time it was done and write down the steps as the team members recall them. For new assets, the same group should make a plan for future maintenance tasks, learn how the asset works (if needed), and train others that need to know how to maintain the asset. As a primary resource, employees should refer to maintenance manuals and schematics from the asset vendors.

Next, the planner should take photos of the job: the asset involved, specific areas on the asset to be worked on, tools, and supplies. Then the planner (or other maintenance department employee) should begin documenting the steps, with safe lockout of the machine listed as the first one. When the writing is set to begin, there are a number of guidelines the planner should follow:

  • Keep all wording short and precise.
  • Use check boxes or quantitative values where appropriate.
  • Use numbered lines and avoid paragraphs.
  • Begin each step with an action verb.
  • Keep equipment names consistent.

Analyze Root Causes of Failures

The maintenance task writer should analyze the root cause of asset failure and explain how the maintenance task will work to restore the asset to its full function. Changes in the maintenance program or additional training that can prevent future failure should occur where applicable. Other action to prevent future failure might involve changes to the asset itself, including a system upgrade or equipment redesign.

Review Asset Schematics and Vendor Maintenance Manuals

If the maintenance department is new to maintenance task writing, they should start by reviewing asset schematics and maintenance manuals from the vendor. Technical publications about the asset involved may also be valuable to review, but only as a secondary source to gain broad understanding of an asset type. Doing so can familiarize the maintenance planner with language and terms used and recommended maintenance procedures when describing maintenance for that particular machine. Specific details will need to be determined by each organization’s maintenance department.

Avoid Errors of Omission

When in doubt, it is better to include more information and pare it down later than to omit information that is truly needed. These errors of omission can be avoided if the maintenance planner is meticulous with gathering and documenting details. The action to take, location on the machine for that action to take place, and the specific names of parts or components to be maintained should be written out in the maintenance task.

Be as Specific as Possible

Maintenance tasks should be written as specifically as possible. For novice technicians, details such as the number of turns of a screwdriver it takes to properly tighten or remove a screw may be needed. At the same time, each step in the procedure should be as concise as possible while including the right level of detail. The maintenance task writer should call out warnings for safety risks, possible damage to the machine if a step is done incorrectly, and any special circumstances.

Take a Break to Review

After writing the maintenance task, it’s a good idea for the maintenance planner to take a break, then come back and review their work. This review should involve asking questions to determine clarity, specificity, and completion of the written maintenance task.

  • Do any technicians require any additional training to complete the task? (Ideally, the answer is no, but it depends on the skills and experience of each maintenance team).
  • Have all safety warnings and necessary precautions been identified and included in the task?
  • Are the steps listed in the most logical order?

The answers to these questions provide guidance on any revisions that should be made. The maintenance planner can also ask technicians and managers to read through the task and provide feedback.

Effective Maintenance Tasks and Standard Maintenance Procedures

A maintenance plan outlines proactive, preventive work to be done on assets in a facility, whereas a maintenance task outlines one job within a preventive maintenance plan. As we mentioned earlier, SMPs contain one or more maintenance tasks that relate to a complete maintenance job. For example, changing the oil on a truck may be one task and changing the air filter on the same truck may be another task that are both done together as part of a routine maintenance job.

In any case, SMPs are created because there is only one true, right way to complete a maintenance task, and that way should be standardized throughout the company. It only takes doing a task the wrong way one time for a machine to get damaged or someone to get injured.

Use FTMaintenance to Write Maintenance Tasks and Plan PM

CMMS software such as FTMaintenance makes writing maintenance tasks easy. You can use the attachments feature to upload any photos or graphics to include in the task. Reusable tasks can be created and applied to any work order. Standard Maintenance Procedures (which contain maintenance tasks) can also be stored in FTMaintenance by listing maintenance tasks in sequential order to create a procedure.

Learn about how FTMaintenance can help you write effective maintenance tasks by scheduling a demo, or contacting us to request more information.

What is Property Maintenance Management?

A well-maintained apartment complex on a sunny day illustrates what property management is.

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment, worked in landscaping, or invested in real estate, you have experienced at least some aspects of property management. Though there are many components to property management, many of them rely on effective maintenance in some way. Read on to learn the importance of property maintenance management and how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software makes property maintenance easier.

What is Property Maintenance Management?

Property management is the operation, control, maintenance, and oversight of real estate and physical property, including commercial buildings, residential complexes, and land.

Property maintenance management is defined as any preventive or reactive maintenance action (service, inspection, repair, etc.) taken to keep a property fully functional and in optimal condition. It includes monitoring, caring for, and taking accountability for the upkeep of the interior and exterior elements of the building and the land it sits on. In most cases, property management teams are hired by landlords as a third party to maintain the properties for them.

Property Management and Maintenance

Property managers protect the landlord’s investment, playing an active role in caring for the property while the landlord remains more passive. Their responsibilities include:

  • Knowing property management laws
  • Screening incoming tenants
  • Continually seeking new tenants and processing applications to keep units occupied
  • Collecting rent
  • Staying informed about up-to-date building codes

Aside from these duties, one of the most important responsibilities of property managers is of course, property maintenance. They have a team of technicians and contractors to carry out work under their direction. Property management and maintenance go hand in hand.

Preventive Property Maintenance

Property maintenance technicians carry out regularly scheduled preventive maintenance. This includes work on the exterior and interior of the property to prevent breakdowns or problems with the land or structures from occurring.

After each tenant moves out and before the new tenant moves in, the property maintenance team does general cleaning and disinfecting of the units before showings and move-ins. They also rekey the locks and touch up cosmetic details such as paint and trim.

There are several preventive maintenance tasks that need to be done outdoors on the property. Maintaining grounds appearance and tending to landscaping elements is part of regular property maintenance management. This includes mowing the lawn, trimming trees and shrubs, and tending to gardens. Property management repairs and maintenance also include swimming pool and hot tub cleaning, if applicable. Garbage and recycling removal, drain and gutter cleaning in common areas, and sidewalk power washing, are often on property maintenance technicians’ lists of tasks.

Finally, preventive property maintenance includes interior and exterior safety inspections or testing for things like fire alarms and extinguishers, updating or changing signs, and checking carbon monoxide detectors.

Corrective Property Maintenance

Regularly scheduled maintenance also includes planned corrective maintenance that isn’t an emergency. Like with preventive maintenance, the following examples are not all inclusive.

Carpeting, flooring, and door repairs are common corrective maintenance tasks in rental units. Appliances must be in good working order and safe to use, so regular repairs and replacements are necessary. Plumbing and electrical repairs can be corrective or emergency tasks depending on their severity. Drywall replacement is another common repair property maintenance technicians need to make.

When it comes to the exterior of the property, seasonal snow and leaf removal as well as grass cutting is usually done by property management. As needed, property maintenance technicians may do parking lot cleaning, storm cleanup, and graffiti removal. They also repair windows, sidewalks, and roofs.

Maintenance Requests and Emergency Maintenance

In addition to regular, scheduled maintenance, property managers must also handle maintenance requests from tenants. A work request system allows tenants to submit requests for repairs or service directly to the maintenance team. Tenants will receive status updates about their requests until the work is completed. Tenants submit requests for non-emergency maintenance work. However, they usually call property management for emergency repairs that can’t wait, such as a gas leak, burst pipe, or rodent removal.

In both non-emergency and urgent, emergency repair scenarios, it is essential that property management responds promptly and appropriately. For large properties it can be challenging to prioritize emergency repairs if a lot of them are needed at once. However, most property managers and technicians are knowledgeable and work to get their tenants back to living comfortably again as soon as possible.

Benefits of Property Maintenance Management

Having a third party perform regular maintenance on properties has many benefits for both the property manager and the tenants, including:

  • Reduced emergency repair costs
  • Savings on multiple contractor fees and cost of unscheduled repairs’
  • Increased property value
  • Extended working life of structural assets and appliances
  • More control over assets
  • Avoidance of floods, fires, and safety issues that could cause tenant injuries or severe property damage

Managing Properties with CMMS Software

In property maintenance management, computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) makes it easier to balance preventive, corrective, and emergency maintenance work. While there is other software property managers need as well, CMMS serves as a valuable addition for the maintenance aspect of managing properties that will integrate with other programs.

Maintenance Service Requests System

A good CMMS system provides tenants access to an online system where they can submit their maintenance requests to the maintenance team directly. Depending on the software product, the request system may be part of the CMMS software itself, or it could be a separate portal.

Asset Tracking & Management

Asset tracking is a feature of CMMS software that is especially beneficial for property maintenance management. It allows maintenance departments or 3rd party maintenance managers to track work orders for buildings, equipment, fixtures, and furniture, as well as store information about the age, type, and number of assets.  Aside from tracking assets, asset management capabilities include interactive checklists that can be stored in the software, guaranteeing inspection requirements are met.

Tool Management

Tool management is another CMMS software feature that property managers use frequently. It’s important to keep track of where tools are located, how many of each there are, and when rental fees are due or contracts require renewal.

Vendor Management

Vendor management is also a key feature of CMMS software for property managers. It helps them find contractors who can assist with difficult maintenance jobs as needed. Records of local vendors can be maintained so that complex activities can be completed in a prompt manner.

Storage of Technician Credentials

Licenses, certifications, and qualifications can also be stored as part of vendor management to ensure the appropriate technicians are given the jobs they have ample experience doing. These can be easily scanned or uploaded into the software and updated at any time as employees gain new certifications or new employees are hired.

Reporting

Property managers use reporting capabilities in CMMS software to create reports that reflect groups of properties by type or location, and the maintenance data regarding them. There are many different reports that can be used to make well informed maintenance decisions.

Mobile Accessibility

Mobile accessibility is especially valuable in the property management industry. Being able to log into and use CMMS software directly from any Internet-connected mobile device is essential for productivity. Property management companies also integrate their CMMS system with GPS or GIS technology to get their team to the right locations at the right time. Property managers will also have visibility at-a-glance of where their technicians are assigned to be so that they know who is available to respond to urgent calls.

Make Property Maintenance Management Easier with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance is CMMS software that offers all of the features discussed here and more. Property management companies use our CMMS software to manage their properties in an organized, comprehensive way. Our staff can assist you with data importation for all of your properties and vendors. We also offer implementation assistance. To learn more about how FTMaintenance is a valuable solution for managing maintenance of your commercial or residential properties, request a demo or contact us.

Service Request Management Best Practices

Man fixing an espresso machine in response to a customer's service request for maintenance.

In addition to their standard maintenance work, maintenance teams must also address service requests from other departments, tenants, or customers. Your ability to properly manage service requests impacts your team’s efficiency and other’s satisfaction with the maintenance team. To improve your level of customer service, consider the following service request management best practices.

Why Following Service Request Management Best Practices is Important

It’s fairly common for maintenance service requests to be communicated through phone calls, hand written notes, emails, or text messages. This type of service request management is disorganized, inefficient, and makes it easy for requests to be ignored or forgotten.

Comparing your service request management practices against best practices helps you identify shortcomings and areas for improvement. While the best practices listed in this article may not apply to every organization or industry, they are intended to help guide the continuous improvement of your maintenance management process.

Service Request Management Best Practices

Below are multiple ways you can improve your service request management process.

Implement Service Request Management Software

As you may have already experienced, trying to manage service requests without a formal system in place is challenging, if not impossible. Service request management software provides a single system for submitting and managing service requests, benefitting both requesters and administrators alike. Maintenance teams commonly use the service request management features of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software to manage requests.

For requesters, a CMMS provides a direct line of communication with the maintenance team. Requesters submit requests using a simple online form accessed from a web browser or mobile app. Some systems allow requesters to log in to check the status of their requests. Automatic notifications can also be configured to communicate a request’s status to requesters as it changes.

For the maintenance team, CMMS software creates a single channel for receiving service requests, reducing the amount of phone calls, emails, and other interruptions. The request form can be customized to capture the exact information needed to evaluate and prioritize the requested work, reducing the amount of back and forth between the maintenance team and requesters.

By managing service requests within a CMMS along with other maintenance data, you can make better decisions about fulfilling requests including how the work fits in with the rest of the maintenance schedule and who should perform the work. You can also use asset data to see the last time maintenance was performed on the asset, what was done, and decide whether changes are needed to the asset maintenance strategy.

Make Request Submission Easy

Provide requesters with an easy way to submit service requests to the maintenance team. We’ve already discussed using a CMMS for this purpose, but other methods may include using a standalone web form, PDF, or even paper form.

No matter the format, requesters should be able to easily complete the form with ease while also providing you with enough information needed to address the request. This can mean reducing the amount of information the requester has to provide. Some organizations only care to capture contact information and a description of the problem, for instance. Service request management software can automate some data entry based on information such as who is logged in and their location.

Automate Service Request Notifications

Communication is not a strength of many maintenance teams, especially when it comes to following up with requesters. People who need maintenance assistance want their request to be acknowledged and to know how close their request is to being completed. CMMS software automatically sends status update notifications to requesters, providing such transparency. Maintaining good communication builds trust between the maintenance department and requesters.

Notifications are useful for the maintenance team as well. Service request notifications can notify administrators when new service requests have been received, reviewed and approved, or rejected. Many systems automatically route the request to the appropriate administrator based on the asset or location identified in the request. Notifications also alert technicians when they are assigned to service requests (or work orders generated from service requests).

Prioritize Service Requests

Responding to service requests in the order in which they are received is not an effective use of maintenance resources. Managing requests on a “first come, first served” basis causes the maintenance team to focus on minor tasks when more urgent needs exist. Instead, prioritize requests based on their severity. Common priority levels include: emergency, high, medium, and low. Your organization should decide the requirements for each level.

Another way to prioritize requests is by the type of requester. Depending on your industry, you may treat requests from tenants, employees, or customers differently. Similarly, the type of asset may determine a request’s priority. For example, repairing production equipment takes precedence over an HVAC filter change.

Regularly Review Common Service Requests

Reviewing historical service requests in a CMMS makes it possible to look for patterns in what maintenance issues come up again and again. If the same issues arise multiple times, there is an opportunity to reduce them through increased preventive maintenance (PM). Having service request and preventive maintenance data together in a CMMS makes it easy to adjust the maintenance schedule to your needs.

Track Service Request Management KPIs

Maintenance management reports allow you to track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your service request management process. Each organization may track different metrics related to their service requests. Examples of common service request KPIs are listed below:

  • Average service request response time
  • Number of service requests in the backlog (i.e., the number of open requests)
  • Customer satisfaction rating
  • Total number of completed service requests
  • Percentage of service requests completed on time

Stay on Top of Service Requests with FTMaintenance Select

Service requests bring visibility to maintenance needs throughout the organization. Without an effective service request management system, it’s easy for requested maintenance work to fall by the wayside. FTMaintenance Select provides a powerful service request management platform for creating, managing, and fulfilling service requests. Schedule a demo to learn more.

What is Reliability-Centered Maintenance?

Machinery that is a critical asset and important in a reliability-centered maintenance methodology.

Every organization wants to make sure their assets are reliable so that production runs smoothly. There are several approaches to maintenance aimed at maximizing an asset’s ability to perform at optimum levels. One such methodology is called reliability-centered maintenance (RCM).

But first, let’s take a step back and define what it means for an asset to be reliable. In maintenance management, an asset is reliable when it is affordable to run and maintain, and available to perform its desired function during as many working hours as possible. A reliable asset does not fail often and when it does, maintenance work can be done to restore its full function. Finally, reliable assets last a long time, meeting or exceeding the manufacturer’s projected lifespan and Mean Time between Failure ratio (MTBF).

What is Reliability-Centered Maintenance?

What is the reliability-centered maintenance definition? In short, reliability-centered maintenance is a maintenance strategy which identifies the company-wide functions and assets that are most critical to production with the goal of increasing asset reliability and availability by applying cost-effective maintenance methods to each critical machine or building. RCM closely examines assets to determine and categorize their most critical functions, as well as define their role in larger systems of the facility.

For example, breweries use grain storage tanks. These tanks must be airtight to keep the grains fresh until a new batch of beer is ready to be produced. The critical function of the tank is to keep raw materials in optimal storage conditions. If one of the tanks gets corroded and a hole forms in the metal from rust, its critical function has failed. This tank is part of the production line and if it fails, the batch cannot be produced because the raw material has been contaminated.

Similar to risk-based maintenance, reliability-centered maintenance also strives to focus scarce resources on assets that carry the most risk, or cause the most disruption when they are not running without failure.

Questions to Determine Most Critical Functions and Assets

In order to implement a reliability-centered maintenance methodology, an organization’s engineering and maintenance teams need to collaborate to determine which functions and assets are most critical. This can be done by asking a series of questions like the ones below and fully fleshing out the answers.

  • What are the desired performance standards for each asset? What are their desired functions?
  • In what ways can each asset fail to perform to its set standards?
  • What are the causes of each failure?
  • What are the failure modes for each failure?
  • Why does each failure matter?
  • What are the consequences of each failure (for every asset where RCM is being applied)?
  • What can or should be done to prevent each failure?
  • What can be done to predict each failure?
  • If no preventive maintenance can be done in case of a specific failure, what action should be taken to minimize the cost of failure?
  • How will each failure affect the end product and overall operational costs?

This series of questions is part of the SAE JA1011 standard. Similar questions may also be asked when a maintenance department decides to implement risk-based maintenance. While reliability-centered maintenance is used to determine which maintenance method is best for a specific asset, risk-based maintenance selects assets that specific maintenance programs should target. However, both of these strategies can be used together.

Applying Information Discovered through RCM Q&As

Of course, these questions do not have short, to-the-point answers, especially when they are applied to more than one critical asset. This exercise takes time, but it is essential for success in applying reliability-centered maintenance. While completing the preparation for using a reliability-centered maintenance method, there are several points to consider.

To begin, start with the absolute most important asset and work down in criticality from there. Identify the possible effects of this machine failing. If an asset is running 24/7, it may be most likely to suffer a failure when it nears the end of its lifecycle. Other failures can derive from harsh environments such as extreme temperatures, excess dust, or high humidity, which can lead to corrosion. While these failures are all too common, design or manufacturing flaws and human errors must also be considered.

When as many potential failures as possible are determined, the costs and effects of failures need to be quantified. Production process delays, employee safety, environmental safety, and the condition of the asset after each failure should be considered. It’s important to keep in mind that in some cases, replacing the asset is the most economical option.

When applying reliability-centered maintenance, the process should follow a cycle of decision, analysis, and action. Decide what assets are to be included in RCM, analyze the failures and effects of each failure, and take preventive action to avoid each failure, or correct them when they happen.

The 7 Steps of Applying Reliability-Centered Maintenance

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) follows multiple steps that should be applied to each asset that goes through the process.

Step 1: Select an Asset (or Assets) and Determine Criticality

The first step of following a reliability-centered maintenance methodology is to select an asset or assets and determine how critical they are to production. The purpose of the asset and the standards it needs to meet should be taken into account. Once the most critical asset or assets have been chosen, the next step can be taken.

Step 2: Define What System the Asset Is In

Next, it’s time to define what system the most critical asset is part of and the boundaries of the system which contains that piece of equipment. A critical asset can also be a structural one, such as a shipping warehouse facility. This can be a large or small system, but the inputs and outputs as well as the functions of the system should be well known.

Defining the system an asset is a part of is crucial because nothing exists in a vacuum. Every asset, when functioning properly or failing has a positive or negative impact on other assets, production, and costs. Take an HVAC system for example. If the blower motor for the air conditioner fan is broken, the unit will fail to cool the building. If the temperature in the building rises quickly, it will create humidity, which leads to condensation.

This condensation may form on parts of machinery that are sensitive to moisture, causing water damage. The water damaged machine may be part of the production line, which means production is stopped, delaying the end product from being made on time. This delay would then impact the bottom line. One seemingly unrelated, but essential part malfunctioning can lead to a ripple effect on a much larger scale. Knowing which machines could be affected by this scenario (and others like it) is an important step in the reliability-centered maintenance planning process.

Step 3: Define All Failure Modes

After the maintenance team knows what systems the most critical assets are a part of, the third step is to define all likely failures. This includes a wide range of failures from complete asset breakdown or major malfunction to a small part wearing out and needing to be replaced. Failure modes can result from several factors, including wear and tear of the machine, lack of preventive maintenance or inspections, mistakes in following safety procedures, and environmental factors like dust or moisture to name a few.

The type, amount, and severity of failure modes will largely depend on the industry the organization is in and the number, type, and age of the assets they have. The amount maintenance resources currently available will impact how often and how much preventive maintenance is done on a regular basis.

How Does an Organization Define Asset Failure Modes?

It is essential to discuss how an organization defines failure modes for their assets. Failure mode information is obtained by witnessing failures occurring and finding out what the causes of them are. However, this is not the only or best way to define failures. Many failures can be inferred before they happen. For example, technicians know that when a part wears out or a filter is clogged, machine failure is imminent. The maintenance guide from the manufacturer will help determine expected failures and the maintenance needed to prevent tor correct them.

To determine some failure modes before they occur again, maintenance teams can also look at the asset’s maintenance history, either through paper records, digital files, or by using computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. There are many types of failure modes that come about due to end-of-lifecycle failure, extreme operating environments, operator error, or design flaws.

The most systematic way to define failure modes is to carry out Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). FMEA identifies any plausible issues and concerns that arise, referring to how, and the number of ways, a machine might fail and the potential negative effects of the failures.

Step 4: Identify Root Causes of Failure

Once all failure modes have been defined, the next step is to identify root causes of failure. This is vital for determining an approach to respond to, and solve, failures. Focus is placed on preventing problems rather than resorting to corrective maintenance after a machine failure occurs. It goes a step beyond troubleshooting—finding the root causes of failure is more systematic and organized. These root causes will vary for each critical asset an organization has. The time it takes to complete the process will depend on how many assets are considered in this process. However, RCM can be applied to one asset at a time.

Read More: Using Root Cause Analysis to Improve Maintenance

Step 5: Assess Failure Effects

Perhaps the most important in the process, step five is to assess failure effects. Two popular techniques can be used to make this step more systematic and comprehensive:

  • Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) (also used to define failure modes)

Regardless of which or how many of these techniques are used, questions should be asked such as:

  • Does the failure mode have safety implications?
  • Does the failure result in full or partial interruption of operations?
  • What happens when each failure occurs?
  • Would the failure be difficult to detect during normal maintenance operations?
  • How would a failure on the asset impact the maintenance budget?

The answers to these questions look at the effects of failure from the critical assets determined in Step 1.

Step 6: Select Maintenance Tactics

Next, select a maintenance tactic for each failure mode on each asset. These tactics include preventive, corrective, predictive, condition-based, and run-to-failure maintenance. If a failure mode cannot be resolved with a preventive, condition-based, or predictive maintenance tactic, replacement or redesign of the asset should be taken into consideration.

Read More: Keeping Assets Healthy: A Complete Guide to the 4 Types of Maintenance

Step 7: Implement and Review

The last step in applying a reliability-centered maintenance methodology is to implement the selected maintenance tactics. After the maintenance has been carried out, it’s important to review the process and results; then decide if changes to the RCM method need to be made.

RCM Example

A reliability-centered maintenance example would be using predictive maintenance on a laser printer for a packaging and label printing company. Commercial laser printers have a lifespan of approximately five years. Depending on the size of the company, one printer may be required to print hundreds or even thousands of pages per day. While this printer doesn’t fail often, when it does, it leads to significant stoppages in the printing workflow.

Failures other than complete asset breakdown that occur could be the light-sensitive drum surface wearing out, ink running low, or a software glitch. Depending on which of these or other failures occur, the costs of repair can be small to significant, and the breakdown effects minor to major. Since this machine is essential to production and breakdowns or replacements are costly, predictive and preventive maintenance would be the preferable types over corrective or emergency maintenance. Having a backup supply of parts that are likely to fail is the most effective method for avoiding significant downtime.

Benefits of Reliability-Centered Maintenance

There are numerous benefits of implementing a reliability-centered maintenance method, and all of them positively impact the bottom line.

Reliability-centered maintenance reduces equipment failures. When assets fail less, there are fewer defects in the end products and less waste is produced. It also minimizes unplanned downtime, which can be a result of a piece of equipment failing, or simply a machine malfunctioning. Asset overhauls, which include things like engine rebuilds are also minimized with RCM. It refocuses maintenance on ensuring tasks on critical assets are prioritized.

Finally, reliability-centered maintenance contributes to successful lean manufacturing. The tenants of lean manufacturing are zero defects, zero breakdowns, zero accidents, and zero waste. While it’s impossible to adhere to these tenets perfectly, lean manufacturing strives to remain as close to zero problems in those areas as possible. Minimizing waste is especially important—it is the core philosophy behind lean manufacturing. RCM helps to minimize asset downtime, which leads to fewer defects and less waste.

CMMS Software Helps Develop a Reliability-Centered Maintenance Methodology

CMMS software is vital for documenting all types of maintenance work, including preventive, corrective, condition-based, and predictive maintenance. This is essential for applying RCM, which can potentially use all of these work order types. Work order templates can be created in the software and be quickly edited for reoccurring tasks, specific instructions, or other information that is used repeatedly.

Asset service history is also available in CMMS software and that aids in troubleshooting. The ability to look back on maintenance work that was done in the past, how problems were uncovered, and what solutions were implemented can be helpful in solving current maintenance issues.

Assets at multiple locations can be easily managed and tracked. CMMS software stores all asset and equipment information in a single system, allowing technicians to quickly identify what equipment they have and where each asset is located.

Reliability-centered maintenance is all about classifying and tracking maintenance work and CMMS software helps to do just that. Maintenance reports are also useful during the review step in developing an RCM methodology.

Perfect your Reliability-Centered Maintenance with FTMaintenance

Using and perfecting a reliability-centered maintenance method is much easier with CMMS software such as FTMaintenance. Schedule a demo of FTMaintenance to learn more about our work order and asset management features which can help you develop your ideal maintenance strategy.

What is Risk-based Maintenance?

A maintenance technician using a gauge to monitor machinery and assess risk as part of risk-based maintenance.

A combination of maintenance strategies and techniques is needed for optimal maintenance management. Due to tight budgets and limited resources, maintenance departments must be methodical about how and when to perform maintenance activities. That’s where risk-based maintenance comes in.

What is Risk-based Maintenance?

Risk-based maintenance (RbM) is a well-known maintenance methodology that uses risk assessment principles to prioritize maintenance work and optimize the allocation of maintenance resources. Assets that carry the most risk if they fail are prioritized first, down to the assets that carry the least amount of risk if they fail, which are prioritized last. Risk-based maintenance focuses on using maintenance resources (supplies, personnel, and time) economically.

Assets that may be high risk and top priority in risk-based maintenance will vary by industry and each individual organization. Just a few examples include:

  • Major building systems in facility environments (lighting, electrical, HVAC, plumbing)
  • Vital production line machines in manufacturing environments
  • Infrastructural equipment in the construction industry
  • Large trucks used to transport goods in the fleet industry

Why Risk-based Maintenance is Important

Risk-based maintenance, in part, involves preventive maintenance, which is important for multiple reasons. This methodology helps to define problems with assets before they happen. Corrective maintenance carries high overhead and inventory costs and results in more unplanned downtime. The work also takes longer since the problem is diagnosed at the time the maintenance job is carried out. Planning more preventive maintenance avoids corrective, or reactive, maintenance. There is less machine downtime when maintenance work is scheduled ahead of time.

Using a risk-based maintenance method can also improve the safety of equipment, and breakdowns will occur less often. The goal is to extend the lifecycle of assets. With less equipment failures happening, risk-based maintenance can also improve the reputation of organizations because customer’s supply chain issues are reduced.

Developing Strategies Using Risk-based Maintenance

For organizations that don’t already use a risk-based maintenance approach but want to start doing so, there is some planning that should take place beforehand, which will help to better optimize maintenance strategies.

Step 1: Identify All Assets

The first step in using a risk-based maintenance methodology is to identify all maintainable assets owned by the organization. How many there are, the asset ages, what they are used for, how often they are used, their costs. This information can be easily recorded and stored in computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

Step 2: Criticality Analysis

The next step is to complete criticality analysis, an essential part of overall risk analysis. In this process, assets are given a rating of criticality based on potential risk. Part of a larger Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMECA), which we will discuss more later on in this article, criticality analysis makes sure that a genuine risk-based point of view is taken when determining asset reliability. It also helps to determine the monetary costs of each type of failure for each asset. Using historical data from a CMMS system will assist the maintenance department in making objective decisions.

A critical asset that would rank high priority during risk-bases maintenance planning.

There are two common ways to perform criticality analysis. The first is by using a 6×6 grid. The severity of each consequence is plotted against the probability of occurring, as well as the monetary costs of each consequence or failure happening. The grid provides a color-code corresponding to the severity and probability of failure – green for low, yellow for medium, and red for high.

The second way to conduct criticality analysis is by labeling risks by category, then listing each asset and ranking the severity of failure in each category based on that risk from 1-10. The numbers in each risk category for each asset are multiplied together to get the asset’s Risk Priority Number (RPN). After that, the RPNs can be ranked to determine groups of equipment that are extreme, high, medium, low, or no risk. The criticality analysis process will help make risk-based maintenance decisions easier.

Step 3: Risk Assessment

After assets have been identified and criticality analysis has been done, using a risk-based maintenance methodology continues by applying multiple risk assessment techniques. Consider all of the things that could go wrong by doing FMEA or another method of asset risk assessment. This includes multiple types of risk that impact asset systems, individual asset lifecycles, resource, and risks associated with breakdowns. Carrying out an in-depth risk assessment process can help with components of reliability planning such as having enough spare parts in stock and handling valuable plant redundancy. Determine factors like: Which assets are high risk and which are not? How severe are the risks if the asset fails?

Asset Systems Risks

The risk assessment framework should be applied to each system within a facility. For example, the fire management system should be considered, and questions such as the following should be asked. Will the sprinklers turn on if there is smoke or flames present? Will the notifications to start work on repairs of this system be activated when needed? Are the fire extinguishers full and accessible? Do the building’s visual and auditory alarms work?

Other systems of assets that can be evaluated for risk include the HVAC and plumbing systems. Ask questions like those above that apply to those assets. A production environment would look at series of operations that create a production cell, or a complete production line for raw materials. Fleet companies would analyze how each of their vehicle types work and determine the risks if each type failed.

Asset Lifecycle Risks

Questions to ask to determine asset lifecycle risks include: How many assets are very old and have a short remaining useful life? What will it cost to purchase replacements? Which assets should be run to failure?

Resource-based Risks

Resource-based risks revolve around answers to questions such as: Is the organization having to do more work with less employees as time goes on? Is there enough staff to do proper preventive maintenance (PM) regularly?

Breakdown-based Risks

Lastly, breakdown-based risks can be assessed by answering questions like: What is the average repair cost for each type of asset? How much downtime or lost production is occurring because of certain machines breaking down or malfunctioning? Have there been any accidents or safety hazards that occurred as a result of specific assets breaking down?

Step 4: Create an Inspection Plan

The fourth step in implementing risk-based maintenance methodology is to plan the frequency and type of asset inspections. A risk-based inspection, derived from completing criticality analysis, should be done frequently on machines and vehicles that will jeopardize production or transport of goods if they break down. Inspections for assets with moderate risk upon failure, for instance, would be labeled in computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software as one type of preventive maintenance work order.

Step 5: Propose Mitigation

After risks have been evaluated and ranked and an inspection plan is made, a proposal for mitigating risks should occur next. This may be complex and take some time to complete, but it should be thoroughly applied to every type of risk and all maintainable assets. Inspections for assets that pose the greatest risk if they fail should follow condition-based maintenance principles and be scheduled as such. It’s a good idea to create templates that can be used over and over again to ensure consistency in the process and save the time it would take to manually write out instructions.

Risk mitigation plans can always be expanded on or modified as new assets are purchased or additional risks are uncovered. There is no set format or requirements for the mitigation plan as it largely depends on the organization’s industry, size, and maintenance needs.

Read more about how to mitigate risks: Keeping Assets Healthy: A Complete Guide to 4 Types of Maintenance.

Step 6: Reassess

Lastly, you should reassess your risk-based maintenance method before finalizing it. A team can be assigned to review the information and propose any changes or additions to upper management. Once this step is complete, you are ready to begin incorporating this maintenance methodology into your maintenance program.

Advantages of Risk-based Maintenance

Risk-based maintenance works well in numerous scenarios, but here are a few examples. If an organization and its infrastructure rely on expensive machinery to accomplish production work, applying risk-based maintenance concepts will work well within a maintenance plan. If maintenance managers are new to building a preventive maintenance plan, developing and applying a risk-based maintenance methodology can be the foundation for creating a more robust maintenance program. Finally, if you have limited resources to work with, RbM can be a good way to evenly spread out preventive maintenance work.

Performing maintenance based on a risk-based maintenance method costs less than performing too much preventive maintenance. RbM also allows limited resources to be allocated more effectively. Risk-based maintenance puts the maintenance team in a mindset where they will carefully consider what type of maintenance to perform and when, based on the criticality of the asset and severity of the repair that is needed. Finally, this maintenance methodology requires little-to-no planning in the long term once the RbM parameters have been set. Unnecessary work orders that bog down the software system and maintenance schedule are reduced.

Disadvantages of Risk-based Maintenance

One disadvantage of risk-based maintenance is that it does take some significant initial planning. If organizations don’t have the time and personnel to dedicate to proper planning, this method will not be successful.

Another disadvantage is that asset risk assessment will need to be updated periodically. For example, as an essential machine ages, the risks associated with it breaking down increase. If this information is not updated regularly, organizations run the risk of encountering unexpected problems.

Finally, using a risk-based maintenance method creates more complexity within the maintenance strategy, which not all maintenance departments have the resources to manage.

Lower your Risk of Asset Failure with FTMaintenance

Risk-based maintenance methods can be implemented or improved upon with CMMS software such as FTMaintenance. Request a demo today to learn more about how FTMaintenance can assist you with risk-based maintenance.

What is Fleet Maintenance Management?

A commercial truck in a fleet being maintained before going back out on the road to deliver goods.

Businesses of every size rely on fleet vehicles to conduct business. Whether they’re large semi-trucks or boats that deliver goods, buses and taxis that transport people, or farming equipment that harvests crops, the condition of fleet vehicles greatly impacts the bottom line. Without the right technology in place, fleet maintenance is challenging. This article provides an overview of fleet maintenance management and how it is made easier with computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

What is Fleet Maintenance Management?

Before launching into a discussion about fleet maintenance management, let’s first examine the broader scope of fleet management. Fleet management consists of actions taken to remove or minimize risks associated with fleet vehicle investment, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce overall transportation costs. In general, any activity that relates to the value or use of vehicles can be considered fleet management. These activities include managing:

  • Vehicle acquisition, sales, leasing and financing, and remarketing
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Fuel consumption and fuel costs
  • Vehicle titles, licenses, and registration
  • Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Hours of Service (HOS) compliance
  • Insurance and protection
  • Driver safety and retention
  • Fleet data collected through telematics systems
  • Dispatching and route optimization

Fleet maintenance management is the process of maintaining and repairing vehicles in order to maximize availability, improve performance, and minimize costs. While the primary goal of fleet maintenance is to improve the effectiveness and safety of vehicles, it also has far-reaching effects in other aspects of fleet management. For example, well-maintained vehicles use fuel more efficiently, thereby reducing fuel consumption and costs.

Learn more about the benefits of using CMMS for fleet maintenance management

Importance of Fleet Maintenance Management

Today’s fleet management organizations face many challenges, including an increased focus on driver safety, the digitization of vehicles, fuel price volatility, and tightening regulatory requirements. Meeting these challenges requires

Keeping Drivers (and Others) Safe

A properly maintained vehicle is safer for drivers as well as others with whom they share the road. Drivers feel more comfortable and confident knowing their vehicle has been inspected and will work predictably (barring any unexpected events).

A well-thought-out fleet maintenance schedule reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and accidents. Many common causes of vehicle crashes, such as blown tires, can be prevented through proper fleet maintenance.

Fleet maintenance also helps organizations comply with regulatory requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation related to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and air quality among other safety issues. These standards help ensure a safe and clean environment for current and future generations.

Lowering Operational Costs

When vehicles aren’t on the road, the organization isn’t making money. Vehicles that experience downtime due to unscheduled repairs, emergency service, or accidents cannot service the organization. This leads to the risk of late deliveries and tarnishes the reputation of the business. Frequent, unplanned maintenance issues also affect the longevity of vehicles, which may require them to be replaced sooner than expected.

Scheduled maintenance activities reduce operational costs by helping organizations avoid more costly repairs. Regular preventive maintenance (PM) is much easier to carry out, cheaper in the long run, and can help catch small issues before they evolve into more serious problems. Further, well-maintained vehicles will have a longer life span, spend more time on the road, and increase fuel economy.

In addition, vehicles that undergo regular maintenance have a better chance of getting good results and safety approvals following inspections and testing, shielding the organization from compliance issues.

Boosting Profitability

Any number of variables can affect the bottom line, but many of them lead back to the quality of fleet maintenance. Managing a fleet of reliable, well-looked-after vehicles helps you maximize productivity and profitability.

Organizations that deliver goods on time and dispatch service quickly, while keeping their employees and others safe, build better reputations and trust with their business partners and consumers. Maximal operations combined with lowered operational costs leads to higher profit overall.

What Industries Practice Fleet Maintenance Management?

Any organization that relies on vehicles to do business engages in some sort of fleet maintenance management. Examples include:

Fleet Maintenance Management Roles and Responsibilities

There are many stakeholders who contribute to successful fleet maintenance: fleet managers, drivers, and maintenance technicians/mechanics.

Fleet Managers

Among their many responsibilities, fleet managers are responsible for developing maintenance plans for fleet vehicles such as trucks, boats, and buses. Each type of vehicle requires unique maintenance tasks on specific schedules. The maintenance plan must also be flexible to account for maintenance needs discovered by drivers, through telematics systems, or through other planned maintenance activities.

Drivers

Because drivers spend most of their time in the vehicle, they are the most familiar with how it should function. They are best equipped to notify the fleet manager or maintenance team of any abnormalities, warnings, or signs of wear. Drivers also assist with identifying maintenance needs by performing frequent visual inspections and reporting any issues they discover. If not done automatically, drivers may record mileage for runtime-based preventive maintenance.

Maintenance Technicians/Mechanics

The most prominent role in fleet maintenance management is of course, the fleet mechanic or maintenance technician. People in this role are responsible for performing repairs and maintenance on fleet vehicles.

Mechanics may be internal or external to the organization. Larger organizations may benefit from having one or more dedicated fleet maintenance personnel on staff. On the other hand, fleet maintenance functions may be outsourced to another organization that specializes in fleet maintenance or the maintenance of certain vehicle types or manufacturers.

Fleet Maintenance Management Software

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is one tool fleet maintenance organizations use to manage fleet maintenance. Using CMMS for fleet maintenance management provides many benefits.

Improve Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

CMMS software stores critical information about vehicle assets, including their related parts and maintenance tasks. With all information together in a single platform, fleet managers can easily view what assets are available for maintenance, which required parts are in stock, and who is qualified to perform the job. Technicians also have access to maintenance history to troubleshoot non-standard maintenance issues.

Scheduling functionality allows you to view upcoming maintenance activities, and decide when work should be done and who will do it. Many systems allow maintenance to be scheduled based on calendar date, runtime (or mileage), or a combination of both.

Streamline Preventive Maintenance Procedures

CMMS software for fleet maintenance management allows for the creation of reusable preventive maintenance (PM) work order templates. These templates allow you to enter the work order details once, and automatically generate future work orders complete with all relevant information. This is especially helpful when creating work orders for recurring maintenance tasks such as inspections.

Reusable tasks also make it easy to create and update maintenance procedures. Providing technicians with step-by-step instructions for performing fleet maintenance ensures that work is performed the same way each time, no matter who is doing it. If changes are needed, updates can be made once and applied system-wide.

Simplify Spare Parts Management

Effective MRO inventory management is a key element of a cost effective fleet maintenance program. A CMMS automates inventory counts, helping fleet managers forecast demand and ensure parts are in stock when needed. The system also stores information about parts suppliers and service providers, making it quick and easy to reorder parts when needed.

Track Employee Qualifications

CMMS software tracks valuable data about your biggest assets – your people! Fleet managers can track auto mechanic certification levels, ensuring that technicians are qualified to perform required maintenance work. In addition, organizations can store employee pay rate information, useful when billing clients for fleet management services.

Quickly Access Maintenance Documentation

Vehicles are complex machinery. Being able to access owner’s manuals and maintenance documentation is a boon to mechanics. A CMMS allows you to create a digital maintenance library containing quick access to important maintenance and safety documentation. In addition, technicians are able to add images and videos to supplement text-based work order or asset documentation.

Make Better Repair vs. Replace Decisions

Fleet maintenance software such as a CMMS system helps fleet managers gain visibility into vehicle condition operations through data analysis and reporting. The software leverages comprehensive data on assets to generate maintenance reports that allow you to assess vehicle condition, justify replacement, or modify the maintenance schedule.

Keep Vehicles Ready for the Road with FTMaintenance Select

Proper fleet maintenance management is necessary for any organization that relies on vehicles, from a small business with a handful of delivery vehicles to large corporations that maintain an entire fleet. CMMS software like FTMaintenance Select is an essential tool for tracking, documenting, and managing fleet maintenance. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how FTMaintenance Select makes fleet maintenance more efficient and effective.