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Comparing Maintenance Management and Facility Management

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

The terms facility management and maintenance management are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences between them that can cause confusion and tangible problems if misunderstood. This article highlights the differences between facility management and maintenance management.

What is Facility Management?

Facility management (FM) is the coordination of physical workplaces, people, and support services in order to support an organization’s goals in the most cost effective manner. It includes a broad range of functions and activities that make a work environment more efficient and effective, thereby enabling the organization to reach its business goals.

Scope and Extent of Facility Management

The scope of facility management varies by organization and the industry in which the organization operates. In general, facility management services are divided into “hard” and “soft” services.

Hard facility services relate to the maintenance and management of the physical building and include:

  • Planning, construction, design, and relocation
  • Managing essential building systems
  • Managing real estate and leasing
  • Performing maintenance on building interiors and exteriors
  • Making capital improvements

Soft facility services relate to improving the quality of life for people who occupy a building space. Examples of soft facility services include:

  • Security
  • Space planning
  • Cleaning and sanitation
  • Grounds keeping
  • Responding to environmental, health, and safety issues
  • Waste management

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. It involves planning and scheduling maintenance work in order to maintain efficient production while minimizing unplanned downtime.

Scope and Extent of Maintenance Management

Like facility management, the scope and extent of maintenance management responsibilities differs from one organization to the next. Generally, maintenance management involves the following:

  • Installing new equipment
  • Maintaining functioning equipment to keep it in good working order
  • Repairing failed equipment and returning it to an operable condition
  • Replacing worn or failed equipment components to restore equipment function
  • Continuously monitoring and inspecting equipment to look for signs of future or imminent failure
  • Troubleshooting equipment failures

Difference between Facility Management and Maintenance Management

Understanding the difference between facilities management and maintenance management is important for making decisions about what tools, employees, and software are required to your organizational goals.

  Facility Management Maintenance Management
Definition 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. 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 Responsibilities Hard services related to the maintenance and management of any physical part of the facility.

Soft services related to improving the quality of life of building occupants.

Installing, troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining production and facility equipment.
Scope of Assets Maintained Permanent structures and land including:

  • Commercial buildings
  • Real estate and housing
  • Schools and educational facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Parks and entertainment venues
Assets typically associated with industrial settings such as:

  • Production machinery
  • Specialized tools and equipment
  • Fleet vehicles and heavy equipment
Value to Organization
  • Restores and maintains a comfortable and functional work environment for all occupants
  • Keeps buildings looking presentable for clients, customers, and passersby
  • Reduces the cost of facility maintenance
  • Protects the organization from liability
  • Supports efficient and consistent production
  • Minimizes production downtime and improves output
  • Reduces the cost of asset maintenance
Scope of Maintenance Skills Required Minor repairs and simple maintenance tasks. Examples include:

  • Changing light bulbs
  • Painting
  • Minor plumbing and electrical work
  • Flooring
Major repairs and more complex maintenance tasks. Examples include:

  • HVAC repair
  • Lubrication
  • Troubleshooting failures
  • Complex plumbing and electrical work
Spare Parts Inventory
  • Items typically used for preventive maintenance
  • Less critical parts (e.g., filters, belts, lighting)
  • Smaller inventory with less control
  • Higher volume of spares on hand
  • Narrow range of items
  • Maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory used for corrective and preventive maintenance.
  • More critical parts (i.e., critical spares, safety stock)
  • Larger inventory with more control
  • Lower volume of spares on hand
  • Large range of items
Ideal Software Solution Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software

Scope of Assets Maintained

One reason that facility management and maintenance management often get confused is because both functions are responsible for performing some level of maintenance. However, the assets covered by either the facilities team or maintenance team differs.

Facility management is commonly associated with non-industrial settings, such as office buildings, apartment complexes, schools and universities, hospitals, and more. Sometimes, facilities refer to industrial factories as well. Facility assets include buildings and the land on which they are located. Maintenance activities are generally related to building interiors and exteriors; and major building systems such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and water and wastewater treatment.

In contrast, maintenance management is more closely associated with industrial settings such as production lines in manufacturing plants. Industrial maintenance assets include any equipment or machinery used in the production of goods. For service-based industries, assets include fleet vehicles and heavy equipment.

Value to the Organization

Facility management touches nearly every part of the organization, from the facility itself to the people within. Because they are so ingrained in day-to-day operations, facility management activities address both short-term and long-term needs. For example, facility management professionals are responsible for ensuring that fire safety equipment is up to code in case a fire breaks out, but must also develop a contingency plan in the event that disaster strikes.

In a manufacturing environment, maintenance management adds value by enabling organizations to maximize production and increase profits. Using a variety of maintenance techniques and tools, the maintenance team either reactively or proactively addresses equipment issues that lead to stopped production, waste, or underperformance.

Scope of Maintenance Skills Required

Maintenance work in a facility management setting typically consists of performing simple preventive maintenance and responding to service requests. For example, a facility management team may change light bulbs, paint, or perform minor electrical or plumbing work. These skills do not require extensive training to develop and can be picked up on the job. The facility management team requests help from the maintenance them or calls in a 3rd party vendor for any maintenance work it cannot handle itself, such as HVAC repair.

For equipment maintenance, workers are more highly skilled and have more experience. They have the ability to perform more complex maintenance and repairs to production assets. In larger organizations, the maintenance team may include specialists within a certain craft, like HVAC or electric. Smaller maintenance teams are more likely to employ experienced “jacks-of-all-trades” that have a broad range of experience. At times, third party vendors may be called in to make repairs on specialized or unique equipment.

Spare Parts Inventory

The difference between facility management and maintenance management is apparent in the types and quantities of inventory held.

Inventory items for facility management are largely made up of spare parts for preventive maintenance, such as filters, lighting, cleaning chemicals, and other supplies. Inventory management is more lax because parts are less critical than those used in a production setting. Facility teams stock a larger quantity of a given part due to the multiple requests they receive from tenants, residents, or employees.

Industrial maintenance teams manage a large range of inventory items used for corrective maintenance and preventive maintenance needs. Inventories are likely to include critical spares, large quantities of high volume items, and safety stock to provide protection from unexpected demand. Since some maintenance activities are reactive, spare parts must be kept in stock, and therefore, inventory is more tightly controlled.

Ideal Software Solution: CAFM vs. CMMS

The tendency for organizations to use facility management and maintenance management interchangeably often creates confusion, especially when trying to identify an ideal software solution for managing facilities and/or maintenance (hence, why we wrote this article). Organizations that perform facility maintenance must often decide between computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

While both solutions offer maintenance management features, CAFM software is designed to manage other aspects of facility operations such as space reservations; lease administration; health, safety, and environmental sustainability analysis; capital project planning and more. Buyers may find the maintenance management capabilities of CAFM to be somewhat lacking compared to CMMS.

CMMS software is more specialized to maintenance management functions including work order management, preventive maintenance, MRO inventory management, and asset management. There are not restrictions on what types of assets can be managed and tracked in the system, making it a good fit for facility maintenance.

Smaller organizations with limited resources may choose to invest in either one or the other, depending on their facility management or maintenance management needs. Larger organizations may need the functionality of both systems and use them together.

Further Reading: CMMS vs. CAFM Software

Automate Facility Maintenance with FTMaintenance Select

While there are many differences between facility management and maintenance management, each function is responsible for facility maintenance. FTMaintenance Select is a CMMS software platform that allows you to track maintenance activities on both production and facility assets. It provides a single system for organizing, managing, and tracking preventive maintenance on your critical equipment and facilities. Request a demo today to learn more about FTMaintenance Select.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ISO 9001?

A stack of thick binders to represent the ISO 9001 and materials referenced to create the ISO 9001 manual.

Quality management systems (QMS) lay the groundwork for all quality control related tasks. They bring multiple internal processes together and provide a structured approach for executing projects. Overall, a QMS enables organizations to improve business performance through the metrics analyzed in the system.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) quality management system standards (ISO 9001) are seen as the best-known and most widely-used in many countries. Because maintenance and asset management play a role in quality management, maintenance teams must be aware of ISO standards. Below, we will discuss the ISO standards related to quality management systems and its impact on maintenance management.

What is a Quality Management System (QMS)?

Before defining ISO 9001, it’s essential to know what a quality management system (QMS) is. A quality management system (QMS) is a formal system used to document procedures, processes, and tasks needed to achieve quality objectives. These systems help to direct and organize actions that will ensure the organization meets regulatory requirements, as well as improve efficiency and effectiveness. A QMS allows you to document policy information to increase customer satisfaction and improve product or service quality. ISO 9001 is designed to help you create and maintain a QMS standard which best suits your organization.

What is the ISO?

According to the ISO website, they are “an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 165 national standards bodies.” It has members that bring experts together to share their knowledge and make consensus-based decisions that are relevant to the current market.

In addition to the ISO 9001 standard for QMS, they also have other standards including:

  • ISO/IEC 27001:2013 – Information Technology
  • ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental Management Systems
  • ISO 45000 Family – Occupational Health and Safety
  • ISO 4217 – Currency Codes
  • ISO 9000 Family (which includes ISO 9001) – Quality Management

There are too many standards to list them all here, but those stated above are just a few commonly used and recognized standards. If you would like to learn about more ISO standards, you can do so on this page of the ISO website.

What is the ISO 9001 Standard?

The ISO 9001 standard provides QMS requirements to be implemented for a company that wants to create the policies, processes, and procedures necessary to provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory needs while improving customer satisfaction.

The ISO 9001 standard sets out criteria which will guide the process under which your company creates and delivers products and services. It doesn’t tell anyone how to run their business. Rather, it is a standard that allows flexibility for organizations to define their own objectives and policies.

The ISO 9001 standard for creating a quality process was first published in 1987, revised in 2000, and most recently in 2015. It is based on seven quality management principles that make up standard requirements about what goes into creating products and services:

  • Context of the organization
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Improvement

ISO 9001 emphasizes the need for top management to be involved in the QMS and demonstrate commitment to quality assurance in the leadership section. This commitment ensures customer focus, communicates the quality policy, and helps management to assign roles throughout the organization.

The planning section covers the need for everyone to plan for the ongoing function of the QMS, assessing the risks and opportunities. The support section involves managing resources, including employees, buildings, and infrastructure.

The operation section of the ISO 9001 includes product requirements review and design, as well as controlling external providers and nonconforming process outputs. Finally, the improvement section focuses on how to make the QMS better over time.

ISO 9001 Certification Process

What is ISO certification? Certification by an authorized, external auditing organization is critical because it ensures that your organization’s quality processes fully meet the ISO 9001 standard.  Formal certification demonstrates a commitment to product quality to customers and vendors that enhances the ability to market and sell the organization’s products and services.

The certification process is constructed of a series of formalized steps. Certification involves implementing a QMS, then hiring an authorized organization to audit and approve certification. If a QMS is already in place, then the first step is the audit of the current QMS process. After the implementation and/or audit, management reviews the information obtained to determine needed modifications before certification can be approved.

Next, the company takes any corrective action that is needed. Then the documentation is reviewed and a final audit is done. The company’s QMS is measured against the ISO 9001 standards. Upon successful completion the organization will receive an official certificate with a logo that can be used to demonstrate IS0 9001 status.

While organizations of any size can obtain this certification, the manpower and cost required to obtain and maintain ISO 9001 certification can be prohibitive for small and even mid-sized organizations. Applying for ISO 9001 certification legitimizes the procedures and practices stated in a company’s QMS.

Mandatory ISO 9001 Requirements

Among many mandatory ISO 9001 requirements are:

  • The monitoring and measuring of equipment calibration records
  • Records of training, skills, experience, and qualifications
  • Product or service requirements review records
  • Design and development input and output review records
  • Design and development changes and controls
  • Characteristics of products and/or services
  • Customer property records
  • Production provision change control records
  • Records of conformity of products with acceptance criteria
  • Records of nonconforming outputs
  • Proof of monitoring measurement results
  • Internal audit program
  • Result of management review
  • Result of corrective actions

Benefits of ISO 9001 Certification

While the long list of requirements might make ISO 9001 certification seem time consuming and costly, organizations have been shown to benefit greatly from gaining certification. Going through the ISO 9001 certification process causes the organization to look at the market’s current needs and trends. Incorporating this knowledge into the document improves customer satisfaction over time because a higher quality product is produced at a lower cost. Documenting the QMS creates streamlined policies and procedures throughout multiple departments.

It also improves the company image and reputation. This process reflects a culture of continuous improvement. Because ISO 9001 is often a requirement to be an accredited supplier, having the certification is an opportunity for new partnerships.

How ISO 9001 Relates to Maintenance Management

ISO 9001 relates to maintenance management in a few ways. Generally, Section 7.1.5: Monitoring and Measuring Resources, is evoked in maintenance management. It ensures conformity for all products and services, including making sure that all equipment is valid, up-to-date, calibrated, and working properly.

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can be used to help in the creation and maintenance of an ISO 9001 quality manual. Some policies and procedures are maintenance related and included in the manual; then they are enforced through the CMMS. This manual tells maintenance where to go and what to do in situations with safety or quality issues.

ISO 9001 guides maintenance management in developing maintenance policies and procedures that ensure product quality. The CMMS can help both with setting and maintaining an ISO 9001 standard for quality and can improve the maintenance management process. A CMMS can help with both product quality and asset uptime. A CMMS system is a tool that can be used to provide access to the documentation and enforce the quality policies to prove that they have been followed.

Employ FTMaintenance to Ease the Burden of ISO 9001 Certification on Your Organization

FTMaintenance CMMS software can help you comply with the ISO 9001 standards. For instance, the attachments feature allows you to attach a complete asset maintenance manual so that it is easily accessible in the CMMS. Having a full featured computerized maintenance management system like FTMaintenance and ensuring employees use it effectively will show auditors how the organization keeps precise asset maintenance records. FTMaintenance keeps data in a centralized location, ensuring information is up to date and operating procedures are regularly updated.

Equipment having a direct impact on the quality of the product can be tagged in FTMaintenance as ISO-critical. Employees trained to enforce and execute ISO 9001 compliant processes can be tracked with FTMaintenance. Procedures can also be identified as ISO 9001 compliant (or not). FTMaintenance can track and set due dates for preventive maintenance tasks and generate work orders. Tasks can be assigned to technicians with the most applicable skills for the job and the workload can be distributed more evenly.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how FTMaintenance can help you obtain and maintain ISO 9001 standard certification.

How CMMS Software Makes an Executive’s Day Easier

Executive in hard hat with clipboard standing near machinery.

While executives don’t often use computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software themselves, their goals and responsibilities can be impacted by how a CMMS is used. If the maintenance department uses CMMS software to its full potential, it can better the organization, giving upper management peace of mind. In order for executives to invest in CMMS software, they need to know how their team and organization can benefit from it. In this blog post, we will discuss what an executive is looking for in CMMS software and how executives benefit from the organization using the CMMS system.

The Role of Executives in Maintenance Management

There may be one or more executives that oversee the maintenance manager, such as the Plant Operations Manager, CFO, and CEO. Their role in maintenance management is to ensure the maintenance team has the resources, such as CMMS software, they need to do their jobs successfully and that they are performing to the requirements of the organization’s business plan. They also make sure maintenance stays within the budget for their department. Executives set standards and continually analyze information about asset performance and department costs. They are always envisioning the big picture and looking towards the future.

What Executives Need from CMMS Software

What do executives look for in CMMS software? Since they are often in charge of allocating funds for purchasing a CMMS system, they want to make sure that the software meets the needs of the maintenance teams that report to them. At the same time, maintenance teams will be providing them with a compilation of maintenance data that will allow them to make good strategic decisions.

Hit the Numbers

Like with many things in business, executives need to “hit the numbers” with CMMS software. That includes measuring and lowering operating costs over time using customized reports that compare key performance indicators (KPIs). These reports give them a guide map to finding ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Executives want to know the department-wide data averages, trends, and totals that can be readily compared against business plan metrics. They want to know average maintenance time/cost per machine to compare against the target cost and historical levels. They are very interested in trend data on technician labor costs, overall maintenance inventory levels, part order lead times, and asset down times.

Monitor Multiple Locations

Analyzing data from plant activities will help them figure out which processes work and which ones do not. Executives that run organizations with more than one location want to know which location is performing best and why. They also want to know which production line or machines are performing best. Then they can adapt what that location is doing for others so the organization can improve performance overall. Executives know being able to accommodate future growth or additional locations is also important when choosing CMMS software.

Read More: Scaling Your CMMS Software

Ensure Features Improve the Big Picture

An executive wants CMMS software to lower the risk of asset failure, lead to cost reduction, and increase productivity. They also look at the ROI from using the CMMS. Executives need features that allow them to analyze the big picture, which include reports encompassing high level data regarding:

  • Maintenance task performance – efficiency, effectiveness, and cost
  • Asset availability and lifecycles
  • Maintenance inventory – availability and cost
  • Labor resources – performance and cost

How Executives Benefit from CMMS

 

Man in dress shirt sitting at computer with ROI on the screen and coffee on desk.

Even though executives rarely use the software themselves, there are benefits they experience from the maintenance department staff using CMMS software properly. Here’s how executives benefit from CMMS.

Helps Them Stay in the Loop

Having access to their CMMS system keeps executives in the loop about performance of maintenance operations. This includes key achievements and challenges. This information helps executives to make informed decisions. The software provides high level reporting capabilities to accomplish this.

Extended Asset Life and Increased Asset Availability

Another important benefit of CMMS for executives (and the maintenance department as well) is that it helps to extend asset life. When preventive maintenance is planned in advance and carried out systematically using CMMS software, major breakdowns occur less often. Assets that are better maintained last longer and perform better. Using CMMS software for asset management  also increases the availability of all assets. When machines break down less often, production flows more smoothly and there is less downtime, which means products get made more efficiently.

Identifies Trends and Patterns

CMMS software helps executives identify trends and patterns. A CMMS will provide an executive with an overview of a department’s performance on all critical metrics.

Reinforces Standards and Procedures

Another benefit of CMMS software for executives is that it assures them that compliance with standards and procedures is reinforced and automated.

FTMaintenance is a Great CMMS Solution for Executives

As a busy executive, FTMaintenance is CMMS software that will meet your data and reporting standardization needs. Built-in maintenance reports, cost center tracking, and expense calculation features help you track maintenance costs to help “hit the numbers”. FTMaintenance also scales with your business so you can accommodate additional facilities or a growing staff. The work order management feature improves employee productivity and creates a digital history of maintenance work. To find out more about how FTMaintenance is a great solution for executives like you, schedule a demo with us today.

CMMS vs. CAFM Software: Which Can Be Used for Facility Maintenance?

Large industrial building and parking lot with a white van on a sunny day, kept in working condition by a CMMS or CAFM.

If you are looking for a facility maintenance solution for your organization, chances are you use or have at least heard of both computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and computer aided facility management (CAFM) software. While some individuals may use these terms interchangeably, they are quite different. So, what defines each of these types of software? Do you need one or both of them? How do they differ from each other, and how are they similar? Read on to learn about all of this in detail.

What is CAFM Software?

CAFM stands for computer aided facility management. CAFM software allows facility managers to gain visibility into buildings, how they’re used, the movement of assets, and how the buildings and assets are maintained. One important purpose of a CAFM system is to perform analytics that identify trends and patterns which help facility managers make decisions about each of their locations.

CAFM software supports both facility management and real estate management. This software is complex, designed to plan everything for a facility, including many aspects of day-to-day operations. Just a couple of examples include scheduling space and creating and editing floor plans.

CAFM software also utilizes computer aided design (CAD), alphanumeric data processing, and interactive floor plans. CAD is a tool to show the construction of a building inside and out, including the layout of HVAC and water systems, rooms in the building, electrical systems, and more.

CAFM systems can be used to control HVAC equipment and lights, as well as manage thermostats, window locks, and meter reading remotely. It can be used for floor plans and space management, infrastructure tasks, leasing, and real estate management administration.

CAFM Key Features

To help you decide if CAFM is the right software for you, it’s important to know what the key features are. Besides those mentioned above, these include:

  • Space reservations
  • Capitol project management
  • Asset management
  • Energy performance analysis
  • Maintenance management
  • Building administration
  • Vendor management
  • Event tracking
  • CAD drawing

What is CMMS Software?

CMMS stands for computerized maintenance management system. While there is overlap in functionality, CMMS software can be used alone for maintenance while CAFM only has maintenance functionality. CMMS is facility maintenance software while CAFM is facility management software. CMMS software allows you to get a more detailed look into maintenance operations. As with CAFM, you can use CMMS software to schedule repairs and preventive maintenance. A CMMS system also ensures that organizations adhere to FDA, OSHA, and EPA compliance standards (although CAFM can do that as well).

Executives and upper management use CMMS data to make high level business decisions. Maintenance technicians can tap into this data to complete work orders more effectively. CMMS software automatically generates work orders on a predetermined schedule. A CMMS system goes much deeper into maintenance operations than CAFM software alone.

CMMS Key Features

CMMS software has more maintenance-related features because it is much more in-depth for maintenance management. These features include:

Learn more about CMMS software: What is a CMMS?

Key Differences between CAFM and CMMS Software

While CAFM and CMMS software have some similarities, they do have some distinct differences, particularly in how they are used, and their scope and focus, as mentioned earlier.

When to Use CAFM

Organizations that manage multiple facilities typically use CAFM software because facility managers need the big picture of what’s going on outside of maintenance across all of their properties. This software allows you to record a wealth of information to see how the budget is being allocated, which assists with cost control.

Another difference when comparing CMMS vs. CAFM is that CAFM features a contractor database for different work than in a CMMS. It can be used to hire outsourced resources as needed. It contains contractor locations, contact information, and their certifications. Contractor performance feedback can also be collected. CAFM software combines business administration, architecture, and engineering concepts.

When to Use CMMS

CMMS software is typically used when organizations want software that solely focuses on the maintenance department and maintenance activities rather than the organization as a whole. CMMS software provides a much more detailed look at maintenance. CMMS software keeps track of work orders, maintenance costs, labor records on equipment, and asset history. A CMMS can also automatically generate preventive maintenance work orders based on a schedule. CMMS software also helps facilities meet compliance regulations more easily.

CMMS software has the capabilities to manage and provide data for all maintenance tasks. In addition to generating work orders, CMMS software also offers asset management (including condition-based maintenance capabilities), MRO inventory management, maintenance reporting, and the ability to request maintenance work through an online portal.

Using CAFM and CMMS Together

While many organizations may choose one or the other, using CAFM and CMMS software together can give you more detailed insight into facility management and maintenance management. Larger organizations tend to need all functions of each, so they are more likely to use them together. Using both can promote more comprehensive asset and maintenance management and help organizations achieve operational goals by optimizing their maintenance programs.

As time goes on, the line that separates CAFM and CMMS software is becoming more and more blurred. Many CMMS systems are advancing to a point where they include many of the features of CAFM software. Well-known CMMS software companies add on new features and functionality regularly.

FTMaintenance CMMS Will Meet your Needs

FTMaintenance CMMS software can help you improve facility management. Automated preventive maintenance scheduling and activation ensures that PM tasks are always performed on time. The maintenance request system allows employees in other departments to submit requests, which require approval before being added to the queue. FTMaintenance also allows you to manage contractors and vendors that provide outsourced specialized services. Finally, FTMaintenance is mobile accessible for technicians on the go. Work orders and maintenance data are accessible from any internet-connected device at any location. If you’re ready to learn more, request a demo of FTMaintenance today.

Why the Construction Industry Should Invest in CMMS Software

A construction worker in a hard hat using a concrete saw.

Companies conduct regular maintenance management as part of their daily workflow, regardless of the industries they are in. Companies in industries from manufacturing to food and beverage and everything in between face unique challenges based on the machinery and assets they use, as well as the products they produce.

Here we are going to focus on the construction industry. Read on to learn more about the unique aspects of construction site workflows and asset maintenance challenges construction companies face, as well as how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, can make maintenance management in the construction industry more efficient.

The Role of Maintenance in Construction

Construction projects have many moving parts. It takes multiple pieces of specialized, heavy machinery and heavy duty tools in order to complete one job. Maintenance’s role is to ensure equipment such as excavators, dump trucks, and cranes are available for service so that construction companies can meet their project goals. Equipment breakdowns can bring projects to a halt and inflate the budget. This equipment may be used at multiple job sites, so the need isn’t isolated to a single location.

Maintenance management for construction is a subset of fleet maintenance. Workers need to be confident that the equipment they use is reliable and safe. If heavy machinery fails at a jobsite, the impact could be very detrimental. If a large piece of equipment fails, the entire project could come to a complete stop. The financial impact could be devastating, especially if a machine is being used at multiple worksites. There is also the possibility that a machine failure may cause accidents and injuries.

Construction Industry Maintenance Challenges

There are a number of maintenance challenges the construction industry faces. The work environment is unique, so it presents scenarios not found in many other industries.

Operations vs. Maintenance Technology

Construction companies may use advanced operations technology. This includes drones, virtual reality training, stay-safe mobile applications, vital sign monitors, noise level sensors and hardhats that detect carbon monoxide. However construction companies are often less advanced in the technology they use for maintenance management. Just because a construction company has the latest and greatest for their worksites doesn’t mean they use CMMS software. The role of construction asset maintenance may not be seen as importantly as it should be.

Managing Mobile Assets

One of the biggest construction asset maintenance challenges is asset mobility. Construction assets such as large machinery and tools are frequently moving since there is no production floor, only multiple work sites. It’s important for dispatch to be aware of which machines are being used and which ones are available so they can direct workers to various locations.

Maintenance managers also want to know which machines are being used where and for how long. This is important to be aware of because there are only limited windows in which assets are available for maintenance. Maintenance activities need to be precise and deliberate. Without using software, this can be time consuming and overwhelming to manage.

Ensuring Asset Safety

Another thing to keep in mind is that moving equipment which is failing can damage buildings and surrounding property. It can also cause serious injury to workers or bystanders in the area. Operators of heavy equipment must have confidence that assets will perform well. There are serious, sometimes life-changing consequences to injuries from malfunctioning equipment. Building damage can be difficult to deal with as it results in fines, project downtime, and a ding to the company’s reputation.

Performing Maintenance on Time

A significant challenge in the construction industry is ensuring runtime-based maintenance work gets completed on schedule. This includes knowing when to change tires, flush fluids, perform an oil change, and other similar tasks. Weather and jobsite conditions change how often equipment maintenance should be scheduled.

Of course, each vehicle or machine will have a different schedule for when this work needs to be done based on how often it gets used, how much wear and tear the machine is subjected to, and how many miles are put on it. When you have hundreds of machines, balancing all of this without software can be nearly impossible.

Accounting for Environmental Factors

Since the construction industry uses heavy equipment, there are strict emissions requirements the machines must adhere to. This ensures that the impact on the environment is minimized. There are specific regulations for on road and off-road vehicles, as well as greenhouse gas regulations. Other regulations relating to air quality also apply for some machines. Covering all of them in detail would be another article in and of itself, but if you’d like to brush up on them, you can do so by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency website.

Acidic soil or road salt can corrode equipment as well. While there’s not much that can be done to prevent that, keeping equipment from rusting, washing vehicles regularly, and touching up paint with products that contain a protective coating will help minimize this deterioration.

Managing Inventory

Managing inventory is a maintenance challenge in the construction industry. Maintaining equipment and managing maintenance part supply levels is important. If the right tools and parts are unavailable for even a short time, that can set infrastructure projects way behind.

Less experienced construction company owners may become overwhelmed by increased demand for more inventory parts and struggle to manage costs because the maintenance budget is limited. Specialized equipment not used in other industries may only be available from the original equipment manufacturer. Construction companies may have additional stock for critical parts for safety reasons.

It can be challenging knowing which spares to keep in stock, as well as the best method for optimizing parts ordering and evaluating risk should stock run out. Some parts may even be custom made, which results in long lead times for reordering. While handling consumables such as weld rod, fasteners, tape, and glue can be tedious, it is important for workflow efficiency.

Learn More: 4 Inventory KPIs to Improve MRO Inventory Management

Tracking Maintenance Costs

Maintenance cost tracking is also challenging in the construction industry when it comes to managing assets. There are many factors that attribute to maintenance costs, including:

  • Mileage or wear and tear on vehicles and machines
  • Ever increasing environmental regulations
  • Maintenance downtime
  • Replacement parts from manufacturer
  • Labor associated with performing maintenance
  • Cost of inventory used, including consumables
  • Depreciation

Fuel and mileage costs, exact labor costs and incidental charges can be hard to keep track of on paper. Without CMMS digital records, this information can get lost in the shuffle, forgotten about, or jotted down incorrectly.

Distributing Paperwork

Getting paperwork to the maintenance department or other office locations when there are multiple worksite locations can be challenging. Despite having several locations where work is being completed at once, organizations need to achieve a comprehensive workflow, managing work requests, work orders, and dispatch communication. This can be especially challenging without the right construction industry software in which to digitally store work order, purchasing, and asset information.

Balancing Wear and Tear of Machines

Most heavy machinery in construction is run into the ground. Because assets are so expensive to buy new and a lot of the company’s money is tied up in assets, organizations want to make sure they get maximum value out of those assets before replacing them. Many are using equipment that is older than they would like due to cost constraints. This problem is compounded by safety concerns.

Benefits of CMMS in the Construction Industry

There are many benefits of having CMMS in the construction industry. These benefits often directly address challenges that arise from conducting maintenance without this type of software.

Asset Tracking

CMMS software allows construction companies to keep track of where their assets are at all times, no matter how many there are and how many job locations are active at once. CMMS software’s mobile accessibility allows workers to enter data from any location. Mobile accessibility ensures asset information can be viewed in the field. Service history is readily available to aid in troubleshooting and making decisions about determining assets’ total cost of ownership

Keep Track of Runtime-based Maintenance Tasks

Records of when runtime-based maintenance was last performed can be created when CMMS software is implemented. Run-time based preventive maintenance can be automated by setting triggers that automatically generate work orders and notify technicians. Asset history will show what needs to be done when, and what adjustments to the schedule are needed.

Inventory Management

CMMS software’s inventory management feature helps keep track of maintenance part inventory. It also allows regular audits of inventory items to be conducted to ensure an accurate count of available replacement parts. Inventory levels will be known at all times. All of this is done easily through automatic inventory count updates, reorder notifications, and up-to-date vendor directories provided by CMMS software.

Supplier information can be easily stored in CMMS software. This will help to manage part delivery lead times. Low-cost vendors, who stock the part or local vendors who carry a part in an emergency, can be identified.

Streamlines Communication

Using CMMS software streamlines communication, which is important when traveling to different construction sites. Users can record notes about maintenance work, important asset information, inventory stock levels, and any instructions regarding specific work orders. User manuals, troubleshooting guides, warranty information, and more can be stored in the CMMS system. This ensures that less back and forth is needed to solve problems and minimizes phone conversations on the job. CMMS software also features work order closure prompts to ensure no information is left out.

Reduces Paperwork

Finally, having a CMMS reduces paperwork. Instead of having to manually type up and print out work orders, store binders full of vendor contact information, and print out reports and budget materials, all of this information is stored digitally in the software. Having one central location to access this information is helpful when maintenance is being done at multiple locations. As mentioned earlier, the mobile accessibility of CMMS software is very important for recording work order information as the job is completed, keeping details accurate.

Optimize Maintenance of Construction Project Assets with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance is the CMMS software you need to optimize maintenance on construction project assets. It’s important for all assets to operate at maximum efficiency and to maintain a long, useful lifespan. FTMaintenance makes it easy to organize maintenance activities and ensure maximum asset uptime so projects get completed on time. You can reduce your maintenance costs by switching from a run-to-failure method to a preventive maintenance program. Performing maintenance per manufacturer guidelines will increase equipment ROI and extend asset life.

FTMaintenance will also help avoid government fines and liability through proper documentation of every job. FTMaintenance can help document OSHA-compliant maintenance procedures. Finally, you can monitor asset health and equipment key performance indicators (KPIs) through extensive maintenance reports. Ready to learn more? Request a demo of FTMaintenance today.

FasTrak SoftWorks Inc. Holiday Attire Contest 2020

The year 2020 has been a difficult and challenging one. We’ve had to adjust the way we normally do things, even for the holidays. While we had to forego many traditions and gatherings this year, most of us did our best to get creative and find ways to celebrate safely. At FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc., we brought some cheer to our employee team by hosting a holiday attire contest. We held a contest with winners in 4 categories:

  • Best sweater
  • Best non-sweater attire
  • Most creative
  • Best overall attire

Sales Consultant Paula’s red sweater vest had four variations of Christmas trees, bells, and gifts.

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Holiday_Attire_Contest_trees_bells_gifts

Marketing and HR Manager Lisa loves leggings, and for the holidays, she wore black ones that featured holiday sweaters on them, with reindeer, penguins, and teddy bears.

 

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Holiday_Attire_Contest_leggings

Technical Support Specialist Ernie looked like one of Santa’s elves, wearing a sweater with sequins where you can change the text back and forth from “On the Naughty List” to “On the Nice List”. He also wore a hat with elf ears and a surprised Santa mask. Ernie was tied for Best Sweater…

Holiday_Attire_Contest_nice list sweater

Holiday_Attire_Contest_naughty list

…with Sales Consultant Jim, who wore an awesome sweater covered in snowmen on the front and the back. The back has a red tinsel wreath around two happy snowmen.

Holiday_Attire_Contest_snowmen_sweater

 

Holiday_Attire_Contest_snowmen_red tinsel

Dave, our Product Manager, dressed up by sporting a royal blue button down jacket with reindeer and snowflakes and a bright red collared shirt underneath. His classy attire won him the Best Non-Sweater award.

Holiday_Attire_Contest_blue jacket_snowflakes

Office Manager and Bookkeeper Cheryl won Most Creative and Best Overall outfit with holiday attire from head to toe. She wore reindeer antlers, a Christmas tree t-shirt, garland and lights as necklaces, a feather boa, and Christmas lights pants. The back of her shirt had a penguin and wreath. She was even festive with her mask and shoes, covered in snowflakes and bows.

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Holiday_Attire_Contest_penguin_tinsel

Have your Own Holiday Fun!

It’s really easy to organize your own holiday attire contest. Simply choose a day and ask everyone via email or other announcement to submit photos if working remotely or come to work dressed in their best, most festive holiday gear! For more ways to celebrate the holidays at work, read our blog post on unique corporate holiday ideas.

The FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. team hopes you had a safe and happy holiday season!

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

Maintenance departments in every industry from manufacturing to facilities utilize several types of maintenance to create a complete maintenance strategy. Learning about the different types of maintenance can help you can make informed decisions. This includes how to minimize downtime and get the longest lifespan possible out of your equipment and facility assets.

In this article, we will discuss the 4 most common types of maintenance including when each should be performed, what benefits each type of maintenance provides, and how you can implement each type of maintenance at your facility. To compare these types of maintenance to a real-life scenario, we’re going to use a simple analogy of a pot of water on the stove.

4 Types of Maintenance

Maintenance activities are typically broken down into 4 types of maintenance: corrective maintenance (CM), preventive maintenance (PM), condition-based maintenance (CbM), and predictive maintenance (PdM). Each type of maintenance is described in its own section below.

Corrective Maintenance (CM)

Corrective maintenance, or CM, is defined as a maintenance task performed to restore a non- or under-performing asset to an optimum or operational condition. One way maintenance teams use corrective maintenance is to allow assets to fail before repairing or replacing them because it is cost and labor effective to do so. It can be a simple maintenance method to carry out, and is also referred to as reactive maintenance.

Woman wearing gloves calling for corrective maintenance to fix a burst pipe.
Read more in this blog post: What is Corrective Maintenance?

Corrective maintenance compares to waiting until the pot of water has begun to boil over before taking action. When you notice the water overflowing, you would turn off the burner, remove the pot from the burner, and wipe up the hot water before returning the pot to the burner. You would likely watch the water more closely to prevent it from boiling over again.

When to Use Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance might be the best approach to maintaining smaller assets, in which preventive maintenance costs more than replacing the asset entirely. The decision about when to do corrective maintenance may also come about based on a costs-benefit analysis. If a 5 or 10 horsepower motor breaks down, it would likely be more cost efficient to replace it than make a repair. Purchasing and installing new parts, paying for labor, and the downtime during the repair would likely cost more than buying a new motor.

Corrective maintenance is not limited to equipment assets. For example, organizations performing facility maintenance such as cutting the grass are performing corrective maintenance. They are correcting an undesirable state (the grass being too long), which at minimum, would need to be done before the length violates city ordinance.

Oftentimes, corrective maintenance is chosen as part of a deliberate run-to-failure strategy. One example of corrective maintenance which should be done only after failure is replacing a burned out light fixture in a stadium. The facility’s maintenance team would wait until multiple lights fail rather than replacing just one at a time. It would be a waste of money to try to predict when each light would fail, or to replace each one before it fails. The consequence of running these lights to failure is low. However, the light bulbs need to be replaced before the number of burned out bulbs causes a potential safety or visibility issue.

Benefits of Corrective Maintenance

Even though it is reactive in nature, there are some benefits and advantages of corrective maintenance, such as it:

  • Saves money by helping you decide to replace assets when it’s most cost effective
  • Costs less to plan
  • Simplifies process for the maintenance team
  • Simplifies work delegation
  • Can be done without software (although software is very beneficial for corrective maintenance)

How to Implement Corrective Maintenance

Out of all maintenance types, the implementation of corrective maintenance is the most commonly used and straight-forward. You can regularly perform unplanned corrective maintenance. That being said, there are different variations of corrective maintenance that come into play.

    • Emergency Maintenance: This type of corrective maintenance includes failures that occur unexpectedly and are severe enough that they need to be addressed immediately.
    • Breakdown Maintenance: This occurs after a non-critical asset totally breaks down. It should be attended to soon, but production can continue without it.
    • Deferred Corrective Maintenance: This type of corrective maintenance includes repairs that were deferred, but need to be made to restore the function of an asset, although they are not as critical.

While corrective maintenance is likely already being done, there are ways you can implement more effective corrective maintenance. One way to increase corrective maintenance effectiveness is to provide a better way to be notified of maintenance needs. This can be achieved through a maintenance request system. A request system is often part of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. Maintenance managers should train all asset users (inside and outside of the maintenance department) on how to properly describe the problem in a maintenance request.

Another tip that will help you more effectively carry out corrective maintenance is to create an organized method of filing the supporting materials technicians need to perform maintenance. These include user manuals, warranties, and troubleshooting guides, so that these are readily available when the maintenance work must be performed. You should also keep the necessary parts in stock to avoid the need for improvising solutions on the fly or having to wait for costly, expedited shipments of ordered parts.

Preventive Maintenance (PM)

Preventive maintenance, or PM, is maintenance that is proactively performed on an asset with the goal of lessening the likelihood of failure, reducing unexpected downtime, and prolonging its useful life. Preventive maintenance is much more complex than corrective maintenance.

Maintenance technician testing a battery as part of preventive maintenance.

Learn More: What is Preventive Maintenance?

To describe preventive maintenance using our pot of water analogy again, you would do things to prevent the water from boiling over: using slightly less water or a bigger pot, turning the burner down from high to medium-high so that it takes longer to boil, and remembering the time it took for the water to boil over last time; then subtracting a few minutes from that so your water does not reach the boil over point.

When to Use Preventive Maintenance

Organizations seek to implement preventive maintenance because they want to reduce the corrective maintenance they have to do. They may feel overwhelmed with repairs and asset downtime to the point where the team can’t keep up. Maintenance teams decide to use preventive maintenance when they want to prevent total failure of large scale assets. While the number of maintenance tasks is nearly endless, some examples of preventive maintenance include:

  • Inspections
  • Fluid replacement
  • Lubrication
  • Small parts replacement (air filter, hose clamps, etc).

When to apply preventive maintenance depends largely on when it can be used in conjunction with effective corrective maintenance. When you can’t keep up with all of the repairs, implementing preventive maintenance program will reduce the number of asset failures and save time. You will be able to focus on reducing machine downtime and increasing your production rate through preventive maintenance, which will lead to greater asset availability.

Preventive maintenance should be used to prevent critical and/or expensive assets from failing. It should be done when you are able to balance smaller, less critical PM tasks with larger corrective maintenance tasks. Ideally, preventive maintenance should be a continuous strategy that reduces the need for corrective maintenance as much as possible.

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

There are a number of benefits of preventive maintenance, although it may take time for you to reap those benefits. They can’t be seen overnight, but in the long run, they are significant. Preventive maintenance:

  • Improves workplace safety
  • Increases the lifespan of machines or condition of the facility
  • Reduces downtime
  • Ensures a higher production rate
  • Helps you gain insights into assets and how to maintain them (when done with CMMS software)
How to Implement Preventive Maintenance

A schedule to maintain assets before failure must be developed along with planning for part restocking and labor. Once your maintenance department coordinates all of the resources required to optimize preventive maintenance, implementing it is fairly straightforward.

A preventive maintenance program can start with carrying out a few simple PM tasks, such as replacing a filter or performing a regular inspection on an asset. While you don’t need software or a complicated schedule to perform basic preventive maintenance, it is easier to track with maintenance management software.

Rest assured that once you develop a preventive maintenance strategy and use the right tools, the program can be painless. Preventive maintenance requires some effort, but ultimately lowers maintenance costs. While an entire blog post could be written on this topic alone, here are some quick tips for implementing preventive maintenance:

  • Create a plan and decide who will be involved in the PM program
  • Make sure you have the resources (employees, parts, and tools) available to carry out preventive maintenance
  • Inventory your facility’s equipment and other assets
  • Determine which assets are critical to production and prioritize preventing failure of these assets
  • Create standardized PM processes and  procedures
  • Prioritize recurring PM tasks

Implementing preventive maintenance is best done with the help of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. CMMS software has the capability to schedule PM work orders in advance, apply work order templates to reoccurring work orders, associate tasks and parts with multiple frequencies, and reschedule work orders quickly as needed.

In addition to CMMS software, you’ll also need to train your technicians on implementing preventive maintenance. This includes not only learning how to use the software, but also what expectations maintenance managers have in terms of daily routines. There may be some new tasks that technicians must be trained on how to do because they have never been done before.

Condition-based Maintenance (CbM)

Condition-based maintenance, or CbM, is another form of preventive maintenance, but it is performed closer to failure than traditional preventive maintenance. Condition-based maintenance is a strategy in which you wait until an asset is exhibiting measurable symptoms that indicate that failure is nearing or more probable. It is defined as a reactive maintenance technique that uses real-time data (collected through sensors) to identify when an asset’s performance or condition reaches a level where failure is nearing or more probable.

In most instances, the difference between predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance is small.

Infrared reading on pipes can be used to analyze asset condition with condition-based maintenance.

Read More: What is Condition-based Maintenance?

Now we’re going to think of our pot of water in terms of condition-based maintenance. You would monitor the temperature of the water so that it doesn’t boil over, then add your food or adjust the burner settings before the water spills. That is a very simplified example of condition-based maintenance in this analogy.

When to Use Condition-based Maintenance

Condition-based maintenance ensures that you perform maintenance when the condition of the asset warrants it—not before, not after. Think of it as a “just in time” type of maintenance. Condition-based maintenance is meant to be done when conditions that are monitored reach a specified level. It uses real-time data to optimize and prioritize maintenance resources and prioritize them. Just a few examples of condition-based maintenance include monitoring temperature and pressure, as well as oil and vibration levels.

So, what considerations should be taken before using condition-based maintenance in your overall maintenance strategy? First, you need to invest in equipment to measure asset conditions and ensure maintenance technicians know how to use this equipment. Keep in mind that this part of the condition-based maintenance strategy can be costly, but will pay off in the long run.

Once you have the tools you need to begin analyzing data, this data must be used to build insights that are actionable. It’s also a good time to brush up on any regulations that apply to your processes or machines since they change rapidly. Inadvertently violating a regulation can hinder the most well intended maintenance plans.

Benefits of Condition-based Maintenance

There are many benefits of condition-based maintenance, which can be easily summarized here:

  • Costs less than other types of maintenance
  • Improves asset reliability
  • Reduces unplanned failures
  • Prevents unnecessary maintenance tasks from being performed
  • Conserves parts
  • Saves on labor costs
  • Can be completed when assets are operating, resulting in no downtime

How to Implement Condition-based Maintenance

To carry out condition-based maintenance, you must complete multiple steps including capturing sensor data, communicating the data, analyzing the data to determine when and where maintenance should be performed, creating and scheduling maintenance work orders, and performing maintenance work. Condition-based monitoring performs non-destructive testing through sensors.

Once these sensors perform the tests, they communicate the data (or parameters that indicate maintenance is needed) to employees. This can be done through a programmable logic controller (PLC), human machine interface (HMI), or SCADA system. After the maintenance team is notified of maintenance that needs to be done, they need to carry out maintenance tasks.

Maintenance management software such as a CMMS system makes the implementation of condition-based maintenance considerably easier to track. You can document work from a condition-based maintenance program in CMMS software. The asset management features within the software allow you to view service history to assist in troubleshooting. You can also use reports to compare data about monitoring asset health.

Predictive Maintenance (PdM)

Predictive maintenance, or PdM, is a proactive maintenance technique that uses real-time asset data (collected manually or through sensors), historical performance data, and advanced analytics to forecast when asset failure will occur. Predictive maintenance is a sophisticated form of preventive maintenance that is used by organizations with a robust maintenance program.

Maintenance technician uses infrared technology to perform predictive maintenance.

Our pot of water analogy may be a bit too simple for predictive maintenance, but it can still be applied. You would take data from past experiences (time it took for water to boil, variations in boil time depending on amount of water and type of food being cooked, and what the best burner setting to boil water is). This data would be used to create a procedure for boiling water the fastest, safest way without ruining your stove top or overcooking your food.

Read More: What is Predictive Maintenance?

When to Use Predictive Maintenance

While the circumstances in which it is appropriate to use predictive maintenance varies for every organization, there are some things to keep in mind to help you decide when to carry out predictive maintenance. Before you carry out predictive maintenance work, you should go through this process:

  • Determine the conditional standards required for your predictive maintenance needs
  • Install tools and processes for monitoring
  • Create the automatic triggers needed to indicate failure or that maintenance should be done
  • Collect the data you need and monitor it
  • Create work order when the indicated conditions for maintenance or failure are met
  • Perform the maintenance (any type needed)

As you probably gathered, this process is repeated as often and as with many assets as needed.

To better help you understand when you should use predictive maintenance, let’s go over a few examples of how and when it is used. Companies in the power and energy industry may use predictive maintenance to prevent disruptive, costly outages. Transportation companies, especially railway systems, use predictive maintenance through the Internet of Things (IoT) to predict failure and perform maintenance before these failures become safety issues. Manufacturing plants use infrared technology as part of predictive maintenance to detect overheating of machinery.

Benefits of Predictive Maintenance

There are several benefits of predictive maintenance for organizations which increase when a predictive maintenance program has been in place for some time.

  • Saves money, as predictive maintenance takes less time and is less expensive
  • Reduces loss of production hours, spare parts, and maintenance supplies
  • Predicts asset failure mode with regular monitoring in a cost effective way
  • Reduces corrective maintenance
  • Gives you a real-time overview of your assets’ condition
  • Ensures minimal and predictable production interruption
  • Yields the highest Return on Investment (ROI) out of all maintenance types

How to Implement Predictive Maintenance

This is one of the most advanced types of maintenance, so it should be implemented when your maintenance team has a good handle on other maintenance types. In order to implement predictive maintenance, you need go through several steps:

  • Identify assets appropriate for predictive maintenance
  • Confirm adequate technical infrastructure to support the PdM program
  • Determine the conditions that monitoring will allow prediction of future asset failure
  • Decide what sensors will be used to monitor conditions
  • Install the sensors
  • Allocate resources for completing PdM tasks
  • Train employees on how to interpret data
  • Collect and analyze data, detect faults, and predict time to failure
  • Calculate and set best maintenance schedule to cost-effectively prevent asset failure

Doing all of this is easier when you have data acquisition software that can be integrated with a CMMS system. Values from predictive maintenance software can be transferred into a CMMS system, and work orders can be automatically generated by the CMMS software. Predictive maintenance testing is done automatically by sensors on each machine (or by manual observation), and the results can be recorded in CMMS software as part of asset history. Maintenance reports can also be generated to compare results of various predictive maintenance analyses.

FTMaintenance Facilitates All Types of Maintenance

FTMaintenance is a CMMS software system that can be used for any type of maintenance program. Schedule a demo today to see FTMaintenance in action.

8 Maintenance Management Objectives

Man with tablet and woman on desktop pointing to screen with hard hats, managing maintenance work.

While some maintenance departments rely on a run-to-failure strategy, most want to do more preventive than corrective maintenance. The problem is that many organizations don’t have the resources to expand their maintenance plan to include work that extends asset life and minimizes downtime. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can help them do just that—but more about CMMS software later. While it is certainly the job of the maintenance department to take on a break-and-fix role, there should be a balance between this (corrective maintenance) and preventive maintenance work.

Key maintenance management objectives can reduce reliance on corrective maintenance and contribute to a more efficient and effective maintenance program. We alluded to some of these objectives in our blog post, What is Maintenance Management? Here, we will discuss eight maintenance management functions and objectives in more detail.

Objectives of Maintenance Management

1. Control Costs and Budget

The first objective to share with you is cost control and budgeting. The maintenance manager allocates the budget he is given to various areas of the department’s resources to ensure everything works effectively. It’s important to include funds for both planned and emergency or corrective maintenance in the budget.

The thing to keep in mind when budgeting for maintenance work is that when a major asset breaks down completely, most likely the asset will be replaced no matter the cost. Of course, a decision must be made between repairing the asset, replacing it, or purchasing a different type of machine. Maintenance managers are tasked with staying within the maintenance budget. However, when something like this happens, it justifies a maintenance budget overrun. They must make cost-effective, wise decisions when choosing parts, vendors, and new or replacement machines. They also need to balance the costs and benefits of preventive vs. corrective maintenance.

Labor resources are another area in which costs need to be monitored closely. When the budget allows, maintenance departments might outsource work to save time. In many cases, however, this is not feasible and corners get cut or tasks get delayed.

When there isn’t enough time to complete all of the necessary corrective maintenance, there is no realistic way to implement a preventive maintenance program on top of what the team is already doing. For many organizations, they can implement this type of program only when they have the upfront resources and money available to invest in it. However, after they overcome that hurdle, the payback from this investment will come over time.

2. Comply with Regulations

There are different types of regulations to follow, which vary by industry. Organizations in the oil and gas industry must follow FERC and EPA regulations, in addition to OSHA regulations. There are many safety regulations that must be followed by the food and beverage industry, such as those advised by the FDA. Local, state, and federal regulation compliance standards must be considered by the production team at all times.

To maintain adherence to these regulations, it’s important to make small plans that lead to accomplishing bigger compliance goals. Examples of these plans include:

3. Plan Maintenance Work

Strategic maintenance management includes scheduling maintenance jobs ahead of time. This is important because it efficiently distributes the appropriate time and labor resources to proactive, preventive maintenance tasks, helping maintenance departments reduce the frequency major asset failures. Maintenance managers must have a clear understanding of the structure of the company in order to schedule work effectively. It will help determine the priority of various jobs.

For example, if a technician is working on installing new shelves in the stockroom and a pipe bursts in a bathroom, that is an emergency in which he may need stop what’s doing and help to make that repair, unless another technician is available. There are other scenarios in which the job prioritization is less obvious, but an experienced maintenance manager should help make those calls each day. The truck needs to be in service to make sure deliveries of that product are made on schedule. If just a few tasks are prioritized incorrectly, the schedule can be thrown off for weeks. Maintenance work must be organized in a way that achieves optimal outcomes.

4. Ensure Personnel Safety

Another objective of maintenance management is ensuring the safety of all personnel, inside and outside of the maintenance department. This is done through regular inspections of boilers, compressors, material handling equipment, and other assets that could become dangerous if they malfunction. When maintenance is properly managed, safety increases for everyone in the organization. Many machines can be dangerous when operating normally, but even more so when it malfunctions. Proper training on the function of every asset, critical safety dos and don’ts, and emergency situation protocols are essential.

Facility management-related health and safety guidelines are also important. Just a few examples include:

  • Sanitation and janitorial services
  • Pest control
  • Waste management
  • Managing HVAC, electrical, and plumbing work

5. Minimize Equipment Failure and Production Downtime

Maintenance teams strive to maximize equipment availability, and they are better able to do so when preventive maintenance jobs are managed well. Maintenance technicians must be able to stay on top of preventive maintenance to keep machines running so that failure and production interruptions are minimized. At the same time, downtime cannot be avoided entirely, so when machines do need repairs, they must be done quickly and efficiently.

Read More About Minimizing Downtime

6. Extend Useful Machine Life

When maintenance tasks are properly delegated, prioritized, and completed quickly, machines last longer. Over time a good maintenance plan improves reliability, availability, and maintainability. This is done through proactive maintenance work, which can include preventive, predictive, and condition-based maintenance. Preventive maintenance includes minor maintenance jobs and inspections to prevent asset breakdowns. Predictive maintenance uses real-time asset data collected though sensors, along with historical performance data and advanced analytics to predict when failure will occur. Condition-based maintenance uses real-time data to identify when an asset’s performance or condition reaches an unsatisfactory level.

7. Improve Product Quality

When machines are better maintained, the result is improved product quality and a decrease in the number or products that need to be scrapped or reworked. Improved product quality leads to better reviews of your product and in turn, more satisfied customers and in turn, more sales.

8. Develop Improved Policies, Procedures, and Standards

A final maintenance management objective included in this article is to continually develop and improve upon policies, procedures, and standards that lead to better maintained equipment and cost reduction. In order for this to be successful, there must be a mutual understanding between maintenance and other departments to plan, control, and direct maintenance activities. This includes procedures such as knowing how to report maintenance issues to the maintenance team, what system to use to communicate the production and maintenance schedules, and how others will be notified of asset repair status.

How FTMaintenance Helps You Meet Your Objectives

Cost Tracking

Strategic maintenance management requires smart budgeting. CMMS software enables you to budget for maintenance more accurately. FTMaintenance software can help track maintenance costs by tracking the costs of maintenance work and MRO inventory purchases. The software gives you the ability to drill into all levels of data. This includes specific assets and repair costs associated with them, such as supplies, parts, and labor. These cost factors can be used to make informed budgeting decisions.

With all of this information at your fingertips through maintenance reports and graphs, you can even use this information as a vendor negotiating tool. FTMaintenance reports can be used to view equipment cost history, inventory cost history, work order cost history, and YTD (year to date) and LTD (life to date) equipment cost history. The software also has cost center functionality for more specific cost tracking.

Preventive Maintenance Scheduling

One of the most important features of maintenance management software is preventive maintenance. FTMaintenance allows you to create a preventive maintenance program, scheduling tasks at any time and interval needed. It can be challenging for maintenance teams who have never had a preventive maintenance program in place to fully implement it all at once. With FTMaintenance Select, you can roll out the software at a pace that works best for you, with ongoing support from us along the way.

Safety, Minimizing Downtime, and Improving Maintenance Procedures

FTMaintenance helps you to keep up with safety standards through preventive maintenance scheduling, automatic work order activation, and notifications via email so you can stay on top of inspections. It can also be used to ensure communication of safety protocols on all work orders. FTMaintenance improves documentation of the fact that safety protocols were followed.

By using CMMS software as part of your daily maintenance routine, you will minimize equipment downtime and interruptions in production. Less downtime and smoother production leads to greater production value and better product quality. Finally, the daily use of CMMS software such as FTMaintenance can be incorporated into your maintenance procedures to improve organization of your maintenance process.

Curious to know more? Schedule a demo of FTMaintenance today.

Work Order Management Best Practices

Maintenance worker in hard hat looking at clipboard representing work order management best practices.

The work order management process can be inefficient or ineffective in many ways. Processing, prioritizing, and tracking incoming work orders require a lot of effort from maintenance staff. When you receive requests for maintenance from multiple sources, (emails, phone calls, instant messages, and in-person contacts) it can be difficult to organize them all.

Establishing streamlined work order process best practices ensures the maintenance team will get preventive maintenance and maintenance jobs derived from requests done efficiently. Here, we will talk about the work order process and things you can do to improve it.

The Work Order Process

Surprisingly, many organizations do not have a formal work order process or system in place to manage work orders. Work order process best practices are centered on organized communication and consistency in how maintenance jobs are carried out. Let’s walk through the importance of a CMMS work order, a typical work order process, and some best practices you can implement along the way.

Create the Work Order Request

Work order management starts with creating the work order request. This request can be made by a maintenance technician or maintenance manager. Most often, however, it is made by someone outside of the maintenance department using a maintenance request portal, which provides a standard channel for submitting requests for maintenance work.

Best Practice: Submit maintenance requests formally. No work orders should be created for requested jobs unless the maintenance request is formally submitted. Everyone who uses the system should know how to submit adequate, useful information. In computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, a designated system administrator can specify all mandatory information that is required before a maintenance request can be accepted. If it is a maintenance technician or manager submitting the request, they may have the authority to expedite approval. This step will vary by organization.

Approve the Work Order Request

Once the request for maintenance is submitted, it needs to be approved or rejected by the individuals with the authority to approve them, including maintenance managers, executives, or plant operations managers. In order for a maintenance request to be approved, it needs to contain the proper information. At minimum, a work order should include which building or asset requires maintenance and a description of the problem or service that needs to be addressed.

Best Practice: Designate certain staff members as approvers. There should be specific staff members that have permissions in the software to approve work orders. They will have the job of ensuring that only valid requests with enough information go through to the maintenance team. The approval team must also consider whether or not the asset is worth repairing again after the most recent failure. If not, production can be moved to another machine, or the machine could be replaced or discarded.

After all of these factors have been determined, requests that still need to be done become work orders. This process helps to avoid bogging down the system with incomplete requests and confusing the maintenance technicians.

Develop the Work Order

Once a work order has been approved, the maintenance manager or maintenance planner needs to fully develop and determine the importance of the work order. This includes researching past asset failures to see if this problem has occurred before. It also involves gathering the necessary repair manuals and documentation, which can be scanned in and digitally attached to the work order. Finally, the repair’s maintenance tasks and process needs to be laid out for the technician or team of technicians who will complete the work order.

Best Practice: Make sure the work order information is comprehensive before including it in the schedule. Review all of the fields and be sure they are filled out completely and accurately. If any information is unclear, ask for clarification from the person who submitted the work order. Consider what documentation or materials need to be attached to work order to alleviate delays in completing the work order. Finally, consider the current maintenance workload and severity of the maintenance need detailed in the work order when prioritizing it.

Prioritize the Work Order

The next step in the work order management process is to prioritize the work and identify the different work order types for each request. This includes who will address each job. Will the job be assigned to the next available technician, or will it be reserved for someone with a particular set of skills?

Best Practice: Establish and follow prioritization guidelines. A maintenance manager should set and follow an established set of guidelines to make informed decisions about what priority each work order should have: emergency, high, safety, medium, or low. These are common priorities given to work orders.

  • Emergency—stop everything else to do now: fire alarm goes off, gas leak, plumbing overflow, total power loss, etc.
  • High—finish what you’re working on, then do: broken lock, HVAC outage, broken elevator, or critical preventive maintenance tasks, such as replacing power rods in a nuclear plant
  • Safety—higher than medium priority: slip and fall hazards, sharp edges
  • Medium—more important than low priority tasks, but not safety issues: broken exterior door, partial power loss, minor leaks, flat tire on infrequently used equipment
  • Low—operations can go on as usual without this task being done: painting a wall, installing a new shelf in the stockroom, or lubricating a door hinge that squeaks
  • Scheduled—planned well in advance: contract work, non-critical preventive maintenance, and seasonal jobs

Schedule the Work Order

If approved, the maintenance manager or the designated scheduler then schedules the work order. He can do this through a printed calendar, email calendar software, scheduling management tools, or CMMS software. Scheduling can be done on virtually any basis needed from a one-time job to daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.

Best Practice: Think about priority, frequency, and distribution when scheduling. Consider the priority of the work order, whether or not this type of job will be a reoccurring one, and if scheduled in CMMS software, determine what other forms of distribution or follow up you should use (email, printed sheet, calendar reminder, etc).

Assign the Work Order

Once the priority of the job has been determined, the next step is to assign the work order to one or more technicians with the appropriate expertise to effectively solve the problem with the asset, or perform preventive maintenance. The maintenance manager also needs to take into consideration an efficient distribution of workload for his team.

Best Practice: Fill in the gaps left by requesters when necessary. When a valid maintenance request is approved to become a work order, the requester only knows so much about the asset and job in question. It is a good idea for the approvers, including maintenance managers, to fill in any missing information. The most complete work order:

  • Specifies the asset or building that needs work
  • Describes the problem or service needed
  • Specifies parts and tools required
  • Contains a task checklist
  • Includes associated documents (if applicable)
  • Includes notes as needed

Complete and Close the Work Order

Once the work order has been assigned and scheduled, the next step in work order management is to complete the work and close the work order. Of course, the time it takes to complete the tasks outlined in the work order depend greatly on the complexity of the job, expected duration, availability of the asset, and how to best avoid interrupting production if possible.

Closing the work order is done differently depending on the type of work order system in place. With manual work orders, “closing” them might be as simple as putting a folder in a filing cabinet. If an email system is used, you may change the status from flagged to follow up to complete (usually displayed with a checkmark symbol next to the message) and move the email message to a folder for completed work orders.

When using CMMS software to manage work orders, you go through a few quick digital steps to close the work order. Closed work orders then become part of work order history, which anyone with access permission can view.

Best Practice: Document everything. One of the most important work order best practices is to document everything. This can be done throughout the work order management process, but it is especially important before work order closure after the work has been completed.

While it may seem tedious for smaller jobs, the more details you document, the more comprehensive your work order history will be. This history can later be analyzed more closely in reports. Make sure parts and labor hours are included on the work order. A CMMS can assist with maintaining this best practice through its required fields in the work order form.

Summarizing CMMS Work Order Functionality

The main purpose of CMMS software is to manage work orders. CMMS software offers the most comprehensive features for implementing your work order process best practices. From work order management to asset management, inventory management, and maintenance reports, there are many tools to make your maintenance work as efficient as possible.

Read More: How CMMS Software Drives Maintenance Efficiency

It’s important to fully understand work order functionality in CMMS software. Here are just some CMMS capabilities.

  • Categorize work order types as corrective, preventive, or predictive.
  • Keep stakeholders “in the know” with email or text notifications.
  • Quickly review documentation such as manuals and warranties with attachment capabilities.
  • Analyze emerging maintenance trends with detailed work order histories. Plan and adjust maintenance schedules to maximize asset uptime and minimize maintenance cost.
  • Monitor the work order process through tracking and revising the workflow based on the current estimated downtime of assets.
  • Ensures that the proper resources, parts, and tools are available when needed during maintenance tasks.

Implement Work Order Best Practices with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance is CMMS software designed to reduce or eliminate the complexity of managing work orders using powerful, yet easy-to-use-features like those mentioned above. With FTMaintenance, work orders are available on mobile devices as well as desktops and laptops. The ability to attach documents to each work order is helpful for providing complete and accurate work order information. Work orders can be created and submitted in a fraction of the time that it takes to manually type or write out and print a work order.

To learn how FTMaintenance can help your maintenance team, read more about our CMMS features, or schedule a demo today.

Avoid These Common CMMS RFP Mistakes

Group of six professionals meeting at long table with tablets to discussing RFP writing mistakes.

In our blog post What is a Request for Proposal?, we defined what an RFP is and why it’s important. In the blog post How to Write an RFP, we went over all the sections in an RFP, along with tips for writing one. For the last blog post in this series, we’re going to talk about RFP writing mistakes.

When organizations write requests for proposals (RFPs) for computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, there are a number of mistakes that tend to be made. A well-written RFP can make the difference between finding the CMMS software that’s right for you and settling for something that…isn’t. In this blog post, we’ll talk about 7 common RFP mistakes and how avoid making them.

Common CMMS RFP Mistakes

1. Over-specification: The Biggest Mistake in the RFP Process

The biggest mistake when writing an RFP is over-specification about the solution you need. Oftentimes, people take the specification process too far when they should get familiar with the look and feel of multiple products first.

If your requirements are too narrow and specific, you may never find a vendor solution that will meet them. Placing too many requirements into the RFP document bogs it down with unimportant details, and can be a turn-off to potential vendors who might meet your needs.

If there are too many requirements, a choice may need to be made, where if a vendor can meet say, 80% of requirements, you will still consider it.

Solution: Focus on the functional requirements instead of how the functions are performed. Rather than getting caught up in the overly specific, mundane details, focus on whether or not the software does what you need it to do. Every CMMS system will vary on the verbiage of their buttons, prompts, and notifications, for example.

2. Inadequate or Excessive Length

Another common RFP mistake is making it too long or not long enough. You want to include an adequate amount of information to receive the best outcome with each vendor. At the same time, if the RFP is too long, the vendor may decide they don’t have time to read through everything, or fill out a lengthy questionnaire, and move on to another potential customer (or other work).

Solution: Ask yourself how many words or pages it might take to get your point across. Instead of worrying about what the length of your RFP should be, think about what needs to be included to get the point across and cover everything you want to share or find out. Look at a few RFP examples (from your own organization or online templates) for inspiration. As a general rule of thumb, government agencies typically write longer RFPs up to 50 pages to include required legal information, while other organizations usually keep the length at 15-20 pages.

A typical RFP has an introduction, a breakdown of the expected timeline to completion, and documentation on how your maintenance operations currently work. Next in a CMMS request for proposal is a brief summary of how your maintenance process currently works without software, milestones you want to hit throughout the proposed project, product delivery expectations, and detailed product requirements. Towards the end, an RFP will typically include a terms and conditions section.

We outline all of the sections that should be included in an RFP in our blog post, How to Write an RFP for CMMS Software. In addition to the written information you should include in an RFP, you should also provide a form, questionnaire, or survey for the vendor to complete. Some of the information you’ll want to get from the vendor includes pricing, organizational information, primary contact, and who the project manager will be. You should ask how many years they’ve been in business, and state any terms you have for awarding a contract.

3. Writing RFP without Stakeholders Input

When organizations write an RFP for CMMS software without getting input from key stakeholders, they often leave out or misrepresent important details. These include a maximum budget, how soon they want to implement the software, and system and security requirements to name a few.

Solution: Get input from all stakeholders. The stakeholders you should be getting input from include the president or general manager and other executive management responsible for maintenance management. These are the people that will have the final responsibility for the CMMS software purchase. Depending on the organization, other stakeholders may include the maintenance manager, IT manager, project manager, and maintenance technicians.

All stakeholders should ask themselves the following questions as they contribute to the RFP:

  • What does the software need to do for us to get value out of it? What essential functions and technical requirements must it fulfill?
  • Will we get a sufficient return on investment (ROI) for our time and effort?
  • Is there anyone else I need to get feedback from?

4. Delayed Communication

Another problem that can occur in the RFP process is delayed communication. A well-written RFP will include a clear communication channel for all questions. It might also be a good idea to schedule a Q&A session between vendors and stakeholders.

Solution: Specify question and answer format, and keep your vendor list short. To avoid a delay in communication between the writers of the RFP (you and your team) and the CMMS vendor, clearly state where respondents should send their questions and a deadline for when they can be asked. Specify the format in which they can submit questions such as email, phone, web conference, etc. It’s also important to state whether or not the answers will be distributed to all vendors.

Another communication tip is to keep your vendor list short and avoid asking too many open-ended questions. Avoid changes in the vendor selection process unless absolutely necessary, as change will cause delays. Asking for references is optional, but if you do, limit reference requests to a number that you can easily verify. You should be able to gauge whether or not the vendor is credible and will meet your needs through researching those references, but also through direct interaction and their evaluation responses.

5. Making It about You

Another common mistake when writing a request for proposal for CMMS software is making it more about you than the vendor. This happens when your organization feels as though they need to reveal everything about who they are and what they do in the first contact.

You should be focused on what the vendor can potentially do for you. While it is important to inform your potential CMMS vendors about your business, if the focus is in the wrong place, your RFP may get overlooked.

Solution: Start with a list of requirements. Make a list of all the requirements you have, including your must-haves and some things that would be nice to have. Then determine what information the vendor would need to know about your business to complete their response to your RFP. Create a focused outline for your RFP and then get to writing. Have stakeholders review a draft of the RFP before finalizing it and sending it off.

A good RFP will give the vendor just enough information to understand what you do without explaining your entire company history. If the vendor is interested, they will visit your website to learn more. If your RFP does not have enough information, vendors will likely ask follow-up questions.

6. Confusing Response Comparison System

Once you receive responses from all vendors, you need a way to compare information from each of them to determine how well they do or don’t meet your needs. If this response comparison system is confusing, this will hinder the selection process. The method you use to compare and score each vendor needs to be clear and consistent.

Solution: Email your team and schedule 3-5 demos. To keep your comparison system clear and to the point, here are some things to consider. Send a self evaluation to each vendor. This should contain a scoring system or rubric by which vendors will rate themselves on different aspects.  Email each response to the stakeholders in your organization. When you have narrowed your search down to no more than 3-5 vendors that meet an initial set of criteria, schedule demos with them and have each person at the demo use the same evaluation sheet. The following people should attend each demo:

  • President or General Manager
  • Maintenance Manager
  • Maintenance Technicians
  • IT Manager
  • Production Manager

Use a scoring system of 2, 1, or 0, and give different weight to various areas.  A score of 2 means the product fully meets requirements in that area, 1 means it somewhat means the requirements, and 0 means it does not meet the requirements. These areas should include functional, technical, and look and feel elements. Try to keep evaluations as objective as possible.

Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for there to be bias towards or against vendors. It is best to avoid any sort of biased approach when possible, but if it cannot be avoided, the software evaluation team should be aware of it. Stakeholders participating in the vendor demos should know that should account for a higher percentage of the common recommendations for rating software. The features and functionality of each product make up about 60% of the rating or score. 30% of the score is for technical compatibility, and the look and feel of the product interface usually counts for about 10%.

7. Too Many Freeform Answers

While it may seem like a good idea to allow vendors to write all of their answers in freeform in their request for proposal responses, this is actually a common RFP mistake. When they are given a blank space with unlimited characters for every question, this will either result in answers that are way too long, or short phrase answers that don’t give you enough information. However, some freeform answers are important for questions where a multiple choice selection may result in inaccurate or forced responses.

Solution: Pair questions that have room for freeform answers with multiple choice, yes or no, or other questions with limited-option answers. There should be a balance of questions that allow the vendor to write what they want as an answer and questions that require a shorter answer. An example of a freeform question might be, “What key features does your software have that makes your product different from competitors?” An example of a yes or no question might be, “Do you have an application (app) for your product?”

Higher Quality RFPs Lead to Better Responses

When you write a high quality RFP, it will lead to more and better responses from potential vendors. Avoiding the mistakes mentioned here requires researching the RFP writing process such as by reading this and other blog posts, taking your time to complete the RFP, and getting feedback from stakeholders.

Whether your CMMS requirements are simple or complex, consider FTMaintenance CMMS for your maintenance management needs. FTMaintenance is CMMS software that is used by organizations in any industry. FTMaintenance offers features such as work order management, asset management, inventory management, preventive maintenance scheduling, and a maintenance request system. Contact us for more information about where to send your CMMS RFP and to view FTMaintenance in action.

Unique Corporate Holiday Ideas for 2020

Ornaments on a Christmas tree on display during the holidays at work.

It’s almost that time of year again—the holiday season. You have gifts to shop for and traditions to uphold. The year 2020 has come with some unprecedented financial and social challenges due to the pandemic. While things may be different this year, we can hopefully look forward to a more normal 2021.

In the meantime, we’d like to share some unique corporate holiday ideas. You can still celebrate the holidays in the workplace, whether you and your team are working on the production floor or in the office, remotely, or going from home to job sites. There are several alternative work party ideas to choose from.

Deck the (Office) Halls

Just because you can’t gather together doesn’t mean you can’t decorate the office. Focus on areas that employees have to walk through often, such as entryways, hallways near restrooms, and break rooms. Depending on the size of your building, you may want to set up one or multiple trees. Just a few decorating ideas include:

  • Garland or mistletoe over door frames
  • Lights along the wall on the trim
  • Window clings and frost spray on windows
  • Wreaths on doors or on hooks on the wall
  • Wrapped boxes in visible corners
  • Outdoor lights and other larger decorations outside the entrance

Party Alternatives

Even if your team is working in the office or on-site, you probably won’t be able to do anything in person this year. However, you can improvise and turn what would be in-person party ideas into remote or socially distanced ones. Corporate holiday parties have a tendency to be a bit stuffy, but choosing a fun theme can make a big difference. To incorporate a theme without meeting in person, you could:

  • Send out fun email templates with holiday greetings. Start a thread where employees can reply with holiday photos or graphics.
  • Submit photos of or share through video conference, international traditions for the holiday season.
  • Have all employees (in office or remotely) don ugly sweaters and show them off in photos or in a video conference.
  • Dress up in outfits from different decades and submit photos of them, or have employees wear them during a video conference.
  • Set up a screening to stream one or more of your favorite holiday movies and have a watch party. You may want to have everyone vote on their favorites from a list of movies available to stream.
  • Send out items you might find or use at a ski cabin, and host a winter wonderland party over video conference.
  • Offer an extra half day off as a raffle prize. Other raffles prizes could be set aside in an unused conference room for employees to pick up one at a time, or sent out by mail. Small items such as coffee mugs filled with treats will suffice.
  • Hold a holiday-themed or general thank you card exchange to show your team appreciation.

If you’d rather wait to have a celebration in-person next year, you could host a kick-off to summer or a general employee appreciation event in 2021. These off-season events tend to cost less because you’re not competing with the typically higher holiday prices for venues, food, and supplies.

Budget-friendly Off Site Activities

Many organizations may have a limited budget this year due to the impact of the pandemic. If money is limited, you can still celebrate in ways that don’t break the bank.

An idea for a holiday activity at work is to host a virtual employee awards show. The awards could be determined by nomination and a poll of all employees.  Think of it like the yearbook awards they gave out in high school (best dressed, funniest, etc). You could also add awards that are more work related, such as most creative sales pitch or quickest problem solver. Winners can receive a small prize, or the ceremony can simply be about recognition.

If you’d like to do something low cost outside of work hours, you could organize a group attendance of a holiday lights tour. Many cities have neighborhoods that allow you to drive through and view decked out houses. Some take charitable donations in lieu of an admission fee. You can still do something together without coming into direct contact.

Ideas to Include Remote Employees

Working remotely can sometimes feel isolating—but it doesn’t have to. There are l ways you can include employees that are working from home in holiday celebrations.

One way to do this is host a virtual secret Santa. Instead of buying gifts for each other, have each employee purchase a small item to donate to a charity. You can show and talk about the items over video conference before bringing them to a donation center.

Another idea for remote employees is to give them restaurant gift cards to make them feel appreciated and enjoy takeout or a night out (when it is deemed safe to do so). You could also give them an extra half day off.

Another option is to send each remote employee a box of party favors and treats, then set up a video conference where everyone opens them and partakes in a virtual holiday party. Everyone can take turns sharing holiday traditions or stories.

A remote work party could also include playing games over video conference. There are many multi-player games out there; you just have to find options that can be played in tournament mode. Other ideas include holding a desk decorating contest and showing them all on video, or giving out electronic gift cards. Another low cost option to bring on site and remote employees together is to set up an online forum to leave messages of gratitude and holiday wishes. It could be a page with a simple form that allows anyone to send messages directly to each employee for them to read.

A red sequined stocking hanging under holiday lights on the wall to celebrate holidays while working remotely.

Note: For all activities done by video conference, depending on the size of your staff, you may need to organize multiple sessions in small groups, as large groups can be difficult to manage online.

FTMaintenance Keeps Your Facilities Running

When you want to take time to enjoy the holiday season, the last thing you need is to have to worry about you assets breaking down. With FTMaintenance, your maintenance team receives the best gift of all, which is improved asset reliability and less downtime.

Would you like to get started before the holidays are in full swing? Request a demo of FTMaintenance today.