Author: Ethan Wilke

FTMaintenance Select v.2.6.3.4 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v.2.6.3.4, which incorporates the following:

Solutions

  • General
    • Improved navigation menu to support newly released versions of Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge web browsers.
  • Work Order Management
    • Improved labor log tracking.

Preventive Maintenance Best Practices

Technician’s hands applying lube to a bearing in line with preventive maintenance best practices.

A preventive maintenance (PM) program is powerful tool that helps organizations monitor equipment performance, prolong asset life, and reduce unplanned downtime. Despite its benefits, many organizations struggle to develop and maintain effective PM plans while balancing other maintenance management responsibilities. This article discusses multiple preventive maintenance best practices that will help you improve your PM program.

This article is part of a series of articles related to maintenance management best practices. Read our other best practice articles:

Preventive Maintenance Best Practices

While PM benefits organizations of all sizes in every industry, the most applicable preventive maintenance best practices should be determined by your organization. The goal of this article is to present multiple preventive maintenance best practices for your organization to consider. The results from implementing best practices will vary and selected maintenance practices may need to be changed, adjusted, or eliminated over time after trial and error.

While this article focuses on preventive maintenance best practices related to planning, scheduling, executing, and tracking, know that other aspects of maintenance management can affect preventive maintenance. For example, poor work order management or MRO inventory management practices make it more difficult to improve preventive maintenance.

Best Practices for Preventive Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

The planning and scheduling of preventive maintenance sets it apart from other types of maintenance, like corrective maintenance (CM). The following best practices focus on optimizing planning and scheduling.

Enter Preventive Maintenance Tasks into CMMS Software

Asset service manuals include comprehensive information about preventive maintenance tasks, including the task name, frequency, required parts, and even time estimates. Having hard copy versions of maintenance documentation is useful, but technicians waste valuable time searching through the maintenance library or tracking down manuals when they cannot be readily found.

Instead, collect PM task information and enter it into a preventive maintenance tracking system, such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. A CMMS provides technicians with a single place for accessing preventive maintenance information such as a task’s title, frequency, required parts, and estimated completion time.

A CMMS also allows you to upload digitized maintenance documentation, providing quick access to service manuals, schematics, and diagrams. Leveraging this digital maintenance library saves a lot of time during the maintenance process.

Further Reading: Pros and Cons of Different Work Order Management Systems

Prioritize Preventive Maintenance Work

Not all preventive maintenance tasks are created equally. Failing to properly prioritize preventive maintenance work often leads to wasted time, missed critical tasks, and unnecessary downtime. When scheduling preventive maintenance work, consider the following:

  • Is the asset critical to production or operations?
  • How complex is the task?
  • How much time is required to complete the task?
  • Are the required resources (i.e., labor, parts, tools, etc.) available?
  • What is the risk associated with not performing the task?

Preventive maintenance for critical assets must be carefully prioritized with other tasks. However, you should have a system for determining the order in which other tasks are completed.

Visualize the Preventive Maintenance Schedule

Many maintenance organizations use bulletin boards, white boards, and spreadsheets to plan preventive maintenance work. A major drawback of these manual systems is they don’t communicate upcoming work in a meaningful way. That’s why many organizations prefer to use the preventive maintenance scheduling functionality of CMMS software.

Visualizing the preventive maintenance schedule in a calendar view is more effective and easily understood. Using a maintenance calendar, maintenance managers can assess monthly activity level and appropriately assign employees, better balance the work load, and identify opportunities for additional PMs or other tasks.

Schedule Preventive Maintenance Based on Equipment Usage

Owner’s manuals often include generalized time-based maintenance (TbM) schedules. While this approach may be useful in some situations, it does not always reflect actual equipment usage. As a result, seldom-used machines are often over maintained while heavily used equipment doesn’t get the attention it needs.

Usage-based maintenance solves these issues by prioritizing preventive maintenance towards machines that are more heavily used. It also eliminates unnecessary maintenance activities and frees up resources to complete other important maintenance work.

Best Practices for Performing Preventive Maintenance

Another focus of preventive maintenance best practices is improving the quality of maintenance activities. Maintenance teams must ensure that their performance is meeting the standards and expectations of the organization and any regulatory parties.

Standardize Preventive Maintenance Procedures

Inconsistent maintenance work can be counter-productive to improving asset reliability. Standardized PM checklists ensure that preventive maintenance work is performed the same way each and every time, no matter who is doing the work.

PM checklists communicate the exact steps that need to be followed and ensure that critical steps, such as lockout/tagout procedures, are not ignored or forgotten. Later, checklists can be used to audit whether the quality of maintenance meets set standards and hold technicians accountable for performing quality work.

The level of detail in checklists varies by organization. Tasks written clearly and unambiguously leave little room for misinterpretation. Also consider the skill level of your maintenance team. Trusted, veteran technicians may not require the same level of detail as a team made up of mostly novice mechanics.

Automate Reminders

Manually tracking when preventive maintenance tasks are due is nearly impossible for teams that maintain more than a dozen or so assets. CMMS software automatically reminds maintenance teams when preventive maintenance is coming due. This advanced noticed ensures that required maintenance is not missed and gives maintenance managers time to schedule maintenance when equipment is available.

Hold Your Team Accountable

Meeting your preventive maintenance goals requires accountability. When team members are aware of what is expected of them and to what standards their work is held, they are more likely to perform quality maintenance work.

Maintenance managers are responsible for setting expectations and monitoring employee performance. First, they must develop and document the responsibilities of each role within the maintenance team and clearly communicate them. Putting these expectations in writing is important for future reference or tracking when responsibilities change.

For example, PM tasks that include a time estimate hold technicians accountable for completing work in a timely manner. If completion times fall too far outside this estimate, investigate what caused the delay. When tasks are fully defined, assign follow-up responsibilities to an approver who can verify that work has been completed correctly and to defined standards.

Further Reading: Creating a Culture of Accountability with CMMS

Best Practices for Achieving Preventive Maintenance Goals

Preventive maintenance best practices extend into how you define, measure, and maintain success.

Measure Key Performance Indicators and Other Preventive Maintenance Metrics

In order to know whether changes to your maintenance operations are making a difference, you have to know where you are starting and where you want to be. Set specific and measurable goals to keep you and your team accountable for following your preventive maintenance plan. Then, determine and communicate the processes and procedures needed to reach those goals.

What metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you track is up to your organization’s leadership. Our article How to Measure Preventive Maintenance Effectiveness discusses common preventive maintenance KPIs and how to use them.

Provide Ongoing Training Opportunities

Preventive maintenance success requires a skilled and experienced maintenance workforce. Ongoing training results in more well-rounded labor resources that can perform a wider range of tasks. What this leads to is more productivity, flexibility in scheduling labor, and accuracy of maintenance work.

Improve Your Preventive Maintenance Program with FTMaintenance Select

Preventive maintenance is the core of an effective maintenance program. Given its importance to asset reliability, organizations are constantly looking for ways to improve their PM processes. FTMaintenance Select provides a centralized platform for developing, managing, and tracking your preventive maintenance plan. Request a demo to learn more.

Understanding the Difference Between Asset Availability and Reliability

Refrigeration compressors that require high availability and reliability for cold storage applications.

Two meaningful metrics used to evaluate asset performance are availability and reliability. Though often used interchangeably, both terms have specific meaning in a manufacturing maintenance context. For the maintenance team, understanding the difference between availability and reliability ensures that maintenance activities effectively target issues affecting plant performance.

This article discusses the differences between availability and reliability, their relationship to one another, and how maintenance can address each.

What is Asset Availability?

Young male machine operator removing product from a CNC machine with high availability

We acknowledge that organizations define and calculate availability in various ways, depending on their process and performance goals. This discussion focuses on availability as it relates to production and examines equipment-related factors that impact availability, such as malfunctions and repairs.

Breakdown of asset availability parameters.

According to The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), asset availability is “the percentage of potential production time during which equipment is operable, that is, operation is not prevented by equipment malfunction.” Put another way, asset availability measures the amount of time equipment was running and producing goods compared to the time production was stopped due to repairs.

Calculating Asset Availability

Refer to the chart in the previous section. As shown, asset availability considers three factors:

  1. Potential Production Time: the amount of time equipment was expected to run, not counting non-equipment-related delays
  2. Production Time: the amount of time equipment actually ran
  3. Repair Time: the amount of time equipment was not running due to an unexpected malfunction and its subsequent repair

Asset availability formula based on production time

To calculate asset availability, divide production time by the potential production time, then multiply the result by 100 to express the value as a percentage.

Let’s look at an example: A production asset ran for 150 hours in a month, but experienced 20 hours of downtime due to a breakdown and waiting for parts. Therefore, out of 170 hours of potential production, actual production time was 150 hours.

Availability = (150 hours ÷ 170 hours) × 100

Availability = 0.88 × 100

Availability = 88%

Another way to think of asset availability is in terms of uptime and downtime. Uptime is generally defined as the time equipment is running; downtime is time equipment is broken down and/or being repaired. Potential production time, then, is considered the sum of uptime and downtime. The asset availability formula using uptime and downtime then becomes:

Asset availability formula based on uptime

Further, uptime can be measured using the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) metric, which calculates the average amount of time equipment runs before failing. Downtime can be measured using the Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) metric, which calculates the average amount of time it takes to make a repair. Therefore, a third way to calculate asset availability is to use the following formula:

Asset availability formula based on the asset management KPIs MTBF and MTTR

However, since MTBF and MTTR are averages, calculating availability using this formula may be less precise than others. Read more about MTBF and MTTR in our article, 3 Important Asset Management KPIs and How to Use Them.

How Maintenance Can Improve Asset Availability

Availability is a performance metric traditionally tracked by production, not maintenance. However, maintenance teams impact availability because they are responsible for finding ways to minimize unplanned downtime and increase the speed of equipment repairs when failures occur.

To do so, organizations can equip maintenance technicians with the information and tools needed for effective troubleshooting. For example, work order history, failure tracking data, and owner’s manuals help technicians to quickly diagnose failures and develop solutions. In addition, indirect factors such as organized stockrooms, appropriate inventory levels, and effective labor utilization indirectly leads to more efficient maintenance.

Advanced organizations may also perform root cause analysis (RCA) and leverage failure codes to track equipment failures. RCA helps identify probable causes of breakdowns and provides data from which to build or tweak preventive maintenance strategies. Comprehensive failure tracking allows maintenance technicians to quickly troubleshoot issues, thereby reducing repair time.

Asset availability can also be improved by implementing a proactive maintenance strategy. Proactive, as opposed to reactive, maintenance lessens the likelihood of unplanned downtime events all together, thereby improving asset availability.

What is Asset Reliability?

Maintenance technician ensuring the reliability of a construction vehicle by making a repair

Asset reliability, according to AMT, is “the probability that machinery and equipment can perform continuously for a specified interval of time without failure, when operating under stated conditions.” While availability measures whether equipment was operable or not, reliability measures the frequency of failures.

Calculating Asset Reliability

Reliability can be calculated in multiple ways, using either Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) or failure rate.

Using Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)

The Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) metric is the most often used measure of asset reliability. It measures how long assets run, on average, before experiencing a malfunction.

Asset reliability formula, using the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) metric

To calculate MTBF, divide the total time the asset was running by the number of failures it experienced during that time period. For example, a machine that ran for 3000 hours and experienced 5 failures has a MTBF of 600 hours.

MTBF = 3000 hours ÷ 5 failures = 600 hours/failure

Stated another way, the maintenance team can expect an equipment failure approximately every 600 hours.

Using Failure Rate

Asset reliability formula using failure rate

Another way to calculate reliability is to use the failure rate, which is the frequency at which an asset fails. To calculate failure rate, divide the number of failures by the total run time. Note that failure rate is the inverse of Mean Time Between Failure, and can be calculated by dividing 1 by the MTBF.

Let’s calculate failure rate using the same values as before:

Method 1: Using Run Time

Failure Rate = 5 failures ÷ 3000 hours = 0.0016 failures/hour

Method 2: Using MTBF

Failure Rate = 1 ÷ MTBF

Failure Rate = 1 ÷ 600 hours/failure = 0.0016 failures/hour

Because this value is so small, it is easier to think of reliability in more useful measures of time, such as years. Translate the hourly failure rate into a yearly rate by multiplying the failure rate by 8,760, the number of hours in a year. Therefore:

Failure Rate (per year) = 0.0016 failures/hour × 8,760 hours/year = 14 failures/year

How Maintenance Can Improve Asset Reliability

Improving reliability boils down to minimizing the frequency of unplanned downtime events. Organizations use a range of maintenance techniques to reduce the frequency of unplanned downtime including:

The goal of these types of maintenance is to lessen the likelihood of failure by proactively servicing equipment. However, each asset has different needs depending on its age, condition, usage, and known failure conditions.

Maintenance teams must use an appropriate combination of maintenance activities to optimize the asset’s performance. Establishing this maintenance mix is one of the foundations of a higher-level maintenance strategy called reliability-centered maintenance (RCM).

Availability vs. Reliability

To briefly recap:

  • Asset availability measures the amount of time equipment was in an operable state vs. being repaired.
  • Asset reliability measures how long equipment performs its intended function (i.e., how often it breaks down).

So what is the relationship between the two metrics? Generally speaking, assets that are more reliable are also more available. Intuitively, it makes sense – the less equipment breaks down, the longer it can be used for production. However, this is not always the case.

Equipment has high reliability and low availability when repair times are long. For example, a machine component fails, causing a major breakdown. There is no obvious cause of the malfunction and it has not happened in the past. The maintenance team must investigate the problem, determine and test a solution, and possibly wait for parts to arrive. Though only one failure occurred within the time period (high reliability), it takes a long time to repair the asset due to its complexity (low availability).

Now let’s look at the opposite scenario. Equipment has high availability but low reliability when there are multiple failures, but each can be resolved quickly. For example, a machine is stopped multiple times for minor corrective maintenance that takes a few minutes to complete in each instance. While, the total repair time is low (high availability) failures are high (low reliability), which is undesirable.

Asset Management Software

One of the most effective ways to improve asset availability and reliability is to implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). CMMS software centralizes critical asset data, helping maintenance teams quickly identify common maintenance issues, troubleshoot failures, and access important maintenance documentation. The system also allows managers to create customized maintenance plans for each asset.

As a data analysis tool, CMMS maintenance management reports help organizations gain valuable insights into asset performance and maintenance operations. In terms of availability, a CMMS can be used to provide accurate repair time data to the production team, helping them identify other causes of stopped or slowed production. For reliability calculations, a CMMS helps organizations track important asset management KPIs including MTBF.

In addition, CMMS reports can be used to better understand equipment life expectancy, assess the effectiveness of maintenance activities, and set improvement goals.

Improve Asset Performance with FTMaintenance Select

Asset management is a key component of maintenance management. FTMaintenance Select is CMMS software that can be used to measure and track data used to calculate asset availability and reliability. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how FTMaintenance Select makes maintenance management easy.

What is a Purchase Order?

Male technician in a storeroom creating a purchase order based on stocking levels.

Maintenance departments frequently purchase maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory to complete maintenance work. Doing so without documentation reduces administrative work, but creates problems when there are discrepancies with payment, delivery, or order accuracy.

Purchase orders formalize purchasing requirements and make it easy for maintenance teams to track what was ordered, when it will be delivered, and how much it will cost. In this article, we explain what purchase orders are and how they are used by maintenance teams.

What is a Purchase Order?

A purchase order (PO) is a document created by a buyer (your organization) and issued to a seller (a vendor) that indicates the buyer’s intention to purchase goods. It is a legally binding document that specifies what items are to be purchased, and provides details such as item quantities, pricing, delivery timeframe, and payment terms.

Purchase orders, at times, are used to purchase services, though the variability of project deliverables and timelines may prompt the need for additional service contracts and agreements.

Types of Purchase Orders

There are multiple types of purchase orders, suitable for different scenarios:

  • One-time (or standard) purchase orders are the most used type of PO. They are used to make sporadic, infrequent, one-off purchases from a vendor. An organization may use a standard purchase order to purchase equipment or critical spares.
  • Planned purchase orders (PPO) are used for long-term purchases with known demand, but delivery dates that are subject to change. They are typically used for items with fluctuating demand – for example, reams of printer paper in an office. Instead of delivering items on a specified date, the organization issues a release against the PO to confirm a delivery date.
  • Blanket purchase orders (BPO) are used to make long-term recurring purchases from frequently used vendors. They simplify purchasing by allowing organizations to consolidate several standard POs into a single, standing order. What goods are purchased, and their amounts, may vary. However, organizations may set restrictions regarding what items can be purchased, the maximum purchase limit, and who is authorized to make purchases.

Purchase Order vs. Invoice

Purchase Order Invoice
Created By Buyer Seller
Issued to Seller Buyer
Purpose To document an intention to purchase goods or services from the seller To document the delivery of goods or services to the buyer and request payment
When Issued Before delivery After delivery (unless otherwise specified in payment terms)

Purchase orders are often confused with other types of documentation used in the purchasing process, one of which is an invoice. An invoice is a document created by a seller (a vendor) and issued to a buyer (your organization) that requests payment for delivered goods (or services). Like a purchase order, it is a legally binding document that specifies what items were provided, the total cost, and the payment terms. Invoices typically reference the purchase order number.

Why Use Purchase Orders?

For busy maintenance professionals, paperwork simply slows them down. Often times, goods and services are purchased without formal documentation other than a vendor invoice. While convenient, vendor invoices only tell one side of the story. What happens when there’s a dispute about payment, delivery, or accuracy?

That’s where purchase orders come in. Purchase orders provide many benefits to maintenance organizations:

  • Clearly communicates expectations: Purchase orders are highly detailed and ensure that both you and the vendor agree on what’s expected.
  • Reduces mistakes: Using a formal purchase order reduces mistakes that occur from misinterpreting handwritten orders or orders taken over the phone.
  • Improves recordkeeping: Maintaining a purchase order history makes it easy for finance teams to see what was purchased and why it was needed.
  • Makes orders easier to track: Purchase orders make it easier to track what was ordered and when it will arrive, as well as verify that you received what was ordered.
  • Provides legal protection: Purchase orders are legally binding contracts that offer protection to your organization and the vendor. They are a record of exactly what was ordered and can be used as a point of reference if problems arise.

How Purchase Orders Work

The purchasing process at a given organization consists of multiple steps, and varies based on their organizational structure, workflows, and requirements. An example of a “typical” purchase process is shown below. Note that the “buyer” is the organization; the vendor providing goods and services is the “seller”.

  1. The buyer identifies a need for a good or service.
  2. The buyer creates a purchase requisition and sends for approval.
  3. Once the requisition is approved, the buyer issues a purchase order to the seller.
  4. The seller reviews the purchase order and determines whether it can be fulfilled.
  5. The seller accepts and fulfills the order.
  6. The seller ships the order and issues an invoice to the buyer.
  7. The buyer verifies the order and pays the seller.

How a Purchase Order Works in Maintenance Organizations

While the process above is “typical” for non-maintenance purchases, it is not conducive to efficient maintenance operations. For example, when an asset experiences downtime, money is lost with each passing second. The maintenance team simply cannot wait for a formal purchasing process to complete while production is stopped.

Instead, the purchase order process in a maintenance environment may look closer to the steps below. In this example, the “buyer” is someone designated to make purchases on behalf of the maintenance team; the “seller” is the vendor.

  1. The buyer directly orders a good or service from the seller. The buyer pays upfront or the seller issues an invoice to be paid shortly after shipment.
  2. The buyer creates a purchase order to document the purchase for recordkeeping purposes.
  3. The seller ships the order to the buyer.
  4. The buyer verifies the order and immediately uses the part to make the repair.

Due to the unexpected nature of maintenance needs, some organizations bypass purchase orders all together. Instead, the organization may provide the maintenance department with a credit card and communicate any restrictions for what can be purchased, credit limits, and so on.

Purchase Order Software for Maintenance Teams

As shown above, maintenance purchases have unique requirements that are not typical of other types of purchases. Therefore, maintenance departments do not require the robust purchasing capability of other systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or accounting software.

In fact, most maintenance organizations don’t even use the built-in purchasing functionality of their computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Often times, the purchasing process typically takes place outside of the CMMS. Maintenance teams are afforded the flexibility to make whatever purchases are required to keep assets in service.

Organizations that do use the purchasing capability of CMMS traditionally fall into one of two categories: 1) they seek a simplified way to keep record of repair part purchases, and 2) they plan to integrate the CMMS with other purchasing systems.

CMMS software makes purchase order creation easy for organizations seeking simple maintenance purchase tracking. The CMMS has direct access to vendor and inventory information, making it easy to identify what goods are being purchased, and from whom. Some systems allow you to generate purchase orders based on inventory items that have reached their set reorder point. Historical purchase order records and purchasing reports track past purchases for review or auditing purposes.

Manage MRO Inventory Activity with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select helps maintenance teams effectively manage their spare parts inventory from start to finish, including the ability to generate purchase orders. Robust inventory management features allow you to organize your inventory catalog and access key information related to costs, quantity, location, and more. Request a demo today to learn more about FTMaintenance Select.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.6.3.2 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v.2.6.3.2, which incorporates the following:

Solutions

  • Asset Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Customer records from being added to Asset records.
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Asset functionality.
  • Service Request Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Service Request functionality.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.6.0.2 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v.2.6.0.2, which incorporates the following:

Features

  • Asset Management
    • Look up assets by serial number on work orders.
    • Update an asset’s status using a web browser on a smart phone or tablet.
  • Notifications
    • Notify users of purchasing events via email.
  • Permissions
    • Assign permissions to users and user groups.
  • Reporting
    • Generate a report that displays inventory items whose quantity on hand is at or below the inventory item’s set reorder point.
  • Service Request Management
    • Assign service requests to an administrator for review.
    • Configure visible and required service request record fields.
  • Work Order Management
    • Configure visible and required work order record fields.
  • Work Order Scheduling
    • Automatically set the work order due date on calendar-based preventive maintenance work orders.

Solutions

  • Asset Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Asset and Location functionality.
  • Inventory Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Inventory functionality.
  • Purchasing
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Purchasing functionality.
  • Reporting
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Reports functionality.
  • Service Request Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Service Request functionality.
  • User Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to User functionality.
  • Work Order Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Work Order functionality.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.5.0.2 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v.2.5.0.2, which incorporates the following:

Features

  • Asset Management
    • Access asset management functionality from a mobile web browser, including the ability to view asset details, log meter readings, and create service requests.
    • Identify the owner of an asset.
  • Inventory Management
    • Browse inventory items by storage location within a specific inventory.
    • Track an inventory item’s reorder point to easily identify when stock of an inventory item needs to be replenished.
  • Reporting
    • Generate a report that displays the response time to service requests and work orders.
    • Generate a report that displays the turnaround time of service requests and work orders.
  • Work Order Management
    • Improved usability of preventive maintenance work order scheduling functionality.

Solutions

  • Asset Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Asset functionality.
  • Inventory Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Inventory functionality.
  • Notifications
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Notification functionality.
  • Purchasing
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Purchasing functionality.
  • Service Request Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented requesters from selecting an Asset on the Service Request.
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Service Request functionality.
  • Work Order Management
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Work Order functionality.
  • Work Order Scheduling
    • Minor defect fixes and improvements to Work Order Scheduling functionality.

What is a Remedy Code?

Young male technician repairing a printing machine, which will later by documented by a CMMS remedy code.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of equipment failure tracking. Read our other articles on this topic:

What are Remedy Codes?

The first two articles in this series, focusing on failure codes and cause codes, established the following:

  • Failure codes are used to track a problem or type of failure.
  • Cause codes are used to track the reason why a failure occurred.

Together, these codes help tell the story of what failure occurred and why it happened. A third piece of information that is of interest to the maintenance team is how to fix the problem. That’s where remedy codes come in.

A remedy code, sometimes called an action code, is a value used to uniquely identify a type of maintenance action taken in response to a failure, and is often found in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Like failure codes and cause codes, remedy codes are a combination of an alphanumeric code and a description. Remedy codes represent the action a maintenance technician took to correct the issue identified by the failure and cause codes.

Where are Remedy Codes Used?

Remedy codes are used in CMMS software on work orders to identify what type of work was performed to return an asset to working order. Over the course of a repair, technicians may take multiple actions to repair an asset that has failed, some of which may not solve the problem. Technicians test their handiwork to ensure that the asset’s condition has returned to normal. Only then can technicians apply remedy codes – after they implement an acceptable fix and work is considered complete.

Why Use Remedy Codes?

There are many reasons organizations use CMMS remedy codes. Note that, while remedy codes can be useful for any organization, they are most commonly used in organizations or industries that have rigorous failure tracking requirements, such as oil and gas.

Improved Repair Time

The details of maintenance work are contained in many places on a work order or in a CMMS. When it comes time to perform maintenance, technicians must sift through many historical work order records to find previous solutions.

Remedy codes sharpen troubleshooting and issue resolution skills by providing technicians with a well-defined list of maintenance tasks that solved the problem in the past. Ultimately, this allows technicians to return assets to service more quickly. Over time, technicians will become better at thinking about which remedies are most appropriate for a given failure cause.

Implementation of a Proactive Maintenance Strategy

Tracking asset failures through failure codes, cause codes, and remedy codes sets the stage for implementing proactive maintenance strategies, such as reliability-centered maintenance (RCM). Upon completion of corrective maintenance work, the failure, its cause, and its solution are known. This allows maintenance management to plan for future occurrences of the failure and schedule maintenance tasks to prevent them.

Further Reading: How to Implement a Proactive Maintenance Strategy

Labor Resource Productivity Tracking

Remedy codes can be used as a way to estimate and track how long it takes technicians to perform maintenance tasks. As each remedy becomes known, maintenance managers can assign labor time estimates to each maintenance task, improving maintenance planning.

Remedy codes with associated time estimates also help maintenance managers track labor performance. For example, a CMMS report that compares the estimated labor time to actual labor time spent on a remedy may reveal who performs tasks well and who might need additional training.

Identification of Training Needs

Maintenance managers are responsible for making sure their team has the correct skills required to perform maintenance work. Tracking maintenance work through remedy codes helps identify what types of tasks are performed most often and helps prioritize training, especially for new hires.

As mentioned previously, CMMS reports filtered by remedy code can also reveal underperforming employees who might require refresher training. At the same time, reports may reveal high performers who can help train others on certain tasks or repairs on specific assets.

CMMS Remedy Code Construction

The information needed to create meaningful remedy codes comes from team experience and asset maintenance history. As technicians document their work in the CMMS over time, maintenance managers can identify trends in the types of tasks being performed – and how long they take.

Remedy Code Design

Like failure codes and cause codes, remedy codes are typically unique to each organization and their assets. Because remedy codes are used for rigorous asset failure tracking, they are more comprehensive and asset-specific. Even though the maintenance task may be the same, it will take a different amount of time to complete depending on the asset, easy of performing maintenance, etc.

Remedy Code List Example

Below is an example of a remedy code list for a CNC machine. Note that this list is not exhaustive of all maintenance actions.

Remedy Code Remedy Code Description
BLOCK-NOZZ Remove blockage from coolant nozzle
CHIP Empty chip box
CLEAN-CHK Clean chuck
CLEAN-CF Clean cooling fan
CHECK-HO Check flow of hydraulic oil
CHECK-COOL Check flow of coolant; fill coolant tank
PRES-HU Check pressure of hydraulic unit
REPLACE-FLT Replace filter
REPPLACE-MTR-BRNG Replace motor bearing

CMMS Remedy Code Best Practices

The goal of developing remedy codes is for CMMS users to be able to track maintenance actions in response to failures. Keep the following best practices in mind when constructing remedy codes:

  • Make Remedy Codes Clear and Specific: As discussed, remedy codes will differ by asset. However, the list of remedy codes for a given asset should be easy to understand and memorize. Codes and their meanings should not overlap with one another – each should be tied to a specific maintenance action.
  • Include a Catch-All Remedy Code: When getting started with remedy codes, all possible failure remedies will not be known – they will be discovered over time. Therefore, it is acceptable to use a catch-all “other” code that can be later analyzed and broken down to generate additional remedy codes.
  • Hold Team Accountable for Use: Rigorous maintenance tracking requires that maintenance teams use remedy codes consistently. A CMMS makes maintenance documentation more transparent, providing a shared reference point for holding employees accountable for entering required data.
  • Review and Update the Remedy Code List: Because failures and their causes are unpredictable, it is unlikely that the original remedy code list will be inclusive of all maintenance tasks. The need for additional remedy codes will arise as technicians perform maintenance work and more asset data is collected. Periodically review work orders and consult with your team to expand the remedy code library.

Document and Track Asset Maintenance with FTMaintenance Select

Remedy codes make it easy for maintenance workers to identify corrective maintenance actions. When failures occur, technicians are able to drill in to historical CMMS data to quickly find solutions and return assets back to service faster. FTMaintenance Select is a centralized platform that provides maintenance organizations with a single source for documenting and tracking asset maintenance. Request a demo today to learn more about FTMaintenance Select.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of equipment failure tracking. Read our other articles on this topic:

What is a Cause Code?

Young male technician testing a printing machine to determine the cause of failure, to be documented by a CMMS cause code.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of equipment failure tracking. Read our other articles on this topic:

What are Cause Codes?

The first article of this series, What is a Failure Code?, establishes that failures codes are a way to document the state of a failed asset, as determined by an observer. Because they only capture the problem with an asset, failure codes alone do not paint the whole picture of a failure event. Cause codes help to fill in this missing information.

A cause code, sometimes called a reason code, is a value used to uniquely identify a type of failure cause and is often found in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or other asset management system. Like failure codes, cause codes are a combination of an alphanumeric code and a description. Cause codes are used to record the underlying reason for the problem identified by the failure code.

Where are Cause Codes Used?

Cause codes are used in maintenance management software along with failure codes for asset failure tracking. They are applied to work orders to identify why a problem occurred. In most cases, technicians cannot identify the reason for asset failure without investigating the issue and testing solutions to see if a repair corrected the issue. Therefore, cause codes are commonly entered after work has been completed, though they are sometimes entered during troubleshooting.

Why Use Cause Codes?

There are many reasons organizations use CMMS cause codes.

Improved Maintenance Effectiveness

A description of a failure is often too simplistic to be useful. Without understanding the root cause of an asset failure, technicians are only treating the symptoms of failure and not preventing it from occurring in the future. Cause tracking provides a starting point for failure analysis and the creation of maintenance tasks that reduce the likelihood of failure.

Improved Downtime Tracking

Rather than simply documenting that downtime occurred without explanation, cause codes connect downtime events with a reason for failure. As this information is gathered over time, organizations can drill into the data to identify patterns in downtime and develop plans to reduce it. Recurring issues may warrant more frequent preventive maintenance or identify additional training needs for certain maintenance tasks. Without identifying the true cause of the downtime, it is likely to happen again.

Improved Troubleshooting

When troubleshooting, a technician may first use a CMMS to find historical work orders whose failure code matches what they have observed or what has been reported. Next, the technician may look at the paired cause code to understand what has caused the failure in the past. This failure code-cause code pair provides better direction for troubleshooting, allowing technicians to start investigating the most likely causes first.

Additionally, the use of cause codes refocuses the efforts of the maintenance team to investigate reasons for failure. Otherwise, technicians might simply make repairs and move on, thereby increasing the likelihood the failure will reoccur.

Implementation of Asset Lifecycle Management Practices

Both basic and advanced methods of asset life cycle management rely on collecting information about failures and their causes in order to reduce downtime, extend asset life, and optimize lifetime asset maintenance expenses. As asset lifecycle management strategies become more advanced, cause tracking becomes more important.

For example, to reduce downtime, organizations perform root cause analysis (RCA) to help maintenance staffs backtrack through the steps leading up to failure in order to understand the conditions that prompted it. Building off RCA, failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) identifies an asset’s failure modes and their associated risks in order to extend asset life. Going a step further, organizations that practice reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) develop maintenance plans to prevent failures, based on their cause, in the most cost effective manner.

CMMS Cause Code Construction

The information required to construct cause codes comes from high-level maintenance employees and tradesmen, maintenance history, and practical experience with an asset. Employees who have expertise in electrical, mechanical, and pneumatic systems have an in-depth understanding of probable issues that can occur. Maintenance history, stored in a CMMS, provides a database of failure and repair data from which to generate cause codes. In some organizations, the maintenance and engineering teams work together to devise the cause code library.

Cause Code Design

Like failure codes, cause codes are typically unique to each organization. First-time users may favor broad, high-level cause codes that represent the general system causing issues. Not only are broader cause codes easier to construct, but they make it easier to start process improvement as well.

Granular, asset-specific cause codes are better suited for experienced maintenance teams who operate under an established cause tracking system. If making cause codes too specific, maintenance managers may also have trouble identifying cause trends. Also, inexperienced technicians are likely to erroneously assign failure causes and compromise failure data. However, if the CMMS supports it, specific cause codes might be nested under more general cause codes, providing both novice and veteran workers with the ability to document causes.

Regardless of which approach is taken, it is important to keep in mind that tracking causes is not an ending point – it is a starting point for deeper failure analysis. Therefore, the simplicity or complexity of the cause code library should match the organization’s requirements.

Cause Code List Example

Below is an example of a generic cause code list. Note that this list is not exhaustive of all causes of equipment failures.

Cause Code Cause Code Description
AF Pneumatic failure
EF Electrical failure
HF Hydraulic failure
MF Mechanical failure
PM Inconsistent preventive maintenance
SF Start-up failure

CMMS Cause Code Best Practices

The goal of developing cause codes is for CMMS users to be able to track why asset failures occurred on work orders. Keep the following best practices in mind when constructing cause codes:

  • Consider Team Experience: Technicians experienced in a particular trade or craft will be able to more easily identify the probable cause of an asset failure. Making cause codes too complex will result in less-experienced technicians picking the wrong codes. Start with a simple cause code library – the list can become more granular as the team grows into the use of the system.
  • Keep the Cause Code List Size Manageable: There is a delicate balance between too many and too few cause codes. List size will partially depend on team experience. However, also consider the ease of analyzing the data. Starting with broad cause codes allows organizations to dig deeper into issues. Starting with too many cause codes that are too specific can make it difficult to “see the forest through the trees” and understand the larger issues at hand.
  • Make Cause Codes Foolproof: Cause codes should be constructed in such a way that they are easy to memorize, hard to misunderstand, not easily confused with one another, and have specific meanings that do not overlap with one another. Doing so will maximize the value of failure cause tracking while limiting mistakes or faulty data.
  • Hold Team Accountable for Use: Cause codes will only be effective if used consistently and correctly. A CMMS allows you to verify that cause codes are used properly, and becomes a reference point for identifying and correcting mistakes.
  • Review and Update the Cause Code List: Cause code lists are not set in stone. During analysis, it is possible that causes are being miscategorized or that additional cause codes are needed. Periodically review the cause code library and update when appropriate.

Conclusion

Cause tracking makes maintenance more effective by tracking the reasons why assets fail. Based on the root causes of failure, organizations can implement highly targeted maintenance tasks that treat causes, not symptoms. FTMaintenance Select is a CMMS that allows you to easily plan, schedule, and document maintenance activities on critical equipment and facility assets. Request a demo today to learn more about FTMaintenance Select.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of equipment failure tracking. Read our other articles on this topic:

FTMaintenance Select v.2.2.0.1 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v.2.2.0.1, which incorporates the following:

Features

  • Purchasing
    • Generate and manage purchase orders.
    • Attach files, including Microsoft Excel files, to Purchase Orders.
  • Asset Management
    • Retrieve asset details in a mobile-optimized view.

Solutions

  • Asset Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Vendor records from being associated with Asset records during record creation and updates.
  • Inventory Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented an Inventory Item record from being updated without viewing the Stockrooms and Storage Locations
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Inventory Item records from being created if an associated Stockroom record was updated during creation.
  • Notifications
    • Corrected an issue that prevented certain Notification Templates from properly replacing Tags with valid data.
    • Corrected an issue that caused the Username tag to display placeholder data for certain Notifications.
  • Work Order Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a closed Work Order from being reactivated.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.0.5.10 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v2.0.5.10, which incorporates the following:

Features

  • Service Request Management
    • Submit Service Requests using a simplified request form and workflow via the service request portal.
  • Work Order Management
    • Automatically enter Work Order closure time and date.

Solutions

  • Asset Management
    • Corrected an issue that caused email address and phone number data to be lost after saving a Vendor.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented an Equipment record from being edited if the Equipment Number field contained certain special characters.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a Manufacturer record from being edited if the Manufacturer Number field contained certain special characters.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a Vendor record from being edited if the Vendor Number field contained certain special characters.
    • Vendor records can now be edited from an Asset record.
    • Custom fields with a Type of Date now display on the Custom Fields tab of an Asset record.
  • Barcoding
    • Improved the user interface on Barcode windows and grids.
  • Inventory Management
    • Improved the usability of the Transactions History.
    • Corrected an issue that allowed Assets to be tracked in Inventory when Inventory is disabled by Inventory Configuration.
    • Removed extraneous currencies from a Transaction record’s Currency field.
    • Corrected an issue that allowed new Inventory Items to be created for tracked Assets.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Inventory Items from being created for Buildings, Facility, and Property.
    • Corrected an issue that caused unexpected user interface objects to display when viewing an Inventory Item’s Group Path.
    • Corrected an issue that caused Transaction record numbers to display incorrectly.
    • Improved the usability of the All Stockrooms and Storage Locations.
    • Improved the usability of Inventory Groups as it relates to viewing Inventory Items in child Inventory Groups.
    • Currency is now set to US Dollar (USD) by default.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented previously pulled Tools from being restocked.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when attempting to add a Location when performing a Create Transaction.
    • Improved the usefulness of Transaction record numbers.
    • The Transferred To and Transferred From fields are now required when performing a Transfer Transaction.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented users from viewing the previous page following the creation of a new Inventory Item.
    • Corrected an issue that caused Inventory Item Name and Inventory Item Number field data to display incorrectly.
    • Corrected an issue that caused display errors on the Search for an Inventory Item.
    • The Inventory Item Name field of a Transaction record is now marked as required.
    • An Inventory Group is no longer required to create or update an Inventory Item.
    • Improved the usability of Transaction record detail pages.
    • Corrected an issue that caused searches for an Inventory to fail.
    • Corrected an issue that caused certain columns to be duplicated in the list of available Columns on the Transactions History.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented certain columns from being hidden from view in the Transactions History.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented new Inventory records from being created.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Stockroom Area field data from being displayed in the All Stockrooms and Storage Locations grid.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented the Total Cost from being calculated correctly when creating or updating an Inventory Item.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding an Inventory Item with a Quantity on Hand to a Stockroom.
    • Corrected an issue that caused data to exceed the bounds of a tooltip when viewing the details of a Work Order from the Pulled Inventory Items.
    • Corrected an issue that caused field labels to display incorrectly on Inventory Item record pages.
    • Inventory Item record details can now be viewed by clicking the linked Inventory Item Number in a grid.
    • Corrected an issue that caused deleted Work Orders to display on the Pull Inventory Items.
    • Corrected an issue that caused Inventory Group records to remain in the Inventory Groups Catalog Home grid after being deleted.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Storage Locations from being deleted from the All Stockrooms and Storage Locations grid.
    • Inventory Items can now be removed from Inventory Groups via the Inventory Group.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented an Inventory Item’s Quantity on Hand from being saved.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented an Inventory Item’s Inventory Group from being changed.
    • Improved the confirmation message that appears when attempting to delete an Inventory.
  • Invoicing
    • Corrected an issue that prevented the User Time Zone from displays in the footer of Invoicing.
    • Corrected an issue that displayed errors when creating an Invoice with an existing Payment Term.
    • Corrected an issue that caused user-generated image files to distort when being added to an Invoice Issuer.
  • Labor Resource Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a Labor Resource record’s details from being viewed or edited after creation.
    • The Hourly Rate field of a Labor Resource record is now marked as required.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a Labor Resource record’s Phone Number and Email from being saved.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Labor Resource records from being viewed from a Work Order.
  • Locations
    • Corrected an issue that prevented the Indoor Locations, Street Addresses, and GPS Coordinates grids from displaying on Stockroom Location records.
  • Notifications
    • Corrected an issue that prevented attachment settings from being saved on email Notification Templates.
    • Service Request Customer Address data can now be included in email notifications.
  • Purchasing
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when creating a Vendor record with email address and phone number data.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when attempting to delete a Vendor record that contained phone number data.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a new Purchase Order record from being created.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Purchasing Configuration settings from being viewed from the Purchasing Home.
    • Corrected an issue that automatically selected an Issuer Name when creating a Purchase Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused the Payment Term field to be unresponsive when creating a Purchase Order.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented users from viewing the previous page when viewing the All Vendor Invoices.
    • Corrected an issue that caused some fields to be unresponsive when creating a Vendor.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented changes to a Vendor record’s details from being canceled.
  • Service Request Management
    • FTMaintenance Select Service Request
      • Corrected an issue that prevented a Service Request’s Cost Center from being saved.
      • Corrected an issue that caused errors when the Submit button was clicked multiple times in quick succession.
      • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding an Attachment to a new Service Request.
      • Corrected an issue that prevented a Service Request Location’s Address from being saved.
      • Corrected an issue that caused Address data of a new Service Request Location to display improperly.
      • The system now attaches the Service Request Report to manual Service Request email notifications.
    • Service Request Portal
      • Corrected an issue that caused Service Requests to enter a Pending state when in Direct Mode if the Submit button was clicked multiple times in quick succession.
      • Corrected an issue that prevented the removal of Service Request Locations when updating a Service Request.
      • Corrected an issue that caused Address data of a new Service Request Location to display improperly.
      • Corrected an issue that prevented Microsoft Word files from being sent with a manual Service Request email notification.
      • Corrected an issue that prevented Service Request Customer data from displaying.
      • The system now attaches the Service Request Report to manual Service Request email notifications.
  • User Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented certain special characters from being used in a User email address.
  • Work Order Management
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding an Attachment to a new Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding a Part/Tool or tracked Part/Tool to a Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Service Request data from appearing on a Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when creating or editing a Labor Resource from a Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when updating a Work Order that contained Attachments.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding an Asset that contained a Location to the Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that allowed illegal characters to be used in the Work Order Cost Center.
    • Corrected an issue that allowed illegal characters to be used in the Work Order Lead’s Name.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Work Order tabs from displaying data when Note Entries contained carriage returns and spaces.
    • Clicking the Schedule Work Order button following the creation of a Work Order record now navigates the User to the Work Order Schedule.
    • The system now navigates the user to the All Work Orders page after Work Order updates are confirmed.
    • Custom fields with a Type of Date now display on the Custom Fields tab of a Work Order record.
  • Work Order Scheduling
    • Corrected an issue that caused Work Order performance data to be displayed on future activations of recurring Work Orders.
    • Work Orders with runtime-based schedule recurrence now activates as expected.
    • Work Order History records now include runtime schedule information.
    • Improved the usability of the Work Order Schedule tab.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.0.4.0 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v2.0.4.0, which incorporates the following:

Features

  • Work Order Scheduling
    • Schedule work orders using a floating schedule, based on the last completion date or last completion meter reading of the previous work order.

Solutions

  • General
    • Improved the usability of the sidebar menu.
  • Inventory Management
    • The system now displays the Quantity on Hand by Location when viewing a list of all Inventory Items.
    • Inventory Groups are now displayed in a nested list when associating an Inventory Item with an Inventory Group.
    • Improved the layout and performance of the Create Transaction.
  • Reporting
    • Corrected an issue that incorrectly displayed Work Order Completion Dates in the Cost History.
  • Work Order Management
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Parts from being allocated to a Work Order in quantities of 1.
    • Corrected an issue that displayed incorrect column names on the Parts and Tools tab based on Inventory configuration settings.
    • Corrected an issue that caused the quantities of restocked Tools to display incorrectly.
  • Work Order Scheduling
    • Improved the flow of updating a Work Order that is not part of a series.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.0.3.4 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v2.0.3.4, which incorporates the following:

Solutions

  • Asset Management
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when updating a Part or Tool
    • Values for custom Asset fields can now contain certain special characters.
  • Inventory Management
    • The system requires that users confirm the deletion of an Inventory.
    • A Transaction is now created when an Asset is tracked.
    • Improved usability and flow of working with Transaction
    • The Unit Cost of an Inventory Item and its associated Asset now match when either record is updated.
    • A Transaction is now created when a new Inventory Item is added to an Inventory.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Inventory Items from being associated with a Stockroom that contained stocking locations (i.e., Aisles, Racks, Shelves, and Bins).
    • An Inventory Groups’ Parent Inventory Group can now be cleared.
    • Corrected an issue that allowed Transactions to be created without meeting all requirements.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented users from viewing the details of an Adjustment Transaction.
    • Inventory Item records now display the item’s nested Inventory Group.
    • Corrected an issue that caused an Inventory Item’s Quantity on Hand to clear when the User tracks an Asset in Inventory.
    • Corrected an issue that caused quantity data to clear when creating or updating an Inventory Item
    • Improved the usability of the Inventory Item Unit of Measure
    • Corrected an issue that prevented an Inventory Item’s Unit Cost from displaying on the Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented an Inventory Item’s Group Path from displaying correctly.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented the user from deleting an Inventory Item if it was part of an Inventory Group.
  • Invoicing
    • One-time Parts can now be included on Invoices.
    • One-time Tools can now be included on Invoices.
    • One-time Tasks can now be included on Invoices.
    • Corrected an issue that caused previously entered data to pre-populate when creating new Invoice Line Items.
    • Corrected an issue that caused the Record a Payment menu link from being unresponsive.
    • Invoices now only accept a single Payment Term.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Invoices from applying a Discount to the
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Invoices from being issued.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Taxes from being applied to an Invoice.
  • Notifications
    • Phone numbers now display correctly when configuring Text (SMS)
    • Corrected an issue that allowed users to create a Non-FTMaintenance User Recipient without entering all required information.
  • Purchasing
    • Corrected an issue that caused Vendor data to be cleared when updating a Purchase Order.
  • Reporting
    • Corrected an issue that caused inaccurate data to display on the Service Request Form
    • Corrected an issue that prevented the Work Order Labor Hours by Labor Resource Report from displaying correctly.
    • The Work Order Form Report now displays times using a 12-hour AM/PM time format.
    • Emailed reports can now be opened without error.
  • Service Request Management
    • Corrected an issue that caused data to be lost after submitting a Service Request generated using the quick creation method.
    • Corrected an error that prevented the Status Reason from displaying on Service Requests.
    • Corrected an issue that caused Asset numbers to display incorrectly.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Guest requesters from submitting Service Requests.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented Guest requesters from printing a Service Request.
    • Corrected an issue that caused Location data to be cleared when creating a Service Request.
    • Corrected an issue that caused some data to be cleared after creating a new Customer record from a Service Request.
  • User Management
    • User Names can no longer be edited.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when updating the details of a User
    • Phone numbers now display correctly on User
    • New Users can now be designated as Employees.
  • Work Order Management
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when attempting to create or edit Tool records from a Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented users from adding a Part or Tool to a Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding a Unit Price to a Part or Tool record when created from a Work Order.
    • Phone numbers now display correctly on closed Work Order
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when changing a Work Order’s Status from Active to Completed.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when editing a Tracked Part or Tracked Tool record from a new Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding a new Part to a Work Order when the Part itself was created from the Work Order during record creation.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding a new Part to a Work Order when the Part itself was created from the Work Order during record update.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding a new Tool to a Work Order when the Tool itself was created from the Work Order during record creation.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when adding a new Tool to a Work Order when the Tool itself was created from the Work Order during record update.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when reactivating a Work Order.
    • Corrected an issue that caused errors when viewing the details of a Work Order with a Status of Draft.
  • Work Order Scheduling
    • Improved the usability of the Global Schedule when attempting to view all appointments scheduled on the same day.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented a single occurrence of a Work Order within a series from being updated.
    • Corrected an issue that caused multiple instances of a Work Order’s runtime schedule to appear on the Work Order (on the Runtime tab of the Schedule tab).
    • Corrected an issue that prevented users from editing runtime assignments.
    • Work Orders generated from runtime schedules now activate automatically.

What is CMMS Software Validation?

Software engineer sitting at double monitor desktop with laptop performing software validation testing.

Industries whose products impact human life, such as food and beverage and pharmaceuticals, are highly regulated. To achieve compliance with stringent regulations and maintain high product quality, maintenance organizations implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) as part of a larger quality management system (QMS). To protect consumers, regulatory agencies require organizations to demonstrate that their CMMS software has been installed correctly and functions according to its intended use. This process, called software validation, is critical to meeting guidelines for compliance and quality management.

What is Software Validation?

Software validation is a process done to determine if a software program complies with the requirements set by the organization, performs its intended functions, and meets the organization’s needs and goals. The purpose of CMMS software validation is to document that the system meets specifications, has been installed correctly, and can accurately and consistently produce intended results. In addition, software validation makes clear the way you intend to use the CMMS and identifies potential issues that impact other business processes.

The concept of software validation often creates confusion during the CMMS buying process. Validated software is a common software requirement for CMMS buyers.  However, it is important to understand that even though the CMMS is purchased from the vendor, it is the organization who is responsible for software validation – not the vendor. Vendors may, however, provide software validation tools or assistance.

Who is Involved in Software Validation?

The CMMS software validation team is typically comprised of someone from the IT department and CMMS power users. The IT department’s role is to confirm that the technical infrastructure is in place to support the CMMS. This includes servers, networking hardware, computers and devices, and applicable software such as supported operating systems and web browsers. IT is also best equipped to document technical problems encountered during validation testing.

CMMS power users play the role of project managers. They identify the scope of what needs to be validated, define what operations are important, create and/or perform tests, and document any hiccups encountered during testing. When problems occur, power users determine the reason for the issue and take the appropriate corrective action. Power users may also assign other users to perform tests and report the results.

Some organizations hire third party companies to perform software validation tests for them. CMMS vendors may also offer validation assistance or services. The cost of these services depends on the amount of functions that need to be tested. The fewer operations there are, the faster and lower cost the validation process will be. Even though validation is performed by someone else, CMMS power users and IT are still valuable for determining technical requirements and project scope.

Does My Organization Need to Validate Its CMMS?

In the United States, software validation is required by organizations that are regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These industries include businesses who make:

  • Food and beverages
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Botanicals
  • Medical devices and surgical instruments
  • Dental, ophthalmic, and orthopedic equipment and supplies
  • Diagnostic substances
  • Parts or ingredients used to produces the goods listed above

Typically, maintenance organizations are concerned with compliance related to the FDA Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Parts 11 and 820. FDA CFR 21, Part 11  sets rules related to electronic signatures, which a CMMS may use for features like work order approvals. Part 820 describes the requirements for quality management systems, of which a CMMS is part.

Organizations that seek certification from other nongovernmental standards bodies, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) may also be required to perform software validation. In some cases, organizations require compliance with specific standards, such as ISO 9001 standards, in order to be a business partner.

Even if unregulated, software validation should be considered in any organization that wants to improve quality. Software validation helps organizations establish good practices, standard operating procedures, and software use policies that contribute to higher quality products and processes.

How Do You Validate CMMS Software?

While the FDA requires software to be validated, it does not specifically tell organizations how to perform validation. This is because the FDA cannot predict how your organization intends to use the CMMS, so you must show them via the software validation plan and testing. Software validation boils down to documenting that the CMMS meets specifications, is installed correctly, meets your organization’s needs, fulfills its intended use, and functions properly.

Note: For organizations that are not regulated by the FDA, please refer to the documentation provided by the respective compliance agency for guidance.

When validating software, the FDA recommends taking the least burdensome approach, which is defined as “the minimum amount of information necessary to adequately address a relevant regulatory question or issue through the most efficient manner at the right time.” So, how does one achieve the least burdensome approach? Many organizations follow a basic validation process made up of three sequential stages: Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQ).

Installation Qualification

Installation qualification (IQ) verifies that the CMMS is successfully installed in the environment in which it is meant to be used and documents the installation procedure. CMMS vendors provide customers with system requirements. It is up to your organization to obtain the hardware (i.e., servers, computers, mobile devices, barcode scanners or other hardware) and software (i.e., operating systems, web browsers, integrated software systems) to support or access the CMMS.

Along with the vendor-provided system requirements, organizations should document what hardware and any other software is being used to access the CMMS. Organizations that host the software locally should create an internal installation guide to document the installation process.

Operational Qualification

Operational qualification (OQ) is a documented testing process that verifies that the system does what it is supposed to do. Tests outline the specific actions a user must takes in the software to perform an action, the expected outcome, and the actual outcome.

A use case to be tested during the CMMS software validation process.

Example of a use case test that verifies operations during software validation.

If the actual outcome matches the expected outcome, the test is valid. Differences between the expected and actual results must be documented and rectified. Doing so may involve taking different steps to complete the action (which should be documented) or asking the vendor to resolve the issue.

While it may seem burdensome to perform OQ tests, keep in mind that you only need to test the features and functions that you will use.

Performance Qualification

Performance qualification (PQ) determines whether the system performs as intended in real-world conditions. You can think of the previous phase being conducted in a “laboratory setting,” where a limited number of users are testing the software with a small set of data to verify operations. This testing environment is not reflective of real life.

PQ ensures the system is equipped to handle the “live load,” or amount of data, bandwidth, storage capacity, and speed required during peak use within a work shift. Ideally, the software responds promptly without freezing or crashing.

What to Do When Software Fails Validation Testing

What happens if the CMMS fails a software validation test? Any failures must go through a correction process. The validation team determines if the cause of the failure originated from a user, poor test design, incorrect configuration, or even issues with the software itself (such as defects).

The first three causes mentioned can be corrected via training, OQ test rewrites, or vendor technical support. If defect fixes are required by the vendor, the organization must retest the software once an update has been delivered. Any changes to software policies, operating procedures, and training documentation need to be updated as well.

Revalidating Software

Aside from test failure, there are other situations where software requires re-validation. These scenarios include upgrading the CMMS software to a new version, updating operating systems, and updating computer hardware. When these types of changes occur, the organization should: 1) review vendor release notes to see what has changed, 2) determine the impact of software changes on current processes, and 3) update operations and software validation documentation as appropriate. As a reminder, when changes happen, only the affected operations need revalidation – not the entire software package.

Stay in Compliance with FTMaintenance Select

It often feels like new rules and regulations appear every day, especially in FDA-regulated industries. Though CMMS software validation may seem burdensome, the process can be simplified and broken down into smaller pieces. Ultimately, compliance is about how an organization uses their CMMS, not about the software itself. FTMaintenance Select provides an easy-to-use maintenance management platform for documenting, tracking, and managing maintenance activities. Request a demo today.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.0.2.1 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v2.0.2.1, which incorporates the following:

Solutions

  • Corrected an issue that prevented the value of the Currency field from being saved when updating an Inventory Item
  • Corrected an issue that prevented users from viewing the details of a Service Request that was generated via a “quick create”.
  • A Work Order Notes grid now properly displays the value for the Added By
  • Corrected an issue that prevented an Inventory Item’s Location from being displayed on the Inventory Item record’s Stockroom / Storage Locations
  • Standardized information displayed in the footer across FTMaintenance Select.
  • An Invoice’s Creation Date now displays the correct date.
  • Payments against invoices can now be cancelled before the payment is recorded.
  • Standardized the date format in Invoicing to match other dates in FTMaintenance Select.
  • Corrected an issue that caused an error when guest requesters logged into FTMaintenance Select Service Request.
  • Improved the tab layout of Work Order.

FTMaintenance Select v.2.0.1.9 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v2.0.1.9, which incorporates the following:

Features

  • Invoicing
    • Generate and manage invoices.
    • Create and issue invoices based on work orders.
  • Notifications
    • Notify users of Service Request and Work Order events using text message (SMS) and push notifications.
  • Inventory Management
    • Pull inventory items to work orders.
    • Restock inventory items from work orders.
  • Work Order Management
    • Track work order part, tool, and labor costs.
  • User Management
    • Identify an FTMaintenance Select user as a Labor Resource, Vendor, or Employee.
  • Reporting
    • Generate a report that displays planned versus actual work order completion.
    • Generate a report that displays a Pareto chart of the top ten assets by labor hours.
    • Generate a report that displays a list of work order labor hours by labor resource.
    • View requester information on Work Order Form.

Solutions

  • The Equipment Service History menu link now works as expected.
  • All required fields are now displayed on the Create transaction page, allowing the transaction to be performed successfully.
  • The work order Print button now works as expected.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented Parts from being created from a Work Order.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented Tools from being created from a Work Order.
  • The Active Work Order List report now correctly displays data for Asset fields, Work Order dates and times, Customers, Labor Resources, and Locations.
  • The Past Due Work Order List report now correctly displays data for Asset fields, Work Order dates and times, Customers, Labor Resources, and Locations.
  • Recurring work order appointments now properly display on the Global Schedule after a date change is applied to a single appointment in the series.
  • Part numbers now display correctly after being added to a Work Order.
  • An asset’s Status can now be updated without providing a Status Reason.
  • Part records can now be edited from the Work Order.
  • Corrected an issue that caused Inventory Group records to disappear when clicked.
  • Geofence Radius is no longer required when adding GPS Coordinates to a Location.
  • Improved usability and presentation of Active Work Order List.
  • Improved usability and presentation of Past Due Work Order List.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented labor resources from being selected when creating a labor log.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented user from viewing the details of a closed Work Order from the Recently Closed work order grid on the FTMaintenance Select Home.
  • Corrected an issue that caused an error when selecting a value from the Item will be Measured In field on an Inventory Item record that represents a Building, Facility, or Property.
  • The Item Will Be Measured In field now works as expected on Inventory Item records for Buildings, Facilities, and Properties.
  • Values contained in specific drop-down lists are now ordered alphabetically.
  • The Transaction History grid now properly displays additional columns.
  • Inventory Item data now properly appears when selected as part of a Transaction.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented users from emailing a work order.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented a Country from being saved on a Manufacturer.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented the Phone Number from being saved on a Vendor.
  • Corrected an issue that caused Vendor records to be hidden when using the search bar on the Vendors.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented data from being displayed on the Facilities.
  • The MM user account can now be updated.
  • The Quantity Used for this Work Order field can now be populated when adding a one-time Part to a Work Order.
  • The Location table now correctly displays the Location Type.
  • Customer data is no longer cleared when cancelling an update to a Customer record from a Work Order.
  • Standardized text message notification recipient Phone Number.
  • Location data is no longer cleared when cancelling an update to a Location.
  • Corrected an issue that caused an error when deleting some Part and Tool records from Work Orders.
  • Guest requesters can now successfully log in to the standalone FTMaintenance Select Service Request.
  • The Assets tab can now be hidden from Work Orders.
  • Part numbers can now be updated from a Work Order.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented new Sales Representative records from being created by clicking a menu link.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented the default “Main” Inventory record from being updated.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented text message notifications from being properly set up.
  • Improved the layout of the Planned vs. Actual Work Order Completion and Work Order Labor Hours by Labor Resource.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented report downloads from being canceled.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented service request configuration settings from being saved.
  • The work order and service request Asset lists now only display maintainable assets.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented new Users from being created.
  • The service request Attachments grid now displays the attachment Name and Upload Date.
  • Service Requests can now be emailed successfully.
  • Work Order History records now contain Attachments.
  • A Status Reason can now be added to a Service Request with a status of Information Requested and Rejected.
  • Corrected an issue that resulted in data loss after saving a new Sales Representative.
  • The values for a tracked part’s Quantity on Hand and Quantity Available fields now display when adding a Part to a Work Order.
  • New Recipients can now be created in Notifications without error.
  • Improved stability of the work order Tasks.
  • Users can now access their User record from a main menu link.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented a Unit of Measure from being selected when adding a new Part to Inventory.
  • Corrected an issue the prevented previous data from being cleared when creating an Aisle, Rack, Shelf, or Bin.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented records from being displayed in the Stockroom Items.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented users from viewing the details of a Work Order History record if the Work Order contained one-time Parts.
  • The Locations list no longer displays Stockroom records multiple times.
  • Stocking Location records are now properly nested under their corresponding Stockroom in the Locations.
  • Corrected an issue that caused an error when viewing an Inventory’s.
  • Corrected an issue that caused an error when attempting to edit a Model via the Model dropdown list.
  • Corrected an issue that caused an error when attempting to edit an Asset Category via the Asset Category dropdown list.
  • New Part records are now set to “Non-Maintainable” by default.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented Service Requests from being sent to specified Recipients.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented Attachments from being added to Service Requests.
  • Work Orders with a Status of “Completed” can now be transitioned to “Active”.
  • Corrected an issue that caused inaccurate values for an Inventory Item’s Quantity Available when tracking the Inventory Item in multiple locations.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented a Stockroom/Storage Location from being added to an Inventory Item record following creation.
  • Standardized report naming convention.
  • Inventory Items record’s Unit of Measure now defaults to “Each”.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented users from editing an Inventory Item from a Stockroom.
  • Corrected an issue that caused the Reactivated Work Orders list to display Work Orders with other statuses.
  • Work Orders with a Status of “Skipped” can now be unskipped.
  • Corrected an issued that caused deselected Assets to be added to Service Requests.
  • Users can now be defined as a Labor Resource, Vendor, or Customer.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented a Service Request Attachment’s name and upload date from being displayed.
  • Work Orders can now be printed using the Additional Actions dialog box.
  • The Planned vs. Actual Work Order Completion report no longer displays work orders with a Status of “Draft” or “Skipped”.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented new Recipients from being added to Work Order and Service Request Notifications.
  • Standardized requirements for creating User.
  • A User Group’s Creation Date is no longer editable.
  • Improved layout of Inventory Item record fields.
  • Improved workflow of updating Service Request.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented data from being displayed when editing a Work Order.
  • Corrected an issue that prevented Work Orders from being updated.
  • Corrected an issue that allowed guest requesters to access FTMaintenance Select.
  • Locations can now be removed from service requests.
  • Attachments can now be added to service requests without errors.

FTMaintenance Select v.1.2.3.0 Release Notes

FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. is pleased to announce the release FTMaintenance Select v1.2.3.0, which incorporates the following:

Solutions

  • Work orders can now be created for a date/time before the current date/time from the Global Schedule.
  • The Work Order Form report now displays values for Location.
  • Asset Status and Asset Reason now display on the Equipment grid on the Equipment Under Maintenance
  • The Past Due Work Order List report can now be queried by Work Order Description.
  • The On Time Maintenance Report can now be queried by Work Order Number.
  • Corrected issues related to one-time Parts on Work Orders:
    • The Description field now displays the description entered by the user when creating or viewing the work order.
    • The Unit Price now displays the correct value when creating or viewing the work order.
    • The Quantity Allocated now displays the correct value when creating or viewing the work order.
    • The Quantity Used now displays the correct value when viewing the work order.
  • Corrected issues related to one-time Tools on Work Orders:
    • The Description field now displays the description entered by the user when creating or viewing the work order.
    • The Unit Price now displays the correct value when creating or viewing the work order.
    • The Quantity Allocated now displays the correct value when creating or viewing the work order.
    • The Quantity Used now displays the correct value when viewing the work order.
  • A unique name is no longer required to create a one-time Part, Tool, or Task.

How to Create, Manage, and Maintain an Equipment BOM

Mechanics hands examining a worn component, described on an equipment bill of materials (EBOM), in order to assess the severity of a machine’s condition.

An equipment bill of materials (EBOM) is extremely useful for asset-intensive organizations that rely heavily on proper asset and spare part management. However, creating an EBOM requires time, money, expertise, and a commitment from management, any of which may be lacking in a given organization. Further complicating the issue, valuable asset data is often scattered across several locations, in various electronic and hard copy formats, rather than stored in one place and format.

Despite these challenges, organizations must make a choice: either invest in the resources needed to build an effective EBOM and improve operations, or continue to suffer the consequences that arise from poor asset management.

This article is intended for organizations practicing robust asset management. It guides you through the process of creating, managing, and maintaining equipment bills of materials (EBOM). Organizations that require a simple bill of materials, such as one that will primarily be used for maintenance purposes, should read our companion article, How to Create a Maintenance Bill of Materials.

Note that throughout this article, we refer to an equipment bill of materials as an equipment bill of materials, EBOM, or equipment BOM interchangeably.

What is an Equipment Bill of Materials (EBOM)?

Within your organization, there may be a number of bills of materials (BOMs) that serve different audiences, such as engineering, asset management, manufacturing, and maintenance management. Each of these contains varying levels of detail, depending on who uses the information and how it will be used.

Typically, an equipment bill of materials (EBOM) defines the design or make up of an asset, such as a piece of equipment. The EBOM lists every part and material used on an asset, including specification, stocking level, and other features or characteristics.

Questions to Ask Before Creating an Equipment Bill of Materials (EBOM)

Creating an equipment bill of materials can take considerable effort, but is well worth it. There are many long-term benefits a proper EBOM brings, ranging from decreased downtime to simplified parts reordering and optimized stock management. Therefore, a systematic approach to EBOM creation ensures your time and effort are used efficiently.

The following questions prepare you for EBOM creation and make the process more manageable when the “real work” begins.

Who needs to use the EBOM?

Many parties throughout the organization may use the equipment bill of materials. Therefore, effective EBOMs contain relevant information for all stakeholders.

Think about which stakeholders will interact with the EBOM and how they will use it. Some examples are provided below. Keep in mind that a stakeholder’s role and responsibilities are unique to each organization.

Stakeholder EBOM Can Help Stakeholder…
Maintenance manager
  • Identify assemblies, subassemblies, and other components that may require maintenance
  • Identify inventory items required to complete maintenance work
  • Plan and schedule maintenance based on part availability
Maintenance planner
  • Identify assemblies, subassemblies, and other components that may require maintenance
  • Identify inventory items required to complete maintenance work
  • Centralize part information
  • Identify which parts to stock
  • Simplify information gathering
  • Plan and schedule maintenance based on part availability
  • Gather accurate purchasing data
  • Anticipate changes to inventory based on demand or obsolescence
  • Query and identify on which assets parts are used in the maintenance management system
  • Identify obsolete parts
Maintenance technician
  • Identify parts that require repair or replacement
  • Identify and obtain parts from existing stock
  • Identify and procure parts during off hours, including night and weekend shifts
  • Query and locate an asset’s parts within the maintenance management system
Inventory management staff
  • Associate critical spares with their related assets
  • Create part “kits” based on asset, planned maintenance, or redundant tasks
Purchasers
  • Centralize part information
  • Gather accurate purchasing data for parts procurement
Operations and reliability engineers
  • Review the makeup of assets
  • Identify possible alternative or substitute parts
  • Identify opportunities to standardize parts across assets or locations

Conduct an informal interview with each stakeholder to better understand what information they desire to see. Their responses will also help you identify the appropriate EBOM structure, as described in the next section, as well as what data should be included on the EBOM, discussed later.

How Should the EBOM be Structured?

Depending on the level of detail required, an equipment bill of materials may take many forms. Typically, EBOMs follow either a single-level or indented multi-level structure.

A single-level EBOM simply lists an asset’s components and spare parts. Each part is listed only once along with its total quantity for the asset.

quipment bill of materials (EBOM) created using a single-level structure.

A multi-level EBOM shows the hierarchy between an asset’s assemblies, subassemblies, and components. These parent-child relationships are usually visualized through indentation, showing which components “belong” to – or are organized “under” – each other. Unlike a single-level EBOM, parts in a multi-level EBOM are listed every time they are used by their parent item.

Equipment bill of materials (EBOM) created using a multi-level, indented structure.

The feedback you receive from stakeholder interviews will help you determine which structure to use.

What System Will Be Used to Create the EBOM?

Due to the amount of information that will be included, think carefully about the best way to document and create the equipment BOM. Using paper and pencil will not work, as handwritten information is not easily edited and will likely need to be entered electronically to be useful anyway. Spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel are popular and great for data collection and organization, but have limited collaboration capabilities, lack automation, and are cumbersome to use.

Many organizations build EBOMs using a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). In fact, many CMMS solutions provide automatic EBOM creation, which streamlines some aspects of EBOM creation, maintenance, and management. Further, the speed, accuracy, and convenience of using a CMMS for EBOM management are far superior to other methods. Enterprise asset management (EAM) software may also be used.

Further Reading: What’s the Difference between CMMS vs. EAM Software?

EBOM Creation

The process of creating an equipment bill of materials involves multiple steps. When done in a systematic fashion, such as the process described below, EBOM creation is efficient and produces high quality results.

1. Determine which Assets need an Equipment Bill of Materials

In this first step, identify which assets need an equipment BOM and in what order you will create them. If you find that a large number of assets will benefit from an EBOM, you must prioritize EBOM creation. Start with the most critical assets. Critical assets are those that are integral to business operations and cost the most when they fail. Therefore, you will make the most impact by focusing efforts here first.

Once completed, you can repeat the EBOM creation process for similar assets, and assets that share the same assemblies, subassemblies, and parts. Depending on your organization, industry, and type of assets you own, one EBOM may cover multiple identical assets.

2. Decide what Items to Include on the EBOM

Set the parameters of what will and won’t be included on the EBOM. For example, if EBOM is created for the sake of making the maintenance team more efficient, you don’t need to list every nut and bolt that makes up the asset. In this case, only regularly serviced and replaced components may be listed, along with critical spares. EBOMs in highly specialized or heavily regulated industries may be required to contain more detail than in a standard maintenance organization.

At a minimum, include the following:

  • Critical spares
  • Anything that is reasonably expected to be repaired or replaced
  • Anything for which it is beneficial for usage history to be tied to the asset

Stakeholder interviews also provide guidance as to what items are necessary to include.

You may have noticed that absent from this list are consumables such as towels, rags, gloves, and other supplies. While these items are used to perform maintenance, they are not part of assets themselves, and are therefore omitted from the EBOM. Work orders are a more appropriate place to identify what is needed to complete maintenance jobs.

Learn what should be included on a work order.

3. Determine what Data to Include on the EBOM

Finding the right amount of detail to include is important to the success of the EBOM. There is a delicate balance between providing enough information that the EBOM is useful, but not so much that is causes confusion. Conversations with key stakeholders should shed light on what information is important to have available.

At the most basic level, identify the part or component being used. This usually includes the item number and item name. Based on your organization’s needs, other information may be included. Below is a list of commonly used categories of information:

  • CMMS part number
  • Part number
  • Part name
  • Description
  • Revision number
  • Unit of measure
  • Size
  • Length
  • Weight
  • Quantity required by the asset
  • Manufacturer
  • Manufacturer part number
  • Authorized substitutes/alternatives
  • File availability (e.g., availability of drawings, CAD files, etc.)
  • Other specifications or features

Information that is not available on the EBOM should be easily accessible in the CMMS. CMMS software centralizes maintenance data, and links important asset and inventory information together. This makes it quick and easy for users to navigate to appropriate records to find accurate information.

4. Collect Inventory Item Data

Effective equipment bills of materials rely on comprehensive, accurate data. Unfortunately, many organizations struggle with their data tracking practices. They either don’t track maintenance activities, have some data but don’t know if it’s accurate, or have data but lack the resources to do anything with it. Additionally, maintenance teams often do not reliably enter data in a CMMS or other maintenance management system.

Due to these reasons, data collection may be the most time-intensive step in the process. With that said, don’t overexert yourself trying to collect all the data at once. Refer to your prioritized list of assets from earlier and collect information for the most critical assets first. EBOMs for less critical assets can be created later, as long as they are done eventually.

Asset data can be obtained from multiple sources including:

  • Equipment manuals provided by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • Equipment suppliers or other vendors
  • Drawings, schematics, and catalogs
  • Similar assets and equipment
  • Engineering change notices and redesign documentation
  • Current or planned preventive maintenance (PM) work orders
  • Previous unplanned work orders
  • Work order history records
  • Personal lists or cheat sheets
  • Equipment nameplates
  • Physical asset inspections
  • Veteran employees and other “go to” workers

During data collection it is acceptable to store data in a spreadsheet. This information can be easily transferred into a CMMS after your data collection and review phase.

5. Review EBOM Data

As you collect data, take the opportunity to perform some “clean up”. You are likely to find information that is out of date or obsolete. If you encounter discrepancies, cross-check between multiple sources to ensure the most up-to-date information is being used. It is imperative that data is accurate because after this step, you will enter it into the maintenance management system for use by you and your team.

Read Also: CMMS Data Transfer Best Practices

6. Enter the EBOM Data in the CMMS

In this final step, enter inventory part data into the CMMS or other system. Some CMMS systems can automatically import part data, while others require you to do it manually. Either way, data entry should be performed by someone familiar with the CMMS who can accurately enter data into the required fields.

EBOM Maintenance

Equipment bills of materials are not “set and forget.” There are a number of events that require EBOMs to be updated in order to maintain their accuracy. Consider the events described below:

  • Asset decommissioning and retirement: When assets are taken out of use and/or dismantled, an accurate EBOM identifies which parts are unique and can be sold or scrapped. Parts used elsewhere can be put back into inventory.
  • Asset design changes: Assets that have been redesigned, refurbished, or otherwise modified may use new and different components. These items should be included in the EBOM, along with any alternatives.
  • Part substitution: Due to availability issues, there exists a need to identify alternative parts that are viable substitutes. The EBOM or part record in the CMMS can show this relationship.
  • Part standardization: To streamline inventory procurement and purchasing, parts may be standardized across similar assets or across plants. Amend the EBOM to show these changes, including effective start and end dates of new parts.
  • EBOM review: EBOMs may go through informal or formal review throughout their lifetime. Informal reviews may happen as EBOMs are being used by those with specific knowledge about the asset. More formal reviews may be performed periodically by key maintenance stakeholders.

EBOM Management

To remain effective and accurate, EBOMs require a formal change management process. An out-of-control process – one in which anyone is allowed to make changes, changes are made without approval, or changes are made infrequently – can lead to disaster. Below are some EBOM management tips:

  • Set clearly defined responsibilities and expectations for users. Make sure each person knows their role in using, maintaining, and managing the EBOM.
  • Decide who is responsible for making changes to the EBOM. It is undesirable for everyone to be able to make changes. Limit editing capability to a small number of people.
  • Ensure everyone is using the most up-to-date EBOM. Clearly label the EBOM, including titles, version numbers, and page numbers to reduce problems caused by using out-of-date information.

If your organization requires more intensive file change management, consider the following:

  • Maintain a version history. Keep a copy of all versions of the EBOM in case you need to roll back to a previous version.
  • Use a change log. A change log records what changes were made, by whom, and when. This makes it easy to identify what has changed from version to version. It also holds editors accountable for information added to or removed from the EBOM.

The activities described above are quite manual. A good CMMS automates EBOM maintenance and management activities. Some systems automatically build EBOMs when parts are issued against assets on a work order. In addition, updates to part records only need to be done once for it to be affected throughout the system. Although errors may occur less frequently when using an automated CMMS, EBOMs should still be closely monitored.

Manage Assets with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance CMMS software is an optimal tool for organizing and tracking asset information, including equipment bills of materials. It provides a platform for tracking robust asset and part information, including the ability to see where parts are used and to what jobs they are assigned. Request a demo today to learn more about how FTMaintenance improves asset management.

FTMaintenance Select Launch Announcement

Computer displaying the all-new FTMaintenance Select computerized maintenance management system interface.

Today, FasTrak SoftWorks, Inc. has officially released FTMaintenance Select – an all-new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) solution – designed for modern industrial maintenance professionals who require real-time access to their maintenance data. FTMaintenance Select delivers a powerful suite of features for managing work orders, equipment and facility assets, MRO inventory, preventive maintenance, and other maintenance resources.

Cloud-based FTMaintenance Select will allow teams to access their maintenance data from any internet-connected device. Speaking about the benefits FTMaintenance Select will provide to customers, FTMaintenance Product Expert Dave Dulak said, “The FTMaintenance Select platform has been designed to be future-proof for our clients.”

Market Opportunity

Industrial automation is essential to meeting the challenges, and leveraging the opportunities, of global urbanization. For over 30 years, FasTrak has been helping organizations across the world better serve their communities and markets with software products for PLC programming, file change management, and maintenance management.

The introduction of FTMaintenance Select demonstrates a deep commitment to helping organizations improve maintenance operations, reduce asset and facility downtime, and continuously improve products, services, and processes. “FTMaintenance Select is going to address the needs of industrial companies, organizations involved with facility management, companies that manage distributed assets, and third-party maintenance providers,” says Dulak. Industries served by FTMaintenance Select include manufacturing, facility and property management, food and beverage, government, healthcare, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, power and energy, water, and many others.

This new product launch is driven by the following market factors:

  • A commitment to customers: FasTrak is dedicated to providing high-quality maintenance management software to a global user base.
  • Technological convergence: The line between CMMS and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software is becoming more and more blurred. While EAM and other enterprise solutions often lack satisfactory maintenance management functionality, the gap is quickly closing.
  • Competitive landscape: The need for “one stop shops” for maintenance and asset management solutions is growing rapidly. Historically, this has added cost and complexity to product offerings. Maintenance teams in all organizations desire simple, easy-to-use, integrated software solutions.

FasTrak believes FTMaintenance Select is well-positioned to meet the needs of an evolving maintenance management market. “FTMaintenance Select is uniquely built to easily change and adapt to the ever-changing requirements of customers, which protects their investment into the future,” says Enterprise Architecture Manager Mohamed Elbendary.

FTMaintenance Select Platform

FTMaintenance Select is more than just a powerful CMMS product – it’s an entire software platform that will allow organizations to easily scale their maintenance operations as their business grows. This platform enables FTMaintenance Select to expand through connections to other business and productivity applications. “FTMaintenance Select integration connectors enable customers to automate workflows and share data with other departments and organizations, such as customers or business partners,” says Elbendary.

FTMaintenance Select CMMS will be expanded with companion mobile applications, making it a perfect fit for today’s highly-mobile maintenance teams. Organizations with advanced maintenance operations will be able to extend FTMaintenance Select with an Application Programming Interface (API), enabling the flow of critical information between FTMaintenance Select and other applications including:

  • Business intelligence applications
  • Custom and on-premise applications
  • Field devices and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)
  • Document and file management applications
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software
  • Other third-party applications

Learn More About FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select is a feature-rich, easy-to-use maintenance management solution delivered on a flexible, web-based platform. FTMaintenance Select is designed to rapidly evolve, adding new features and functionality, performance enhancements, and other improvements. Users automatically receive all product updates. Contact us to learn more about FTMaintenance Select.

What is MRO Inventory Management?

MRO items including nuts, bolts, and brackets managed by maintenance inventory management tools.

Maintenance teams depend on hundreds to thousands of different materials and supplies to keep assets running. This type of inventory, known as maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory, includes spare parts, lubricants, tools, safety gear, and other consumables that do not make it into the final product (or service).

Yet, while 94% of industry professionals view MRO inventory as being extremely or somewhat important, it is typically not managed as closely as production inventory. As one can imagine, poorly managed inventory is a real headache for the maintenance department. This article explains MRO inventory management and how it impacts the maintenance process – and ultimately an organization’s bottom line.

What is MRO Inventory Management?

MRO inventory management, or maintenance inventory management, is the process of procuring, storing, using, and replenishing the materials and supplies used for maintaining assets at the lowest possible cost. This process involves ensuring you have stock on hand while factoring in available storage space and budget. To put it simply, the goal of MRO inventory management is to have the right stock at the right time and place, and at the right cost.

Why MRO Inventory Management is Important

The importance of a properly managed maintenance inventory is fairly clear when you consider all the direct and indirect costs. Consider the following common scenarios:

Production Stoppages

If MRO inventory keeps assets running, what happens when materials and supplies run out? Production screeches to a halt! Meanwhile, you pay a premium for expedited shipping while operators and technicians are on standby, waiting for parts to arrive. This major increase in downtime makes the total repair cost skyrocket. If you simply cannot wait to restore assets, you must use risky stopgap measures that could endanger product quality or safety.

Overstock

Having too much inventory can also be a problem. Perhaps you attempt to avoid stockouts by ordering extra parts, only to find that they are seldom used. Alternatively, maybe you panic-purchased a part you knew you had, but just couldn’t find at the time you needed it. In either case, excess inventory sits on a shelf, further cluttering your stockroom. Even worse, you cannot reclaim the money spent.

Losses in Productivity

Finally, let’s not forget how poor MRO inventory management affects day-to-day operations. By some estimates, technicians spend as much as 25% of their time trying to secure parts. While this may only increase downtime a little bit each time, it quickly adds up. Not to mention, there’s also a fair amount of frustration that goes along with not being able to find a part you need.

To remedy this problem, some technicians create their own “private” inventories of materials in their toolboxes or in desk drawers. Though it may be convenient for the individual, this inventory is not available for other technicians when needed. Due to the inaccurate stock counts, the organization may face production stoppages, overstock, duplicated orders, and other bottlenecks in the maintenance process.

Components of MRO Inventory Management

The core components of MRO inventory management are identification, location, procurement, and inventory control, described below. As you read each section, think about how each resolves the problems stated above.

Identification

Swift, effective maintenance relies on knowing exactly what MRO items are kept in stock in your maintenance inventory. Maintenance teams are often judged based on response time, so being able to quickly identify the materials you need for a job is crucial.

Consider that manufacturers may use different parts in their designs, even for similar types of equipment. It is possible that no two machines may share the same parts or require the same supplies. This reality is even more visible when looking at a supplier’s parts catalog. For example, hardware supplier McMaster-Carr lists over 56,000 different types of fasteners!

Maintenance inventory management can be improved simply by identifying what items are stocked. To further assist with identification on an asset level, maintenance teams reference an equipment bill of materials.

Specification

Related to identification is specification. The specification provides the requirements of the spare parts or supplies to ensure an asset’s proper operation. For example, a standard screw has the following attributes, each of which is considered during an asset’s design:

  • Thread size
  • Length
  • Diameter
  • Head type (e.g., socket, rounded, flat, hex, etc.)
  • Material (e.g., brass, lead, steel, zinc, etc.)
  • Drive style (e.g., Phillips, square, slotted, etc.)

How does this affect maintenance? Part specifications define exactly what is needed for optimal asset performance and dictate the tools used to install or utilize the part. In the case of the screw, it’s more efficient for a technician to know which wrench or drill bit will be needed ahead of time. For items that require specialized tools, technicians benefit by ensuring they are available to be checked out ahead of time.

Specifications are also useful when alternative parts or supplies are needed. Tracking specification helps you identify similar, interchangeable parts. In terms of purchasing and reordering, specifications are used to identify vendors that carry the part.

A third way that specification affects maintenance is organization. A stockroom employee may arrange inventory items by their characteristics, such as size, weight, material, shape, and so on. As you’ll read in the next section, an organized stockroom makes MRO items easier to find for technicians.

Location

Maintenance inventory organized by labeled shelves and racks in a stockroom.

Once you know what MRO inventory items you have in stock, you must be able to locate them. As mentioned earlier, poor organization leads to unnecessary costs related to expedited orders or losses in productivity. Knowing exactly where MRO inventory items are stored helps improve responsiveness and allows you to fulfill maintenance work orders more efficiently. Locating inventory comes down to creating an organization system and communicating that system with others.

Organization

Depending on the size of your organization, MRO inventory may be spread out across multiple stockrooms or contained within a single storage location. Within those locations, there may be multiple aisles, racks, shelves, and bins. Technicians may keep a personal stock of items in tool chests or service vehicles. Because there are so many places MRO inventory might be stored, you must have a system for organizing the items.

In a grocery store, for example, aisles are numbered, and related items are typically located together. Ask any store clerk about the location of an item, and they can surely tell you what section and aisle to look in. They may even be able to tell you a more precise location, such as “about halfway down, at eye level,” if not the exact shelf.

Similarly, stockrooms and storage locations ordinarily use a letter or number scheme to organize their aisles, racks, shelves, and bins. Like a grocery store, physical labels are affixed to the location, making inventory items easy to find.

Communication

Once items are organized, you must communicate the organization system to others. Appropriate stakeholders should know exactly how things are organized and understand how to interpret naming or numbering conventions. Locations can also be communicated through a maintenance inventory management system such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

Procurement

Procurement is the process of obtaining goods or services, such as MRO inventory items, in a cost-effective and time efficient manner. It includes all the activities that take place from the initial requisition to final payment and receipt of goods. In simple terms, the procurement process is how you acquire the MRO inventory items needed for maintenance jobs.

The level of authority given to the maintenance team to make purchases differs from organization to organization. In general, the procurement process will look similar to the following:

  1. Identify MRO Inventory Items Needed: Determine what materials and supplies – and stocking levels – are needed for efficient maintenance activities.
  2. Generate Purchase Requisition: Create a purchase requisition that includes details such as what items are needed, the recommended vendor, and the date the items are required. Submit the requisition to for approval.
  3. Get Purchase Approval: Submit the requisition for review. The purchaser will assess the requisition for completeness and priority. Assuming that the requisition is approved, proceed with the purchase.
  4. Select Vendor(s): Identify the best vendor to fulfill the order requirements. Vendor selection criteria may include price, quantity ordered, speed of delivery, customer service, and prior relationships.
  5. Create and Issue Purchase Order: Create a purchase order (PO) and issue to the vendor.
  6. Receive Order: When the shipment is received, review the delivery, record the items in the inventory tracking system, and stock the items in the appropriate location(s).

Inventory Control

Young male stockroom employee performing an inventory count as part of maintenance inventory management.

Inventory control ensures the right amount of stock available to the organization so that maintenance can be performed efficiently. It involves knowing what you have, where it is located, and how much of it is on hand. When combined, this information helps those who manage MRO inventory avoid stockouts and ultimately, costly asset downtime.

On the surface, it may sound like inventory control simply means reordering supplies when quantities are low. However, this is only one aspect of inventory control. Proper inventory control also includes regularly counting stock, tracking usage and movement, and anticipating future demand. When it comes to replenishing stock, you must also think about when to place orders, delivery lead times, available storage space, and ways to minimize ordering costs.

MRO Inventory Management Tools

Due to the relatively lax requirements of managing maintenance inventory (compared to other inventory), MRO management tools are typically less robust. In fact, it is not unusual for small businesses to have administrative staff manually track MRO inventory in spreadsheets. Large organizations use enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, though the MRO inventory management capability is often lacking.

Effective maintenance teams benefit from using computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software for inventory management. With a CMMS, you can leverage functionality designed specifically to help you manage your maintenance inventory. A good CMMS provides the following:

  • Comprehensive inventory records
  • Automatic MRO inventory count updates
  • Reorder point notifications
  • Inventory cost tracking
  • Vendor and supplier management
  • Purchasing capability
  • Inventory-focused maintenance reports

Read Cadeco Industries Case Study

Manage MRO Inventory with FTMaintenance

The disorganization of MRO inventory management means there’s ample opportunity for improvement. In fact, some organizations estimate that proper MRO inventory management reduced their inventory spending by as much as 25%!

With FTMaintenance, you can take advantage of these cost savings while increasing your asset’s availability. FTMaintenance CMMS software helps organizations improve their MRO inventory management processes and procedures. Learn more about FTMaintenance inventory management system software.

3 Asset Naming Convention Designs to Consider

A line of industrial pump stations that can be better identified with an asset naming convention.

Why Create an Asset Naming Convention?

Naming is a key component of managing assets in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Using consistent asset names in a CMMS, you can identify assets more easily, search and query data more effectively, and make valuable data more readily available.

However, CMMS software limits the number of characters allowed in a given data field, making it necessary to rethink how assets will be named in the system. Now, you may be asking what the best way is to design your naming scheme. In truth, you can format asset names any way you wish…although there are some generally accepted best practices which we encourage you to follow. These practices are outlined in our article, How to Create Your Own Asset Naming Convention.

Asset naming conventions vary from organization to organization. The naming scheme your company uses is entirely up to you! The purpose of this article is to provide you with a few options to consider when crafting your asset naming convention: 1) using an existing internal naming convention, 2) using a tried-and-true system, and 3) creating your own naming convention.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of asset naming conventions. Read our other articles on this topic:

3 Asset Naming Convention Designs to Consider

Follow an Existing Internal Asset Naming Convention

Remember, it is not only the maintenance team that needs to track maintenance assets. The accounting department is also responsible for tracking all assets and their costs, such as original purchase price, depreciation, and maintenance expenses. It should be no surprise that the accounting team also values a good naming convention.

Making use of an existing internal naming convention can be beneficial, as it allows for better cross-department communication about maintenance assets. Look to see how your organization’s accounting department names assets and consider if it will work for you. If you are unsatisfied with their naming system, you should still track the number in your CMMS. Doing so ensures that both departments have a common reference when referring to the same asset.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of this asset naming convention option:

Advantages:

  • Easy to Implement or Adopt: Asset names and numbers have already been assigned by an internal resource. All you must do is match names and numbers to the asset records in your CMMS.
  • Improved Communication: A single naming system leads to better cross-departmental communication between maintenance, accounting, purchasing, and others.

Disadvantages:

  • May Not Meet Requirements: The naming convention may not meet your maintenance management requirements if it was developed with a different purpose in mind.
  • Possibility of Change: It is possible that the base naming convention may change, creating a mismatch between your asset records and data in other systems.

Rely on Tried-and-True Asset Naming Systems

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There are already a number of tried-and-true naming conventions out there. For instance, your vendors may already use a naming system that you can easily adopt. Employees may also offer ideas of what worked well based on their previous work experience.

A well-vetted, proven asset naming system is the United States Department of Defense’s National Stock Number (NSN) system. Regarded as the gold standard in asset naming, domestic and foreign governments across the world use the NSN system because it provides a standardized asset naming system for a large number of items – as many as 6 million items (and counting)!

A diagram showing the meaning coding system used for each National Stock Number (NSN).component.

National Stock Number Anatomy. Image derived from Wikipedia – click image to visit page.

The National Stock Number itself is made up of smaller subgroups, each with their own coding system. The 4-digit Federal Supply Classification Group (FSCG) number is comprised of the Federal Supply Group (FSG) and Federal Supply Class (FSC) numbers.

The next portion is the 9-digit National Item Identification Number (NIIN). The first two digits are the National Codification Bureau (NCB) number, a “country code” or “nation code” that represents the nation assigning the item number. For example, the United States is represented by “00” or “01”; Canada’s code is “20” or “21”. The remaining 7 digits are sequentially assigned, unique numbers.

Aside from the asset number itself, the NSN system also seeks to establish a simple, common description for each tracked asset. For example, a CNC lathe might be described as “CNC, 4-axis, 3000 RPM.” This link provides a thorough explanation of the National Stock Number (NSN) system and can be a good research document for those interested in studying further.

Of course, even widely used naming systems aren’t “one size fits all” solutions. Just because you are basing your asset naming convention on a tried-and-true system doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes. You can take the elements that apply most and modify it for what makes the most sense for your organization.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of this asset naming convention option:

Advantages:

  • Trustworthy: Other organizations have used the naming system with great success, giving you the confidence that your asset naming convention will also be successful.
  • Easy to Use: Well-established naming systems provide a template from which you can easily assign names and numbers to your assets.
  • Best Practices: Tried-and-true naming conventions are regarded as best practice, which may not necessarily be true with internal or custom naming systems.

Disadvantages:

  • Complexity: Some naming conventions consist of many separate coding systems, making it tedious to follow or apply.
  • Too Large of a Scope: Naming systems such as the NSN tracks millions of assets. You may not require the same level of detail if managing a small number of assets. A simpler naming strategy may be more appropriate.

Create Your Own Asset Naming Convention

While it is convenient to base your asset naming convention off of an existing one, other schemes are not always easily adapted to your needs. Instead, you can create your own naming system. Custom-made naming systems provide the flexibility to make asset numbers and names more meaningful for your team.

For example, you can build meaning into asset numbers by incorporating information such as asset type, manufacturer, model, building number, and more. For more detail, read our article How to Create Your Own Asset Naming Convention. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of this asset naming convention option:

Advantages:

  • Flexibility: Since you are not locked in to a previously-defined set of naming rules, you can incorporate any information of your choosing to make names and numbers more meaningful to your team.
  • Meets Your Specific Requirements: You know your maintenance needs the best. A custom naming convention gives you the exact information your organization requires.

Disadvantages:

  • Time to Develop: It takes careful planning, time, and effort to devise the rules and requirements that must be adhered to when naming assets.
  • Longevity: Custom naming conventions that aren’t built with enough flexibility break down over time, creating the need to change the system.

Manage Your Assets with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance asset management software allows organizations of all sizes to effectively track their maintenance assets. To help you use FTMaintenance most efficiently, we offer CMMS consulting services that can be used to help your team evaluate and develop asset naming conventions. We draw on over 30 years of experience in industrial automation to make maintenance management easy for our customers. Contact us to learn more about FasTrak’s FTMaintenance consulting services.

What is an Asset Naming Convention (and Why Does it Matter)?

Unfortunately, not much attention is given to the process of naming assets. Can you imagine identifying tens to thousands of assets based solely on a description? Not only would it be exhausting and confusing, it would be highly inefficient. In this article, we cover the basics of asset naming conventions.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of asset naming conventions. After reading this article, be sure to check out our other articles on this topic:

What is an Asset Naming Convention?

A magnifying glass enlarging an images of gears representing asset naming conventions as a part of asset identification

Asset naming conventions make asset identification easy, both in real life and in your CMMS.

In relation to implementing computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, an asset naming convention defines how your assets will be referenced in the system. As mentioned in our article, What is Asset Management?, identification plays an important role in asset management. Asset naming conventions are developed to remove any vagueness and ambiguity when communicating about maintenance assets.

Why Naming Assets Matters

By looking at the name alone, stakeholders should be able to tell what an asset is and where it belongs. While you could name assets willy-nilly, if you want to meet the goals of efficient communication and analysis, asset names must be standardized.

Naming Convention Example: Corporate Email Addresses

To demonstrate, let’s look at a naming convention for corporate email addresses:

A very common way to assign email addresses to employees is to use some combination of their first and last name. For example, John Doe’s email address might be jdoe@example.com, john.doe@example.com, or something similar. The next email assigned would follow the same structure – James Smith’s email would start with jsmith or james.smith.

The pattern then continues for each employee – using the first convention, Derek Johnson’s email address starts with djohnson, Alice Matthews’ starts with amatthews, Mike Williams’ mwilliams, and so on.

Based on this naming convention, it is very easy for an employee to determine the email address for Mark Jacobs without knowing it beforehand. Also, there is no confusion as to whom the address belongs. Now, imagine how difficult it would be if employee email addresses did not follow such a structure – it would be very easy to make mistakes and become confused. The same concept applies to the naming of industrial assets.

Importance of Asset Naming Conventions in Maintenance Management

From the corporate email address example, hopefully you’ve identified why standardized asset naming is important. The same benefits apply to maintenance management as well. Here are a few ways asset naming conventions can improve maintenance management:

  • Quicker Onboarding of New Employees: You cannot assume that new employees have experience with the types of assets used in your organization. While over time technicians will be able to easily identify assets, it will be difficult for someone new to know the differences between them.
  • Brevity: Though manual maintenance management systems allow you to be more verbose and wordy, lengthy descriptions take more time for technicians to decipher. Maintenance software limits the amount of characters that can be used, making it necessary to be short and to the point when describing assets.
  • Consistent Data Entry: A clear naming convention makes it easy for users to name new assets during data entry.
  • Efficient Use of CMMS: A standardized asset naming convention allows CMMS users to quickly locate existing assets in the system. Additionally, finding and sorting assets becomes easier because data is grouped together in a more logical manner

Further Reading: What is Asset Management?

Track Assets with FTMaintenance

Asset naming conventions are important, but there is more to asset management than naming and numbering. With a proper maintenance management system like FTMaintenance in place, you can identify, locate, track, and report on your maintenance assets. Learn more about FTMaintenance asset management software.

So You Purchased a CMMS – Now What? | CMMS Implementation Activities (Part 2)

Maintenance worker using CMMS software after CMMS implementation

When properly implemented, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a powerful tool with benefits that can be felt throughout an organization. Shockingly, as many as 80% of CMMS software implementations fail, but why?

CMMS implementation can be a long process with pitfalls at every turn. Inexperienced buyers often don’t know where to start or what to do next. The urgency of a project may also force buyers to take shortcuts that create other problems down the line. Our eBook, The Definitive Guide to CMMS Acquisition and Implementation, provides first-time buyers with a systematic approach for implementing a CMMS.

Read Blog Post: Why CMMS Implementations Fail

Implementation covers events that happen both leading up to and following the purchase of a CMMS. Our first article in this series, How to Plan for CMMS Implementation, covers pre-purchase CMMS implementation activities. This article focuses on the activities that take place after software has been purchased.

Post-purchase CMMS Implementation Activities

Purchasing a CMMS is a major milestone in your journey towards improving your maintenance operations. Though it is indeed a time for some celebration, you aren’t out of the woods quite yet. The purchase decision does not mark the end of the CMMS project. Instead, it marks the phase where the “real” work begins.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old proverb, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? That certainly applies here. The goal of this article is not to overwhelm you, but to share our knowledge and experience gained from over 30 years of helping industrial organizations automate their maintenance operations.

The following section describes post-purchase CMMS implementation activities. Software vendors often provide services to assist you during this stage of your CMMS implementation.

Planning Your Implementation

A little planning goes a long way to help your CMMS succeed. You need to put some thought into how you will prepare, configure, and roll out the software. This will determine what activities must be completed, in what order they will completed, and how long you expect each to take.

Review of Current Processes

Implementation starts with a review of your current maintenance management processes. Keep in mind that a CMMS cannot fix poor processes or other underlying problems. Reviewing how you currently manage your maintenance operations allows you to identify areas of improvement and set new policies and expectations. Any process changes should be documented so that everyone knows what’s expected of them and can be held accountable.

Software Installation

Depending on whether you are using on-premise or cloud CMMS, installation will vary. Most CMMS products are hosted in the cloud and do not require a traditional, physical installation on computers. Instead, cloud-based CMMS is accessed through a browser on internet-connected devices.

Power User Training

Power users typically include trainers, maintenance supervisors and managers, and system administrators. These users are more advanced than basic users and are responsible for determining a company’s processes, system usage, and implementation goals. Power users become onsite system experts and help train other users on the software once it is ready for launch.

Data Gathering

Perhaps one of the most significant implementation activities is gathering your maintenance data. This phase involves determining what data will be collected and how. A few questions to ask at this stage:

  • Where is existing maintenance data stored or located?
  • Will you be entering hundreds or thousands of asset records into the CMMS?
  • Will the CMMS be used to track the entire inventory stockroom or only critical spares and commonly used parts?
  • Who will be responsible for collecting or retrieving the required data?

Before it is entered into the CMMS, take the opportunity to “clean” your maintenance data by removing any duplicate or obsolete data, creating a logical naming convention for assets and spare parts, and adding any new information.

Due to the amount of information to be gathered and cleansed, it is not uncommon for this activity to take a considerable amount of time. Dedicating a little time each day to gathering data will make the task more manageable.

Entering Data into the System

Data can be entered manually by typing it in by hand (data entry), or imported directly into the CMMS (data importation) through vendor-supplied tools or services. Manual data entry can be a lot of work upfront, so if you choose to do it yourself, make sure there are dedicated resources available. It is up to you to decide who will do the job – current employees, interns, or temporary/seasonal workers. Some vendors offer data entry or data importation services.

You should also consider how data will be entered into the CMMS on a day-to-day basis. Will technicians enter their own data into the system? Will an administrative assistant or maintenance planner enter in data at the end of each day?

System Setup

This activity involves setting up initial users with the applicable access rights and permissions. If required, your IT team should also configure any additional security settings on the devices on which the software will be used.

Configuration

Configuration involves tweaking the system to match your company’s workflows and processes. This can include renaming fields according to your internal terminology, determining required fields, enabling system-wide settings, and customizing screens and dashboards.

System Testing

Before rolling the CMMS out to the entire team, the software should be tested. Allow select staff to start working in the software and observe whether their experience matches what you have envisioned. Based on your observation, decide what changes need to be made.

Integration

Integration allows your CMMS to communicate with other business software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or accounting software. Not all organizations desire integration, but for those that do, more time should be allotted for planning what data will be shared, having the vendor or internal IT staff perform the integration, and testing.

End User Training

The success of end user training may make or break your CMMS implementation. Since your non-management maintenance staff will be the primary users of the software, it is important that they feel confident using the system. Be aware that everyone has different learning styles and different levels of experience using technology, so plan accordingly. Vendors typically offer multiple CMMS training resources, like videos, webinars, and product documentation. It is likely more than one resource will be needed.

Going Live

The go live date is when the CMMS software is formally available and put into use. Remember that no launch is problem-free – it is normal to experience some “growing pains” as users get used to the system. We recommend assigning someone, such as a power user, to be the point of contact for asking for help, reporting problems, and resolving issues.

FTMaintenance Implementation Services

Implementing a CMMS can be a daunting project, but the good news is you don’t have to go it alone. FasTrak provides complimentary CMMS implementation services to help you get FTMaintenance up and running quickly. We also offer professional services that provide hands-on assistance from product and industry experts at key points before, during, or after your FTMaintenance implementation. Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with your CMMS implementation.