The role of maintenance management software and scheduling systems

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Maintenance software is used by maintenance managers to assist them in the management of their maintenance activities. Some software is very basic, such as work order software – used to receive work requests and manage repairs, or more complex such as a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Software) which is used to document and manage all aspects of maintenance operations.

Keep assets functioning

  • Ensure equipment availability
  • Boost production
  • Drive product quality
  • Extend asset life

Maintain a safe and compliant workplace

  • Establish procedures
  • Manage and track incidents
  • Verify and track compliance
  • Manage documents and permits

Control costs

  • Contain and reduce maintenance costs
  • Reduce parts and spares
  • Manage warranty costs

Manage people and processes

  • Get organized
  • Schedule labor force
  • Boost worker productivity
  • Report to management
  • Manage vendors

Who uses maintenance software?

Companies of every size, from those with small maintenance teams of 1 to 5 people, or large global corporations with thousands of maintenance personnel, use some kind of maintenance software. A CMMS is typically administered by the maintenance manager, with technicians logging in to the system (with reduced permissions) to access their work requests and document the completion of tasks.

The CMMS is also used by the senior management team, who use the reports generated by the CMMS to roll up maintenance costs into their financial reporting systems, track incidents, measure productivity, and ensure compliance with government regulations.

A CMMS is a valuable maintenance management tool that helps keep our equipment running, allows us to maintain a safe and compliant work environment, helps us control costs and effectively manage resources.

Reasons to use maintenance software

No lost work orders

Maintenance software keeps track of how asset problems were solved in the past. When you see a familiar breakdown, you can instantly see how the problem was fixed last time it occurred.

Repair things quicker

Do you still fumble with paper copies of work-orders and work-requests? By using a computerized maintenance system, you eliminate the paper – and you will never lose or forget another work-request.

Save on parts

With inventory tracking features maintenance software makes it possible to order spare parts before they are needed. When you order in advance, your team doesn’t have to pay expedited shipping charges and has more time to negotiate on pricing.

Discover ways to improve

When maintenance is tracked through maintenance software you get access to special reports that help you get organized. These reports show you which equipment is problematic, whether your team is underperforming and where best to save money. None of these insights are possible without a maintenance software package to store and present information.

Preventative maintenance gets done

When maintenance is tracked using paper or Excel, it is impossible to get pre-scheduled alerts for preventive maintenance tasks. CMMS software gives maintenance teams automated email alerts, and notifications within the program whenever maintenance is due. This makes it easy to get prescheduled tasks completed.

Better work scheduling

In maintenance, there is a certain amount of work to be done and a certain number of man-hours to do it in. Whether work gets done often depends on the skill of the maintenance manager in scheduling his team’s time. Maintenance software helps create better schedules because it shows all upcoming maintenance tasks in advance.

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Features of maintenance software

Placing work orders

Every maintenance software package in the maintenance world allows for the placement of work-orders. These are tasks that are assigned within the maintenance team. Most software lets the maintenance manager see what is completed, what is pending, and which tasks ran into problems.

Work order overview

CMMS packages collect work orders and give the maintenance manager a view of all of the work orders in the system.  This helps with planning and prioritizing work.

Taking external work requests

Unlike work orders, work requests come from outside the maintenance team. A work request comes to the maintenance team when someone in operations notices a noise, a leak or some other problem that needs fixing. Good maintenance software lets people from the general organization place these work requests and, after review, the work-requests turn to manager approved work orders.

Inventory management

Advanced maintenance software has features for managing inventory. These features are helpful because maintenance teams often have to manage spare parts (ex. bearings) and supplies (ex. lubricating oil). A good inventory system will alert the maintenance manger when supplies hit a certain low level, and have to be reordered.

Reporting on performance

For the upper management of an organization, the most important feature of a CMMS system are the reports. By looking at performance graphs and tables, it is possible to create a maintenance budget ahead of time, spot problem assets (to give them more attention), see which manufacturer’s spare parts fail often, and decide whether to hire more maintenance technicians or add contractors.

Preventative maintenance

For a maintenance team, the big goal of using maintenance software tools is to move from “fighting emergencies” (unplanned maintenance) to orderly pre-scheduled maintenance (planned maintenance). Maintenance software makes this transition possible by letting staff schedule time-based maintenance on assets, trigger maintenance based on operating cycles, and trigger tasks based on conditions (ex. heavy vibration). These tools often send an email or an internal notification when maintenance is due.

Purchasing parts

Some maintenance packages allow users to set up vendors for spare parts inside the system. When spare parts are needed, the maintenance team can generate requests for quote and purchase orders right from inside the CMMS. The purchasing features save time by reducing the amount of paperwork and communication required with the purchasing/finance department.

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Challenges in implementing maintenance software

Training and documentation

Learning how to use a new tool is always challenging, but it is even harder when that tool is a software package. There are many instances where maintenance software is left unused because the maintenance team is not properly trained in how to use it. During training, remember to teach the team about the value and practical benefits of the software, not just how to use it.

Having a maintenance process

Unfortunately, giving maintenance software to a team won’t make them superheroes overnight. To get benefits out of the system, it is important to sit down with the maintenance team, and outline a “workflow” – a standard process for handling work orders and emergencies. Without creating a standard process for manager approval, purchasing, work-statuses etc. the team would not be able to use software effectively.

Support

Sometimes it is necessary to speak to a technical support person over the phone. Make sure that a vendor’s support policy is clear – support might cost extra, or a vendor might expect you to hire a consultant to deal with a problem.

The system is only as good as the data going in

The insights you get from a CMMS system are only as good as the data going in. This means that if technicians are not using the system on all work orders, or aren’t filling out forms correctly, then it will be impossible to get a good picture of your maintenance operation. Training, incentives and ease-of use are factors that can increase the amount of data technicians are entering.

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