CMMS is an acronym for computerized maintenance management system. This computer database is used to manage operations within a manufacturing plant. Although these operations are far-reaching, CMMS software mostly relates to maintenance tasks.
All manufacturing plants need CMMS software. Machines break; CMMS software helps managers both prevent this from happening and respond to breakdowns when they do happen. It does this by creating a central hub for all data about machines on the manufacturing plant floor.
CMMS software tracks preventative maintenance, which is the equivalent to getting the oil in your car changed; it's scheduled based on intervals of time.
Below, we'll take a deeper dive into what kinds of operations CMMS software is capable of, some of its benefits, and some of its limitations that are important to be aware of.
At a high level, what's important to understand about CMMS is that, ultimately, its purpose is to reduce machine downtime. When a machine breaks down, it affects production, which ultimately affects a manufacturing plant's bottom line.
CMMS software addresses this by providing maintenance teams with the information they need to plan effectively and make better decisions on the plant floor.
Computers and systems have evolved significantly for the better. The issue lies in whether we're truly taking advantage of the technology available to us.
Without a computerized system, a whole lot of people on the plant floor spend a whole lot of time writing things down. They spend a whole lot of time creating spreadsheets that no one is ever going to look at, let alone use.
They may even use whiteboards, which are great for visual aids. Not so great for analyzing the amount of data needed to make informed decisions.
Is that how you want the folks in your plant spending their valuable time? (Think non-value added. No customer is paying for this.)
If you want your Maintenance people maintaining productively, a good digital system is a must.
You want your Maintenance to be proactive, not reactive.
You want to prevent unnecessary, preventable breakdowns.
You want to know with certainty where your bottlenecks truly are.
And you’ll want to move from manual methods of managing maintenance activities to a more efficient digital method.
Most of us own a car. With one car, it’s easy enough to keep a mental maintenance checklist. We know when we need our oil changed, our brake fluid checked, or our tires swapped out. If you have more than one car, it’s more difficult to keep track of these ongoing maintenance needs. You might keep the information in a spreadsheet.
But what if you have one hundred cars? First, congratulations on your rise to billionaire-dom. Second, you’re going to need more than a spreadsheet.
That same idea applies to maintaining the many machines in a manufacturing plant. Keeping data in a spreadsheet (or on paper) isn’t an effective way of keeping machines up and running.
CMMS software creates a central hub for all data, allowing managers to plan effectively and make better decisions on the plant floor. The operations it performs are far-ranging and intricately connected.
Most traditional CMMS software is designed to perform a baseline set of operations that includes:
Without a computerized system, it’s too complicated to view all of these intricately connected operations. That’s why manufacturing businesses that use manual systems struggle to have the data they need to optimally manage a plant.
Plants that aren’t operating optimally will ultimately experience more downtime and generate less revenue, which leads us to the typical benefits of a CMMS system.
A CMMS system helps a plant with equipment maintenance, spare parts, regulatory compliance, and costs related to day-to-day maintenance functions.
It can also ensure technicians complete maintenance tasks in a timely manner.
By providing users with a central hub for data and management, factories are able to optimize their plant floors. A CMMS should benefit your plant(s) in the following ways:
The end result of all these benefits? Lower maintenance costs and consistently higher output from equipment.
Despite the many benefits, some plants are hesitant about adopting a CMMS system because it can be expensive. How long should you operate with a new system before you can expect a return on the initial investment?
Because a CMMS system helps to manage the equipment used to produce product, a range of factors must be considered when calculating ROI including:
Quality costs (scraps and rework)
With a next-generation maintenance solution, facility managers and decision-makers can expect a consistent and measurable ROI at 6 to 9 months. With traditional CMMS systems, it may take a couple of years. This is in part because of how long traditional systems take to deploy—one of several limitations you should be aware of.
Pricing for CMMS will range depending on the scope of a particular system’s capabilities. Many systems are designed with the small shops in mind where you only have 1-3 users and basic capabilities are sufficient. Pricing for these systems will typically start around $30-$80 per user, per month and require a setup charge of $750 - $2,500. Pricing for most systems is based on number of users, but some may also offer pricing based on number or type of assets being managed through the system.
For the small factory that’s looking to move from paper and Excel to a digital system, these systems can be a good fit. These solutions can also scale with the number of users in a factory, but often start to fall short of the full suite of capabilities needed by larger enterprises.
For medium to large enterprises, it makes sense to look at more robust enterprise Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). These systems are typically priced based on number of users across a plant, or an enterprise, and the costs range from tens of thousands to millions per year depending on a myriad of factors. There is however one major issue with the per-user pricing model. It fails to engage the entire maintenance team, and definitely fails to engage the workforce across the entire plant.
The Per-User Pricing Pitfall
When a CMMS’s pricing is based on a per-user model, the incentive for the manufacturer is to reduce the number of users of the software in order to reduce the cost of the software. This leads to some of the issues and limitations that we’ll address below, but know that in order to achieve the quickest ROI and the greatest success, you want more than just a few system experts and users accessing the system. This is a fundamental shift that’s required to resolve problems like lack of engagement with a system, which result partially from a flawed pricing.
Most companies are using outdated methods and systems to manage their operations. Typically, plants adopt CMMS software when they need help optimizing their maintenance operations. The top three signs that you may be in need of CMMS software:
1. Your equipment breaks down regularly.
If you use outdated methods, chances are that most of your maintenance will be reactive as opposed to proactive. Preventative maintenance, which is similar to changing the oil in your car, is scheduled. You can keep track of it in a spreadsheet, but with an entire factory of machines to maintain, this can be a challenge. Older methods certainly won’t give you a means of performing predictive maintenance, which involves placing sensors on machines that can provide you with real-time data about a machine or production line If your maintenance team is only ever fixing things after they’ve broken, the result is higher machine downtime and overall lower production. Introducing CMMS software can significantly improve the maintenance process. For example, when Lakeview Farms introduced Leading2Lean’s CloudDISPATCH, which includes features of next-generation CMMS software, they experienced 34% reduction in downtime.
2. Repairs can't be completed on time.
When spare parts can’t be found, were used and not recorded, or put back in the wrong place, it affects the success of the plant floor. Maintenance teams must wait for parts to arrive, which means the downtime lasts longer than is necessary. You might even lose a greater chunk of budget when ordering the parts you need in an emergency.
CMMS software can track spare parts, as well as trigger a reorder alert when inventory is low. This also minimizes the need for manual inventory checking.
3. There is no visibility.
If you were to pull information about labor hours or a recently completed task, how accurate would it be? Can you easily locate members of your maintenance team?
If a manager struggles to communicate effectively with their team, it detracts hours from the workday as they scramble to figure out who’s doing what and what the status on a given project is. CMMS empowers a plant to monitor progress on a task and get the whole team on the same page. In summary, here’s what life in many plants looks like: Cabinets overflowing with records that are hardly ever glanced at. Somewhere in there are the only records of repairs that exist—on paper. Spare parts are gathering dust in a forgotten corner. There’s an endless maze of emails, whiteboards, and calendars, but the plant manager still isn’t sure which technicians completed which tasks. If that sounds like your manufacturing plant, you may be in need of a CMMS system.
Traditional CMMS Software Is a Task, Not a Tool
Even though a digital system is better than manual methods of tracking maintenance activities, the unfortunate truth is that many CMMS software offerings don't add value for people on the plant floor. They don't support continuous improvement. In fact, when people on the plant floor don't use the system, or don't use it correctly, CMMS software can be downright wasteful.
In order to stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace, plants need a system that works for their workers, not against them. Otherwise, maintenance tasks will not be captured correctly and probably won't reflect a machine's actual downtime.
For example, a common issue is that maintenance technicians don’t create and close work orders (a critical part of a solid maintenance process). This is often for two main reasons:
The CMMS is difficult to use and navigate
In the end, using the system provides very little value for the Technician.
It’s common for maintenance professionals to wait until the last few minutes of the day, or even the week to enter data about maintenance activities. If you’ve ever tried to recap everything that was completed at the end of the day, you’ll know that much of the detail gets left out. At the end of a week… now you’re really going to have some holes in your data. We find that it’s common for only 25% of the data that should be recorded, to actually get recorded.
Why do they wait so long (aka avoid doing it)? Because the system is a pain for them to use. And why do they not care about only capturing 25% of the data that they could? Because the data is difficult to access after it’s been inputted and isn’t visualized in a way that they can make sense of it.
As a proof point, a survey conducted by Putman Media revealed that over half (57%) of enterprise software deployment failures are because the “system does not fit the way work happens on the plant floor.”
Clearly there’s a disconnect between those creating the software and those intended to use it.
Traditional CMMS Software Isn't Agile
Traditional CMMS software tends to be slow and inefficient.
Even deploying CMMS is a laborious process. This in itself is enough to deter some plants from trying to implement new software, because they know what a hassle integrating CMMS with manufacturing equipment can be.
Additionally, CMMS software often comes with a limited number of licenses. That means not everyone has access to the system, and only some team maintenance members can input data, which creates a bottleneck.
In fact, CMMS software typically creates silos between departments. When things go wrong, maintenance usually takes the fall.
Traditional CMMS Software May Soon Be Outdated
Perhaps the biggest issue with traditional CMMS software is that it doesn't provide real-time data. Often, the data seen in a traditional CMMS system is yesterday's news. Without up-to-date information, the accessibility and quality of data available to plant workers doesn't help them do their jobs better. When they don't find any value in the system, they stop using it, which feeds back in the first limitation we mentioned: workers may be frustrated with CMMS software or neglect to use them at all.
That's why real-time data is critical to success on the manufacturing plant floor. It's the only way to truly engage workers and streamline maintenance processes.
Many CMMS systems are so difficult to use that they require system administrators to become experts at using the system, who then become the go-to people for requesting data from it. As these requests pile up, and are handled by a small number of “system experts,” the time between the request and actually receiving the data can be days or longer. That’s like getting directions on how to drive to the airport after you’ve already spent so long trying to find it that you missed your flight. It doesn’t help.
In today’s highly digital world, real-time access to data is, and should be the expectation.
In summary, if accessing the data is difficult or delayed, and it doesn’t make their job much easier, then naturally there’s no motivation to input better data. It becomes a cycle of frustration for all involved.
This then begs the question: Why are traditional CMMS systems often so difficult to use?
Most software developers and development teams have never and will never fully understand the needs of the maintenance department because they’ve never worked in your world.
Unfortunately, most of these companies have taken their direction from a financial perspective vs. the benefit for the end-user (maintenance management and technicians).
To reiterate a quote from the Putman survey mentioned above, the end result is a system that “doesn’t fit the way work happens on the plant floor.”
The world is changing rapidly and technology is one of the drivers. In the new Industry 4.0 environment we live and work in, old school software systems just aren’t cutting it. So, we need to rethink whether the traditional CMMS' definition covers what today’s connected environment really needs. A next generation maintenance system should correct the issues posed by traditional CMMS by offering:
Think of it like this:
Traditional CMMS shows you where the problems are.
A good digital maintenance system shows you which problems should be addressed first to make the most impact.
A really good digital maintenance system allows you to plan rather than react. No fire hose needed.
A great digital maintenance system guides you through preventing downtime and eliminating abnormalities.
Thankfully, due to new mobile technology and new Cloud-based applications like L2L's CloudDISPATCH, mechanics, engineers, quality techs and others, have the ability to input information into a real-time system while on the shop floor directly into their mobile device. This new advantage allows for a more free flow of accurate data as the work is performed.
Machine history data is instantly available, spare parts usage is documented as consumed, costs are associated directly to the reactive or proactive event, and most important, employees feel motivated because they can see real-time that their input is making a difference in the overall process.
We have a saying here at L2L that sums up the approach to making work easy: “Stop putting your processes through the Complexicator and start putting them through the Simplifier”. If you do this, you will be amazed at the quality and content of work that comes out the other end.
Traditional CMMS is to Industry 3.0 as L2L's next-generation CMMS software is to Industry 4.0. It saves time, energy, and resources, empowering maintenance teams to do what they do best: ensure that the production equipment is available to run when it’s needed.
See how easy it will be to take your maintenance success to the next level with L2L’s next-gen CMMS.
(Psst...with a next-generation maintenance solution, your plant could also save millions.)