May 30

Building a Better Working Environment Using Your CMMS

In an ideal world, your technicians are one step ahead of you.  You phone them with an emergency work order, and they have anticipated your call, finishing up their current assignment right on schedule.  They work right up to the minute they’re scheduled to clock out, with all jobs completed and no overtime necessary.  They’re punctual, reliable and accountable, always ready to take the ball and run with it.  And they understand the mission of the company, and are willing to do what it takes to complete it.

If you have employees such as this—even one—congratulate yourself.  Such an employee is a hard find these days.  The recent economic woes have forced many companies to manage with fewer employees, leading to a definite decrease in morale.  Some companies took it upon themselves to lay off the employees with the highest salaries—usually, the most experienced and dependable technicians—leaving behind an inadequate workforce.  As a result, maintenance managers find themselves trying to stay on schedule with a skeleton crew, causing more frustration and even lower morale.  The question then remains; how do you create a stellar crew from the hand that you’ve been dealt?

Many successes in this area have started with a quality Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).   Most experienced maintenance providers have relied on CMMS for preventive maintenance scheduling, automated work orders, and other features necessary to better manage assets.  But how does a system build a better workforce?  By recognizing that the employee is one of the businesses greatest assets, and maintaining them in a manner that makes them, like other assets, more efficient and reliable.

Some of the ways a good CMMS does this is:

  1. Human Resources Suite:  To better manage equipment, you need to know details about that equipment.  And the same goes in the management of employees.  Contact information, detailed work performance, training history, and integrated time keeping are just some of the features necessary to solve employee issues quickly, so that they can do their job.
  2. Performance Evaluation:  Providing employees with feedback on their job performance is imperative in producing better employees.  An employee who understands the goals of the company—and how their job helps to attain those goals—will take more initiative and complete their tasks quickly and completely.  And studies have found that good performance from one employee is contagious, leading quickly to a positive work environment.
  3. Advanced Time Keeping Methods:  How would you like your employees to start their day?  Working on their first assignment, or driving to the main office to punch in?  Many of the more advanced systems allow your workers to clock in through a mobile device or online, so that they spend more time on the assignment.  In addition, time keeping information inputted electronically leads to more efficiency within your administrative team.
  4. Mobile Technology:  Through the use of a web-based system, your employees have everything they need to complete their job in a timely and thorough manner—literally in their hands.  Even if there is no Internet access, the information needed for their assignment can be found quickly on their SmartPhone or Tablet, leading to a better job, performed by a better employee.

These are just some of the ways a quality CMMS can transform your workforce.  Talk to your system vendor about the new features that can make average employees excellent.

May 28

Why Choose a CMMS?

Comparing the hundred plus offerings of Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) products, finding the system that’s right for you and your business can be challenging.

Should you go with a web-based program or a desktop-based system?  What features should you request, and which ones aren’t really worth your time?  Add in the initial prices plus start up costs, which can run from free to tens of thousands of dollars, and it’s not surprising that some organizations have failed to take the leap when it comes to the implementation of a quality system.  But maybe the potential CMMS user is beginning their quest with the wrong question.  Rather than “Which CMMS is right for us?” perhaps the better question is “Why should we get a system in the first place?”

Apparently, this question has been asked often; so often, in fact, that industry experts have come up with some answers of their own, after numerous studies and surveys of current users.  Here are some of the top reasons for acquiring CMMS software, and some of the ways a quality system can address these findings.

1. To improve maintenance:  Not surprisingly, one-quarter of companies surveyed cite this as their number one reason to purchase and implement CMMS.  After all, CMMS was initially developed to aid in maintenance, and it continues to be its top function.  Through the use of automated work orders, easily updated and adjusted maintenance schedules, plus faster and more efficient quality inspections, users have found a tremendous increase in equipment efficiency and reliability, leading to less breakdown and downtime.  In addition, with the use of such modern technologies as mobile access and barcode readers, the necessary maintenance and inspection times were cut down significantly while actually improving these practices.

2. To improve workflow:  When maintenance and work schedules are adhered to, and running at peak efficiency, there should be improvement in the general workflow.  But it takes much more than this to keep a company working at optimum level.  Fortunately, today’s CMMS handles all the details of the successful business.  Employee management components improve the relationship between supervisors and field technicians, and provides immediate access to vital information such as vacation times, medical leaves, certification and training, and evaluations.  Inventory management tools aid in monthly budgeting and supply consumption, as well as providing data for vendor evaluation.

3. To improve cost control:  It’s simple economics; the more efficiently an organization is run, the less it costs to run it.  Your CMMS can further provide you with the information you need to cut your overhead while providing the same quality service.  Through evaluation of repair reporting, you can quickly find route causes for repetitive service.  Human resources features can separate the good employee from the better employee.  Better quality inspections mean less emergency calls, saving resources and overtime expenditures.

If your company seeks improvement in any of the above examples, now is the time to look into CMMS.  The benefits of this type of system are many—but only if you have one.

May 28

21st Century Inventory Management for Facilities

Does this sound familiar?

You’re auditing your inventory.  You have a printout of what should be on a certain shelf.  Or, you’re running back and forth from the shelf to the database on the computer, and back again.  If you’re really advanced, you have someone at the computer as you yell out the items.  And what’s wrong with this method?  After all, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of the way inventory was managed 50 years ago.

The problem with this method is it lacks in efficiency.  Heck, it’s absolutely archaic.  Is it possible to have everything on hand that you need, without additional clutter?  What would it take to get your inventory up to speed?

The first place to turn is your CMMS.  Every advanced system utilizes the most up-to-date methods of managing employees, maintenance and inventory.  Some systems also integrate convenient mobile technology for your SmartPhone or Tablet to seamlessly allow you to track all inventory movement and consumption, which can save you many hours each week.

Mobile technology is augmented through the use of a web-based CMMS, which accesses the information live via the Internet.  While web-based systems have been around for some time, the recent developments and advances in mobile technologies, such as smart phones and tablets, have provided new and innovative ways for CMMS to work better, faster and with more efficiency.  Through the web-based system, the database can be accessed from any location, as long as there is an Internet connection.  More advanced systems even allow you to work without an internet connection.  In addition, barcodes are being included in many CMMS products.  With barcodes and mobile communications, inventory management is suddenly under control.

Sounds like a lot to take in?  It’s relatively easy; as inventory is entered into the system, a barcode is assigned to the item, which can be used later to instantly pull up the entry in the database.  The database can be accessed through a smart phone, tablet, or laptop—from across the plant, or across the world.  And there’s more; the system can provide you with consumption reports, LEED Consumption Summaries, and even Green Cleaning Consumption for each item.  You’ll quickly be able to see patterns regarding the use and reordering of the item, helping you to make the informed decisions necessary for correct ordering amounts, as well as monthly budgeting.  You’ll have the items you need, when you need them.  And the items that aren’t needed?  You never ordered them.

Inventory management produces its own issues and problems.  But by using a quality CMMS incorporating both mobile and barcode technologies, you’ll quickly be able to manage your inventory.

Aug 08

A Day in the Life of CMMS

Thirty years ago, the first CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) were introduced to the maintenance management world with some basic features; generating work order schedules, managing requests, and documenting preventive maintenance work made up a large part of the early software’s function.

Systems have come a long way since those early days, and with the introduction of personal computers, the Internet and mobile technology, there seems to be no limit to what can be done with a modern CMMS.  But surprisingly, there are organizations that continue to use their system in the same manner as it was used thirty years ago—even if that system has hundreds of features.

How can a company use their CMMS software to its fullest capacity?

Let’s look at a day in the life of an average CMMS user:  The maintenance supervisor begins his day by assessing work performed in the system, and looking over the day’s scheduled events.  He knows that a certain machine is due for preventive maintenance, as the preventive maintenance software within the system has alerted him and his staff automatically.

A Service Request has been entered due to the HVAC system being down.  Since this work is a priority, the supervisor needs to assign someone quickly.  He knows exactly who to call; a senior technician with the proper certification to work on this particular piece of equipment.  But a quick check in the employee management feature shows the tech is on vacation all week.  So the supervisor searches through the staff information to see if anyone else is certified and bingo—a relatively new hire was certified through his last job.

The supervisor notifies the tech of the work order, and the tech is dispatched to the site.  With a quick barcode scan, the tech has all the pertinent information to make the repair.  Unfortunately, the part needed isn’t on the tech’s truck, but no worries.  A quick check in the CMMS inventory management control shows a vendor in the area.  The necessary part retrieved, the repair is made quickly and to specifications and guidelines.  And because the software is web-based, the tech doesn’t need to find an available computer—he accesses the information through his smart phone or tablet.

Once finished with the repair, the tech enters a report on the work done; time, costs, parts needed, etc.  But in looking over the report, the supervisor discovers that the machinery has broken down about the same time every year.  And while going over the preventive maintenance for the equipment, he discovers a power surge when the main furnace is fired up each year, causing the equipment failure.  The supervisor then adjusts the maintenance to take into account the surge, ensuring the breakdowns of this particular piece of equipment to be at a minimum.

As you can see, there are many paths of improvement when using a system to the fullest extent.  But are you?  Are you losing valuable time and money due to slow response or other problems?  Are you sending out employees that aren’t up to the particular task?  Are you paying overtime to employees while they wait for parts to come in?  By using your CMMS to its full potential, you’ll be able to avoid these issues, and your entire organization benefits from your results.

Aug 06

Preventive Maintenance Software? We Can’t Afford THAT!

You don’t need to be an economic expert to notice the fluctuations in the global economy, and the way it has affected business decisions in this country and all over the world.  One company announces major layoffs; another reports record profits.  Rather than join in on the roller coaster ride, the average company is opting to sit it out and wait.  Wait to do any new hiring; wait to make any major upgrades; wait to make any unnecessary expenditures of any type, including a major investment such as Preventive Maintenance Software.

That was probably a mistake in years past, when the features of older systems could give a hand up to any company—even in an unsettling economy.  But as the newer features and advances in mobile technology have vastly improved, not investing in modern Preventive Maintenance Software could be the decision that ultimately reduces the ability for a company to remain competitive.  A web-based Computerized Maintenance Management System, or CMMS can immediately lower costs while increase accountability and productivity.

How can a good system make such a difference to a company seeking to control costs and eliminate waste?  Here are just a few ways Preventive Maintenance Software does just that:

  1. Increases Productivity:  CMMS does more than just schedule and organize your maintenance; it provides you with the diagnostics needed to continually improve upon it.  Using the data provided, you can quickly adjust your workflow to its optimum level, ensuring that any time or costs for any tasks are well spent.
  2. Decreases Breakdowns:  By improving upon preventive and other maintenance schedules, Preventive Maintenance Software quickly decreases breakdowns and failures.  On average, a quality system can decrease downtimes by 20 to 30 hours per year.  What does your downtime cost per hour?
  3. Decreases Overtime Costs:  Using employee management tools, included with most high quality systems, the average plant can save about 10% of their projected overtime costs by simply managing their staff more effectively.
  4. Decreases Inventory Costs:  When you know how many parts and supplies you use during a given period, you can accurately order inventory based on this history, and eliminate the common mistake of ordering inventory that you already have.  And by using advanced technologies such as barcode scanners, you can manage your inventory even more efficiently.

“But this isn’t FREE, is it?”  No—every productivity tool requires an initial investment, which can vary depending upon the system and the features.  But some companies who have worked in earnest have seen a return on investment within six months, with any savings after that going back into the company’s bottom line.  So, what are you waiting for?  There may not be a better time to invest in Preventive Maintenance Software.

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