CMMS Templates for Effective Implementations

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The Modern Maintenance Environment

As we commence the 21st century the burden of providing maintenance services to any organization has grown successively more and more difficult. Yet the technologies to support us today are also greater and more advanced than they ever were. Today we have a greater knowledge base and range of technical and methodology based tools than we have ever possessed. The level of education has far surpassed the level that it was 30 years ago; this includes teaching on most of the new array of methodologies and technologies in the market place today.

The past twenty years has seen the explosion in awareness of RCM and other reliability based concepts, there has also been the further development of these in various other forms for specific industries and market sectors. The result of this awareness has been a great paradigm shift through the majority of industries where maintenance management is required. This is the new understanding about the function of maintenance, its obligations and its responsibilities in the modern industrial environment.

Also we have seen a vast increase in the knowledge of how equipment fails and how, equally importantly, we can detect it. This along with the need for higher reliability in our fixed and mobile assets has helped create an enormous advancement in condition monitoring tools and instruments. Thus we not only have the knowledge of how equipment behaves but we have also a vast array of tools to manage and apply this knowledge. Lastly we have seen phenomenal advancements in the world of computers and communications technology. So much so that today we are easily able to communicate with the other side of the world in a myriad of ways rapidly.

Among the greater advancements in these areas is the functionality afforded us today by CMMS systems. (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) Today's CMMS can manage all of our possible requirements within the area of maintenance management. Not only that but we are able to create computerized networks to transmit that information immediately anyway in the world where it is needed. This level of technology has been accompanied by the creation, at times integral to the CMMS, of a vast array of specialist systems to manage reliability and condition based information.

Despite all of these great advances in our work environments the great majority of plants and industrial organizations continue to operate in a reactive state of maintenance. Why is this so? Firstly it can be said that although the concepts and new paradigms implicit in modern reliability engineering are widespread, they are still not common practice. So there is some reasoning there. Also the lack of fundamental knowledge regarding maintenance techniques has enabled the spread of some less than adequate methodologies parading as reliability solutions.

However the knowledge of the existence of this information is widespread and the level of application in industry is growing. There are also other factors contributing to the malaise we find generally today; however in my experience, the one overriding factor out of all of the reasons for this is the following:

"The maintenance business processes and the management of them, has not kept pace with the rapid advances in technology"

There have been almost quantum leaps in the advances in management theory in the areas of business management, accounting and so forth. However the area of management of the business processes associated with Maintenance Management has moved forward in a manner that is either slow or not at all in some areas. At times there have been pseudo advances in this area, all of which eventually are revealed for the substandard techniques they are. However the abilities and functionalities of the computerized systems made to manage this process has indeed continued to evolve.

Today the functionalities of CMMS, or the technology to manage maintenance, have outstripped our abilities to do so in practice. It is for this reason primarily that there are so many reactive state maintenance departments, even within those operating with advanced reliability programs.

This is Part One of a three-part article that is based on the book, CMMS: A Timesaving Implementation Process by Daryl Mather.

Part Two will discuss the CMMS Industry in relationship to ERP.

Part Three will present a template for successful implementations of CMMS.

Maintenance Management Strategic Importance

Maintenance management has, in very recent times, become considered to be less important in the current business climate in general terms. Yet it falls to maintenance to comply with many of the raising requirements on businesses today. Chief among these is the need to remain competitive. As economic markets become tighter and tighter the need for strategic advantage over ones competitors has become increasingly important. The contribution of maintenance management and reliability concepts cannot be undervalued in this area.

Today capital moves around the world at a very fast pace, and countries that were yesterday good havens for capital investment, today are not so much in favour. A case in point here is the Mexican market under the NAFTA agreement. NAFTA gave the Mexican economy opportunities unheard of due to the cheap cost of labour and hence perceived cheap cost of doing business. However rising labour costs and perceived low productivity levels has left many companies questioning their investment in this market. Mexican operations are looking at the possibility of losing their strategic advantage due mainly to these factors, in various sectors.

Associated with this is the trend for the overall rising direct cost of maintenance thus requiring greater reliability of assets. Through increased reliability of corporate assets them closer to their design capacities of production and performance. This then assists in the overall reduction of the unit costs of maintenance.

This has differing meaning in differing industry sectors. In a capital intensive industry it takes on a particular level of importance due to the high percentage of maintenance costs as part of the operational budget. In capital intensive industries maintenance can make up almost 45% -50% of the operating budget.

In manufacturing industries, while the percentage cost is somewhat lower, the level of automation and the high impact on the use of capital are where the benefits of reliability are most quickly felt in terms of operational performance. Unreliable assets produce their own strains on the ability of the organization to meet targets that are considered within the operating / production parameters of the organization.

The rising intolerance of society in general to incidents that damage the health of people, the community or the environment is another of the strong newer requirements on maintenance to deliver high levels of reliability. Thus higher levels of confidence that equipment will not fail causing accidents are required today, more so than at any time in history.

So as is becoming obvious in the modern industrial environment, a company can gain strategic advantage in many ways via assuring the high performance levels of their equipment in a permanent manner.

However even with all of the much needed focus on reliability, none of this will serve us at all in the workplace unless we have the competencies and processes in place to both implement these advances, and to manage them for the long term. One of the major causes for failures in the implementation of reliability enhancement methodologies and/ or projects is the inability, or the unexpected difficulty, of making it happen.

As a simple example let us look at the management in an ordered fashion of preventive maintenance routines. If we have developed our routines correctly they will be focussed on the following points:

1. Detection of the indications of failing equipment so as to be able to take action with adequate anticipation. 2. 3. Providing of human interventions in the forms of servicing, lubrications, replacements, or refurbishments in order to maintain the equipment a high state of reliability. 4. 5. Providing failure-finding inspections for protective and other hidden failure devices. 6. Our schedules should be designed, from the point of view of maintaining high resource efficiency, to be very exact in their frequencies and the work that we are doing. Therefore if we miss a scheduled detection routine, we are in danger of losing control over the adequate prediction or of failure. Equally if we miss a scheduled human intervention we run the risk of excess deterioration possibly leading to a failed state and excessive costs. Again it needs to be noted that this also has severe potential safety and environmental consequences. Of which industry in general is only recently starting to realize.

It then becomes obvious that while the content of this particularly simple example, the reliability focused equipment strategies, are of course critical, the management of them is equally as critical.

The Decline in Importance

The advent of the financial reporting and management capabilities of some modern day ERP systems has caused a shift in the focus and drive of companies purchasing CMMS systems. During the past three years I have been involved in the sale and implementation of three enterprise level management systems. (This is a rather long sales process) I am currently involved in the pre-sales evaluations of various others.

During all of this time, while maintenance have normally been consulted, it is the heads of departments such as financing and product sales departments that are either making decisions or are vetoing the selections of systems focused on reliability functionalities in favor of others. This trend, which I have seen in an exaggerated manner recently at lower levels within various organizations, is not only astounding but also somewhat disturbing.

The enterprise level system is starting to be aimed at financial managers One of the more successful ERP vendors, to my knowledge although I am sure there are others, actually considers it to be its corporate focus to cater to these positions of financial management in any enterprise. Even the amount of after sales support is focused on financial departments. While maintenance departments, where there are very real, very large, and very important issues to be managed are left to their own devices.

So in effect we are seeing, on a global scale, the subjugation of issues of reliability, safety, cost effectiveness, asset integrity, and corporate resource planning to the management of financial reporting and procedures. The recent Enron disaster and other similar recent events, it appears certain, will further enhance this perceived requirement in the financial areas.

I was once a firm believer in the coming age of the CRO, or Chief Reliability Officer as a permanent corporate position akin to that of the COO, Chief Operating Officer. Although still a firm believer in the necessity of this position, it no longer appears to be a possibility in the short to medium term.

Maintenance professionals need to put the case for reliability and management of maintenance firmly back on the corporate agenda so that we will be able to really achieve strong leaps forward in reliability, cost effectiveness, and strategic advantage in our organizations. As long as the reliability responsibilities of corporations are not understood or given low priority in overall goal setting, we are doomed to have many future decisions regarding the requirements of maintenance determined by decisions in other areas of corporate activity.

This concludes Part One of a three-part article that is based on the book, CMMS: A Timesaving Implementation Process by Daryl Mather.

Part Two will discuss the CMMS Industry in relationship to ERP.

Part Three will present a template for successful implementations of CMMS.

About the Author

Daryl Mather is a management Consultant, Author and Speaker originally from the mining and oil and gas industries of Australia. Daryl specializes in the areas of CMMS and EAM, Reliability-centred maintenance and Root cause analysis. Daryl also publishes a Spanish speaking non commercial newsletter on a monthly basis called "La Cultura de Confiabilid" and manages a Spanish language email forum of the same name.

CMMS: A Timesaving Implementation Process

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