Computerized Maintenance Management Systems are quickly developing to meet advanced needs.
Many factors are driving this year’s ambitious CMMS products to adopt technology new to the industry.
For an early glance at what’s in store for 2015, we asked 6 industry experts to give us their perspectives.
Prediction: Mobile and cloud platforms will make CMMS solutions more accessible, scalable, and versatile than ever before in 2015.
Mobility is king in the field of maintenance and asset management, which is why CMMS solutions have been revolutionized by advances in cloud and mobile technologies. With maintenance personnel always on the move, it is vital that they have the information they need to get their work done without having to be tethered to a computer or forced to dig through paper files and/or spreadsheets to find the information they need. This is why leading CMMS companies have made the development of mobile and cloud functionality a top priority for 2015. Look for the user base for these mobile solutions to expand over the coming year with specialized features and functionality for specific job roles.
As the economy continues to rebound in 2015, it will also be important for companies to be able to scale their maintenance and asset management operations quickly and easily to accommodate growth. Cloud-based CMMS solutions are ideal for these situations, as they require minimal IT setup and investment, and they keep data secure and reliable. As a result, cloud solutions will continue to gain market share in 2015, cementing their central role in the future of CMMS development.
Predictions: As far as basic CMMS functionality and features go, like work orders and preventive maintenance, they’ve been relatively unchanged since the inception of CMMS. But there’s still a lot in store for how the overall industry is viewed.
Historically, CMMS has trailed the general software industry in terms of innovation – especially the hardware side. By the time technology was included within CMMS solutions, it was typically tested and proven. In the past, there may have been a higher percentage of maintenance professionals who were averse to cutting-edge technologies. Today those same professionals typically have a smartphone or iPad, however. As we continue developing our solutions around these readily-available technologies, there is a far greater rate of acceptance.
With so many smart technologies used in newer facilities today, we can enable CMMS to “talk” with enhanced equipment. We’ve seen the technology developing for years and have added functionality to grab data from all of this advanced infrastructure and work with it. Buildings are getting smarter, and much of it is wireless now – so it’s even simpler to adapt older equipment. And that’s where you’re getting into the real cutting-edge details of this industry. We’re seeing more forward-thinking clients because, as they’re retrofitting their infrastructure, they need to be thinking about these things – regardless of industry. Anyone coming out of an engineering education program can attest to this, and I think it’ll become commonplace in the next couple of years.
The aging workforce is also a continuing trend. The next generation of maintenance professionals aren’t considering themselves as “the guys who fix things.” They’re recognizing their department as a profit center for getting the most out of the company’s equipment through better reporting and analysis aimed towards an ROI. They’re more apt to tap the knowledge of experienced personnel by creating tutorial videos about fixing particular machines, for instance, and archiving them to teach themselves and others. Organizations are considering new maintenance hires much more seriously because they realize you can either add more equipment, or the equipment you already have can run more efficiently and have better uptime. The latter option is far less expensive, and CMMS is a big part of that.
President & CTO
Prediction: Condition maintenance coupled with mobility will be a must have for 2015.
CMMS software is at the point where it can start leveraging transparency between devices. A huge push for many vendors right now is to make it seamless moving from one device to another.
Users are typically mobile and have a need for information moving between a desktop to a mobile device and back, because that’s what they do on the job. Maintenance personnel have a need to work in the field while maintaining a grasp on statistics and key performance indicators (KPI). Moving between a display environment and a mobile environment lets them see both a staff’s perspective and the overall performance at a glance.
Condition maintenance is our focus going into next year, and comes down to having real-time insights into the state of each asset. As opposed to preventive maintenance which relies on historical data, condition maintenance monitors parameters set to represent the present health of the equipment. Our software is built to measure any type of indicator for tracking everything from an asset’s temperature and pressure states, to vibration signatures and flow levels. Alerts and triggers are in place for notifying staff of significant changes as they happen in order to act on them without delay. This function combined with mobility gives maintenance personnel the ability to react on the fly to problems before there’s any down-time.
Prediction: Maintenance professionals want to have a full suite of functions on the go, driving CMMS vendors to continue to expand mobile apps functionality.
What we’re really seeing is an increased demand for mobility. Initially our mobile app was designed with discrete functions for technicians who needed to record time and materials used on the shop floor without having to fill out paperwork. But now, thanks to more powerful mobile devices, people want to have many functions on the go. Clients want to be able to take a photo of a problem, attach it to a work order, assign work, look up and call a vendor to order a part – all on the fly. That technician (or manager) should not have to go back to his desk to do anything; that’s really the vision we have for the future of CMMS.
Another trend we’re seeing is an increased utilization of predictive technologies with more customers wanting to incorporate that data into their CMMS. With preventive methods, you’re spending resources on equipment to prevent failures that may or may not occur. Predictive technology uses monitoring devices that tell you when you need to make repairs. Rather than change your oil because you’ve driven 3,000 miles, change your oil because you have the technology to analyze it and tell you it needs to be changed. For predictive maintenance to be effective, it requires both hardware to monitor the equipment and software to generate the corrective work order when a potential problem is detected. As the hardware becomes more affordable and the benefits understood, we see more clients incorporating predictive maintenance technologies.
Prediction: In 2015 competitive CMMS solutions will be completely cloud-based, subscription based, provide small-screen accessibility (either with dedicated apps or with responsive websites), and will start to integrate and “talk” with smart devices on the field on a kind of niche application of the Internet of things.
Users still want the same features they’ve always wanted although now supported by new technical hardware and software. This includes cheaper and more efficient asset maintenance management to ensure assets are available when needed for as long as possible. What is changing is the type of customer. We’re moving from traditional capital-intensive CMMS users like utilities to smaller non-maintenance centered companies like restaurant chains. This happens because new technology has made it affordable to run professional solutions that do more than a custom Microsoft access database can do.
For us, 2015 is the year we focus on integrating with field sensors that create requests for action based on actual field conditions. For example, the solution could link with a temperature sensor placed inside an electrical panel that triggers a work order along with an email alert when the temperature is above a certain limit. We already have the prototype and will soon move to product creation including hardware. We will have physical product ready before the end of the year for sure.
Prediction: Three predominant product trends in 2015: continued growth in mobile usage; faster, easier integration capabilities; and improved usability.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the buzzword of 2015. As our world, our devices, our machines and our systems become ever more capable of connecting to the Internet, the need to easily connect them with our CMMS solutions grows. With ubiquitous, reliable high-speed bandwidth and ever-increasing computing power, people can easily share data across their enterprise and with other organizations. The CMMS’s role as the maintenance department’s system of record drives the need for it to quickly and effortlessly connect to gauges and sensors, as well as accounting systems and ERP implementations.
We’re also seeing an emerging trend in the marketplace that we call “subscription fatigue.” People love the ease of buying cloud-based applications through Software as a Service (SaaS) subscriptions, but the unending stream of annual renewal payments are wearing them down. To address this, MPulse is offering free cloud hosting, even for its customers who buy the software outright.
Along with improved integration and mobile capabilities, we can make our user interfaces (UIs) more intuitive than ever before to improve ease of use. HTML5 coding has enabled adaptive design and the ability to use one application the same way on virtually any desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Other display innovations have enabled us to create dashboards that allow maintenance personnel to get a real-time picture of their entire operation on a single screen—then drill down to handle “hot spots” at a glance.
Among the most important trends driving this product innovation is the entry into the maintenance world of “digital natives,” younger workers who have grown up with web-based technology and an assumed access to good data. Previous assumptions about what “maintenance guys” can do with computers are going by the wayside. As new hires come from engineering schools with data-driven mindsets, there’s much more attention on CMMS.
VP of Sales & Marketing
MPulse Maintenance Software