The Definitive Guide to
Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) help businesses reduce maintenance costs. These solutions track assets including inventory, equipment and labor for identifying the costs associated with maintenance programs.
CMMS focuses on:
- Extending equipment life-cycles
- Gaining the highest ROI on asset purchases
- Organizing maintenance workflows
What is CMMS?
Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) help
standardize maintenance operations, allowing staff to control procedures and practices, as well as report on daily progress.
In the past, maintenance departments have been considered the “necessary evil” of running a business. Accompanying software has also been regarded as a cost-center, so many organizations that could have benefited from CMMS sooner are just now understanding its potential.
Through continual development, CMMS solutions have evolved around using data to improve the bottom line.
Organizations now have the opportunity to maximize their ROI on high capital equipment and create a Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) program for minimal equipment downtime.
History of CMMS Software
Over time, CMMS has transformed to meet maintenance needs across company sizes and industries.
According to Jeff O’Brien of Maintenance Assistant Inc recently writing on American Machinist, the evolution of CMMS started in only the biggest factories with the most computing power.
The First CMMS
Around 1965, CMMS began as punch cards for reminding technicians to complete tasks, and later evolved into printed paper. Maintenance technicians would hand in work order checklists to data-entry clerks for submission to the CMMS.
Prior to the mid-1980s, maintenance departments within manufacturing organizations were between 1-12% of a factory’s workforce. Companies investing in the technology managed only the largest asset-intensive businesses on the market.
Scaled Down with LAN Connection
The next generation of CMMS came in the 1980s when it became possible to scale down computers. Small to mid-sized companies were able to invest in the technology for the first time with the emergence of affordable hardware.
Throughout the 1990s, companies were able to customize their CMMS solutions and operate through a local-area network (LAN) connection to quickly share data between computers for the first time. With customization came a variety of software features.
Browser and Cloud-based
Moving into the early 2000s, CMMS adapted to the web for browser-based access on local servers. System updates became more complex with highly customized needs for each client.
Around the mid-2000s with the rise of the internet, vendors began offering entirely web-hosted solutions with their own servers. Vendors became responsible for backing up the system’s data instead of the company’s IT department.
The latest generation of CMMS was born on the cloud only in the past few years.
This type of system has a multi-tenant architecture, allowing all clients to access the same application. Each user logs on to the system with a unique account, but has access to the same basic security, upgrades and features. This way, vendors are able to provide fast support with no downtime, and clients don’t need a dedicated IT team.
Cloud computing continues to dominate the tech space as more people realize the benefits. Some trends happening now with CMMS include:
- Faster implementation
- Mobile access
- Predictive reporting
Who Uses CMMS?
More and more companies are wanting to closely track maintenance expenses, causing CMMS vendors to expand the application of their technology.
A variety of industries have started relying on CMMS for tracking maintenance associated costs. Typical users include:
- Maintenance technicians
- Floor managers
- Business analysts
- Operations administrators
- Accounting clerks
Many solutions even have self-service functionality so any employee can access the system for entering asset information or requesting maintenance actions.
Traditionally, facilities, manufacturers and warehouses use CMMS for inventory and equipment tracking, as well as assigning maintenance staff to work orders.
Organizations that must closely manage their infrastructure, such as universities and hospitals, also have a strong need for organized maintenance operations and use CMMS.
Companies with transportation fleets need CMMS solutions for tracking vehicle maintenance expenses and driver information.
Retail outlets, restaurant chains, hotels and resorts, and other property management businesses involving transportation and inventory also need a streamlined way to track maintenance costs.
A wide range of industries use CMMS for asset tracking as small as a bolt within an engine, and as large as a bulldozer on a construction site. CMMS solutions are able to scale according to how closely you need to track your assets. (See our Use Cases section for more on this topic)
Top Benefits of CMMS
Implementing CMMS significantly influences maintenance operations.
The following benefits come as a result of having full asset control:
- Increased maintenance information for better decision making – CMMS solutions allow companies to collect maintenance information, turning historical data into insights for a long-term understanding of how processes work.
- Extended equipment life-cycles and reduced downtime – Taking proper care of capital equipment leads to a higher total ROI, prolonging its use and increasing its life cycle. Keeping up with systematic maintenance leads to more reliable up-time on equipment, benefiting both your maintenance program and your whole production line’s workflow.
- Increased budget accountability – Understand why equipment malfunctions and the best route for fixing it with the bottom line in mind. Keep your maintenance staff accountable for getting the job done right the first time with reliable solutions rather than spending money on continuous repairs.
- Reduced labor costs through better scheduling – Your maintenance staff might often feel caught off guard by sudden breakdowns and unscheduled repairs. With an intelligent system for scheduled maintenance, staff will be less likely to work overtime, reducing extra labor costs. Have your staff begin each day with a proactive approach to scheduled maintenance, rather than a reactive approach to fixing equipment after an unexpected failure.
- Improved compliance and standards tracking – Meet mandated regulations on how to inspect and repair equipment, keeping track of all maintenance standards. Depending on your industry, the right CMMS software might also have available health, safety and environmental standards tracking on actions and procedures for meeting industrial regulations.
- Cost savings on replacement parts and inventory stockpiles – Keep just the right balance of spare parts and inventory stock with reliable maintenance predictions. Rather than run out of stock when you need it most, or order unnecessary parts that go to waste, set your inventory levels and automate re-ordering parts only when needed.
- Simpler training process – CMMS solutions allow users to enter more than just equipment identification. Users can also attach documents, pictures and videos as guides for conducting maintenance operations. As older maintenance staff retires and new employees are hired, this allows for a simpler knowledge transfer.
- Better performance measurements for establishing maintenance standards – Discover statistical trends for how long and how much money it takes to perform maintenance, then set performance standards for your staff to reach. Various types of information can be tracked in a CMMS solution to measure customer satisfaction, service reliability, mean time between failures and more.
- Increased productivity – Reduce time spent searching through spreadsheets or paper files for pulling vital information on contracts, warranties and more. CMMS solutions with mobile application modules also give maintenance technicians direct access to work orders, asset locations, inventory control and training material while on the go.
- Improved customer satisfaction – While customer satisfaction can’t always be quantified, organizing your maintenance structure around transparency with consistent billing practices provides long-term benefits for nurturing a loyal client base.
With one streamlined system, you’re able to carefully track assets in a number of ways.
These assets include equipment, inventory and labor, and can be broken down into categories for carefully measuring costs by stock, parts, personnel, and more.
Similar Maintenance Solutions
CMMS is referred to by several terms. Most of these solutions have very similar features. Here, we’ll go over all terms similar to CMMS and what they have in common.
Work Order Management Software: A work order is a request used to detail any maintenance need. All CMMS solutions have a component for assigning repairs and maintenance to a maintenance team.
Preventive Maintenance Software (PM): A PM system is a method of communicating work orders. This type of software is typically used for scheduling routine maintenance or alerting staff when repairs are required. Work Order Management Software and PM software are essentially the same.
Predictive Maintenance Software (PdM): Predictive maintenance is a recent focus for solutions with analytic functions. These solutions are data driven and aim to identify when an asset will need maintenance just before it has any downtime.
Fleet Maintenance Software: Companies with transportation fleets need maintenance systems focused on tracking details on drivers, vehicles, leasing contracts, mileage and more. Solutions with fleet components have additional fields for assessing these costs.
Facilities Maintenance Software (FM): FM Software includes work orders for preventive maintenance. It may include predictive components and fleet components, and it has all the same essentials as any CMMS for filling work orders and asset tracking.
Computer Aided Facility Management Software (CAFM): This type of solution goes beyond maintenance needs and helps companies allocate all types of resources within the facility. Maintenance costs are included in reporting functions, but the solutions often go beyond equipment tracking and have a close focus on labor management.
Enterprise Asset Management Software (EAM): For large companies, EAM solutions include a full suite of fields for tracking assets. This type of CMMS caters to companies with multiple locations touching on multiple business fields needing an all-in-one solution. Not all CMMS options can scale as wide as an EAM solution. EAM solutions are often an integrated part of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions for a complete view on a large company’s expenses.
All of the above are types of maintenance solutions using different terms for specific buying needs. Our guide is designed with these variations in mind for a full scope on CMMS capabilities.