If your maintenance team is spending too much time on paperwork and putting out fires because they don’t have enough time to repair equipment, it’s easy to see why they’re probably not excited about their jobs. No doubt, they’d like to spend more time doing what they know how to do—keeping the equipment up and running. And if you’re a member of senior management, you certainly want the same. This is where a good computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can come into play. Not only can it free up your maintenance people to do what they’re hired to do, a good CMMS software product can help the team schedule preventive maintenance (PM) and predict when failures will occur in equipment, based on run-time data and any sensory inputs, such as motor or bearing vibration sensors.

Jason Wolfe, assistant maintenance manager at Superior Dairy in Canton, OH,  recognized a need for CMMS to help reduce downtime, manage inventory and PM and track large projects and completion rates for auditors. While his main objective was to create an automated PM program that would ultimately improve machine performance and efficiencies, even more pressing was the need to demonstrate compliance with SQF (Safe Quality Foods) and produce reports that showed attention was not only being paid to equipment repairs, but to food safety as well.

The dairy implemented eMaint’s X3 CMMS and found the system exceeded its requirements. Wolfe’s first objective was to establish a structure for PM types including maintenance, sanitation, quality control, safety and engineering. With help from the eMaint team, he set up the system by defining assets, setting up PM tasks and establishing frequencies for those tasks. Inventory is integrated with PMs, barcoding allows quick and easy inventory control, and condition monitoring equipment provides data for the CMMS.

The system has reduced costs for major machine rebuilds due to better PM, increased overall equipment performance and efficiencies, passed SQF inspection without a single complaint and improved inventory management through integrated parts lists. The supplier’s workshops and support team were invaluable during the implementation phase. “I found eMaint’s X3 to be user friendly, and it exceeded the standard set for the CMMS Superior Dairy needed,” says Wolfe. “With support like this, everything was easily accomplished.”


CMMS, EAM or both?

“The core features of a CMMS have not changed in probably 30 years,” says Paul Lachance, president and CTO, Smartware Group (makers of Bigfoot CMMS). These core features include asset management, PM, work orders management, spare parts inventory control and reporting/predictive maintenance (PdM). “In the last 10 years, there has been greater emphasis on mobility, barcoding/RFID, a simplified user interface and the like.” EAM (enterprise asset management) and CMMS are interchangeable, as CMMS continues to take an enterprise approach to maintenance management through enhanced functionality and enterprise systems integration.

“The terminology has become more consolidated for CMMS and EAM because the solution [CMMS] touches so many people in an organization that it is truly an enterprise application,” says Curtis Wilson, Invensys principal asset management consultant. However, CMMS should have certain key components: maintenance (work requests, work orders, PM functionality, planning, scheduling and completion data collection); inventory management (stock and non-stock parts, services and tools); and procurement (requisitions, purchase orders and contracts). “To [enable] a truly efficient maintenance organization, these functions should be integrated tightly through technology and processes,” adds Wilson.

Add to the above list: condition monitoring, mobile capability, reporting and dashboards, interfacing capabilities with third-party applications and document storage options, says Rona Palmer, eMaint Enterprises marketing director. “Data captured by a CMMS can give insight into asset management, including cost and asset health, allowing the user to utilize it as an EAM system.”

But not everyone agrees CMMS and EAM are synonymous. “When discussing CMMS today, you should avoid using the term ‘enterprise asset management’ for several reasons,” says Kevin Price, EAM product director, Infor Research & Development. “For starters, transactional management systems [e.g., CMMSs] capture work details, unlike systems that are designed to cull critical performance data and trends regarding assets that make an organization tick. CMMSs miss out on predictive, conditioned, strategic, value-centric methodologies that true world-class EAMs offer. For example, repairing a wheel assembly in a fleet is easy to do—reactively or preventatively—but determining why the repair is necessary, as well as the reason behind the frequency, how it affects your business deliverable and the true cost, are not.”


Nice-to-have features

EAM system helps producer increase efficiency


Grimmway Farms of Arvin, CA evolved from a small company growing full-size carrots to a top producer of baby carrots and more than 60 different produce commodities. With seven facilities (for carrot processing, juice, frozen foods, citrus and vegetable packing), Grimmway decided to upgrade its older CMMS with a modern EAM system.

Several years ago, Grimmway implemented Infor’s MP2 Express CMMS. “Our maintenance department adopted its own solution, but a few years ago, we started shopping for an integrated CMMS to be used companywide,” says Katie Diesl, Grimmway EAM development manager. “A few departments had been using their own versions of MP2 Express, all with different databases, and they independently maintained them. As time passed, we started to have issues with these differences, such as unstable data, insufficient reporting options and a lack of flexibility in the data structure to trace historical data. Although Infor MP2 Express met our needs for many years, we had reached a point where we needed more.”

Grimmway investigated Infor’s EAM as an upgrade path to its MP2 Express. “Its features were most compelling,” says Diesl. “It had extensive built-in data verification to improve our data integrity, and with its fully integrated modules, we could trace all historical information. Also, its custom reporting options eliminated much of the need for us to manually manipulate reports.”

As Grimmway began reviewing the MP2 Express data that would be migrated to Infor EAM, a data cleanup campaign began. “Infor EAM has an Infor MP2 Express migration module,” says Diesl. “But we weren’t current on maintenance, so we followed others’ advice and just extracted the data from Infor MP2 Express—our assets, parts, inventory and PM structure.” To move forward with a clean database, Diesl validated the information as current and made some corrections. “Then, we simply used the Upload utility tool to import [the data] into Infor EAM.” While some of the groups had access to the old data, they didn’t miss it when the new system was implemented.

“We currently have 10,000 assets and 273 active users set up in Infor EAM, and seven different facilities sharing the same database with screens configured just for their needs,” says Diesl. “We track our finished products’ packaging materials and usage in Infor EAM as well as the seed inventory for our farming operations.”

The new system has helped Grimmway trust the data, thanks to a strong validation process; cut report analysis time from one day to about 30 minutes; streamline and automate maintenance and operations procedures; accelerate user adoptions and productivity by easily configuring screens and reports for each department; and develop a true predictive maintenance program with condition monitoring and alerts.

Besides some of the basic features previously listed, current hardware and software technologies are making maintenance software much more versatile. For example, according to Invensys’s Wilson, today’s systems, such as Avantis, provide methods for effectively prioritizing work, dynamic scheduling, condition-based maintenance connectivity, work-order planning updated by parts, and tracking labor and service availability in real time. Contractor management is available to help manage the non-employee workforce.

An EAM also should directly integrate maintenance to part numbers, inventory and automatic ordering to ensure proper work planning. All equipment should have a bill of materials that includes parts, services and tools that are automatically set to issue from stock or order from a blanket PO/contract, suggests Wilson.

“Some features that are nice to have in a transactional CMMS include limited control over work processes and module configuration,” says Infor’s Price. “It is also advantageous to have a simplistic mindset around CMMS to be able to implement it quickly; however, there will be occasions when personalization is necessary.” Beyond manual data entry, there will be a growing demand for CMMS to incorporate mobility, specifically whether the CMMS can provide system access to document transactions as they occur, or if users must continue to work first and record later, adds Price.

Other nice-to-have features include multi-site toolkits to support multiple plant locations, a vendor portal to provide limited system access to vendors and outside contractors, a procurement catalog solution, documentation storage capabilities and the ability to import/export data from spreadsheets or third-party applications, according to eMaint’s Palmer. Systems also should include integration with active directory systems, support single-sign-on (SSO) and have customizable capabilities to ensure the user is capturing all the data needed for regulatory compliance.

Also important is what comprises the overall user experience. “‘Don’t make me think’ is a phrase we use to challenge our designers and developers as they enhance our CMMS,” says Smartware’s Lachance. “Sure, there are a lot of nice reports within Bigfoot CMMS, but the overall ease of use and power—without intimidating the user—is what sets a good CMMS apart.”

In a CMMSCITY.com article entitled “The 7 Mistakes of CMMS-EAM,” Dave Loesch of Oracle Corp. points out the common mistakes CMMS/EAM software vendors make as they create systems. For example, Mistake #2 is “More functionality doesn’t mean more value,” and closely allied is Mistake #3: “Ease of use is an afterthought.” What is Mistake #1? “Show me the money comes from process change, not software.” In other words, “software is not the change agent that generates a return on investment. The business process has to be optimized for a particular company and even a particular maintenance crew before it saves money.”


It’s about the people

In relation to a recent EAM upgrade at Allied Mills in the UK, Duncan Lawson, group engineering manager, says “I can’t speak highly enough of [IBM business partner] Vetasi’s contribution to the project. They instantly understood the main point—that asset management implementations are more about people than about the technology itself. They advised us to let the workflows be designed by the people who would be using them, and worked closely with our engineers to build a solution that is easy to use, while also providing the deep insight into asset data that the business requires.”

Allied Mills, a supplier of flour and semolina, has three plants in Tilbury, Manchester and Belfast. It implemented IBM’s Maximo asset management solution some time ago and recently upgraded to a new version that supports maintenance at all three plants through the use of mobile devices and real-time dashboards that provide at-a-glance insight into operations across the business. With a real-time view of asset data across the organization, Allied Mills is better able to diagnose root causes and resolve potential problems before they affect production. Corrective and emergency maintenance, which previously comprised 39 percent of the total maintenance workload, has been reduced to just 9 percent. In addition, insight into complete asset lifecycle costs supports improved financial planning and control of operational costs.

“Following our original implementation, IBM had rebuilt Maximo as a Web-based system that was much more mature and flexible,” says Lawson. “A lot of the functionalities we would have previously had to build from scratch were now available out of the box.” Finding the right partner, Vetasi, helped achieve a rapid implementation of a plain out-of-the-box software solution and configure it to Allied Mills’ needs rather than having to spend large sums on expensive development work.


Predicting failure

Evaluating a CMMS/EAM provider

CMMS/EAM isn’t just software but a technology-enabled process, and its success depends on its implementation more than the selected software.

Therefore, when evaluating a CMMS/EAM system, it is important to:

• Define the current and future process flows for all affected areas

• Allocate strong resources from each functional area

• Ask the CMMS/EAM vendor to present its technology, functional and implementation recommendations, not just a product demo

• Open your business to pre-proposal visits by each vendor to encourage targeted, solution-specific presentations

• Talk to vendor references about each functional area, regardless of industry differences

• Determine whether you plan to implement all sites or all business areas simultaneously or phase the implementation, and ask for vendor recommendations

• Include IT in the early stages of your evaluation. Do you currently have a policy for IT systems (hardware and/or software) that may limit your choice of software? Determine early in the selection process whether this is likely to be an issue, or there is some room for flexibility in your company policies.

One method of predicting failure of moving parts is to monitor their vibration levels and frequencies using sensors/microphones. “At Infor, we view bearing information data as a function of consumptive maintenance,” says Price. “Infor EAM defines predictive maintenance methodology as the means by which one predicts failure from analytical and/or inspection content. Further, Infor EAM is well-versed in both methods, as well as others, such as checking inventory and other business rule functions prior to an action, notifications, system automation and more.”

A PdM system within a CMMS should allow users to define acceptable boundaries for equipment operation, import readings and graph results, and automatically trigger an email or generate a work order when a reading indicates the boundaries are exceeded, according to eMaint’s Palmer. “Noise, vibration, temperature, lubricants, wear, corrosion, pressure and flow should be monitored independently. This is an important step in moving from scheduled PM activities to need-based predictive maintenance.”

Based on all the possible multivariable indicators from plant floor systems, a PdM will initiate a work order, ideally before failure is imminent, says Wilson. In the Avantis system, when a work order is generated, it will usually have a template showing what skills are required to tackle the problem. It will also include parts, tools and boundary conditions for lockout/tag out, etc. When the work order is triggered, the system automatically checks the inventory, reserves the parts and creates purchase orders for services or non-stock parts.


Parts numbering nemesis

You have several machines on the plant floor. Chances are, they use the same OEM parts, though your equipment suppliers more than likely have given them their own part numbers based on drawing numbers or another numbering system. Whether it’s a standard 1hp motor or a common stainless steel bolt, you may have several vendor part numbers for the same OEM part. If you’ve been maintaining a CMMS for some time, you’ve probably found your own ways to deal with or work around this issue.

“Maintenance departments should adopt a neutral OEM part-naming system and generate the part number as a unique identifier,” says Palmer. “Though it takes some time and effort, it is worth it to standardize OEM parts to minimize duplication.”

 “Bigfoot CMMS provides a robust spare parts number system that blends internal part numbers, vendor part numbers, barcodes and more,” says Lachance. “It is critical that a user have the ability to search on any of these options. Overall, a good CMMS should be flexible enough to model the structure of a maintenance organization’s spare parts numbering system.”

Avantis software has the ability to create part entries with multiple vendors and manufacturers for each part, says Wilson. It can also indicate multiple storage locations and warehouses that store the part. This provides the option to automatically replenish parts by transferring them from one location to another.

Infor EAM allows data to be shared securely. It also allows similar parts from various vendors to have a common part number which is editable via security. “The more difficult point, however, is rationalization of this content into a shared model. Data is available for everything, which is both a good and bad problem to have.” Infor EAM offers content services to clean and rationalize data, as well as solutions like Infor Electronic Data Management to make sure it stays that way. “A true solution isn’t just software. It involves people, products and software—a harmonious trifecta,” adds Price.

For processors with part numbers gone wild, upgrading to a newer software system or changing CMMS/EAM vendors is not necessarily a small issue. But there are firms that specialize in turning this morass of data into solid, usable information a newer CMMS can use. One such company is IMA Ltd. Jocelyn Facciotti, marketing manager, explains how this data cleansing is done. “The purpose of data cleansing during the early implementation stages is to create one common corporate catalog that is properly formatted to the configuration requirements of the new system.

“Many enterprise applications have unique formatting requirements, such as field types, character limitations and search abilities,” continues Facciotti. “IMA has expertise in and experience working with all the leading ERP, EAM and CMMS systems to ensure data is formatted accordingly, and clients reap maximum benefits from their investment. In many cases, this may involve abbreviating words and truncating description text. IMA has developed proprietary software to assist in the formatting and structuring of data to suit the specified enterprise application requirements.”

Duplicate items are identified and flagged across the corporation and within each site. Then, they are identified by direct duplicate (items with the same manufacturer name and part number) or fit-form-function (items that have different manufacturer names and part numbers but are identical in type, size, material and description). Once duplicates have been identified, they are assigned a unique corporate part number, while the legacy item number and/or vendor part number is maintained for future reference. The new corporate part number acts as the common element. By doing this, maintenance personnel may search by corporate part number to view all equivalent items that exist across the corporation. 


For more information:

Paul Lachance, Smartware Group, 866-858-7800, paul.lachance@bigfootcmms.com

Curtis Wilson, Invensys, 905-333-3774, curtis.wilson@invensys.com

Rona Palmer, eMaint Enterprises, 856-810-2700, rona.palmer@emaint.com

Kevin Price, Infor, 866-244-5479, kevin.price@infor.com

 Jocelyn Facciotti, IMA Ltd., 519-688-3805, jocelyn.facciotti@imaltd.com