A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can help food and beverage facility owners plan and schedule assets and labor to optimize overall plant efficiency and minimize downtime. But it can do much more. Due to a CMMS’s ability to track maintenance activities, it can provide proof to government regulators and quality auditors that necessary maintenance on critical processing components was performed properly, on time and with the desired results.

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Whether you’ve been keeping maintenance records on cards, in Excel files or a cobbled-together MS Access database, it’s time to step up to a full-fledged CMMS to manage maintenance as it’s supposed to be done. This includes meeting preventive maintenance (PM) schedules; monitoring equipment for faults; fixing issues before they occur; scheduling maintenance for work crew members; and knowing the status and availability of all your manufacturing equipment—just by looking at a screen. Best of all, CMMSs are now widely affordable, primarily because most of them are available in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) format on the cloud. So, you can get as much CMMS as you need now and add more modules to meet future requirements.

You probably already use an ERP system and, possibly, a shop floor (MES) system, as well. An ERP system can include some or all of the modules as a CMMS. But connecting it to a dedicated CMMS can create a flexible maintenance- and asset-management system, with the ERP tracking the business aspects of maintaining the company’s assets.

In addition, when the CMMS is connected to a shop floor MES, it can acquire input from equipment on the floor, regarding planned maintenance and condition-based monitoring (CBM) that predicts when a piece of equipment will need maintenance prior to outright failure.

What a CMMS can do

With a CMMS, large processors can tie together the maintenance activities of more than just one facility. For smaller facilities, a CMMS provides many capabilities that are necessary to be competitive and meet customer demands.

“An effective CMMS makes problems visible and schedules [maintenance] activities and issues in a real-time, transparent manner,” says Keith Barr, president and CEO of Leading2Lean. “It also can organize problems in a prioritized way for the right people to take action. [But] a CMMS shouldn’t be hidden away in a computer. It should be visible and accessible to everyone in the plant. This creates a sustainable culture of transparency, accountability and real-time problem-solving.”

A CMMS contains a database of manufacturing equipment (assets) along with the PM schedules, maintenance and safety procedures, and the parts required to keep things running, says Christopher LeBeau, director, information technology, at Advanced Technology Services (ATS), Inc. “Specific to food and beverage processors is the ability [of a CMMS] to track auditable maintenance activities related to product quality and safety.”

A CMMS can schedule, plan, manage and track maintenance systems to streamline work, increase efficiency, improve productivity and maintain compliance with strict health and safety regulations, states Rona Palmer, eMaint Enterprises marketing director. It also allows users to associate tasks and parts to critical assets—to view what work is being completed; what materials are being used; and what work is upcoming on a calendar.

“With a CMMS, organizations are empowered to develop an asset history, track trends, pinpoint troublesome areas and make data-driven decisions,” adds Palmer. A CMMS also helps organizations ensure visibility and standardization throughout all departments and across multiple facilities.

The heart of a good CMMS is a work order system that builds an equipment history. Key functionality includes tracking corrective and preventive maintenance, as well as resource planning for parts and available manpower to ensure equipment is properly maintained in a timely manner. The CMMS allows the maintenance team to create, assign and schedule work orders that are generated from the PM routines and manage the usage of inventory and parts for those jobs, explains Phillip Thiel, SOMAX manager of marketing.

“The size of your organization doesn’t really matter; what matters is whether you want to preserve your assets to minimize their downtime,” says Paul Lachance, Smartware Group president. In fact, having a CMMS is more important for small processors with fewer assets than large manufacturers that have redundancy and can shift assets to get product out the door when maintenance issues threaten to shut down a line.

Fortunately, the technology is scalable in terms of cost, notes Lachance. “In the CMMS world, there are very small and ultra-inexpensive [CMMS] solutions for super-small manufacturers. I’m an advocate of CMMS, even if you just use spreadsheet solutions. You must track your maintenance and automate that process, because you need your assets to perform at optimal efficiency and with minimal downtime.”

“A CMMS is essential for managing scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of capital assets, like facilities, plants and equipment,” offers Jeff O’Brien, director of client services for Maintenance Assistant. For example, CMMS software can:

  • Standardize maintenance best practices across the organization. When standard processes in an organization are established, quality and reliability increase while variations and costs decrease.
  • Minimize food scrap. In addition to productivity loss, a system breakdown can create major food waste, which must be scrapped or reworked.
  • Reduce energy consumption. Adhering to schedules and keeping systems in like-new condition result in efficiently operating equipment.
  • Improve worker safety. CMMS software triggers important safety checks on a predetermined schedule, helping employees stay safe by reducing the chance of injuries due to negligence.

Hardware requirements are down

What hardware is required to operate a CMMS will depend on the individual organization; its approach to maintenance; its vision for improvement; and its view of cloud computing, says Mike Stone, Infor EAM product manager. The cost of equipment downtime and production losses will ultimately drive the final decision.

In the past, most CMMS software ran onsite. “At the very least, an on-premises IT configuration for CMMS included a server to house the application software, and its database was integrated with a network requiring workstations and printers to be appropriately positioned in the maintenance offices,” recalls Stone. Today, CMMS application software and its database may be separated onto different servers, if the organization is large and has many users. With a plant wireless network, technicians can use tablets and smartphones to receive assigned work orders, provided the CMMS supports them, says Stone.

“Today’s assets are much more technologically advanced,” says Lachance. Many machines feature embedded technology, so the OEM and/or food processor can obtain a variety of information about their status.

“So, we are crossing over into the predictive area—this concept of conditioned-based monitoring,” Lachance adds. Many of these machines can monitor themselves and, when there is a problem, forward a message to the CMMS, so the appropriate people can be contacted.

With today’s cloud computing, IT hardware needs are simpler. Often, all an organization needs are workstations (desktop computers, laptops, tablets, etc.) connected to the Internet, observes Infor’s Stone. “Vendors that provide CMMS solutions in the cloud handle all the security, the application and the database servers. Plus, they perform backups and apply new releases and patches to the application.”

Connecting the CMMS to manufacturing equipment

“Most CMMSs can be integrated into enterprise networks and communication infrastructures to provide and accept data and alerts from OEM equipment,” says Jay Ratliff, senior solutions consultant, AssetPoint Inc., a division of Aptean.

“Integration with an OEM system allows the CMMS to receive information about conditions or events that are significant to maintenance personnel,” explains ATS’s LeBeau. Work orders and notifications can then be automatically generated, minimizing the time required for technicians to take the appropriate actions.

“A CMMS can be interfaced with equipment or machines through API [application programming interface] connectivity to machine controllers,” according to Dave Trice, Intelligrated senior director, business development, lifecycle support services. “The ability to track runtime and faults on equipment in the field, triggering work orders in real time, is very valuable.”

“Through our API, the CMMS and any connected equipment can ‘talk’ to each other, and the equipment can directly notify the system when it is due for PM,” says Maintenance Assistant’s O’Brien.

“With sensors and Internet of Things [IoT] devices becoming much more commonplace, streaming condition data from equipment is becoming a more popular practice,” says SOMAX’s Thiel. “CMMSs can monitor equipment continuously and alert users to any abnormal conditions or issues before they become problems. Advanced CMMSs also can make recommendations and provide instructions on what should be done to troubleshoot or repair the issue. As more devices are connected to the IoT and are continuously monitored, traditional preventive maintenance routines will become less necessary.”

Getting ready for CMMS

Most CMMSs have the ability to import data from Excel or other spreadsheets, ERP systems and MESs. “If all your parts or assets are in Excel, that information can be imported,” says Lachance. “The bigger challenge is making sure all that data you bring into a [CMMS] product like Bigfoot is mapped correctly to your operation.”

Usually, there is help, if you need it. “The eMaint CMMS offers services to convert data from legacy CMMSs, third-party ERP applications and spreadsheets,” says Rona Palmer. These services include data extraction consultation, data evaluation and analysis, mapping consultation and support, and assistance with the installation of both test run and final run sets of data.

With some CMMSs, existing tools and APIs can be used to import data. “You can import existing data into the Maintenance Assistant [MA] CMMS using the import tool,” says O’Brien. Depending on how much data you have, this can take from a few hours to a couple of days to complete.

CMMS data also can be exported from existing systems into spreadsheets and imported into the CMMS, says AssetPoint’s Ratliff. “When a more complete data and process system history needs to be retained, conversion database scripts may be required to achieve the appropriate level of data transfer. A data ‘cleansing’ or ‘vetting’ process is always recommended to ensure you transfer only the necessary information that meets the needs of the business processes and objectives for the new process and system going forward.”

Give CMMS in the cloud a test flight

Cloud-based CMMS applications offer the same level of functionality as traditional on-premises systems, but with a number of additional benefits:

  1. Faster setup—With cloud-based CMMS software, you can be up and running in 60 seconds. Plus, once you register, you get instant access to your system.
  2. No IT-related costs—Cloud-based CMMS software is hosted on the vendor's servers, so you save on server hardware, maintenance, power consumption and cooling infrastructure; backup servers; operating system licensing; network configuration; and IT support. Plus, you can use your existing IT infrastructure, like computers, tablets and mobile phones.
  3. Access anywhere—Cloud-based CMMS software can be accessed from any internet-connected device, anywhere in the world.
  4. Mobile—Many CMMSs run on both Android and iOS devices, so they don’t require expensive and limited handheld devices to run.
  5. System updates—Software updates introduce new features, improvements and workflows that continually increase efficiency. Upgrades also introduce patches, hot fixes and security updates that address any bugs in the system. With cloud-based software, updates are included in the subscription and happen automatically.
  6. Managed database—With on-premises CMMS software, you have to back up your database to another server on a regular basis. With cloud-based CMMS software, managed backups are included, and the providers store the data on servers in multiple locations.
  7. Database security—With a cloud-based CMMS, the responsibility of protecting your data rests with the CMMS vendors or their hosting provider. They are responsible for anti-virus updates, secure logins and data encryption.
  8. 24/7 monitoring—Cloud-hosted CMMS applications reside on servers that are monitored around the clock.

Source: Maintenance Assistant.

ERP and MES connections

When a CMMS is connected to an ERP system, each of them typically handles specific tasks, according to Infor’s Stone. For example, ERP normally is used for purchase orders, receiving, invoice matching and supplier payments, while a CMMS is often the system of record for requisitions, MRO inventory, inventory adjustments and employee time reporting. Some CMMS solutions also provide for maintenance schedule integration with production planning systems or MESs to ensure equipment is available when maintenance is scheduled, to minimize the impact on production schedules, adds Stone.

CMMSs, ERPs and MESs share some natural synergies and dependencies, and by integrating them, an organization can achieve higher availability, capacity and quality than with just one of them, says Ratliff. For example, integrating a CMMS with an ERP can streamline the procurement of repair parts and facilitate the accurate identification of costing information, allowing for minimal manual intervention and delays.

On the other hand, when used together, an MES can consistently monitor the operating conditions of assets and automatically alert the CMMS to maintenance needs that otherwise would result in equipment downtime, explains Ratliff. This integration allows an organization to manage a preventive maintenance program that more closely aligns to the operating characteristics of individual equipment, rather than relying on general timeframes for performing necessary maintenance.

However, comprehensive integration does require a little homework. It begins with understanding what information is required from the systems to support maintenance and what maintenance information has value to those other systems, says ATS’s LeBeau. “If the information required on either side is transactional, the frequency of updates between the two systems needs to be determined. Is it immediate, hourly, daily, weekly, etc.? Once the needs and frequency are determined, the technical integration details can be worked out between the systems.”

“Integrating an ERP system with a CMMS generally revolves around the purchasing and receiving of spare parts and/or outside services,” says SOMAX’s Thiel. These interfaces are usually tailored for each company to meet its specific needs.

“An eMaint CMMS can be interfaced with an ERP or MES, so labor and manufacturing data can be shared between third-party ERP and MES corporate systems, such as SAP and Oracle, among others,” says Palmer. “This integration makes it seamless to automate asset, procurement and parts inventory management.”

To determine how a CMMS ties in with an enterprise asset management (EAM) system, a processor must check for any overlapping functionality and define what functions are necessary. EAM systems and/or scheduling systems often tie into a CMMS through the CMMS’s work order scheduling features, says Infor’s Stone. “Once maintenance supervisors are satisfied with the proposed schedule, it is updated into the asset management and/or scheduling systems, where schedule adjustments are made and communicated back to the CMMS.”

“The central function of a CMMS is asset management,” says Intelligrated’s Trice. “The implementation should be configured with key objectives in mind to account for ROI, asset depreciation, obsolescence, total cost of ownership and capital replacement plans. A robust CMMS can allow operations to schedule work orders based on automated maintenance schedules, and the user-friendly scheduling of resources, to help with lean budgeting and ensure the proper amount of staff.”

Quantifiable results

Planning and installing a CMMS cannot be done in a vacuum. “Successful CMMS implementations require integration with a customer’s business processes, combined with solid end-user training and OEM support,” offers Trice. “A clear, thorough implementation requires a set scope and defined expectations; standard implementation processes to ensure quality and consistency; and customized reporting and key performance indicators [KPIs] to meet business objectives.”

The successful implementation of a CMMS provides a number of benefits. “[For instance,] a salmon processing plant in Scotland has passed 85 audits in a row since signing up for the Maintenance Assistant CMMS in 2011,” says Jeff O’Brien. “Prior to 2011, it failed customer audits on a regular basis.”

On average, food and beverage companies that use the eMaint CMMS achieve a 75 percent reduction in cycle count time, a 30 percent decline in parts inventory, 75 percent fewer reactive work orders and a 140 percent increase in proactive work orders.

Headquartered in Pennsylvania, Keystone Foods employs Infor’s EAM/CMMS solution to manage work orders and associated labor; provide visibility into inventory throughout the company; offer system access from anywhere; ensure database security; and avoid application and server compatibility issues. The system integrates production, maintenance and inventory data with financial data to determine which of its 50 inventory stores throughout the world and seven facilities in the US have specific parts and how many each has used over a specific period of time. The processor has over 1 million work orders in EAM and generates over 155,000 PM work orders a year for its 18 maintenance departments. “Keeping track of these orders and assigned people is easier with the visibility we get from this one solution,” says Jimmie Ellington, Keystone Foods project manager.

Implementing CMMS at West Liberty Foods

After implementing a LeanDISPATCH CMMS engine from Leading2Lean—a supplier of CMMS, MES, manufacturing operations management (MOM) and quality management systems—West Liberty Foods realized a number of key improvements. Chad Williams, West Liberty Foods corporate maintenance director, shares some of these.

  1. We did incur some cost in getting wireless coverage for the cloud solution, as well as some custom integration. But we were able to easily justify this cost, and our great IT folks resolved any security concerns.
  2. Our maintenance teams are better able to achieve our world-class standard, and they appreciate not needing to carry around a stack of papers all week.
  3. Our real-time reporting system offers us the visibility to determine the ratio of time utilized to perform tasks, compared to the time allotted for them, and utilization data we can trust. With the system, we achieved 88.5 percent utilization last year, and we believe we’ll achieve 90-92 percent next year.
  4. Before installing the system, our average turnover was around 20 percent. For the last two years, we’ve averaged closer to 10 percent. I attribute this improvement to, in part, how the system has shifted our culture to one of greater transparency, accountability and engagement for our employees on the plant floor.
  5. West Liberty Foods has grown by more than 35 percent over the last two years, but the maintenance overhead costs have not increased to the same extent.
  6. The system gives visibility into our manufacturing process and the ability to drill down to issues, allowing us to put into place an effective preventive and predictive maintenance schedule.
  7. The CMMS allows us to have better control of spares and to know where our money is being spent, helping us come in under budget each of the last two years and realizing roughly $2 million in savings over the same period.
  8. We use specific chemicals, ammonia refrigeration and isolation in our food-safety process. The CMMS offers easy, clear visibility into this process and helps us meet USDA requirements.

For more information:

Keith Barr, Leading2Lean, 877-225-5201,
keith@leading2lean, www.leading2lean.com

Christopher LeBeau, Advanced Technology Services, Inc., 309-693-4000,
info@advancedtech.com, www.advancedtech.com

Rona Palmer, eMaint Enterprises, 239-494-8928,
rona.palmer@emaint, www.emaint.com

Phillip Thiel, SOMAX, 404-642-0849,
phillip.thiel@somax.com, www.somax.com

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

Jeff O’Brien, Maintenance Assistant, 855-506-2116,
Jeffrey.obrien@maintenanceassistant.com, www.maintenanceassistant.com

Mike Stone, Infor EAM, 800-260-2640,
mike.stone@infor.com, www.infor.com

Jay Ratliff, AssetPoint Inc., a division of Aptean, 864-679-3500,
jay.ratliff@aptean.com, www.assetpoint.com