How to Improve Operations and Maintenance With CMMS

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An O&M (operations and maintenance) program is made up of an interconnected ecosystem of training, management, budgeting, maintenance and business practices that work together to run an organization. It involves the day-to-day operational activities necessary for a facility to function and for the workers inside it to perform their tasks. This guide will investigate the goals of operational maintenance plans, explain the scope of O&M, outline some best practices for creating an O&M plan for your organization and explore how CMMS software (computerized maintenance management) can elevate your maintenance operations.

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Improve Operations and Maintenance with CMMS

What Is Operational Maintenance?

Operations and maintenance management, operational management or O&M is the minor maintenance and care of assets that do not require in-depth technical knowledge of how that asset functions. Work that must be performed by a highly-skilled engineer or technician with specific knowledge of the equipment’s inner workings and design would fall under corrective or reactive maintenance — O&M is more general.

For example, performing oil changes on a vehicle fleet can be performed by technicians with a wide range of skill levels and would fall under operations and maintenance. Something more complex like a transmission replacement would likely be assigned to a more advanced technician and isn’t something you perform preemptively, so it would be categorized differently.

As a form of preventive maintenance, O&M can include any task that is done to upkeep equipment before an issue arises. Some of these tasks include:

  • Inspections
  • Cleaning
  • Minor part replacement
  • Lubrication
  • Minor upkeep
  • Fluid monitoring

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Goals of Operational Maintenance

Depending on the organization, specific goals will vary, but the general best practices of operations and maintenance are consistent across the board. Here’s a breakdown of those goals:

Protect Investments

Your facilities and equipment are first and foremost a significant organizational investment, and performing routine maintenance on them is a key element of keeping them in operating order. Nothing will derail a production facility like an unexpected catastrophic failure of a machine, and the best way to avoid that is to perform routine maintenance.

Preventive maintenance also extends the lifespan of equipment and assets, ensuring they last as long as possible and give you ROA. Keeping a very close eye on the state of your equipment will also help prepare you to budget for asset replacement when it does reach the end of its lifespan, protecting you from huge unplanned expenses and improving forecasting capabilities. O&M activities are considered low- or no-cost as they are performed in addition to technician’s other tasks, so it is also a cost-effective method for ensuring reliability, asset uptime and safety.

Optimize Labor Efficiency

A detailed preventive maintenance (PM) plan has the potential to completely change your maintenance department. Creating a long-term routine maintenance plan puts important tasks on the calendar in a tangible way, reducing the chances they will slip through the cracks. By planning these preventive tasks along a reasonable timeline well in advance, it also prevents techs from becoming overwhelmed with unexpected repairs at the last minute.

You can take these features to their fullest potential by utilizing a CMMS solution. CMMS allows users to generate digital schedules through a calendar interface, assign specific tasks to individual technicians, monitor work order requests and track productivity levels. It also lets users perform these tasks from a mobile device, freeing workers from being chained to a desktop when filling out work orders.

Optimize Asset Performance

Keeping an asset from breaking down is one thing, but routine maintenance also keeps it operating better when it’s operational. If a machine is running too hot, has noticeable friction, is leaking fluid or has any other kind of small issue, it can be easily overlooked without designated maintenance. Preventive maintenance tasks help keep assets running at peak performance and in peak condition, making them more efficient and profitable.

Promote Awareness and Accountability

A huge benefit of increased visibility into maintenance workflows is increased awareness and accountability throughout the organization. By enforcing standards of frequent maintenance and inspections, managers promote a greater familiarity with and awareness of assets. You can’t know a machine is making an unusual noise if you don’t know what it usually sounds like, so technicians can catch a large percentage of problems early by becoming more familiar with the asset.

By assigning tasks to specific technicians (rather than supplying a general pool of work that needs to be completed), managers create an atmosphere of accountability. If certain technicians consistently fall behind on scheduled tasks, managers can assess performance factors and make adjustments to ensure standards are realistic.

Reduce Downtime and Failures

Routine preventive maintenance is key to preventing unexpected asset downtime or catastrophic failure. This ties back to a variety of the previous benefits; increased awareness can help prevent sudden failure, routine maintenance keeps the equipment in better overall condition, optimized performance reduces wear and tear caused by negligence, and planned maintenance means that the majority of downtime is planned ahead of time and can be accounted for in budgeting or other managerial activities.

Increase Planned-to-Unplanned Maintenance Ratio

Planned maintenance percentage is a maintenance metric that managers can use to quantitatively measure technician team performance. It refers to the percentage of maintenance performed that is planned vs. unplanned. Tracking this metric helps management understand how much maintenance performed on an individual asset is preventive vs. reactive, which can help identify costs of upkeep and determine when an asset has reached the end of its lifespan.

To calculate this metric, use the formula Planned Percentage = (scheduled maintenance time / total maintenance hours) x 100. In an ideal system, 90% of maintenance is planned ahead of time and 10% occurs in response to an unexpected breakdown.

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Improve Safety

Another side effect of a successful O&M plan is better site safety. Regardless of your industry, stringent safety and cleanliness standards should play a big role in your facility management plan. If certain tasks (such as fire alarm battery replacement, janitorial tasks, trash removal, health inspections or other health and safety activities) seem to fall through the cracks consistently, adding them to your operations and maintenance schedule will help make them a priority. Keeping your site safe and clean ties directly to better worker efficiency and safety from liability costs, so its importance shouldn’t be underestimated.

How a CMMS Can Improve Your O&M

We briefly touched on this earlier, but CMMS is a big factor in operations and maintenance management so it deserves a deeper dive. Here are some ways that implementing a CMMS can improve your operations, maintenance and more:

Calendar Interface

Many CMMS offer an interactive, color-coded and/or collaborative calendar interface. This lets even non-technical users easily create tasks, plan short- and long-term schedules, see which technicians are available for different periods of time, and assign tasks to individual technicians. It streamlines these processes and centralizes management tasks in a single powerful hub.

Work Order Management

Word orders are the lifeblood of maintenance work, and CMMS makes WOM processes easy and efficient. Managers can set due dates, assign tasks and monitor work order progress through the pipeline. Users can also set the system to allow role-based access for any combination of roles, including guests, techs and administrators; this makes it easy for anyone who needs it to generate a work request, but only those with authority can mark it completed.

Energy Efficiency

CMMS offers meter monitoring and IoT features that help optimize energy efficiency. Smart devices can measure and monitor power usage for individual assets or the facility as a whole, helping managers identify areas that generate a lot of waste. Some systems can be programmed to turn lights, HVAC and other utilities on and off remotely, promoting a use-when-needed atmosphere.

Facility Management

Facility management, also known as FM or CAFM, is also a completely separate category of software, but CMMS often offers many of the same capabilities or similar ones in smaller modules. FM software coordinates all aspects of a physical workplace with the operations and people inside it. It works to optimize building maintenance, the operation of the business inside it, and the interactions between people and the building — keeping everything clean, safe and operating correctly.

All operations and maintenance plans should include aspects of facility management. Routine building maintenance like inspections, cleanings, repainting, etc. keeps the facility from falling into costly disrepair. Frequent cleaning ensures the facility is up to health and safety codes and creates a pleasant work environment for employees. Making these tasks an integral part of all O&M plans and facilitating them through CMMS is a powerful combination.

Inventory Management

If your facility stores spare parts, raw materials, finished products or any other kind of inventory, an inventory management system can change your operations for the better. CMMS also offers many of these capabilities, including barcode generation, spare part tracking, procurement/preorder, material management and stockroom level monitoring. Automating certain aspects of inventory management help streamline the procurement process of additional stock, automatically alert users when stock levels are low, prevent over-ordering and prevent theft or loss of valuable spare parts.

Asset Management

Enterprise asset management software is often used interchangeably with CMMS. But this term focuses specifically on asset management and monitoring. It facilitates preventive maintenance of physical assets, stores warranty information and owner’s manuals and helps improve asset uptime as well as extend asset lifespan.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is related to preventive maintenance, but instead of replacing parts on a routine basis, it relies on monitoring to replace parts when they are reaching the very end of their usefulness. It does this through condition monitoring, usually facilitated by sensors in software. For example, preventive maintenance would have a user replace a belt on a machine every six months regardless of the condition of the belt. It *usually* fails between six and eight months, so better safe than sorry.

Predictive maintenance would monitor the condition of the belt. If a certain temperature, pressure or thinness is reached, the system can alert users that it is nearly at a point of failure. This may happen at six months, but it might also happen at seven and a half, or eight, or even nine, which means you saved money on that part and still replaced it before it snapped and damaged the machine.

CMMS offers a wide range of systems, many of which include sophisticated tools for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance to help users get the most out of every part with confidence.

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Final Thoughts

While there are plenty of ways to orchestrate operations and maintenance tasks, a CMMS does them all from a single, centralized platform. It offers sophisticated technologies for streamlining and optimizing almost every aspect of O&M. To find out more about how to procure a CMMS for your organization, check out our requirements template, pricing guide and comparison matrix of the top CMMS providers or get in touch with us at 877.692.2896 or [email protected] for expert guidance in the software selection process.

Bergen AdairHow to Improve Operations and Maintenance With CMMS

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