Plant Maintenance Software Systems vs CMMS: A Comprehensive Breakdown of These Solutions

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Contrary to what many white-collar workers may believe, maintenance workers have incredibly tough jobs working with a variety of complex machines, properties and clients. To help these technicians get their jobs done faster and more effectively, software was introduced to the industry. Since then, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and plant maintenance software have both helped create safer and more efficient facilities. But how do you know which of these two kinds of maintenance and management solutions you need? This article will break down the differences between plant maintenance management and CMMS to help you make the best choice for your business.

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Plant Maintenance Software and CMMS

What Is Plant Management?

Like these other types of software, plant management software can often be sold under the umbrella term of CMMS or as a specialized module of a CMMS. Plant management is designed specifically for factories, manufacturing and power plants — anything that focuses on production. Because these types of plants have unique safety and maintenance needs, they might require a specialized plant maintenance software solution or an industry-specific CMMS.

What Is CMMS?

Computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) is an ecosystem of solutions that help users optimize their maintenance and asset management activities. Some of these activities include labor scheduling, preventive maintenance plans, asset maintenance, work orders, inventory management, contact management, communication, asset management, predictive maintenance, reporting, forecasting and more, depending on the system.

Types of CMMS

CMMS is a broad category that can include a range of other asset or maintenance management type systems. Many will go by both CMMS and the subcategory name. Some of these crossover or subcategory solutions include:

Enterprise Asset Management

EAM software (also known as fixed asset management software) offers many of the same modules and features as CMMS but tends to focus on physical assets such as machinery, equipment or vehicles. The main usage of this type of software is to extend asset lifespans, monitor asset conditions and gain insight into asset performance.

Historically, EAM was a broader, more advanced version of CMMS, but as CMMS has improved the distinction has begun to fade away in all but semantics. Some people use EAM and CMMS completely interchangeably, whereas others consider them completely separate software categories.

Computer-Aided Facility Management

Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) or regular old facility management (FM) are both subsets of CMMS that focus on the maintenance of a facility or multiple facilities. Features typically include some maintenance management, technician scheduling, maps or blueprints, property maintenance, room scheduling and resource allocation. Some CMMS solutions offer FM functionality, but most standalone FM platforms are narrower in scope and often cheaper in cost.

Asset Performance Management

APM is an emerging form of asset management that takes the features of EAM even further and with more technological advancements. It aims to improve visibility into and reliability of assets on every level in addition to reducing risk.

Property Management

Property maintenance, building maintenance or property management software focuses exclusively on the activities involved in maintaining properties such as commercial real estate (malls, office buildings, apartment complexes) or other facilities. Its main feature is maintenance scheduling and other preventive repair tasks like landscaping, cleaning, etc. Many CMMS solutions offer property management features, but many properties don’t require the full suite of features offered by most CMMS solutions, so a specialized property management solution makes more sense.

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Plant Management vs CMMS: The Similarities

It’s probably not a surprise that these two maintenance management systems have a lot in common, including many advantages users will experience from implementing them.

1. Asset Management

Their biggest similarity lies in their asset management capabilities. Whether the asset is a large piece of manufacturing equipment, a fleet of vehicles, a property or some other physical asset, the process of maintaining it through a combination of preventive maintenance and condition monitoring is universal. Both plant management and CMMS offer asset management functionality to keep your assets running at peak performance for as long as possible.

2. Work Order Management

Say goodbye to manual work orders.  Both software options include work order management features that automate the process of creating and completing work requests.  If you work in an industrial facility without a software solution in place, you’re probably familiar with some of the inefficient pains.

Some issues that maintenance software can solve include: finding authorization for work orders, assigning tasks, and holding workers accountable for completing tasks in a timely manner. Both plant maintenance management and CMMS handle all of this in a fraction of the time.  Instead of wasting days or potentially weeks filling out paperwork to get the official go-ahead, work orders can be processed and completed quickly.

3. Data Collection and Analysis

Both of these software solutions rely on the internet of things to facilitate both preventative and predictive maintenance. By connecting the facility’s machines and devices to the internet, they can collect and analyze data. Monitoring specific pieces of the asset lets users monitor the wear and tear on them and replace those parts when they wear out, rather than on a routine basis.

Both also help users gain insight into their maintenance metrics in order to better understand their operations, make more accurate budgets and hold their workforce accountable.

4. Anticipate Problems

Facility workers use this information to be proactive, rather than reactive, in asset management. The analyzed data helps workers schedule regular inspections and alerts them when a defect happens. In turn, costs get reduced and facilities experience better compliance with health and safety regulations.

Plant Management vs CMMS: The Differences

Plant maintenance software and CMMS are incredibly valuable software tools for most of the industrial fields. They certainly have their similarities, but their differences are what make them unique and powerful software solutions. Below are the top four features that distinguish the two:

1. Design and Construction

Both CMMS and plant management systems help run day-to-day facility operations. But plant management software also helps design and construct industrial facilities. This unique feature allows businesses to layout facilities with maximum efficiency in mind. In doing so, this helps businesses create the safest facility possible.

Compliance standards can be taken into consideration while setting up the facility so that maintaining it is easier in the long-run. All of this is pretty much the epitome of preventative maintenance, as problems can be avoided from the start. Plant management is significantly more specialized and focused than the broader CMMS.

2. Reporting Tools

Another feature of the more robust CMMS that may be lacking in plant management is a reporting or business intelligence feature. This functionality allows users to not only monitor their metrics but also forecast how those metrics will look in the future based on past and present data. It facilitates deeper business insights and data-driven business decisions.

3. Estimating Software

Estimating software is a module available in plant management software. This module is similar to the reporting and analytics capability mentioned above in that it predicts the future by using real-time data. In the case of estimating software, rather than customer behavior, it predicts labor and material costs.

This is a valuable resource for any company, as it gives them a baseline for what costs to expect. They can then plan accordingly to make sure they stay under-budget at all times. It is a more focused type of BI tool; like plant management vs CMMS, estimating software vs BI is a question of scale and scope.

4. Task Prioritization

With task prioritization capabilities, CMMS proves itself to be a powerful organizational tool. Task prioritization is another time-consuming process that is better left to automation. It’s fairly self-explanatory; the CMMS creates a list of tasks ordered from most to least important.

Outside of that, however, CMMS also helps ensure that you have the necessary inventory and labor to complete those tasks. If you don’t, it can help schedule them both so that every task on the list gets done. It all comes down to getting facility workers away from the paperwork and onto the maintenance as fast as possible.

The bottom line is that many organizations could benefit from either a CMMS or plant maintenance software solution almost equally. The only real differences are scope and specialty. Many manufacturing or other production facilities use a CMMS, others use a CMMS with plant management specialization, and others use specifically plant management software. The only way to know for sure which your organization will benefit most from is to explore the options and see what they have to offer.

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How to Select Plant Management Software or CMMS

You may have a better idea of which of these software types might be best for your organization, but the actual process of selecting and implementing one is intimidating. Follow these steps to get off to the best start in deciding between the two and finding the perfect option for your business:

Gather Requirements

To know what solution you need, you need to know which features you’ll use. This interactive requirements template will help you understand what each feature of CMMS does and whether you need a specialized plant management system.

Compare Vendors

Armed with a list of your crucial requirements, you’re prepared to compare vendors. This comparison matrix will help you compare different products based on their score for the requirements you identified as vital to your unique organization. Create a shortlist of the top five to seven performing products for the next step.

Request Pricing and Demos

Now you’re ready to get more information about the best-match solutions. To get an accurate price quote, you’ll have to submit an RFP to the shortlist you created in the previous step. This is also the time to request a demo or trial of the product to see if it can perform the functions you need and if it’s user-friendly enough for your needs.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re just starting out in the industrial business or about to set up a new facility, you may want to consider which of these maintenance management solutions are best for you. If you need help with design and estimation, look to plant management. If you need in-depth analytics and/or task prioritization, then you’ll want a CMMS. If you need all of these features, however, it’s not unheard of to adopt both!

Do you use a CMMS or a plant management solution? Tell us how they’ve changed your business for the better in the comments!

Bergen AdairPlant Maintenance Software Systems vs CMMS: A Comprehensive Breakdown of These Solutions

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