Is Your CMMS Working as Hard for You as It Could? The Unfortunate Answer Is “Probably Not!”

Is Your CMMS Working as Hard for You as It Could?

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems, or CMMS, are designed to streamline maintenance and extend the life of equipment. For many facilities, however CMMS never achieve management’s stated goals. Vast sums of money is spent on these advanced information processing and analytics platforms (also known as Preventive Maintenance Systems or Preventive Maintenance Software), only to have them be underutilized and even ignored or abandoned.

According to a survey conducted by Reliable Plant, 94.7% of plant maintenance managers feel they aren’t using their preventive maintenance technology to its maximum capability. In doing so, organizations aren’t just wasting their investments; they may be increasing maintenance time and expense, facilitating unplanned downtime and even reducing equipment life.

The questions then become, what’s causing the breakdown and how can you overcome it? As with any sophisticated technology, “big picture” issues like personnel resistance and a moribund plant culture can be major impediments to success with CMMS. However, there are many other issues that are faster fixes—or less overwhelming to contemplate.

If you are having problems with your CMMS’ effectiveness, don’t assume the issues are unsurmountable, or even endemic to every machine or operator. Most importantly, don’t start blaming the CMMS. Most of these systems can be very complex, and can incorporate features that are hard to master, but they are very rarely faulty in their own right. By focusing on the features that are most important, ensuring input going into the system is accurate, and training key stakeholders to master them, organizational leaders can reap astounding benefits.

Following are two of the prime factors in CMMS underutilization, incomplete or inaccurate results, or user rejection. In later articles, we’ll dig deeper into the specifics of overcoming impediments to CMMS success.

Technological Resistance

Users may be hesitant to adopt new technology, but everyone cannot reject it out of hand. Special features that reflect current personal technology—from mobile interfaces to timekeeping modules and a web request system—can encourage workers to embrace CMMS. Find the “technology evangelists” in your company and get them on board with sharing the news. 

Faulty Data Collection

Maintenance managers need good data to make informed decisions, and maintenance technicians are a critical link in the data collection chain. One of the most important steps a facility can take to optimize the value of its CMMS is to ensure technicians fully understand and embrace their role in data collection and input—and know how to fulfill that charge.

When implemented properly, CMMS platforms help facilities and management do more with less effort. They increase production capacity, reduce equipment failures, boost the bottom line and prove their worth many times over. Nevertheless, until the systems are fully implemented and widely embraced, those goals can remain elusive. Focusing on a few manageable challenges and overcoming them is an important step in achieving that outcome.

CMMS: A Case of
“Structural” Failure

PCA worked with a company that was finding productive utilization of its CMMS nearly impossible. After exploring the situation and the system’s database, our experts determined that the facility’s equipment hadn’t been properly tagged when it was entered in the CMMS. As a result, it was impossible to organize equipment elements (sections, subsections, components, parts, etc.) into a complete and accurate hierarchy within the database. That issue, in turn, prevented the system from achieving any level of granularity into the lifespans and failure rates of parts and components.

Without this data, the system could not effectively analyze data to determine, at a granular level, where problems were originating—and personnel could not take appropriate corrective preventive action. While properly tagging all equipment subcomponents and confirming accurate hierarchies wasn’t a quick exercise, it was a constructive fix that, conducted over time, eliminated the majority of errors in the CMMS.