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What is CMMS?
CMMS is software that is used to schedule and record operation and preventive/planned maintenance activities associated with facility equipment. The CMMS can generate and prioritize work orders and schedules for staff to support "trouble" calls and to perform periodic/planned equipment maintenance. Upon completion of a work order, performance information, such as the date work was performed, supplies/inventory, and manhours expended, typically is loaded into the database for tracking, to support future operations/planning.
Not to confuse CMMS with a Computer-aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system, consider a patient room in a hospital, e.g, ensuring that the Nurse Call System in the room is "properly inspected, maintained, and repaired" is a CMMS activity. "Knowledge" about the medical department staff; specific patient(s) in the room; the room's contents (phones, TVs, beds–including whether they are moved from room-to-room); and equipment hook-ups (electrical, oxygen, communications, etc.) relate to CAFM activities. CMMS and CAFM systems continue to merge into Integrated Work Order Management Systems (IWOMS).
CMMS are used by facilities maintenance organizations to record, manage, and communicate their day-to-day operations. The system can provide reports used in managing the organization's resources, preparing facilities key performance indicators (KPIs)/metrics to use in evaluating the effectiveness of the current operations, and for making organizational and personnel decisions. In today's maintenance world, the CMMS is an essential tool for recording work requirements, tracking the status of the work, and analyzing the recorded data in order to manage the work, produce reports, and help control costs. Facility professionals use tools to manage the planning and day-to-day operations and maintenance activities required for a single facility or a large complex. These tools also provide all of the information required to manage the work, the work force, and the costs necessary to generate management reports and historical data.
The goal of a maintenance manager is to employ a management system that optimizes the use of valuable resources (manpower, equipment, material, and funds) to maintain facilities and equipment. The system should provide for integrated processes, giving the manager control over the maintenance of all facilities and maintainable equipment from acquisition to disposal. The system should:
- Address all resources involved,
- Maintain maintenance inventory,
- Record and maintain work history,
- Include work tasks and frequencies,
- Accommodate all methods of work accomplishment,
- Effectively interface and communicate with related and supporting systems, ranging from work generation through work performance and evaluation,
- Support each customer's mission,
- Ensure communication with each customer,
- Provide feedback information for analysis, and
- Reduce costs through effective maintenance planning.
A modern CMMS meets these requirements and assists the facilities maintenance manager with work reception, planning, control, performance, evaluation, and reporting. Such a system will also maintain historical information for management use. The manager should evaluate management data requirements and establish electronic data needs prior to acquiring a new CMMS or additions to/replacement of an existing system. The evaluation should include a return on investment (ROI) analysis before investing in additional or new CMMS capabilities. The manager should only acquire what is necessary to accomplish the maintenance organization's goals. The following paragraphs include details of capabilities that may be included in a modern CMMS.
A. Operating Locations
The CMMS may include an application that allows an operator to enter and track locations where equipment operates and organize these locations into logical hierarchies or network systems. Work orders can then be written either against the location itself or against the equipment in the operating location. Using operating locations allows for the tracking of the equipment's lifecycles (history) and provides the capability to track the equipment's performance at specific sites.
The CMMS may include a module that allows an operator to keep accurate and detailed records of each piece of equipment. This module would include equipment-related data, such as bill of material, Preventive Maintenance (PM) schedule, service contracts, safety procedures, measurement points, multiple meters, inspection routes, specification data (name plate), equipment downtime, and related documentation. This equipment data is used for managing day-to-day operations and also as historical data that can be used to help make cost-effective "replace or repair" decisions. The data can also be used to develop additional management information, such as building equipment downtime failure code hierarchies for use in maintenance management metrics.
The CMMS may include a separate module to track labor resources. This module typically includes records for all maintenance personnel, including their craft or trade categories, such as mechanic, electrician, or plumber. Additionally, this module may include labor rates in order to capture and track true labor costs against any asset or piece of equipment. Some CMMS will allow maintenance managers to also track skill levels and qualifications for each resource to help in planning and scheduling work. Grouping labor categories into common associations can help a manager assign work to particular shop rather than an individual.
D. Safety Plans
With the emphasis placed on safety throughout Government and industry, a capability for safety plans/planning may be included in a CMMS. The following capabilities should be available:
- Manual or automatic safety plan numbering.
- Building safety plans for special work.
- Tracking hazards for multiple equipment and locations.
- Associating multiple precautions to a hazard.
- Tracking hazardous materials for multiple equipment and locations.
- Ability to reference hazards and precautions once they are entered into the system.
- Tracking ratings for health, flammability, reactively, contact, and Material Safety Data Sheets for hazardous materials.
- Defining lock-out/tag-out procedures.
- Defining tag identifications for specific equipment and locations.
- Defining safety plans for multiple equipment or locations.
- Viewing and linking documents.
- Associating safety plans to job plans, preventative maintenance masters, and work orders.
- Ability to print safety plans automatically on work orders.
- Allowing tag-out procedures to be associated to hazards or directly to locations, equipment, and safety plans or work orders.
E. Inventory Control
An inventory control module may be included to allow an operator to track inventory movement, such as items being moved in or out of inventory or from one location to another. Stocked, non-stocked, and special order items could be tracked. The module should also have the capability for tracking item vendors, location of items, item cost information, and the substitute or alternate items that can be used if necessary. Some CMMS recommend and provide the ability to track tools and provide basic tool-room management features as part of the inventory module. This feature allows work planners to see what tools are in stock and assign tools to various work categories to reduce research effort by mechanics and technicians working in the field.
F. Work Request
A work request module should be an integral part of a CMMS. The module can provide the capability for a requestor to input the request, such as a trouble call, or it can be entered by the maintenance organization's work control. The data entry screen should be designed to need only minimal data entry; a requester should be able to enter minimal data, and work control can enter additional information as required. Data should be entered once, and pop-up tables in the system should eliminate the need to memorize codes. The work order number can be assigned manually or automatically.
G. Work Order Tracking
A CMMS must include work order tracking which is the heart of a work order system. Again, the data should require entry only once, and pop-up tables should eliminate the need to memorize codes. The tracking system should provide instant access to all of the information needed for detailed planning and scheduling, including work plan operations, labor, materials, tools, costs, equipment, blueprints, related documents, and failure analysis. Of course, this is dependent on how many modules are installed and how much information has been entered in the system. The manager must evaluate data requirements and the practicality of adding modules.
H. Work Management
A work management module may be a part of the CMMS. The module could provide the capability that would let a planner specify which labor personnel to apply to specific work orders and when. The module permits planning and dispatching.
- Planning—In planning, labor assignments would be planned for future shifts. Each person's calendar availability would be considered when the assignments are made. The assignments would be created sequentially over the shift, filling each person's daily schedule with priority work for the craft. It could even split larger jobs over multiple shifts automatically.
- Dispatching—In dispatching, labor assignments would be carried out as soon as possible. This system could begin tracking labor time from the instant the assignment is made. The system operator could interrupt work already in progress to reassign labor resources to more crucial work.
I. Quick Reporting
The CMMS could provide a rapid and easy means for opening, reporting on, and closing work orders, and reporting work on small jobs after-the-fact. Labor, materials, failure codes, completion date, and downtime could all be reported.
J. Preventive Maintenance
The following capabilities may be provided in a CMMS to manage a Preventive Maintenance (PM) program:
- Supporting multiple criteria for generating PM work orders. If a PM master has both time-based and meter-based frequency information, the program should use whichever becomes due first, and then update the other.
- Generating time-based PM work orders based upon last generation or last completion date. Next due date and job plans should be displayed.
- Permitting and tracking PM extensions with adjustments to next due date.
- Triggering meter-based PM by two separate meters.
- Printing sequence job plans when wanted.
- Creating a PM against an item so new parts have PM automatically generated on purchase.
- Specifying the number of days ahead to generate work orders from PM masters that may not yet have met their frequency criteria.
- Consolidating weekly, monthly, and quarterly job plans on a single master.
- Assigning sequence numbers to job plans to tell the system which job plan to use when a PM work order is generated from a PM master.
- Permitting overriding of frequency criteria in order to generate PM work orders whenever plant conditions require.
- Routing PM with multiple equipment or locations.
- Generating work orders in batch or individually for only the equipment specified.
- Capability to be used with the system scheduler to forecast resources and budgets.
A utilities module that contains detailed information on utilities consumption, distribution, use, metering, allocation to users, and cost may be included. It could include modeling capability and linkage to utility control systems.
L. Facility/Equipment History
A history module that would contain the maintenance histories of the facilities and equipment may be included. It would contain summaries of PM, repairs, rehabilitation, modifications, additions, construction, and other work affecting the configuration or condition of the items. It would include completed and canceled work orders. The maintenance history records can be used to support proactive maintenance techniques such as root-cause failure analysis and reliability engineering.
A mature CMMS may also include a purchasing module to initiate the requisition of material against a work order and track the delivery and cost data of the material when it arrives. This capability will allow the maintenance manager improved visibility of matters that can impact work planning and efficiency. Procuring required material outside the CMMS can often leave information gaps that can inhibit the effectiveness of work execution and result in redundant parts orderings and non-standard procurement practices. The purchasing module may include many functions, such as a vendor master catalog, invoicing, purchase orders, receiving, and even request for quotations.
N. Facilities Maintenance Contracts
A CMMS may contain a contracts module that includes information on maintenance contracts. With other database files, it provides a picture of each contractor's past performance, current loading, and planned work. It could include information on specifications, Government furnished property, quality assurance, payment processing, delivery orders issued, schedules, and related matters. It could cover both contracts for facilities maintenance and support services.
O. Key Performance Indicators (KPI)/Metrics
The CMMS can be utilized to accumulate the data for KPIs for use in evaluating the organization's maintenance program. The maintenance management organization must select the metrics to utilize in establishing their goals and in measuring progress in meeting those goals. The importance of Selecting the Right Key Performance Indicators cannot be overstated. The KPIs must be based on data that can be obtained and provide meaningful information that will be utilized in managing the organization.
P. Specialized Capabilities and Features
Some CMMS providers have also developed specialized capabilities and features for particular business sectors, functions, or requirements. Maintenance managers today can use their CMMS to track transportation and fleet inventory, including maintenance history, mileages, lease terms, rates, and accounting data. Other managers are using their CMMS to track deployed assets, such as computers and other IT equipment. Through their CMMS, they track changes, additions, and movement of equipment, including software inventory on computers, tablets, and smart phones. When selecting a CMMS; consider the full scope of asset management options, with a focus on consolidated IT solutions.
A CMMS can be used to manage simple or complex facilities, from a single building to a complete campus. A CMMS can also be used to manage the maintenance program for a grouping of equipment such as a fleet of vehicles. The systems are very versatile, as most are in modular form for various maintenance functions and can be customized to fit the particular application. Whatever system or set of modules are selected for use, careful consideration needs to be given to functional requirements and a sound deployment plan. The CMMS must meet the needs, constraints, and opportunities of the business and be implemented in a way that users will welcome the technology and have a vision for the benefits it brings. Proper configuration, testing, and training cannot be over emphasized when bringing a new CMMS or upgrading an existing system to an organization.
Before procuring and implementing a CMMS, it's critical to determine how the system is to be an asset and a usable tool in the management of an organization's day-to-day maintenance and operations.
General Considerations (Do's)
Understand the other systems used by your organization with which the CMMS will have to interface, such as financial and geospatial systems, and ensure that this interface can be easily managed. Users and managers of these systems, including the IT group, should be involved in developing the CMMS.
When considering a new system, make sure that the data from the existing system can be easily and accurately transferred.
Look for full support from the vendor during installation and testing. Ensure that this includes ample training of the organization's staff in both operating the system and how to maximize the benefit of the information within the system. The vendor should impart a clear understanding of what the system can and cannot do, as well as annual maintenance and upgrade costs.
Potential Pitfalls (Don'ts)
- Do not go into the selection of a system without a clear definition of requirements: What you expect it to do and how it is to meet your specialized needs. Also, have a clear understanding of what metrics you want your CMMS to produce and what the work process is for your organization. You may want to bring in outside professional guidance experienced in CMMS but not associated with any particular vendor or system.
- Do not try to develop a CMMS in-house. You will spend an inordinate amount of time and money designing a system that is likely already available on the market. There are many vendors of good off-the-shelf systems that have the advantage of years in developing and improving systems for other similar clients.
- Do not make your CMMS your primary payroll and accounting system. Remember that it is a work management system that requires data relating to time and costs (thus interfacing with your financial systems) but it should not be the system that employees rely on to get paid, otherwise it will get tied up every two weeks with payroll time entry.
- Do not get locked into a structure for which it is difficult to enter data or that lacks the necessary flexibility to be upgraded or modified. Consider who will be entering the data and their computer skills. The CMMS should have the flexibility to accept data from multiple sources and media, and ease of data entry will improve its accuracy and the resulting output. Also, the system should be flexible enough to allow the transfer of data during the design and construction phases of a project, e.g. Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie).
- If you are considering replacing your existing system, do not get locked to "lost costs." Don't fall for the logic that what you have now is not doing the job but you have too much time and money invested in it to change. Consider only the time and cost to correct your existing system to meet your needs versus what a new system would cost.
- Do not limit yourself to looking at only one system early in the selection process. Develop a short list and "road test" each product. Establish rating criteria and score the actual performance of each candidate.
- Do not be the Beta test. Look for systems that have a proven track record with agencies similar to yours. Avoid unneeded complexity.
Failure of CMMS implementations is a continuing problem voiced by industry experts, and avoiding the pitfalls in decision-making about implementing or modifying CMMS in a maintenance organization means research must be a high priority. Conduct a thorough management study of the system to evaluate how it would be used in your organization and to determine the costs/benefits. Not all maintenance organizations require the use of a complete set of CMMS modules. Those that have implemented CMMS programs without adequate study typically fail to use the capabilities incorporated in the software and may eventually view the program as a failure.
CMMS would benefit significantly from a standardized asset identification system, in which each piece of equipment or building component is given an identification number common to all facilities throughout an organization. The General Services Administration (GSA) has such a system called the Government Asset Identification System. It uses National CAD Standards acronyms to identify assets and cross references CAD acronyms with Omniclass. If Government agencies adopt National CAD and Omniclass standards to identify their assets, they will expect to reduce costs, improve information for executive decisions, increase operational efficiency, and integrate facility management with new and existing technologies.
The most notable emerging issue is the implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is an enabler that vastly improves the quality of information available to all facility tools. Information collected during design and construction can and should be used to commission facilities and validate performance. That model information can then be used to ensure the facility continues to perform as intended. A BIM can support all the applications identified earlier in this article. The National BIM Standard-United States™ provides the open formats which allow information to be captured and used by most CMMS tools. In fact, seeking out products that do support these open standards can minimize data lock with any specific vendor.
Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)
The Internet provides a wealth of information for use in making CMMS implementation decisions. One site offering this type of information is reliabilityweb.com. This online resource is designed to provide the CMMS end user community with information, resources and education relating to preplanning purchases and making effective use of computerized maintenance management systems.
In evaluating the acquisition of a CMMS or adding to or replacing an existing CMMS an ROI should be performed to obtain data to justify the acquisition. An ROI calculator to determine an organizations potential savings from an improved management of their maintenance program is available at the following locations:
- APPA Maintenance and Operation Standards
- Business Industrial Network's CMMS ROI calculator
- FEMP Operations and Maintenance Best Practices Guide by the Department of Energy (DOE)—Chapter 4: Computerized Maintenance Management System
- Reliability-Centered Maintenance Guide (RCM) Guide by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The following provide links to some company web sites that offer CMMS software. There are many others that can be found on the Internet with a "CMMS" search.
- AFE: Association for Facilities Engineering
- International Facility Management Association (IFMA)
- SAE International
- The Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP)
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) hosts the Facilities Maintenance and Operations Committee (FMOC). An FMOC presentation describes the Government Asset Identification System.