Implementing a CMMS System? Here are 5 Tips for a Successful Integration

by Emily on June 6, 2017

in Articles

A computerized maintenance management system CMMS can minimize maintenance costs like labor and parts. CMMS supports better predictive maintenance to reduce capital expenditures like equipment that wears out. And, when it is unsuccessfully integrated into the workplace, it becomes a burden on already overburdened maintenance personnel and a hindrance to getting the job done. Here are five tips for a successful CMMS integration.

Choose Software with the Scope You Require

Don’t select a CMMS system based on price alone. Select a system that provides the functionality you need, such as predictive maintenance based on runtime instead of simple calendaring, reporting that meets industry standards like those set by the ISO your facility may be required to follow, and document management, if that is an issue for your staff. Choose a CMMS system that runs with the resources you have, or else it will be a failure. Just as your production suffers when they run out of necessary supplies, you’ll see maintenance management fail if there are only two or three tablets with the necessary access to enter data to the CMMS.

Look at the maintainability of the CMMS system itself. Is it going to be maintained by the CMMS vendor, or will that work fall to you? How easy will it be to maintain the CMMS tool as operating systems on your servers or work computers change? If you use SAP or another ERP or MRP system, will the vendor keep up with those changes so that the links between the CMMS and other business systems aren’t broken?

Plan the Implementation

Plan the CMMS system implementation to eliminate as much work to be done by maintenance staff as possible. For example, someone other than your maintenance staff should enter the history of past repairs manually if the CMMS system cannot accept an import from whatever system currently contains that information. Don’t ask a tech to spend time scanning manuals and typing up work procedures, but instead have the user manuals and troubleshooting guides scanned and uploaded if not imported from your existing document management system.

Plan the implementation to not disrupt operations, such as bringing in extra talent or authorizing overtime so that maintenance staff can attend training on how to use the CMMS tool without sacrificing ongoing production needs.

Verify that the CMMS works as required, such as when it feeds data to external sources. A CMMS that says to order a “light bulb” or “bulb model number 1234” can yield very different results when purchasing is confused. The problem is compounded when purchasing doesn’t get clear results on part numbers, serial numbers, cage codes and vendor names. If the part information is maintained in the CMMS separately from your ERP/MRP system, determine who will be responsible for maintaining this critical information. Note – it isn’t the responsibility of the maintenance manager to keep up with the vendor drawing revision letters and serial numbers.
Determine who will do data entry into the CMMS on a routine basis. Will each tech enter their own completed work orders, or will someone in dispatch do this data entry? Who is responsible for running reports for management? Who will periodically review breakdown history and decide when you should stop repairing and plan on replacing equipment?

Integrate It Into Your Business Processes

Use of a CMMS system needs to be integrated into your business processes. For example, the checking of a CMMS system before assigning work and staff logging time worked and parts used at the end of the job (or as they are used) should be part of the standard process. If you instead continue using disparate scheduling and logistical tools and then add the extra burden of entering data into the CMMS, the CMMS system becomes a drag on productivity instead of a boon. Adjust your labor scheduling process to phase out paper and rely on the CMMS system’s assignments as well. Abandon paper checklists and use CMMS system data collection instead. Plan on how you’ll upload new user manuals and repair guides as new equipment is purchased. Review your onboarding procedures and modify them to include training on the CMMS system and adding them with the appropriate access level on the CMMS tool as part of their addition to the team.

Train Users Thoroughly

Software can actually be a hindrance if users are not thoroughly trained in how to use it. They need to know how to handle basic transactions like logging when they start and complete repairs and parts used. They need to know how to report exceptions, input notes and submit repair requests. They also need to know how to pull up reference documents and historical notes. Teach them how to reassign work orders when they don’t have time for it. If you haven’t already been using industry standard failure codes to record the reason for failure, teach your employees now how to select these codes and how to know when each one is correct. You don’t want to end up with reports saying two thirds of your failures are due to “other” reasons because that’s the easiest thing to select. Don’t forget training for managers like how to authorize overtime for maintenance staff or approving deviation waivers.

Integrate It Into Your MRP/ERP Software

The best CMMS system is integrated into your material requirements planning / enterprise resource planning system. This takes the form of a CMMS system that takes a planned maintenance schedule, compares the parts and supplies required against inventory and generates a purchase request for the additional supplies to arrive before they are needed. If the CMMS system doesn’t automatically feed these requirements to your inventory management and purchasing system, it should have an automated communication with humans who handle the purchases to minimize the load on the already burdened maintenance staff.

Conclusion

Choose the CMMS tool that does everything you need out of the box and plays well with other software applications it must interface with both now and over the long term. Plan how you will set up and implement the software, as well as how the CMMS tool will be maintained. Integrate use of the CMMS tool into your daily operations and your MRP/EPR system. Ensure that everyone from maintenance techs to purchasing assistance to maintenance managers know how to perform everything they will be expected to do on the system.

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