Free vs paid equipment maintenance software: Which one is best?

Cloud software is on the rise in the manufacturing industry. Here are some numbers from IndustryWeek to back up that claim:

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There’s a reason for this rapid adoption of cloud-based software—it has a huge advantage over traditional, on-premise systems. From cost to security, flexibility, and even sustainability, cloud software is quickly overtaking on-premise technology.

Maintenance teams are also recognizing the advantages of cloud-based equipment maintenance software. More and more, they’re replacing old systems with cloud-based solutions that allow them to plan maintenance, track work, and measure performance.

But after decades of being tied to computer terminals and using Excel, whiteboards, and Post-it notes to manage maintenance, it can be tough to justify the cost of a cloud-based computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Luckily, many equipment maintenance software vendors offer free versions of their systems.

This guide will help you determine what equipment maintenance software is best for your team right now and into the future, including:

  • The pros and cons of free CMMS software and paid CMMS software
  • When you should use free CMMS software vs. investing in a paid solution
  • When to make the jump from a free CMMS to a paid version
  • How to justify the change from free to paid to your manager

Pros and cons of free vs. paid equipment maintenance software

The three key elements that separate free and paid CMMS software are functionality, implementation, and support. Looking deeper into each category will uncover where the strengths and weaknesses lie in both types of equipment maintenance software.

1. Functionality

The functionality of equipment maintenance software is the features available to you and the way you can use them. For example, setting up scheduled maintenance in your CMMS is a functionality. There are two ways functionality differs between free equipment maintenance software and paid software.

The first is that a free CMMS often has less functionality. You’re able to do basic actions, like create maintenance schedules, dashboards, and asset logs. But you miss out on more sophisticated features, like building reports, creating e-signatures on closed work orders, and generating failure codes.

The second difference is that free software often has limits on its functionality that paid software doesn’t. For example, you may be able to only create 30 scheduled maintenance tasks a month on a free CMMS. These limits are usually not in place when you pay for a full subscription, although this can differ by feature and tier.

2. Implementation support

Implementing equipment maintenance software involves more than just creating a password and adding some information to the system. It includes:

  • Uploading scheduled maintenance tasks and triggers
  • Adding asset information and organizing assets into hierarchies
  • Creating user profiles and setting user permissions
  • Setting up parts and minimum quantities, and attaching bills of materials to work orders
  • Connecting your CMMS to other software
  • Training staff on how to use the system
  • Downloading the mobile app on all user devices
  • Building and scheduling reports

Implementing free CMMS software is usually a DIY effort. You likely have access to resources like help articles, training videos, and basic vendor support. But you’re doing the legwork to set up and launch the system and the processes around it.

Paid equipment maintenance software, on the other hand, often comes with implementation support. A trained implementation rep or team will often help you implement the system. The level of implementation support can differ depending on tier. Implementation services might also be an extra cost, regardless of what you pay for the system.

3. Ongoing support

Ongoing support is the help you receive from your CMMS vendor for daily troubleshooting or improvements on the system. For example, you might require ongoing support if:

  • You want to make a field on your work order request form mandatory, but don’t know how
  • If you want to change user permissions, but can’t figure out how
  • If you want to build a new report that tells you the impact of maintenance on your company’s energy usage

There are usually different levels of ongoing support depending on if you use free equipment maintenance software or paid software. A cloud-based CMMS will always have a baseline level of service, regardless of tier. For example, security measures will always be automatically updated by the vendor, no matter what. Free services also often include support over phone, email, or online chat (although it might not be 24/7), through a free community of users, and an online hub for FAQs.

If you have a paid version of equipment maintenance software, you usually get access to more support services. This can include a dedicated customer support rep and priority access when requesting help. Your subscription might come with a set number of hours of premium support. If you go over that amount, you may need to pay extra.

When to use paid or free equipment maintenance software

There are a few key factors that go into choosing between free equipment maintenance software and paying for a CMMS. While it’ll depend on your specific circumstances, here’s a quick rundown of what software is best for certain maintenance teams:

Free CMMS is best for
Paid CMMS is best for

There is one other consideration when deciding between the two types of cloud-based CMMS software—you can always upgrade from free to paid, and you can often move from one paid tier to a lower or higher one.

When to move from free equipment maintenance software to paid

If you’re already using free software to its limits, it might be time to switch to a paid version. Here’s how you know you’re at that point:

1. You need to do more

Hitting the limits of your free plan is the first indication that you should move to a paid tier. If you’re exceeding the capacity of your free CMMS, you’re probably managing maintenance in another way outside your software, like Excel or a whiteboard. This increases the risk of missing work, duplicating data, and reducing CMMS adoption rates. In this scenario, paying for equipment maintenance software provides a higher return on investment and saves you time.

2. You need more out of your data

Free equipment maintenance software is a great way to collect maintenance data. But it doesn’t usually have the tools you need to analyze that data. While there are basic reports you can create yourself on programs like Excel, there are three issues this creates. First, it’s time-consuming. Second, it means you’re handling data in two different places, leading to errors and inaccurate data. Lastly, this isn’t effective for more complex reporting, and analysis.

If you find yourself running up against inaccurate data, time-consuming reporting cycles, and (worst of all) data you can’t use to make decisions, it’s time to move from a free CMMS to a paid one. Making this investment allows you to collect data and use it to create reports in your CMMS. Some CMMS software even includes predictive analytics to take your maintenance program to the next level.

3. You need to connect with other software

Odds are, your maintenance software isn’t the only piece of technology your business runs on. There’s an alphabet soup of manufacturing and preventive maintenance software out there, from SCADA and PLCs to ERPs and MES software. When these systems aren’t connected and sharing information, it could create some of the same problems as managing maintenance in two different places—inaccurate data, duplicate work, and unaddressed equipment failure.

Integrating your business systems with a CMMS clears up these problems and helps you make upgrades to your maintenance program, like automatically triggering scheduled maintenance based on equipment usage. Unfortunately, this feature is not available in most free equipment maintenance software. If this is something you want or need, it’s time to invest in a paid version of a CMMS.

4. You need to manage more people or multiple sites

Most free equipment maintenance software caps the number of users on the system. If you have more than three or four people on your maintenance team, they won’t all be able to use the CMMS. If you have a larger team or are growing, it’s a good idea to invest in a paid version of your CMMS.

Similarly, if your company’s maintenance team stretches across multiple sites, you’ll need a paid CMMS. Using the same system at different locations creates standardization. It also allows you to look at maintenance metrics across your entire organization and share information and resources. For example, if your site needs a part, you can check your shared CMMS to see if another site has that part. This saves you from spending budget on new or emergency parts.

How to justify the cost of upgrading your CMMS to your boss

There are two key stories you need to tell to get your boss on board with investing in equipment maintenance software: What you’ve accomplished with the free system and what you could accomplish with the paid version.

This pitch deck template is a great way to create this story. But here are some of the key elements you’ll need to convince your boss:

What you need to know to pitch a CMMS to management

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/free-equipment-maintenance-software-pros-and-cons/

10 insanely useful metrics to improve your maintenance analysis

Maintenance analysis has changed a lot over the last decade or so. New tools and technology have increased our ability to collect and interpret data. It’s enabled us to make informed decisions that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago.

But if our understanding of maintenance analysis has changed, why do we still rely on the same handful of metrics we did 40 or 50 years ago?

Metrics like overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and mean time to repair (MTTR) dominate almost every list of go-to industry measurements. But experts agree that they’re flawed. Not only are these traditional metrics prone to bias and inaccuracy, but they also often don’t have a purpose. And when data doesn’t have a purpose, you can’t use it to make key decisions, like whether to hire an extra technician or increase the frequency of a task.

That’s why we’ve put together 10 useful metrics you won’t see on any other list and some tips for how to use them to improve your maintenance program.

10 maintenance metrics for better maintenance analysis

#1 – Time spent supporting production

What is it?: The total time that the maintenance team spends on production-focused activities. Usually measured weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

How can you use it?: Everyone has to pitch in to complete a big order once in a while. But when once in a while turns into every day, maintenance suffers. This metric helps you catch an unhealthy backlog before it happens and reallocate resources to prevent it. It also helps you advocate for a higher headcount on your team or an increased training budget to help production staff learn minor maintenance tasks.

#2 – Follow-up work created after inspections

What is it?: The number of corrective work orders created from routine inspections. Usually measured monthly, quarterly, or annually.

How can you use it?: There are many different ways you can use this metric for maintenance analysis. You can sort it by machine, shift, or site to get insights into how your assets or team are performing. But the most useful is by task.

It’s a good sign when regular preventive maintenance includes follow-up repairs. It means your schedule is accurate and that you’re preventing bigger problems. It allows you to flag common repairs and build processes to make them more efficient. For example, you can create parts kits for quicker access.

If the failed inspection percentage is low, you can increase preventive maintenance intervals. This will reduce the amount of time and money spent on tasks without increasing risk.

#3 – Cost of follow-up maintenance vs expected cost of total failure

What is it?: A comparison between the cost of corrective maintenance (i.e. labor and parts) and the cost of asset failure if maintenance is not done (i.e. lost production, labor, and parts).

How can you use it?: Use this type of maintenance analysis to plan your maintenance strategy. For example, if regular inspections cost you more than failure, you can likely go with a run-to-failure approach for an asset over a preventive one.

You can also use this metric to prioritize tasks and backlog, and figure out how to allocate your budget.

How to decide if you should invest in regular PMs on an asset

#4 – Cost by maintenance type

What is it?: The total cost of maintenance (i.e. labor and parts) by maintenance type (ie. preventive, emergency, follow-up). Usually measured monthly, quarterly, and/or annually.

How can you use it?: Higher costs are usually the result of broken processes. This view allows you to find out which processes need work so you can increase efficiency.

For example, are work orders unclear and leading to increased repair times and labor costs? Try clarifying instructions.

Are you bringing outside contractors in to do emergency repairs? You could invest in more training for your team or hire a specialist.

#5 – Clean start-ups after maintenance

What is it?: The number of times a production line starts without stoppages or waste after completed maintenance. This is measured monthly, quarterly, and annually.

How can you use it?: Include this metric in your maintenance analysis to draw a direct line between your team’s work and increased output.

If clean start-ups are low, it gives you another chance to spot problems in your processes. For example, you might find that the specs for a production line may be out of date. This will lead technicians to rebuild components incorrectly and the line to stall. Updating the specs is a simple tweak that could lead to higher output.

#6 – Size of backlog

What is it?: The total number of hours of overdue and scheduled maintenance tasks. Track this metric weekly and monthly.

How can you use it?: This metric can be a godsend when it comes to getting your team some much-needed relief. Quantify the gap between available labor hours and your total backlog hours. You might find that the amount of backlog far outpaces how much your team can do. Use that to make a case for more budget to spend on extra overtime, hiring another technician, or bringing in more contractors.

#7 – Top 10 assets by downtime

What is it?: This is your heavy hitters list—the equipment that breaks down most often or takes the longest to repair. Keep tabs on these assets weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

How can you use it?: This metric keeps your biggest problems visible. You might raise an eyebrow at that, but highly visible problems get solved the fastest. This kind of maintenance analysis can help you prioritize your problem-solving efforts, make decisions quickly, and measure their impact.

For example, if you know asset A is at the top of your downtime list, you can start by isolating the reason why. Is it because repairs take longer on that asset? Is work being delayed? Does that piece of equipment break down again and again?

The answer to these questions will give you an idea of how to prevent failure in the future. You might get rid of obsolete parts that keep breaking. Or put an extra technician on a job. Or clarify how much lubrication should be used on a bearing. If all else fails, conducting this type of maintenance analysis helps justify a capital expenditure on new equipment.

#8 – Planned maintenance percentage (last 90 days)

What is it?: The ratio of planned maintenance to all other types of maintenance over the last 90 days.

How can you use it?: This is a measure of progress. Going from reactive to planned maintenance doesn’t happen overnight. The time frame allows you to make a clear connection between action and results. You can draw a line between what happened and its impact on your end goals.

For example, if your percentage has dropped, you can look at what happened in the last 90 days to cause that drop. That could be a massive, unexpected breakdown. Or an increase in production support during the busy season. If you want to increase the percentage, try creating a better work request process to uncover problems earlier. Or shorten inspection intervals on assets with the highest instances of unexpected downtime.

#9 – Wrench time (last 90 days)

What is it?: The amount of time technicians spend working on a piece of equipment as part of the total time it takes to complete a job. This is usually measured by job or as a weekly, monthly, and quarterly average.

How can you use it?: Wrench time is a common tool for maintenance analysis, but it’s often used the wrong way. Technicians usually (and unfairly) get the blame for low-wrench time. It leads to wrench time inflation as technicians fudge the numbers to avoid trouble.

Low wrench time usually has its roots in broken processes, not the ability of the technician. That leads to bigger backlogs, more reactive maintenance, and avoidable labor costs.

To use wrench time in your maintenance analysis, start with the jobs that have the lowest scores. Review these jobs step-by-step with technicians. Work together to find out where unclear or incomplete processes cause delays. You’ll spot bottlenecks easier when breaking the task down into smaller pieces. The result is more value for your team’s time and money.

Common reasons wrench time is low and how to fix them

#10 – Health and safety work orders completed

What is it?: The number of work orders completed for health and safety or compliance purposes. This is usually tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually.

How can you use it?: Some metrics are quantitative. Others are qualitative. This one is the latter. And it’s essential for measuring the performance of your maintenance team and the impact it has on your business. A safe workplace keeps accidents low, and productivity and morale high. Passing audits and remaining compliant is crucial to staff safety and avoiding fines.

Three big goals you can accomplish by combining these metrics

All the metrics mentioned above are powerful in their own right. But when combined, they supercharge your maintenance analysis and help you achieve three common goals:

Get a bigger budget and more time for maintenance

Metrics to combine:

  • Cost by maintenance type
  • Clean start-ups after maintenance
  • Top 10 assets by downtime

Getting more money and time for maintenance means winning over whoever divvies up the budget, and whoever leads production. The quickest way to get them on board is to align your plan with their goals. The three metrics above will help you get there.

First, highlight the cost-benefit of preventive maintenance. Regular preventive maintenance might seem expensive. But just one instance of emergency maintenance can cost up to $250,000. If you’re tracking cost by maintenance type, you can highlight how much the company is losing with reactive maintenance, and how much it can save you by investing in preventive maintenance.

Next, it’s time to sway the production team. Use clean start-ups after maintenance to show production that you have their best interests in mind. It emphasizes what is good for maintenance is often good for production.

No one is going to give you more resources without a plan. Your list of bad actors is a blueprint for how you’re going to make the most of your extra time and money. It quantifies the problem and makes it very clear where you’ll focus your efforts.

Get your maintenance team to buy into change

Metrics to combine:

  • Planned maintenance percentage (90 days)
  • Wrench time (last 90 days)
  • Follow-up work created after inspections

Change sucks. And that makes it hard for your team to get on board with a new system or process. The best way to change the mind of naysayers is to show them how your plan is eliminating their biggest pains. Tracking the metrics above is one way to do this.

These data points give you a chance to compare how you operated before a change (i.e. lots of reactive maintenance and frustration over guesswork) and what you’ve accomplished since implementing a new system or process. Seeing the pay-off first-hand makes it easier to convert any critics and expand your project, whether it’s setting up a CMMS or allowing machine operators to do routine maintenance.

Build a preventive maintenance program that would make most other companies jealous

Metrics to combine:

  • Cost by maintenance type
  • Follow-up work created after inspections
  • Cost of follow-up maintenance vs expected cost of total failure

The best preventive maintenance programs don’t have the most PMs. Instead, they have the most efficient PMs. That means doing the right work at the right time. These metrics will help you achieve this balance.

Measuring cost by maintenance type helps you allocate resources to preventive tasks and gauge the efficiency of your PMs. You can track if cost-cutting strategies are working and make sure they’re not leading to reactive costs down the line.

Keeping tabs on follow-up work is one way to optimize PM frequencies. If an inspection isn’t leading to corrective work, you can increase inspection intervals. That means you can use fewer labor hours and parts, and spend that money and time elsewhere. Similarly, comparing the costs of corrective maintenance and total failure ensures you’re not spending money on proactive tasks that aren’t worth it.

The best maintenance analysis is constantly evolving

The best maintenance metrics have a purpose. They are collected and used consistently. They guide decisions and inform you on how to run your maintenance program on a daily basis. This is the backbone of successful maintenance analysis.

On the flip side, all maintenance analysis is a work in progress. Revisit your metrics on a regular basis to make sure they’re still relevant to your goals and the way your maintenance team works. Some of the metrics listed above might work for you now, but you might find others are more effective in six months. Or maybe five years.

Lastly, the best maintenance analysis incorporates data that other departments find useful. If you can connect the metrics above to solve the challenges of other business units, you’ll be well on your way to creating a world-class maintenance program.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/10-metrics-for-better-maintenance-analysis/

Where bad maintenance data comes from and how you can fiix it

Not all maintenance data is created equal

Data: It’s the backbone of any maintenance program. It’s what you use to measure success. It tells you what assets need more attention and how that will impact your schedule. It’s what helps you survive maintenance audits unscathed. In short, data is the language that helps you tell the story of your maintenance team.

But not all data is created equal. And it could be that yours is failing to say what it needs to. Jason Afara, a Senior Solutions Engineer at Fiix, experienced this when he was a maintenance manager.

“We had more technicians than we did CMMS licenses, so we had people logging in after they had already completed a work order, just trying to fill in all the details they could remember,” he says. “We were always trying to catch up, and that impacted our credibility.”

The cost of bad maintenance data

That’s just it—when your data is off, it’s harder to go to bat for your team. It’s not as easy to justify buying a new piece of equipment, trade production time for maintenance or make a new hire if the data isn’t there to support that request.

It can impact your team on a day-to-day basis as well. For example, a technician might wait until the end of the day to log completed work. This gap in time could lead them to misremember how long it took them to do a job. Maybe they round down. No big deal, right? Except it is.

That one mistake could cause a domino effect. The next time you go to schedule that job, you plan less time for it. Now the technician is rushing to complete the work, increasing risk for both them and the machine. You’ll also lowball the cost of labor hours in your budget, putting you in a tricky situation with your finances.

Bad data and its consequences

Let’s dive into where your data can go wrong, and how you can audit it to start steering things in the right direction.

Where bad maintenance data begins

Bad data is often born from the best intentions. That makes it hard to spot. But there will always be a silver lining to go along with these issues—you have a data-driven culture. You know the numbers are key and the insight you get from them is even more valuable. That’s the most important ingredient for finding and eliminating bad data.

Here are two aspects of maintenance programs that most often contribute to bad or incomplete data.

Trying to boil the ocean

A lot of maintenance teams try to do too much, too soon with their data. Having the ability to track things is great, but if you don’t have a well-thought-out plan in place for what you’re going to measure—and why—you’ll run into problems.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. The advent of IIoT technology, like sensors that track every second of an asset’s behaviour, has introduced seemingly infinite ways to capture data. The trouble for maintenance managers doesn’t come from having too much data, but from not knowing how to pull out the data that matters.

Brandon De Melo, a Customer Success Manager at Fiix, puts it this way, “Let’s say you have a sensor that’s pulling machine data. That’s great, but you can’t stop there. You have to consider all the things that factor into that data, like downtime or other external factors that could affect it.”

Not thinking critically about metrics

Every maintenance team is held to certain KPIs—but are they the right ones? As Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Director of Solutions Engineering, points out, it can be easy to get caught in a cycle of tracking a number like labour hours simply because it’s the metric that comes from your boss (or their boss).

It’s important to take a critical lens to maintenance metrics and really think about whether they should be measured.

“At the end of the day, you need to be measuring the metrics that support your department,” says Fergusson. “Not enough people understand why they’re measuring what they’re measuring.”

Where bad maintenance data lives

We know what contributes to bad data, but where does it show up? Bad data is really good at blending in with clean data, so it’s not always obvious. But knowing the telltale signs of inaccurate information will help you spot it without pouring over dozens of reports. Here are the most common places where you can find bad maintenance data.

In your storeroom

Bad data can lurk alongside bearings and motors on the shelves of your storeroom. There are a few ways this can happen.

Firstly, it’s easy to have an out-of-date inventory count if you have obsolete parts sitting on shelves. If you don’t check in on your inventory to make sure it matches up with what’s actually available, you’ll run into problems when you have to pay for a part you weren’t expecting.

And then there’s the danger of fudging the numbers to make the bottom line look better.

“Let’s say it’s near the end of the month and you have to replace a $3,000 part,” says Afara.

“Some maintenance managers will say, ‘You know what? Let’s just wait for that repair so it actually hits our books next month.’ It turns into a bit of a game.” This hesitation can negatively impact the whole business if what’s in the books is valued over what’s actually needed to improve production.”

In your preventive maintenance schedule

Every maintenance team has their regular PMs—but how many of them are actually necessary?

“Maintenance can get really emotional really quickly,” says Afara. “You’ll have what’s called an emotional PM, where the team is doing a regular check just because there was a failure six plant managers ago and no one’s changed it.”

When maintenance teams inherit PMs, it’s easy not to question it, but it’s easy to see how things can snowball and tell an inaccurate story of which work actually needs to be done.

In your work order and asset histories

It doesn’t take much for data to go haywire when documenting work. Attention tends to go to the wrong places when a plant’s priorities are out of sorts.

“What commonly happens is, there’s such a focus on technician time,” says Afara. “A message comes from the top that every minute needs to be accounted for, and the result is that technicians are just making up time on work orders to show that they’ve done the eight hours they’ve been asked to.”

As we touched on earlier, the root problem here is a lack of specific planning. You’re worrying about the metric at the expense of strategy, which results in data that doesn’t tell the truth and can’t be used to drive real change.

In your reports

Every data set has its spikes and dips. The important part is how you’re making sense of the fluctuations that show up in your maintenance reports.

“Do you actually have anything in place to explain why, for example, a drop can happen in September and then happen again in January?” says De Melo.

Without critical analysis or an understanding of what contributed to an anomaly in the data, tracking those fluctuations is useless. You need to understand what happened before you can begin to understand what you could have done differently.

How to audit maintenance data

Now that we have a clearer picture of where maintenance data can go wrong, how can you start fixing it?

The answer will be different for each team, but the right place to start is wherever you’re having a problem with no way to explain why you’re having it.

“Let’s say you can’t figure out why you have so much unplanned downtime, and looking at the data isn’t helping you at all,” says De Melo.

“In this scenario, you’d want to talk to the production manager and start asking questions like, ‘How is this being tracked? Is there a system in place?’ There will always be a process of tracking down the right information, but you can’t just sit there and just twiddle your thumbs, hoping that the answer is going to come to you.”

In terms of creating a data audit checklist, again, your best bet is to approach it from a strategic perspective.

“Sit with some key stakeholders, like plant managers and technicians, and do some brainstorming around what you want to improve and understand better,” says De Melo.

“Once you know what you’re looking for, you can build a checklist that makes sense.”

The best maintenance data is data with a purpose

Taking a critical and thoughtful approach to auditing your maintenance data ensures that everything you’re tracking and analyzing is being examined for a reason. This helps you understand how each piece of data is connected. Then you can make actual improvements to your maintenance program instead of making smaller, less impactful changes around the margins.

“If you really understand your maintenance activity, everything else is just going to flow in behind it,” says Fergusson.

“Your plant leadership may not understand maintenance backlog or OT, but when you tell them that delaying a maintenance window is going to cost another $250,000 in our plant maintenance budget because of X, Y, Z, and you have the right data to back it up, they’ll listen.”

When all is said and done, the data is the easy part.

“If you have the culture and the metrics and the right people and processes in place to track everything, and you just don’t have the actual data, no problem. You can get that up and running in a week,” says Fergusson.

“More often, though, it’s the opposite. You have all the data, it’s all flowing somewhere, and everybody’s looking at different pieces of it, but none of it’s building to a true story.”

source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-maintenance-data/

12 ways to implement a TPM strategy using your work orders

What happens when the maintenance team is the only one that cares about maintenance?

There might not be a more common, or truer, saying in the world of sports than, “Defense wins championships.”

Although there are no championships to win in business, there are quotas to hit and money to make. And defence still matters. In this case, defence means maintenance. But when the maintenance team is the only one playing defence, they’re outnumbered and the losses pile up.

A faulty part goes unnoticed and causes a breakdown. That’s a loss. A machine isn’t lubricated properly and results in waste. Loss. A PM is missed and an accident happens. Another loss.

But a lot of these losses can be avoided with total productive maintenance. Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a defence-first mentality for business. The work order process is one of the cornerstones of this strategy. This article will explore how to create and optimize that process with TPM in mind.

What is total productive maintenance: A brief primer on TPM

Total productive maintenance is the idea that everyone has a part to play in improving the performance and quality of systems with maintenance. That includes the maintenance team, but also operations, production, finance, and other departments. When you have 100 eyes peeled for possible equipment failures or safety hazards instead of five or 10, they’re easier and more efficient to catch and fix.

An example of TPM in action would be an operator doing routine maintenance, like basic lubrication, or a plant manager creating an asset management policy. Neither person is on the maintenance team, but both use maintenance to have a direct impact on the health and performance of equipment.

There’s a lot more to TPM than we can fit in this article. If you want to read more, check out these articles on getting started with TPM and putting a TPM plan into action.

12 ways to use work orders to build a successful TPM program

How to get operations involved TPM

Work orders are the bread and butter of maintenance which also makes them essential for a good TPM program and getting operators involved in maintenance success.

  1. Find a starting line: Work out the wrinkles in your TPM program by starting small. Focus on one machine or area of your plant. Look for equipment with a low criticality that requires regularly scheduled maintenance. Split the responsibility of the PM between maintenance and operations.
  2. Designate a maintenance type for operators: This creates clear roles and responsibilities and allows you to track where extra training, information, or resources are needed to help operators be successful.
  3. Write bullet-proof work request templates: Be very clear about what information is needed to help technicians complete a job. Operators will gain a better understanding and appreciation for what goes into maintenance.
  4. Write a template for completion notes that leaves no room for error: Break this section of a work order into specific fields that helps you document exactly what happened on the job. Operators will be able to spot useful information in past work orders much easier. It will also make training requirements easier to create.
  5. Build solid task lists: Find a balance between being detailed in your tasks and overwhelming operators with too much. Adding pictures helps you avoid information overload. Providing estimated times for each task is an extra bit of guidance that operators will appreciate.
  6. Add as many visual aids to work orders as you can: In addition to pictures, add diagrams or videos if your operators are accessing the work order from a mobile device.
  7. Highlight success with work order data: There might be resistance to your TPM program at first. There’s a lot of data in your work orders that help you prove that it’s worth it. Even something as simple as having fewer reactive work orders tells a story. Fewer breakdowns mean more throughput and less waste from post-failure startups.

How to get the rest of your organization involved in your plan

  1. A true total productive maintenance strategy doesn’t stop at the edge of the production floor. It reaches into the offices of almost everyone at your company. Here are a few ways you can start bringing more and more people into the TPM fold.
  2. Assist in design and/or procurement: Use common maintenance types and failure codes, along with request and completion notes, to help reliability and purchasing personnel build or buy equipment that won’t repeat the failures of past assets.
  3. Advocate for more resources: Presenting a list of backlogged work orders, its labor hours, and the cost of not doing the work can help you highlight the scale of problems and convince your boss that you need some extra help.
  4. Make maintenance accessible: Integrate your work order request system with the systems that everyone in your business uses, like email or Slack.
  5. Identify inventory efficiencies: Use work order data to find out if the same parts cause breakdowns or failed inspections. Work with inventory personnel to find the root cause of the problem and solve it.
  6. Celebrate your success: If you want people to c`are about maintenance, you need to prove it’s worth their attention. Work orders are a great source of success stories. They can help you draw a link between scheduled maintenance and failure prevention or clean start ups and higher production.

Everything you just read in three sentences

  1. Talk with members of every group using work orders, from requesters in finance to operators, and find out how to make instructions and templates clear and accessible to each of them.
  2. Piloting your TPM strategy on a small area of your organization will help you identify where it needs to be improved and how to scale the project moving forward.
  3. Tracking good results from your work orders, no matter how small, will increase buy-in for your TPM program, or, in other words, bragging is the surest path to success.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/work-order-academy/how-to-implement-a-tpm-program-using-work-orders/

Five ways to stretch your maintenance budget further

One of the worst things about getting your maintenance budget cut is all the questions.

Do I need to lay off staff? How can we hit our targets with fewer resources? What projects are essential and what can wait? Is my job safe?

It’s enough to keep you up at night for a while.

We talked to a few experts who’ve been there before. They told us how they managed a smaller maintenance budget while hitting their targets, keeping up with preventive maintenance, and avoiding staff burnout.

How to find extra room in your budget

In your storeroom (Build a just-in-time purchasing process), In your schedule (Eliminate unnecessary PMs), In your work orders (Increase wrench time to boost efficiency), In your processes (Train operators to do routine maintenance), In your people (Crowd-source cost-effective solutions)

#1 – Find it in your storeroom

Pay close attention to your inventory minimums when restocking parts and supplies, says Joe McVay, an Implementation Consultant at Fiix with experience in facility maintenance.

“Many organizations don’t realize how much cash flow is tied up in inventory in the warehouse that could be bought just-in-time from multiple vendors without interrupting the business,” says Joe.

Look for parts in your storeroom that are either not immediately critical or can be easily sourced from vendors with short lead-times. Adjust your purchasing schedule accordingly so you’re not spending money on unnecessary inventory.

Many vendors also offer ‘keep stock’ programs, says Joe. These programs guarantee the availability of parts without adding them to your books until you need them. This gives you short-term flexibility in your budget without the risk.

#2: Find it in your schedule

Preventive maintenance is great, but too much will cost you. You can reduce the cost of labor and parts without sacrificing asset health by cutting unnecessary PMs, says Charles Rogers, Fiix’s Senior Implementation Consultant with over 33 years of experience in maintenance.

“If your regular inspections aren’t finding something wrong with an asset, you can probably do them less often,” says Charles.

He recommends looking first at scheduled maintenance based on OEM guidelines. These PMs are more likely to have room for improvement because they weren’t created with your specific use case in mind. Monitor any PMs you change to make sure failure rates don’t increase.

Using a PDCA model to create the perfect PMs

#3: Find it in your work orders

Increasing wrench time helps you stretch your maintenance budget further, says Rob Kalwarowsky, a Reliability Engineer and Asset Manager.

Rob suggests calculating wrench time for all work, starting with jobs that have higher labor costs. Flag areas where wrench time is low. The average wrench time is 20% and 40% is world-class, says Rob.

“Once you have this baseline you can trace the cause of low wrench time to a root cause and tweak your schedules and processes to bridge that gap,” says Rob.

Increasing wrench time by a few percentage points across hundreds of repairs and PMs can save you thousands of dollars in labor and make up for some of your lost budget. And when maintenance is quicker, production gets more uptime. It’s a win-win for everyone.

#4: Find it in your processes

Your budget gets a little tighter every time a highly skilled technician stops what they’re doing to complete a routine task. That’s why Jason Afara, a Solutions Engineer at Fiix and former maintenance manager, suggests training operators to do routine maintenance.

“Operators know their machines best,” says Jason, “Give them the power to inspect machines…and do light maintenance that would otherwise take up your time.”

Not only will a few hours of training save you money in the long term, but it also helps you catch equipment failure earlier and prevent emergency maintenance, which eats into your budget.

#5: Find it in your people

This is another gem from Rob and it’s all about communication, engaging staff, and leading by example.

“You’re cutting maintenance that [your staff] believe they should be doing,” says Rob. “That’s going to have a negative impact.”

Low morale is more than some extra grumbling in the break room. It creates fear, mistrust, and information gaps, says Rob. When you’re missing the whole picture, you can’t see problems and prioritize work, which is essential after maintenance budget cuts.

“You need to foster a low-fear, high-trust environment so people can tell you exactly what’s happening on the shop floor,” says Rob.

Here are some ways to do that:

Book a regular meeting with staff to talk about concerns, roadblocks, solutions, and successes. It might take time for everyone to feel comfortable sharing. That means you could be the only one talking for a little while.

Stop playing the blame game. If a critical work order wasn’t done on time, talk to your technicians, find out what held them back, and think of a way to prevent it from happening again.

Create metrics that have nothing to do with efficiency. Your technicians need to know they’re being measured on how well they collaborate, identify problems, and work to find solutions. It tells your team that you care about them as much as the bottom line.

How to convince your boss to increase the maintenance budget

Getting a bigger maintenance budget is tough, but not impossible. We put together a few tried and tested strategies that other maintenance teams have used to score extra resources. They’ll help you change minds, make your case, and get the budget you need.

After you’ve read the strategies below, nail your pitch with this presentation template

Using backlog metrics to hire more people

If you’re strapped for cash, you’re probably also strapped for time. That means backlog. Lots of backlog. The good news is, it’s easy to get people on board with fixing this problem if you have the right data.

Start by tracking your preventive maintenance backlog in hours. Compare this number to the available hours for your workforce to determine the gap between the two.

The next step is to show how backlog impacts the business. Track mean time between failure and the cost of breakdowns. When MTBF goes up because you’re missing maintenance, it means more downtime and less production.

Use this data when you’re asking for the budget to hire an extra person, offer more overtime, or spend more on contractors. This is what worked for Tom Dufton, a maintenance and project manager at food manufacturer Perth Country Ingredients:

Get a six-step framework for tackling maintenance backlog

Using clean start-ups to justify higher labor costs

Other areas of your business suffer when the maintenance budget is cut. Your staff is spread thin, work is rushed (or missed), and equipment fails. Tracking clean start-ups is one way to prove this and get the extra cash you need to prevent it.

Clean start-ups was a key metric for Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Director of Solutions Engineering, during his time as a production line manager at Proctor and Gamble. This KPI not only united maintenance and operations, but also tied directly to financial targets. That always gets people’s attention.

Unfortunately, clean start-ups are hard to achieve without the time, people, and resources to do proper maintenance, which takes money.

Making your case for this money starts with calculating the cost of lost time and production from poor start-ups for all machines across a full year. Compare this to the lower cost of extra people and resources to achieve clean start-ups.

Using time tracking metrics to show the ROI of technology

Administrative tasks waste time and money. If your technicians spend an hour a day writing work orders, that’s an hour of lost efficiency you’re paying for. So while it might seem cheaper to do everything by hand instead of with technology, it’ll cost you more in the long run.

Things like sensors and CMMS software come with a price tag. Getting an increase in your maintenance budget for these purchases starts with tracking the amount of time your team spends on administrative tasks. Then find out how much time you’d save with software.

The final step is to highlight how you would use this extra time and the impact that would have on company targets. For example, if you were able to do one more PM per day, how much more uptime could the company gain.

This was the strategy used by the maintenance team at Rambler Metals & Mining. The company was able to slash the time spent on administrative tasks by 15% after implementing a CMMS. They were able to do more preventive maintenance and reduce equipment failure.

Everything you just read in three sentences

1. Eliminating waste, whether it’s parts you don’t need or delays in your work, is crucial when dealing with maintenance budget cuts.

2. Don’t forget to communicate with your team, include them in decision-making, and be open to feedback so you can avoid a toxic work environment.

3. If you’re asking for an increase in your maintenance budget, lean on numbers to prove the value of maintenance and highlight what your company is losing by not investing in maintenance.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/five-ways-to-stretch-your-maintenance-budget-further/

Total effective equipment performance: What is TEEP and how you can use it to improve scheduling

There’s a reason people buy toolboxes. While each tool serves its purpose, having only one at your disposal vastly limits what you’re able to achieve. On the other hand, having all your tools allows you to do more and solve a wider range of problems.

Similarly, no maintenance team or plant manager should look to just one maintenance KPI to track and improve production. Multiple maintenance metrics—and categories of metrics—exist because each one provides different information that leads you to take several different actions.

Today, we’re going to take a look at Total effective equipment performance, or TEEP, and how your maintenance team can use it together with OEE and OOE to improve scheduling and output at your company.

What is TEEP?

Total effective equipment performance (let’s call it TEEP from now on) exists in the same family of maintenance metrics as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and overall operations effectiveness (OOE). All three metrics take machine performance, quality, and availability into account to measure overall equipment performance. Where these metrics differ lies in how they define availability.

On its own, TEEP measures your total potential for equipment capacity. It defines availability as a function of all available time—365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. When you measure TEEP, you’re asking, “How much could we potentially be producing if there were no limits to scheduling?”

TEEP Formula

TEEP is calculated by multiplying performance, quality, and availability, where availability is defined as current production time divided by all available time.

For example, if you ran a machine 24/7 for a week and it produced perfect products without stopping once, TEEP would be 100%. If that same machine ran 16 hours a day without stopping, availability would be 67% (16 hours divided by 24 hours). Let’s say it also operated at 90% of potential throughput (performance) and produced perfect products 88% of the time (quality). The asset’s TEEP would be 53% (0.9 x 0.88 x 0.67).

Of course, no plant is ever running on a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year schedule. This is why TEEP is useful when compared to the other metrics in its family.

How TEEP compares to OEE

As a metric, TEEP is most closely related to OEE, so let’s distinguish between these two metrics first.

While TEEP measures an asset’s potential capacity, OEE measures an asset’s current level of productivity. It’s calculated, much like TEEP, by multiplying an asset’s availability, performance, and quality, where availability is calculated as the total run time of the asset divided by the planned production time of that asset.

TEEP vs OEE

OEE differs from TEEP in that it is rooted in the reality of the current production schedule. It supposes that the maximum amount of time that a piece of equipment can run cannot be greater than what it already is.

Because OEE is a current-state metric, it gives production teams and operators a pretty accurate read on how well their equipment is performing, and whether any changes to availability, performance, or quality could increase capacity. Because OEE is closely tied to production, it’s a metric that many facilities monitor in real-time to determine whether any improvements could be made.

How TEEP compares to OOE

Similar to TEEP and OEE, OOE (overall operations effectiveness) is once again calculated by multiplying performance, quality, and availability, where availability is defined as actual production time divided by operating time.

Operating time includes the planned production time of an asset (like OEE), plus any unscheduled time during which an asset might be taken offline.

TEEP vs OOE

How to use TEEP

Now that we have these metrics—and the differences between them—straight, let’s talk about how they can be used together. We can think of these three metrics as a sort of cascading system, where TEEP measures the total effective (or potential) equipment performance, OOE measures your current equipment performance taking unscheduled time into account, and OEE measures everything as it is right now.

TEEP OOE OEE Comparison

We spoke to Stuart Fergusson, Director of Solutions Engineering at Fiix, to parse out these three scenarios. “TEEP is a couple of steps removed from a true maintenance metric,” he says. “It’s useful at the business level for someone like a plant manager because it helps inform scheduling decisions.”

In other words, calculating TEEP helps you answer questions like, “Should we introduce new shifts? Is it worth it to run through the holidays? What would happen if we ran through weekends?”

Stuart adds that some people are quick to jump to metrics like TEEP because they’re actually not calculating OEE correctly. This happens when maintenance is done during downtime is not counted against OEE. As an example, think of a factory that shuts down during weekends and runs all maintenance during that time. Maintenance time is not being counted against production here, which could give you an inflated sense of what your OEE actually is. If maintenance is counted as planned downtime, you get a very different sense of your OEE and what you’re actually capable of achieving.

Take this example: Let’s say that you calculate your OEE as 90% based on the 5 days a week that your machinery runs. With an OEE that high, it seems like it would be simple to increase capacity without buying any new equipment. But what if you use the downtime on weekends to run all your routine maintenance? That time is not available for more production, because it’s always being blocked off for maintenance, but it’s throwing off your OEE because it’s not being included in the equation.

Stuart suggests calculating OEE, OOE, and TEEP the way you normally would, and then examining the deltas between each metric. By investigating the differences between each metric, you can start to see where changes in scheduling could be made to improve production.

“You could be running your equipment very, very well three days a week, and you would still get a low TEEP score,” he says. “But compared with OEE, you can look at that delta and say, ‘We would have to add X staff members to improve our OEE.’”

How TEEP can help you plan

TEEP can be improved when performance, availability, or quality improvement, and it’s probably most useful when you’re out of ideas for how you could improve your OEE given your current production schedule.

TEEP can be used as a benchmark to compare how you’re currently planning your plant production schedules. Unlike OEE and OOE, it gives you an idea of how much your equipment is sitting unused. Again, Stuart warns that its usefulness has its limits. “You should only ever be tracking and putting a metric in front of people that have the ability to change it,” he says. “There’s nothing an operator can do to affect the total available time. On top of that, they can’t schedule themselves in for another shift.”

But when operators, maintenance teams, and plant managers work together (yes, you’ve heard this before with regards to total productive maintenance), it’s clear how they can use their own metrics (like MTTR for maintenance) to improve overall equipment production capacity. When these functional areas can work together to improve capacity while taking the realities and limitations of the entire operation into account, a holistic picture starts to emerge of what a plant is truly capable of achieving.

source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/what-is-teep/