Maybe you’re at a stressful point in your business and the maintenance team is struggling to keep up. Your team suggests purchasing maintenance management software. But what type is best for your company?
There’s a lot of different software available—from computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) to enterprise asset management (EAM)—and it can be hard to choose which one is right for you. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between CMMS and EAM software so that you can decide which will benefit your business most.
What is a CMMS?
A CMMS is a software solution that can help you manage maintenance and asset. It’s useful for many industries, including manufacturing, construction, utilities, and transportation. A CMMS can be used to track maintenance requirements and work orders.
A CMMS will also allow you to create an inventory of assets such as tools or machinery that need to be maintained or repaired. This allows you to keep track of each item’s condition so that when it comes time for them to be serviced or replaced, they will have a history regarding the cost-effectiveness of doing so, versus simply buying new ones at a full retail price every time one breaks down.
What is EAM software?
Enterprise asset management (EAM) software is a tool that can be used to track the maintenance of all types of assets, from small equipment to large industrial machines. It allows you to keep track of what your assets are, where they are located, how much they cost, and when they need maintenance. EAM software allows you to easily generate reports on this information so that you can see at-a-glance which assets need repair or replacement.
What is the difference between CMMS and EAM?
The CMMS originated as a punch-card system used to manage work orders in the 1960s. But despite its relatively low-tech beginnings, the technology has come a long way. Today, it allows maintenance teams to easily keep a centralized record of all assets and equipment they are responsible for, as well as schedule and track maintenance activities and keep a detailed record of the work they’ve performed. Generally speaking, the purpose of a CMMS is to manage all maintenance activities during the operational part of an asset’s life—all the time that it’s working as a productive part of a facility.
In contrast with a CMMS, EAM software provides a view of an organization’s assets and infrastructure throughout the entire lifecycle, from creation or procurement to disposal. So while an EAM can technically provide the same capabilities that a CMMS does, there are additional features available through an EAM that may overlap with an organization’s ERP, or may not be a requirement at all for the team purchasing maintenance management software.
CMMS vs. EAM
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) software share some similarities but are used in different ways and for different purposes. Below is a table that illustrates some of the differences:
A CMMS automates the collection and analysis of data to optimize maintenance operations. It can also be used to manage preventive maintenance activities.
An EAM software automates and analyzes data to help optimize maintenance operations as well as provide visibility into all crucial assets across an organization.
Provides a single source of truth for all assetsReduces the risk of equipment failureImproves productivity and employee morale
Provides clear asset identification and managementImproves business processes through automation
Monitors and optimizes scheduling work orders, purchasing inventory, and asset maintenance
Monitors, tracks and locates all critical assets, as well as monitors facility conditions
When it comes to technology it’s important to know what your options are
One of the difficulties of delineating a CMMS from an EAM software is that the gap between the two categories is more narrow than ever. Thanks to its start as a punch-card system, CMMS software is often seen as more rudimentary and less feature-rich than its EAM cousin. But when it comes to the capabilities shared between a CMMS and EAM, their quality and depth are more or less equal. The primary difference lies in scope.
Many CMMS solutions integrate with software like ERP systems in ways that allow them to perform similarly to EAM software, while still offering a user-friendly experience. The best course of action is to learn all you can about the solutions available to your team and determine which features are most important to help you hit your maintenance KPIs.
It’s about time you started taking care of your equipment. It’s not just about whether or not you’re working with the latest and greatest, it’s about making sure that what you have is up and running as efficiently as possible. You don’t want to find out that your equipment needs repair in the middle of a critical operation, or worse: when it breaks down completely. That can lead to lost time, money, and even injury.
But why does this happen?
A lot of facilities and maintenance managers find it challenging to manage their preventive maintenance programs without using spreadsheets—but spreadsheets can be time-consuming, get lost among other paperwork, or be downright frustrating.
Preventive maintenance (sometimes called preventative) software enables managers to schedule maintenance, send alerts to the right people when a job is due, and increase resource access and allocation. It also keeps equipment operating efficiently, increases the safety of employees, and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road. In this article, we will discuss preventive maintenance software, why its used, examples, and some important things to consider when implementing it at your organization.
What is preventive maintenance software (and who uses it)?
Preventive maintenance software is used to help schedule ongoing preventive maintenance work. It allows companies to be proactive about their maintenance, rather than reactive. It’s often used by maintenance and plant managers and other industrial and maintenance personnel. It’s used because it’s one of the best solutions to avoid unexpected repairs. By planning your preventive maintenance schedule, you can be proactive about the regular checkups that keep your equipment running smoothly.
Three steps to consider when choosing a preventive maintenance software
1. Understand at what level your organization manages preventive maintenance
Before choosing your preventive maintenance software it’s important to first understand at what level your organization manages preventive maintenance. If you have a large company with many different sites, it would be beneficial for you to use something like a CMMS. This will allow your sites and teams access to the same information and data.
Whereas, a good fit for a smaller organization may be a single-site solution. The next step to consider is how much money you want to spend or can spend on a solution. While there are programs that are low cost, and sometimes free, others may need more funding to run properly and improve your processes.
2. Assess your needs vs. your wants
When choosing the right preventive maintenance software, it’s important to first assess your wants and needs. This means reviewing your processes and seeing how they can be improved with the software. Think about what features the software has that can improve efficiencies for your team and maintenance process, and ask yourself:
What are my goals?
How much time do I have to dedicate to a project? (Consider if there’s already a system that needs improving)
What kind of data do I want to track? (Think about how many assets you have, and how many technicians and managers you employ)
3. Stick to the financial budget
Every maintenance team needs to stick to its financial budget, and choosing preventive maintenance software can be costly. When you’re making a decision consider the budget you have available and the structure of the business. This will help you determine the best solution. In addition, it’s important to keep future scenarios in mind, and financial forecast and plan for things like: business growth, new facilities, and economic downturns.
Types of preventive maintenance software
Preventive maintenance software comes in all shapes and sizes, from extremely specialized systems to giant platforms connecting maintenance to other business units. Below are the most common types of preventive maintenance software.
1. Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS)
CMMS software and maintenance apps help maintenance teams keep detailed and centralized records of all assets, equipment, and completed work. A CMMS allows facilities to plan, track, and optimize work orders, inventory, and everything associated with maintenance.
A CMMS manages all the maintenance activities that take place during the operational part of an asset’s life. At the same time, this type of preventive maintenance software works as a productive part of a facility.
All CMMS preventive maintenance software can be divided into two groups: Cloud-based CMMS software and on-premise CMMS software.
2. Enterprise asset management (EAM)
EAM software provides a holistic view of an organization’s physical assets and infrastructure throughout its entire lifecycle, from design and procurement to operation, maintenance, disposal, and replacement. EAM systems record asset information, manage work orders, coordinate inventory purchasing and usage, organize labor, track contracts, measure costs, and spending, and calculate KPIs.
3. Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
Here’s how ERP software works: every company has different business units that make it function, like accounting, human resources, and maintenance. ERP software takes everything these different departments do and connects them, so the entire organization has the same processes and information.
Because there is one central place for all data, it means an accountant, a salesperson, a maintenance technician, and a CEO can all use the system for their day-to-day activities while relying on the same information to plan, assess, and complete those activities. By collecting transactional data from multiple sources, ERP systems eliminate data duplication, offer data integrity, and provide a single source of truth.
While it’s not exactly maintenance software, ERP systems are part of the larger maintenance technology ecosystem. It’s important for maintenance technology to be able to integrate with an ERP system to help keep accurate inventory levels and keep your finance team in the loop. Many other preventive maintenance technologies are used in asset-heavy production and manufacturing facilities.
Steps to take when integrating preventive maintenance software at your organization
Integrating any type of new technology or software into an existing workplace can be challenging, but taking the right steps will make the process much easier for everyone involved in using the new technology. Here are the steps to follow when implementing a new preventive maintenance software:
Recognize that integration is a process, not an event. Integrating preventive maintenance software involves a lot of planning, and preparation, as well as addressing technical challenges that may occur prior to the implementation and cause risk, and a plan of action for when and if those challenges occur.
Plan at the right level. You will inevitably ask yourself if it makes sense to integrate this software with the existing systems or processes, but you need to plan ahead for the future as well. For example, if you’re integrating a CMMS for multiple facilities and warehouses, you can easily integrate them together from day one—rather than having two separate systems talking to each other through other means (like an email).
Recognize that acceptance of the new software won’t always be smooth. Read that again. It’s hard for managers to recognize that their team may not embrace the new software with open arms. You may face challenges and questions about the software, why it’s being used, and how exactly it’s going to save time and money. Be prepared to address these concerns and work with your team to get into the new processes. With time, your team will recognize how valuable software like a CMMS or ERP really is.
The right maintenance software can help your company save money and reduce downtime
By implementing preventive maintenance software your team can become more proactive about your maintenance. The first step is to assess where preventive maintenance occurs in your organization, and next, you need to review your current needs and wants so that when you find the right software for your organization there are no surprises.
This article outlines what is an asset management policy, why an asset management policy is important, and how to build and implement an asset management policy.
A facility’s assets are the lifeblood of the company, especially in production. As long as they are healthy and working away, every part of the organization can remain strong and productive.
While assets are the lifeblood, people are the heart. Every member of an organization can make an impact on equipment with the decisions they make. Executives invest, engineers design, managers plan, technicians care for and operators use.
Because decision-making and asset efficiency are so intertwined, there should be guidelines connecting them. That’s where an asset management policy comes in.
What is asset management? To understand what an asset management policy is, why an asset management policy is important, and how to create an asset management policy, the first step is to understand what asset management is itself.
Asset management refers to any assets that are used in the regular operation of an organization. An asset refers to physical objects, such as buildings, equipment, or raw materials, as well as intangible things, such as staff or money. Asset management includes assets used for maintenance, like machinery and spare parts, as well as assets used by the entire organization, such as computers, people, and infrastructure.
Managing these assets means applying a systematic approach to maintaining their lifecycle in a way that optimizes value. This includes having a strategy in place to develop, operate, maintain, upgrade and dispose of assets in the best possible way.
At the end of the day, asset management involves applying deliberate processes to the design, use and maintenance of physical and intangible assets so their value is maximized, from beginning to end.
Benefits of asset management Asset management involves applying deliberate processes to the design, use, and maintenance of physical and intangible assets so that their value is maximized, from beginning to end. There are a variety of benefits gained from proper asset management, including:
Improving the viability and predictability of cash flows
Extending an asset’s life cycle
Ensuring assets fulfill their necessary function
Supporting improvement and business growth
Supporting establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an asset management system
An asset management policy is one of the core requirements of ISO 55001:2014 certification and is a cornerstone of a solid and complete asset management strategy. It is like a compass pointing everyone at your organization in the right direction when making decisions about assets. An asset management policy provides a set of guiding principles, intentions, goals and methods for asset management.
The policy provides a template for decision-making so people can achieve the best possible outcomes for each task while meeting the organization’s goals. When applied as a core pillar of business, it acts like a mission statement. It not only embeds asset management into the culture of a facility, but also serves as a sign of the organization’s commitment to efficiency and sustainability to those outside the company.
A great asset management policy for production-heavy facilities contains the following:
They are general and contain broad principles.
They identify roles and responsibilities, including policy implementation.
They outline how asset management is integrated within the organization.
They establish defined goals, service levels, inventory guidelines and standards of maintenance.
What is the ISO 55001 standard?
ISO 55001 is an asset management system standard followed by organizations around the globe. It applies to all types of assets and company structures. The main objective of the ISO 55001 standard is to help organizations more effectively manage asset life cycles. The ISO 55001 standard helps organizations have better control over daily asset management activities, achieve higher return with their assets, and reduce the total cost of risk related to asset management.
Why do you need an asset management policy?
Organizations need an asset management policy because it enables you to meet the stakeholder, business and legal requirements of the ISO 5500 standard for asset management. An asset management policy helps align your operation with international standards, save money and time, and by better managing your assets, you will be able to utilize them more effectively and efficiently while delivering added value to the business.
It’s also important to develop an asset management policy because it signifies that the organization is committed to implementing asset management as a business model and promoting asset improvement. It also communicates what the organization defines as good practices of asset management, and sets strong direction and clear expectations for continual business improvement activities.
Benefits of an asset management policy
Building an asset management policy can be a big task, so the payoff has to be worth all the work. Fortunately, there are lots of potential benefits that come from creating these guidelines.
1. Standardization and efficiency
Creating an asset management policy eliminates any ambiguity or gaps in asset knowledge. It is concise and sets a strong direction and clear expectations. The document uses language that allows everyone at your organization to see how it relates to them, their role and their goals. It also encourages constant improvement.
When these elements are established, complete alignment within a facility can be achieved. Everyone can work together towards the same goals and use the same guidelines for their work. Unity and efficiency are created across the entire organization. When asset decisions are standardized and efficient, it can lead to all sorts of important benefits for every business unit, but especially for the maintenance team. Backlog is reduced, costs go down, inventory is easier to manage and more.
2. Reliability and safety
An asset management policy highlights best practices that are specific to the organization it is made for. Because of this, it fosters operational excellence and eliminates any room for people to stray from their best work. It ensures that nothing is left to chance when it comes to handling assets.
This has a direct impact on the success of the maintenance operation. By setting clear expectations, everyone on the team understands and executes processes and procedure that yield the best results for assets. This is when equipment and people reach their full potential. Maintenance is optimized so assets experience peak reliability and less unplanned maintenance. Tasks are also done with an eye towards being the best in all areas, which means health and safety aren’t sacrificed for speed or cost.
3. Executive sponsorship
Asset management has traditionally been seen as the sole domain of the maintenance team. But because everyone at an organization has an impact on assets, this narrow view has made exceptional asset management difficult to achieve. Having executive sponsorship for the document gives it immense power and makes everyone accountable. This fosters awareness of the importance of asset management throughout the company.
Every member of an organization can make an impact on equipment with the decisions they make. Executives invest, reliability engineers design, managers plan and technicians execute.
Having an executive on board can also help communicate the organization’s commitment to exceptional asset management to external stakeholders. Customers, shareholders and partners will understand that these best-in-class principles are part of the DNA of the business. This can go a long way to boosting awareness and trust in a brand and its leadership.
Executive backing can also provide reinforcement for a maintenance team stretched too thin. A strong policy creates allies within the organization who the maintenance team can rely on to ensure assets are front and centre in decision-making.
How to develop an asset management policy and strategy
An asset management policy typically includes four larger sections: Intent, scope, principles, and responsibilities. The most successful policy documents are straightforward, concise, and easy to understand.
Intent means that the asset management policy document should clearly communicate the intended purpose and outcomes of the policy. Scope means that the policy document should describe the assets and services covered by the policy. The statement of principles provides direction on how to apply asset management within the organization. Responsibilities identify who is responsible for approving the asset management policy, providing resources to implement the policy, setting priorities, and leading the implementation of the asset management policy.
What should be included in an asset management policy?
The following are the most important elements of an effective asset management policy. An example of an asset management policy using these elements can be seen below.
1. Summarize the intent
This should be the first section of your asset management policy. It sets the tone for the rest of the document by grounding asset management in the overarching goals of the organization. Establish the aim of the organization clearly and succinctly. Use the company’s mission statement or core values as your starting point. Tie asset management to this statement with a brief declaration of its importance in achieving the goals of the organization. This section should be one to three sentences.
2. State the scope
This section describes the assets, services and business units or roles that the policy applies to. Spend time thinking about all assets, services and people that could be affected by this policy. Talk to members of every business unit to understand what assets they are responsible for and their importance. This section is critically important as it eliminates ambiguity, begins to establish expectations and reinforces accountability. This section should be two to five sentences.
3. Articulate the intended outcomes
This section describes the high-level objectives for asset management at your organization. This further defines the goals you want to achieve with this policy and your complete asset management strategy. It should summarize the rationale behind the policy and more specific objectives as they relate to assets and asset management, such as improved reliability or increased accountability. This section should be three to five sentences.
4. Lay out the principles of asset management
This section outlines any guiding principles, practices and general rules for asset management. It serves as a blueprint for decision-making and provides direction on how to apply the asset management policy to everyday tasks. It should also provide some very general examples of how the principles should be applied, like the delivery of resources and reporting standards. If someone is unsure of how to make a decision regarding asset management, this section should be able to point them in the right direction. This section should be four to six sentences.
5. Define responsibilities
This is an important part of your asset management policy. It designates who is responsible for all aspects of the policy and asset management in general, including approval, allocation of resources, implementation, defining priorities and any other relevant, high-level actions. This section should be two to four sentences.
6. Continual improvement and regulatory compliance
Part of a great asset management policy is stating the organization’s commitment to continual improvement of its program, and maintaining compliance with third-party standards. This helps reduce complacency and enables the plan to be an evolving, actionable strategy rather than a vague, forgettable document.
As your facility grows, auditing requirements change, technology advances, and processes need to be updated. That’s why it is extremely important to make a promise of continual improvement. It strengthens your facility’s never-ending quest to improve in all areas, which benefits everyone from a safety and financial standpoint. This section should be two to four sentences.
7. Supplement with additional resources
Finish the asset management policy by adding clarifying information and further reading. This section includes a list of administrative details and contacts, such as the effective date of the policy, the policy owner and the signature of the executive sponsor. It also includes any related documents, such as a health and safety policy, associated regulations and standards, like ISO 55001, and definitions, terms and abbreviations that readers may not be familiar with.
8. Create, review and refine with stakeholders
Building an asset management policy is a long process. It’s going to take a few drafts to get it right. It’s critical to collaborate with key stakeholders from all business units when creating, reviewing and refining the guidelines. Identify a sponsor in senior management who can lend support and oversight to the project. Make it short, easily digestible and consistent with other policies your organization has, such as a health and safety policy. Above all else, make sure you take the time to frequently review and update the strategy, even after it has been published.
Asset management policy template
The following is a basic asset management policy template. The template can be adjusted to the specific industry and organization.
This policy seeks to outline the guidelines and practices that govern decisions on asset management at (Insert Company) to ensure (Insert Company) accomplishes its mission of providing high-quality products in a sustainable and safe environment.
This asset management policy applies to all assets owned by (Insert Company) and all aspects of each asset, including design, construction, operation, maintenance and disposal. This policy applies to all employees, contractors and consultants at (Insert Company). In addition, (Insert Company) may rely on natural assets or other assets it does not own. Where operations are supported by these assets, we will work collaboratively with the asset owners and promote the principles outlined in this policy.
(Insert Company) provides a wide range of products and services to customers that require ownership and responsible operation and maintenance of physical assets including land, buildings, equipment, transportation, and waste. The intent of this policy is to ensure all employees and functions of (Insert Company) are aligned with the goals of (Insert Company) as they relate to asset management and to ensure assets are managed in a manner that maximizes benefits, reduces risk and provides satisfactory levels of service to customers in a safe and sustainable manner.
In managing the assets belonging to (Insert Company), we are committed to:
Taking steps to connect the appropriate departments, functions, and support activities in order to build effective working relationships and encourage information-sharing.
Using asset management decision-making to drive optimum value for customers.
Ensuring decisions are made collaboratively. Ensure decisions consider all life-cycle stages and interrelationships between asset, operational and service performance.
Focusing on decision-making that recognizes the interconnected nature of asset systems and how decisions about one set of assets may potentially interact with or affect assets controlled by other departments and functions.
Application of policy
(Insert Company) will develop and maintain appropriate plans for the renewal, purchase, construction and decommissioning of assets. This includes:
Developing long-term projections of investment needs and applying rigorous analysis, including consideration of risk, to identify short-term needs.
Implementing processes to ensure investments address needs efficiently and effectively, and address operational budget implications of capital investments.
Exploring efficiency opportunities where appropriate, including new technologies.
Analyzing investment plans and associated funding requirements and putting in place mechanisms to ensure long-term financial sustainability.
Evaluating relevant asset investment decisions based on consideration of the costs associated with managing an asset through its entire lifecycle.
Developing prioritized capital investment plans that reflect community and stakeholder expectations with regard to the level of service and other strategic objectives.
Commitment to continuous improvement and compliance
(Insert Company) views continual improvement and compliance with legislation and internationally-recognized standards as a key part of our asset management approach. Our commitment to achieving these goals include:
Driving innovation in the development of tools, techniques, and solutions.
Monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of asset management processes and the wider asset management system in supporting the delivery of strategic objectives.
Assessing competencies necessary to implement proper asset management and providing support, education, and training to fulfil these competencies.
Reviewing this policy and making any necessary adjustments on an annual basis.
Roles and responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities for executing this policy include the following:
The executive committee is responsible for approving asset management policy, articulating organizational values, defining priorities, approving funding and resources to implement the asset management policy and associated requirements, and approving asset funding through multi-year and long-range financial plans.
The chief reliability officer is responsible for leading the implementation of this policy across the organization.
Departmental managers are responsible for leading the adoption of this policy within their departments and allocating appropriate resources to its implementation.
All staff involved in the application of asset management are responsible for observing the requirements of this policy.
January 22, 2019
All policies and schedules of (Insert Company)
Last review date – Next review date
01/22/2019 – 01/22/2020
Version, File reference
1.0, (Insert file number)
Approved by and approval signature
(Insert CEO name and signature)
Related documents and associated regulations and standards
ISO 55001:2014 Asset management systems – Requirements; and
ISO 55002 Asset management systems – Guidelines for application of ISO 55001
How to implement an asset management policy
To ensure your asset management policy is implemented properly, and with the desired impact, there are three key steps to follow: Ensuring communication and accessibility, tracking and improving, and leveraging maintenance management software. By following these three steps, you’ll be able to make the principles and procedures outlined in your asset management policy a part of your organization’s DNA. If the principles are quickly forgotten, asset management will continue to be an afterthought and asset performance will fail to reach its full potential. Below are further details on each step for how to implement an asset management policy.
1. Communication and accessibility
Communication is vital to the success of your asset management policy. You must communicate the policy to all staff, especially intent and next steps. If no one is aware of how they are affected by the policy, there will be no accountability and implementation will be difficult to achieve. Consider creating a shorter, one-page document outlining key elements so all employees can read and understand it easily.
It’s also crucial to make the asset management policy accessible. Post it around your workplace and make sure it’s visible. Make it available to view in a variety of formats, like team briefs or a short video. And ensure employees who have suggestions for revising the policy can do so without too much trouble.
2. Tracking and improving
Every project needs a leader so plans are executed and tasks are completed. An asset management policy is no different. Identify a member of staff who will champion the plan and develop a strategy for implementation. This person may be you or a committee that divides the work and responsibilities. This project owner ensures the implementation plan is being followed, answers any questions from staff and fine-tunes processes.
. . . an asset management policy fosters operational excellence and eliminates any room for people to stray from their best work. It ensures that nothing is left to chance when it comes to handling assets.
A commitment to continual improvement is embedded in your asset management policy and it should be kept. The individual or committee tasked with owning the strategy should also spend time looking for ways to improve the policy. This can take the form of an annual review, regular stakeholder meetings or other forums that identify and implement improvements.
3. Leveraging software
Communicating and tracking anything is difficult to do without a system to do it with. That’s where software can come in handy. Having a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is one digital solution that can help make the implementation of your policy much easier while increasing its impact.
Having professional maintenance software allows facilities to capture more information, use powerful tools to analyze these metrics and apply their findings with fewer headaches. There are lots of data capture tools available through software, like checklists, work order histories and in-depth reports. These tools make it easier and more accurate to determine the progression and impact of policy implementation. For example, a checklist can outline the proper steps for repairing an asset and can also include any guidelines or wording from the asset management policy. Using software, this checklist can be digitized, attached to an asset and tracked, so technicians can be frequently reminded of the policy and live it.
Finally, CMMS software makes it easy to access a digital version of the most up to date document so staff doesn’t have to go hunting through their emails or a file cabinet to find the policy whenever they need to consult it. This also makes communicating updates to the policy much easier so everyone knows what has changed and what those changes mean for them.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “TPM” (or total productive maintenance) many times throughout your maintenance career. As Greg Folts noted during his appearance on the Rooted in Reliability podcast, people may refer to TPM as shorthand for a number of different things. Often, people are referring only to autonomous maintenance when they mention it. In reality, developing an autonomous maintenance plan is just one pillar (and the most common starting point) of building a full TPM program for a facility.
TPM refers to putting processes and training in place so that everyone in a facility—from operations to plant maintenance to engineering—is contributing to maintenance. But what are the necessary steps for building an effective TPM program? Let’s look at each piece of the puzzle individually.
Total Productive Maintenance Pillars: Laying the foundation with 5S
Developed in the early 50s, Total Productive Maintenance is a program for increasing the efficiency of machines and processes, standing on eight TPM pillars with 5S as its foundation.
Before any of the eight pillars of TPM can be put in place, a “5S” foundation must be built. The purpose of laying this foundation is to introduce standardization and continuous improvement processes into every TPM activity.
Determine which items are used frequently and which are not. The ones used frequently should be kept close by, others should be stored further away.
Each item should have one place—and one place only—to be stored.
The workplace needs to be clean. Without it, problems will be more difficult to identify, and quality maintenance will be more difficult to perform.
The workplace should be standardized and labelled. This often means creating processes where none existed previously.
Efforts should be made to continually perform each of the other steps at all times.
Once each of the 5S actions has been established and is part of the facility culture, it’s time to move on to the eight pillars of TPM.
TPM Methodology: Building the TPM pillars
Pillar 1: Autonomous maintenance
Autonomous maintenance (also known as Jishu Hozen) refers to “the restoration and prevention of accelerated deterioration,” which involves cleaning equipment while inspecting it for deterioration or abnormalities, identifying and eliminating factors that contribute to deterioration, and establishing standards to clean, inspect, and lubricate an asset properly. The ultimate goal of autonomous maintenance is to make it part of the operators’ day-to-day job to properly care for their assets as a form of maintenance. This pillar allows maintenance teams to address the larger maintenance issues that deserve their full attention.
Pillar 2: Planned maintenance
Planned maintenance refers to setting up preventive maintenance activities based on metrics such as failure rates and time-based triggers. Planning these activities in advance allows a facility to care for an asset at a time that will not impact production so that uptime is maintained.
Pillar 3: Quality integration
This pillar involves integrating manufacturing performance, quality assurance, design error detection and prevention into the production process. The purpose of this pillar is to improve quality management by removing the root causes of defects and understanding why they occur.
Pillar 4: Focused improvement
The idea of focused improvement involves assembling cross-functional teams to address specific issues that are occurring with equipment maintenance and coming up with solutions that consider each team that interacts with that asset. Since the TPM process dictates that everyone in a facility should contribute to routine maintenance activities, it’s important to involve each functional area in problem-solving maintenance tasks so that everyone’s unique point of view is considered.
Pillar 5: New equipment management
This pillar uses the knowledge that is gained through each interaction maintenance personnel has with facility equipment to improve the design of new equipment and equipment reliability. This allows new equipment to perform better with fewer issues due to employee involvement that’s based on cross-functional knowledge. Overall equipment effectiveness is a common metric used to measure how well the facility is utilizing its equipment compared to its full potential.
Pillar 6: Training and education
The training and education pillar of TPM principles focuses on making sure the maintenance team has the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out TPM across an entire facility. As Greg Folts commented on the Rooted in Reliability podcast, TPM must be both cross-functionally and vertically integrated in order to be successful. Training and education place importance on managers understanding why a successful TPM program is important and filtering that knowledge down correctly.
Pillar 7: Safety, health, environment
Simply put, this pillar refers to building a safe and healthy facility environment and eliminating any conditions that could be risky or harmful to facility workers’ well-being. The goal of this pillar is to provide an accident-free workplace.
Pillar 8: Administrative TPM
This pillar involves encouraging people in administrative or supportive roles (such as purchasing) to apply TPM learnings and principles in their own work processes so that TPM implementation is truly cross-functional.
Implementing the foundation and pillars of TPM is a great start to early management, but an important reality of any successful TPM program is that it must be a continuous effort. Every level of employee, from personnel on the shop floor to upper management, must remain dedicated to the activities that make TPM possible.
Maintenance involves a lot of moving parts, which means more chances for something to go wrong. And when problems arise, you want to tackle them with as much information as possible. In other words, you want problem-solving to be predictable. Data is a key ingredient in achieving this goal.
We look at 5 ways to use data to solve common maintenance issues and lead your team to success.
Future of analytics and data
This article walks you through what data to use and how to use it. While you can follow along if your data is in spreadsheets or file cabinets, we’re using the Fiix analytics tool to illustrate the process. Fiix analytics is visual and interactive so you can get a clear view of how to drill into your data and find the answers to your biggest questions.
1. How do I make sure the right maintenance is being done at the right time?
The average facility manages 45 work orders a week. With so much to do (and so little time to do it in), you know how important it is to focus your team’s efforts in the right place. So, this question really has three sub-questions—am I doing too much maintenance, not enough maintenance, or the right amount of maintenance on an asset?
The first step to answering these questions is to identify the assets with lots of work orders associated with them. Then, filter these work orders by asset and maintenance type.
First, look for assets with few or no corrective work orders associated with them. This means you’re probably doing PMs too frequently on these assets and can cut the frequency of scheduled maintenance.
Assets with not enough preventive maintenance will have lots of emergency work associated with them. Also, look for assets with lower maintenance costs compared to assets of a similar type as that is often a sign that they aren’t getting enough maintenance. Increase the frequency of PMs on these assets.
The right amount of maintenance shows frequent and corrective work orders associated with assets.
2. How is maintenance affecting the performance of equipment?
To get a picture of how maintenance is impacting equipment performance, start by collecting information on assets with associated downtime. Next, filter those assets into two categories – planned and unplanned downtime. Rank those assets by unplanned downtime. Assets with more unplanned downtime are the ones you want to tackle first as they have the biggest negative impact on your company and the most opportunity for improvement. You can further filter those assets by maintenance costs associated with them. The assets with the most downtime and highest costs are where to begin adjusting your strategy.
The next step is to dive into the notes on the emergency work orders attached to those assets. Find out what the most common problems and causes were, and make changes to address them. For example, has a bearing continually failed because of improper lubrication? A simple change might be to increase the frequency of lubrication and specify the proper amount of lubrication needed in each instance.
Revisit this report to see if your adjustments have made a difference. If unplanned downtime and maintenance costs drop across 30, 60, and 90 days, you now have data to support your decisions and show how they impact production.
3. How can my facility organize our storeroom so parts are easily accessible?
An unorganized storeroom can pose more problems than just being messy. It makes it hard for technicians to access parts when they need them most leading to delays and potential breakdowns.
To tackle this problem head-on, collect data on assets with the most emergency work orders attached to them.
Take note of what parts are associated most with that emergency work and the equipment they’re needed for. Once that has been determined, you can kit those parts together. Parts kitting makes getting parts easier and more accessible when emergency work is triggered.
For this to work in the first place, this data needs to be tracked and updated frequently. Each time a tech reaches for a spare part, that data should be updated. It gives you an accurate sign of which parts are used frequently and how often they are attached to reactive work.
4. Where should I be allocating my maintenance budget?
Figuring out where to spend your maintenance budget can be a headache and can be even harder to justify that spending.
Let’s say that increasing your team’s headcount would help clear some of the facility’s backlogged maintenance. That decision comes down to two factors— do I hire more in-house employees or more contractors? That big budget consideration is hard to justify without proof.
To begin making your case, collect all the information you can about work done in the last quarter to a year. Was it done mostly by internal employees or contractors?
By looking at each category, add up the total spend associated with each. Take into account costs like employee salary and benefits, contractor’s hourly pay, and training. Each has its cost benefits and disadvantages.
Based on those costs, you can make a pretty clear case to your department, based on dollar value, if it’s more cost-effective to hire internal employees or more contractors. Those stats can help justify why spending on additional hires is necessary.
5. What obstacles are our technicians facing?
It’s easy for technicians to get caught up in their workload when things get busy. Completion notes aren’t updated or information is missed on work orders. It may not seem like a big deal the first time, but once it becomes a habit, it can become an obstacle for other technicians.
As a maintenance manager, you can help enforce the importance of having complete information. One of the ways you can tackle this obstacle is by conducting bi-weekly checks to find work orders with missing information or incomplete notes.
Look for trends in those work orders. Was it done by the same technician? Is it the same type of information being missed? Consider looking at the type of maintenance associated with these work orders. Consider having a department-wide info session on the importance and benefit of filling out work order completion notes.
If it’s the same technician, take a look at their logged hours. If they are doing more hours than the average, it might mean they are simply logging too many hours and might be overworked.
Making it a habit to check for these inconsistencies on a regular basis might make a big difference in the performance of your employees and your facility.
Seeing the bigger picture leads to bigger gains
Your facility has lots of moving parts and keeping track of them all manually can be time-consuming. Using an analytics reporting tool provides a visual representation of your facility’s moving parts. In addition, it gives the power back to the maintenance department, allowing them to tackle problems as they arise and lead their team to solution-oriented work culture.
Maintenance troubleshooting can be both an art and a science. A common problem is that, while art can be beautiful, it isn’t known for its efficiency. When taken to the next level, maintenance troubleshooting can ditch the trial-and-error moniker and become a purely scientific endeavor. This helps maintenance technicians find the right problems and solutions more quickly. When troubleshooting is done correctly, your whole maintenance operation can overcome backlog, lost production, and compliance issues much more efficiently.
In this troubleshooting guide, we’ll take a look at what it actually is, why it matters to maintenance professionals, and how your team can fine-tune its approach.
What is maintenance troubleshooting?
Systems break down—that’s just a fact of life. Whether it’s a conveyer belt or an industrial drill, we’ve all run across a piece of equipment that is unresponsive, faulty, or acting abnormally for seemingly no reason at all. It can be downright frustrating.
Maintenance troubleshooting is the process of identifying what is wrong with these faulty components and systems when the problem is not immediately obvious. Maintenance troubleshooting usually follows a systematic, four-step approach; identify the problem, plan a response, test the solution, and resolve the problem. Steps one to three are often repeated multiple times before a resolution is reached.
Identify the problem
Plan a response
Test the solution
Repeat until problem is resolved
Think about it this way: When a conveyor belt breaks down, you may try a few different methods to fix it. First, you identify which part of the conveyor belt isn’t working. Once you’ve identified the problem area, you plan a response and test it, such as realigning or lubricating a part. If this fails to fix the problem, you might replace the part, which makes the conveyor belt work again. This is troubleshooting.
How is maintenance troubleshooting usually done?
Stop us if you’ve heard this story before. An asset breaks down and no one knows why. You talk to the operator, read some manuals, and check your notes about the asset. You try a couple of things to get the machine up and working again with no luck. Before you can try a third or fourth possible solution, you get called away to another emergency, with the asset still out of commission.
This is often how the process happens when performing maintenance troubleshooting, especially when a facility relies on paper records or Excel spreadsheets. The process is based on collecting as much information as possible from as many sources as possible to identify the most likely cause of the unexpected breakdown. You can never go wrong when you gather information, but it’s the way that information is gathered that can turn troubleshooting from a necessity to a nightmare.
Why does maintenance troubleshooting matter?
Unexpected equipment failure is the entire reason maintenance troubleshooting exists. If assets never broke down without any clear signs of imminent failure, there would be no need to troubleshoot the problem. But we know that’s just not the case.
Machinery failure doesn’t always follow a predictable pattern. Yes, maintenance teams can use preventive maintenance and condition-based maintenance to reduce the likelihood of unplanned downtime. However, you can never eliminate it entirely. What you can do is put processes in place to reduce failure as much as possible and fix it as soon as possible when it does occur. This is where strong maintenance troubleshooting techniques come in handy.
Because troubleshooting will always be part of the maintenance equation, humans will also always have a role. Maintenance technology does not erase the need for a human touch in troubleshooting; it simply makes the process much more efficient. When troubleshooting isn’t refined, it could lead to time wasted tracking down information, a substantial loss of production, an unsafe working environment, and more frequent failures. In short, knowing some maintenance troubleshooting techniques could be the difference between an overwhelming backlog and a stable maintenance program.
Maintenance troubleshooting tips
The following are just a few ways your operation can improve its troubleshooting techniques to conquer chaos and take control of its maintenance.
1. Quantify asset performance and understand how to use the results
It probably goes without saying, but the more deeply you know an asset, the better equipped you’ll be to diagnose a problem. Years of working with a certain asset can help you recognize when it’s not working quite right. But exceptional troubleshooting isn’t just about knowing the normal sounds, speeds, or odours of a particular machine. Instead, it’s about knowing how to analyze asset performance at a deeper level, which is where advanced reporting factors in.
When operators and technicians rely solely on their own past experience with a piece of equipment, it leaves them with huge gaps in knowledge that hurt the maintenance troubleshooting process. For example, it leaves too much room for recency bias to affect decision-making, which means that technicians are most likely to try the last thing that fixed a particular problem without considering other options or delving further into the root cause. Also, if maintenance troubleshooting relies on the proprietary knowledge of a few technicians, it means repairs will have to wait until those particular maintenance personnel are available.
Maintenance staff should have the know-how to conduct an in-depth analysis of an asset’s performance. For example, technicians should understand how to run reports and understand KPIs for critical equipment, such as mean time between failure and overall equipment effectiveness. If using condition-based maintenance, the maintenance team should also know the P-F curve for each asset and what different sensor readings mean. When technicians are equipped with a deeper understanding of an asset, it will be easier for them to pinpoint where a problem occurred and how to fix it, both in the short and long-term.
2. Create in-depth asset histories
Information is the fuel that powers exceptional maintenance troubleshooting for maintenance. Knowing how a particular asset has worked and failed for hundreds of others is a good place to start a repair. That’s why manuals are a useful tool when implementing troubleshooting maintenance techniques. However, each asset, facility, and operation is different, which means asset machine failure doesn’t always follow the script. Detailed notes on an asset’s history can open up a dead end and lead you to a solution much more quickly.
A detailed asset history can give you an edge in maintenance troubleshooting in a variety of ways. It offers a simple method for cross-referencing symptoms of the current issue with elements of past problems. For example, a technician can see if a certain type of material was being handled by a machine or if there were any early warning signs identified for a previous failure. The more a present situation aligns with a past scenario, the more likely it is to need the same fix. Solutions can be prioritized this way, leading to fewer misses, less downtime, fewer unnecessary spare parts being used, and more.
When troubleshooting is done correctly, your whole maintenance operation can overcome backlog, lost production, and compliance issues much more efficiently.
When creating detailed asset histories to help with maintenance troubleshooting (as well as preventive maintenance), it’s important to include as much information as possible. Make sure to record the time and dates of any notable actions taken on an asset or piece of equipment. This can include breakdowns, PMs, inspections, part replacement, production schedules, and abnormal behavior, such as smoke or unusual sounds. Next, document the steps taken during maintenance, including PMs or repairs. Lastly, highlight the successful solution and what was needed to accomplish it, such as necessary parts, labor and safety equipment. Make sure to add any relevant metrics and reports to the asset history as well.
Effective maintenance troubleshooting starts with eliminating ambiguity and short-term solutions. Finding the root of an issue quickly, solving it effectively and ensuring it stays solved is a winning formula. Root cause analysis and failure codes are a couple of tools that will help you achieve this goal.
Root cause analysis is a maintenance troubleshooting technique that allows you to pinpoint the reason behind a failure. The method consists of asking “why” until you get to the heart of the problem. For example:
Why did the equipment fail?: Because a bearing wore out
Why did the bearing wear out?: Because a coupling was misaligned
Why was the coupling misaligned?: Because it was not serviced recently.
Why was the coupling not serviced?: Because maintenance was not scheduled.
Why was maintenance not scheduled?: Because we weren’t sure how often it should be scheduled.
This process has two benefits when conducting maintenance troubleshooting for maintenance. First, it allows you to identify the immediate cause of failure and fix it quickly. Second, it leads you to the core of the issue and a long-term solution. In the example above, it’s clear a better preventive maintenance program is required to improve asset management and reduce unplanned downtime.
Failure codes provide a consistent method to describe why an asset failed. Failure codes are built on three actions: Listing all possible problems, all possible causes, and all possible solutions. This process records key aspects of a failure according to predefined categories, like misalignment or corrosion.
Failure codes are useful when maintenance troubleshooting because technicians can immediately see common failure codes, determine the best solution, and implement it quickly. Failure codes can also be used to uncover a common problem among a group of assets and determine a long-term solution.
4. Build detailed task lists
Exceptional maintenance troubleshooting requires solid planning and foresight. Clear processes provide a blueprint for technicians so they can quickly identify problems and implement more effective solutions. Creating detailed task lists is one way to bolster your planning and avoid headaches down the road. This could also be incorporated into routine maintenance.
A task list outlines a series of tasks that need to be completed to finish a larger job. They ensure crucial steps aren’t missed when performing inspections, audits or PMs. For example, the larger job may be conducting a routine inspection of your facility’s defibrillators. This job is broken down into a list of smaller tasks, such as “Verify battery installation,” and “Inspect exterior components for cracks.”
Maintenance technology does not erase the need for a human touch in troubleshooting; it simply makes the process much more efficient.
Detailed task lists are extremely important when conducting maintenance troubleshooting. They act as a guide when testing possible solutions so technicians can either fix the issue or disqualify a diagnosis as quickly as possible. The more explicit the task list, the more thorough the job and the less likely a technician is to make a mistake. Comprehensive task lists can also offer valuable data when failure occurs. They provide insight into the type of work recently done on an asset so you can determine whether any corrective actions were missed and if this was the source of the problem.
There are a few best practices for building detailed task lists. First, include all individual actions that make up a task. For example, instead of instructing someone to “Inspect the cooling fan,” include the steps that comprise that inspection, such as “Check for any visible cracks,” and “Inspect for loose parts.” Organize all steps in the order they should be done. Lastly, include any additional information that may be helpful in completing the tasks, including necessary supplies, resources (ie. manuals), and PPE.
5. Make additional information accessible
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; great maintenance troubleshooting techniques are often the result of great information. However, if that information is difficult to access, you will lose any advantage it provides. That is why it is crucial for your operation to not only create a large resource center, but to also make it highly accessible. This will elevate your maintenance troubleshooting abilities and get your assets back online faster when unplanned downtime occurs.
Let’s start with the elements of a great information hub. We’ve talked about the importance of reports, asset histories, failure codes and task lists when performing a troubleshooting method. Some other key resources include diagrams, standard operating procedures (SOPs), training videos, and manuals. These should all be included and organized by asset. If a technician hits a dead-end a troubleshooting procedure, these tools can offer a solution that may have been missed in the initial analysis.
Now that you’ve gathered all your documents together, it’s time to make them easily accessible to the whole maintenance team. If resources are trapped in a file cabinet, on a spreadsheet, or in a single person’s mind, they don’t do a lot of good for the technician. They can be lost, misplaced and hard to find—not to mention the inefficiency involved with needing to walk from an asset to the office just to grab a manual. One way to get around this obstacle is to create a digital knowledge hub with maintenance software. By making all your resources available through a mobile device, technicians can access any tool they need to troubleshoot a problem. Instead of sifting through paper files to find an asset history or diagram, they can access that same information anywhere, anytime.
Using CMMS software for maintenance troubleshooting
If it sounds like a lot of work to gather, organize, analyze and circulate all the information needed to be successful at maintenance troubleshooting, you’re not wrong. Without the proper tools, this process can be a heavy lift for overwhelmed maintenance teams. Maintenance software is one tool that can help ease the load every step of the way. A digital platform, such as a CMMS, takes care of crunching the numbers, organizing data and making it available wherever and whenever, so you can focus on using that information to make great decisions and troubleshoot more effectively.
For example, when building a detailed asset history, it’s important to document every encounter with a piece of equipment. This is a lot of work for a technician rushing from one job to another and difficult to keep track of after the fact. An investment in maintenance software will help you navigate these roadblocks. It does this by allowing technicians to use a predetermined set of questions to make and retrieve notes in real-time with a few clicks.
The same goes for failure codes. The key to using them effectively is proper organization and accessibility. Without those two key ingredients, failure codes become more of a hindrance than a help. One way to accomplish this is to use maintenance software. A digital platform can organize failure codes better than any filing cabinet or Excel spreadsheet and make it easy for technicians to quickly sort them and identify the relevant ones from the site of the breakdown.
The bottom line
Troubleshooting will always exist in maintenance. You will never be 100 percent sure 100 percent of the time when diagnosing the cause of failure. What you can do is take steps to utilize maintenance troubleshooting techniques to ensure equipment is repaired quickly and effectively. By combining a good understanding of maintenance metrics with detailed asset histories, failure codes, task lists, and other asset resources, and making all this information accessible, you can move your troubleshooting beyond trial and error to a more systematic approach.