Companies taking their first steps toward preventive maintenance often start with homemade maintenance spreadsheets. A maintenance spreadsheet lets you log work orders, document upcoming maintenance cycles, and use filters to manipulate the data and produce lists of work completed. The issue is, spreadsheets don’t talk to each other and can’t send notifications to technicians in the field. This means that maintenance managers and technicians must rely on other systems like email, phone, pagers, offline trackers, or even sticky notes to get a full picture of the work that needs to be done.
While they add more value than just pen and paper, spreadsheets have obvious limitations.
On the other hand, maintenance software like computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) lets facility managers, technicians, and customers track the maintenance status of their assets and the associated costs of that work in one system.
CMMS vs. maintenance Excel spreadsheets
A CMMS and maintenance excel spreadsheets share some basic similarities but are used differently. Below is a table that illustrates some of the differences:
|Definition||A CMMS automates the collection and analysis of data to optimize maintenance operations||Maintenance spreadsheets log work orders and document upcoming maintenance|
|Used to||Manage preventive maintenance activities||Manipulate data and produce lists of completed work|
|Disadvantages||It may be more difficult to customizeIt may be susceptible to cyber attacks||Limited access that lives on personal drivesUsually leads to a physical paper trail|
Nine advantages of a CMMS over a maintenance spreadsheet
1. Automated preventive maintenance triggers.
Preventive maintenance software helps reduce human error by ensuring PMs are triggered when they are due in compliance with regulatory or manufacturer requirements. A good CMMS system can also activate PMs based on a number of maintenance triggers including time, meter, and event.
2. Auditing and compliance.
A CMMS digitizes your paper trail. Work orders are documented electronically as you go, even if you are working offline. This simplifies things in case of an audit.
3. Analysis and reporting.
A CMMS will report on maintenance key performance indicators (KPIs) such as MTBF, MTTF, and availability with little effort. KPIs are used to evaluate current operations’ effectiveness, make organizational and personnel decisions, and determine whether assets need to be repaired or replaced. Built-in reports enable you to refine maintenance processes and improve asset availability, ultimately improving your bottom line.
Maintenance spreadsheets live on a personal drive on a desktop computer, with limited access. With a cloud-based CMMS, the data is stored on a remote server and can be accessed from anywhere over the internet. Most modern CMMS software also comes with a mobile app so you can access your CMMS via your phone or tablet in the field.
Plan, control, forecast, measure performance, evaluate, and report all from one system.
6. Real-time information.
See your organization’s maintenance activities in real-time. Managers can see which assets are offline, who is working on what, and what still needs to be done.
Work requests submitted into the system can instantly be sent to the correct people. Technicians receive notifications automatically so they know what work is due.
8. Centralized database.
Your CMMS is a database of all equipment information, documents, manuals, schematics and images, and materials. No need for your technicians to carry around bulky schematics or manuals. Over time, this becomes a repository for historical data on your assets, giving you a fuller picture of an asset’s performance.
9. Supply chain management.
A CMMS will automatically track parts inventory, manage suppliers and vendors effortlessly and help you keep inventory costs optimized. When parts are consumed during work orders, the CMMS depletes stock levels in real-time. There’s no need to go back to the desk and update those stock cards. If the stock falls below minimum levels, the system will notify the required users or suppliers to start the reordering process.
Spreadsheets might be cheaper in the short term, but a CMMS will save you costs in the long run
While a maintenance spreadsheet is the cheaper option in the short term, it’s inflexible and doesn’t react to what is going on in your facility. Its ability to minimize the costs associated with downtime, stocking parts, and management reporting time is low, at best.
A CMMS streamlines and automates all of this, and many solutions can be customized to suit your maintenance processes, no matter the size of your organization. Any business can effectively deploy a CMMS in any market sector for efficient asset management.