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Maintenance management softwares

05 July 202212 min reading

In the past, CMMS software was essentially a spreadsheets data repository, but now CMMS allows to reap the benefits of proven, leading technologies such as IoT technology, mobile devices, wireless access, and configurable dashboards of maintenance environment data. CMMS system allows to a preventive maintenance schedule to be programmed to generate automatic tasks and then work orders to the maintenance team.

Prof. Farhan Alfin
Food Engineer and Milling Technologist



In my previous articles “Mill Maintenance Methods” Miller Magazine, 12(101), and “Mill Maintenance in The Age of Industry 4.0” Miller Magazine, 14(127), I mentioned that it is common to use specialized software to plan a preventive or predictive maintenance schedule, which is called “Computerized Maintenance Management Software (system)” or CMMS. CMMS mainly is designed to simplify and streamline the maintenance operations management process.

In the past, CMMS software was essentially a spreadsheets data repository, but now CMMS allows to reap the benefits of proven, leading technologies such as IoT technology, mobile devices, wireless access, and configurable dashboards of maintenance environment data. To understand the functions and advantages of CMMS, we should know the maintenance workflow.

What is Maintenance Workflow?

Maintenance operation workflow is the step-by-step process that gets initiated by trigger event, which could be a report of faulty equipment, then generating a maintenance order, the planning of the task, the execution of the repair and the reporting at the end of the maintenance process. Every organization should have a workflow process and document it officially as a standard way of the maintenance procedure. 


There are four main stages in a maintenance process:

Stage 1: Trigger event: Like a report of a fault or a preventive maintenance scheduled event. 

Stage 2: Work order: The maintenance task is planned. A planner will settle the parts issued to technicians and time allocated for known tasks.

Stage 3: Repair or executing the order: The work will be completed by restoring the equipment to normal operating conditions. 

Stage 4: Reporting: Maintenance task reports from maintenance technician can be evaluated by management to check the performance of the maintenance and identify opportunities for improvement.

What is a Computerized Maintenance Management Software ‘CMMS’?

CMMS software is a maintenance management tool that let a maintenance planner to automate the maintenance activities to get the efficiency of the maintenance function by ensuring that the right information gets to the person who needs it, a maintenance planner has all the information they need to efficiently plan the resources to get the job done.

Most of CMMS systems are cloud-based systems that centralize all information related to maintaining the assets currently in operation at facility or facilities. CMMS system is a one-stop hub where the maintenance planner and maintenance team can see all information related to the plant asset maintenance program. So that CMMS system should house information as locations of all assets, how each one is performing, when they will require maintenance, and much more.


Data analysis “Root Cause Analysis” of maintenance activities using efficient CMMS ensures that progress against metrics can be continuously monitored and improvements driven through historical tracking of information. To get efficient use of CMMS should be associated with a well-defined maintenance workflow. This results in improved maintenance performance, preventive maintenance program and reliability.

CMMS is not just for reactive and preventative maintenance approaches, some of CMMS systems can work for proactive maintenance strategies such as predictive, and prescriptive maintenance. Furthermore, the IoT and AI-powered capabilities of a CMMS make it possible to monitor real-time machine health and performance conditions and plan maintenance activities based on data from the sensors of the machine itself.

Why Use a CMMS System?

There are numerous benefits with supporting maintenance management by a digital solution such as Excel spreadsheets and is better by a CMMS software. A CMMS system benefits maintenance teams in many ways, including, but are not limited to:

•Ensures cost-effectiveness and reduces production costs by reducing repair and maintenance costs.

•Efficiently provide data for maintenance budgeting by analysis of real maintenance costs. Analyzing real maintenance costs data help in identifying equipment that has excessive maintenance costs, which could indicate the need for equipment replacement.

•Minimize paperwork, freeing employees for more productive work.

•Ensures maximum reliability and plant safety by reducing accidents.

•Focused use of resources, optimize inventory levels and reduce carrying charges.

•Reduced equipment downtime and extend the uptime of machinery, equipment, facilities and vehicles.

•Compliance with regulatory requirements such as EPA, ISO, OSHA, and GASB.

•Standardized maintenance processes.

•Saving time and reducing errors by ensuring better clarity around maintenance tasks, eliminating lost orders, automating work order scheduling, tracking, prioritization and avoiding extra maintenance activity. 

•Increase labor productivity (maintenance workers' time is better used, reducing overtime costs).

What Is a Preventive Maintenance Schedule?

Preventive maintenance is regular, planned maintenance tasks that might be scheduled according to time (for example, on the first day of every month) or after a certain number of production cycles. A preventive maintenance schedule should be periodically reviewed according to historical tracking of failure and performance analysis to balance the risk of failure with the time and costs of maintenance.


CMMS system allows to a preventive maintenance schedule to be programmed to generate automatic tasks and then work orders to the maintenance team.

What is a Work Order?

Work orders are assignments of maintenance, repair or operations work to be completed by the maintenance team requested by the maintenance planner. Work orders include who is requesting, who is authorized, who will perform the labor, what is the task, when to be completed, where to be performed, the necessary parts and other notes. 

Centralizing and streamlining the work order process by using CMMS improves clarity and gets more work done on time. Work order management is one of the most important functions of CMMS system. Using CMMS system ensures standard work order producer, work going through an approval process, efficient communication flow. Once a work order is generated it needs to be tracked to successful completion. Work orders of CMMS systems can also include drawings, pictures, documents, video clips and other files to allow for the accurate information to be always available, for all technicians.

Ideally, maintenance technicians will write job reports of work orders within 24 hours after completing the task.

Types of Work Orders

Assigning type to work orders simplifies tracking the type of labor performed, and assigning work priorities. The main types of work orders used in a CMMS are: 

General: A general work order is any planned or unplanned maintenance task like setting up or dismantling equipment, painting walls, or changing a light bulb, for example.

Preventive: A preventive maintenance work order is any scheduled routine maintenance tasks.

Inspection: An inspection work order is auditing or inspecting equipment based on a predetermined set of parameters. Inspections are usually time-based to a specific schedule.

Emergency: An emergency work order is generated when an equipment breakdown occurs and should repair it immediately. 

Corrective: A corrective maintenance work order is generated when a maintenance technician discovers a problem while performing any maintenance of previous types.

FUNCTIONS OF CMMS SOFTWARE

CMMS software provides the following important functions, but it is not limited to:

1. Asset Management

Asset management can store information about asset like:

• Location and position.

• Manufacturer, model, serial number and any other data.

• Maintenance costs and codes.

• Applied maintenance tasks and downtime statistics.

• Associated documentation, video and images such as repair manuals, safety procedures and warranties

• Associated parts and their information

• Availability of meters, sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) instrumentation and its reading.

2. Plan schedule and Preventive Maintenance

CMMS automates generating of work orders depending on time, usage or triggered events. Purchasing management: Generate automatic parts purchasing orders, reorder alerts and alerts for work orders awaiting parts. 

3. Inventory management of spare parts and materials

The System manages the materials and spare parts across storage areas and tracks supplies, records inventory costs, and generates automated re-supply.

4. Work Order Management

Work order management is considered as one of the main functions of CMMS. CMMS generate and track work order. Main work order records may include information such as:

• Work order number

• Order type (repair, replace, scheduled)

• Priority and description

• Technician assigned 

• Materials used

• Attach associated documentation, repair and safety media

5. Labor Management

CMMS saves the available employee information as well. The system can also organize shifts and manage pay rates.

6. Reporting, Analysis and Auditing

Generate comprehensive meaningful and easy-to-understand reports and intelligence dashboard that displays graphs, to monitor many areas, including equipment performance, work order completion, employee productivity and material usage and costs. 

IMPORTANT FEATURES OF CMMS

Below are some important features of CMSS for maintenance managers must be considered during selecting the system.

1. Flexibility: There’s no one way to manage maintenance. Every industry, company and department has individualized needs, and thus each organization requires a different data structure, so it is vital to ensure that CMMS supports the ability of customized data organization.

2. Cost Transparency: Upfront description of pricing without any hidden fees when purchasing and selecting CMMS is very important

3. Training, implementation support: Lack of post-sale training and implementation support services causes CMMS implementations fail to meet expectations.

4. Locally Hosted vs. Cloud-Based: Like other software, some of CMMS systems are locally hosted and others are cloud-based - web-based (Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)). Web-based systems have outstanding features such as access to CMMS software through a web browser on any computer, a more rapid implementation process, requiring less IT with automatic updates, and allowing users to access their CMMS anytime, anywhere through mobile devices.

5. Data Conversion: Data Conversion is one of the most time-consuming tasks during implementation. This includes converting data from spreadsheets files or other CMMS systems. Thus, CMMS should have the ability to import and export data to and from other applications.

HOW TO START USING CMMS SOFTWARE

After taking a decision on which CMMS system will be purchased, IT department or provider will install the system. After that, the maintenance planner or maintenance manager has to decide how to set up and use the system. Using the system should start without bogging down or slowing maintenance operations. At the start of using CMMS, the first data have to be put in is assets, equipment and facilities. After that adding information of spare parts and supplies, technicians and so on.

Then defining the unplanned and planned maintenance tasks on different equipment or facilities. To simplify this target, it is usually best to start with a few breakdowns type tasks and create work orders. By using the system, you can add more specialized tasks and instructions. The maintenance planner or maintenance supervisor accepts work requests, creates work orders, schedules preventive maintenance and passes them on to technicians. Also, has to keep an eye on work orders and make sure that work is completed in time and not left pending.

After a time, the CMMS system can represent useful statistic reports like work order backlog, average days to complete work orders, pending work orders and work requests, equipment requiring most breakdown maintenance time and so on. Breakdown maintenance over time will decrease and a corresponding increase in planned/ preventive maintenance.

Spreadsheet for Maintenance Management

Many companies use Microsoft Excel spreadsheet applications to build maintenance management systems rather than using purpose-built, dedicated software. If the user is quite familiar with Excel can build a useful tool for managing maintenance, equipment and keeping track of inventory.

Advantages of using Excel to Manage Maintenance:

•Assuming that it is already installed on the company’s computers, as is often the case, it can be considered as free of charge;

•Most employees are familiar with its use and do not require special training.

•Flexible in handling different types of data in the spreadsheet.

•It is easily customizable;

•It allows for easy sharing of tables between employees.

For all these reasons, Excel can be used for maintenance management in small and medium industries as an affordable solution.

Disadvantages of Using Excel to Manage Maintenance

Nevertheless, Excel has serious limitations for those who want to optimize their maintenance management:

•It lacks alerting or notification feature;

•Hardly used by several users simultaneously;

•Uncertainty about the reliability of available data;

•Excessive centralization of information;

•Its limitations in big data analysis and cross-reference capabilities

Despite this, many organizations utilize Microsoft Excel for maintenance tasks scheduling, and asset tracking and still peter than paper documentation.

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