What is a computerized maintenance management system?

While the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) was created in the 1960s as a punch-card system used to manage work orders, it’s come a long way in the 50-some years since. Today, CMMS software is used to easily keep a centralized record of all assets and equipment that maintenance teams are responsible for, as well as schedule and track maintenance activities and keep a detailed record of the work they’ve performed.

The evolution of the CMMS to a cloud-based, multi-tenant solution has made it easier than ever for any maintenance team to harness the power of digital transformation.

What is CMMS software used for?


Tracking work orders

Maintenance managers can select equipment with a problem, describe the problem, and assign a specific technician to do the work, either from a web or mobile app. When the machine is fixed, the responsible technician marks the work order “complete” and the manager gets notified that the work is done.


Scheduling tasks

As a team starts to schedule preventive maintenance, they need a reliable work calendar. CMMS systems are especially good at scheduling recurring work and sending reminders to the right people. Organized maintenance scheduling helps even out the workload for a maintenance team making sure that tasks do not get forgotten.


External work requests

Maintenance teams often have to take a work request from people outside the team. This can be a request from an assembly line operator who is hearing a strange noise from a drill or a tenant at an apartment building who is requesting shower repairs. The CMMS is a central place for recording these requests and tracking their completion.


Recording asset history

Many maintenance teams have to care for assets that are 10, 20, even 30 years old. These machines have a long history of repairs. When a problem comes up, it is always useful to see how this problem was solved last time. In CMMS systems, when repairs are done, they are recorded in the machine’s history log and can be viewed again by workers.


Managing inventory

Maintenance teams have to store and manage a lot of inventory that include things like spare parts for machines and supplies like oil and grease. CMMS systems let the team see how many items are in storage, how many were used in repairs, and when new ones need to be ordered. Managing inventory helps control inventory related costs.


Audit and certification

Many CMMS systems keep an unchangeable record of every action, so an asset’s maintenance history can be audited. This is useful in case of an accident or insurance claim—an inspector can verify if the proper maintenance was completed on a machine. CMMS systems also keep data in a centralized system, which helps keep one version of the truth for ISO certification.

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Where do you install a CMMS?

There are two common places where CMMS software runs: On a computer at the client’s business, or on the web.

On-premises CMMS

When a business is responsible for running its own CMMS, it is called an on-premises CMMS. The benefit of this kind of installation is the user has full control over network access to the CMMS server and complete data privacy (relevant for defense contractors, for example). The drawbacks are that this type of CMMS software implementation is expensive and complex. The IT department has to constantly look after the server, backups must be done by the maintenance team, and the software can quickly get out of date if updates aren’t installed regularly.

Cloud-based CMMS

When the CMMS runs online, it is called cloud-based CMMS software. Here, the CMMS provider takes care of all the IT, hosting, security, and backups for the system, and the software can be accessed through any computer with an internet connection and web browser. Another strength of a cloud-based CMMS is that the software updates automatically, so you’re always using the latest and most secure version. Make sure to subscribe to a cloud-based CMMS that lets you export the information in your current system so that you can migrate it if needed.

Benefits of a CMMS

Measure maintenance performance: A CMMS makes it easy to do preventive maintenance, which means there are fewer surprise breakdowns and work outages. Allowing you to make better business decisions.

Better accountability: Work order tracking makes it possible to quickly see if a technician did their work on time and get alerted when a task is complete.

Less overtime: Better scheduling means that your team isn’t sitting idle or working overtime, which means work can be distributed evenly.

Information capture: Technicians can record problems and solutions, so this information is captured for others to use.

Savings on purchases: Inventory planning features give you the time to shop around for spare parts pricing, instead of having to buy in a hurry.

Certification and analysis: A full record of assets and performance helps managers analyze energy usage and plan maintenance spend.

Who uses the CMMS?

Every industry can benefit from maintenance care, and CMMS software can help businesses plan and manage that maintenance. There are four key user groups for these systems:

Production maintenance: These are companies that make tangible products. They have machines, assembly lines, forklifts, and heavy equipment that require frequent maintenance.
Facility maintenance: These are companies that take care of buildings. Apartment buildings, theatres, and government buildings all require maintenance. CMMS software helps them deal with structural, HVAC, and water-supply problems.
Fleet maintenance: These are companies that take care of vehicles and transportation. Car rental companies, pizza delivery cars, city buses, transport ships, and fleets of towing trucks all need to have repairs scheduled, which can be taken care of with a CMMS.
Linear asset maintenance: This is a special category of maintenance for companies that have assets like roads, water pipes, or fiber optic cables that cover great distances. A CMMS can help manage the complex maintenance required to keep these assets running.

The result of poor maintenance coordination is less than optimum plant performance with a growing maintenance backlog and productivity running as low as 35%.

What is the best CMMS software?

The best CMMS software companies are focusing on these areas for future development:

Mobile CMMS applications

Maintenance workers spend most of their time outside the office fixing machines and taking care of buildings. So making the CMMS available in the field on their mobile phone is essential. With a mobile-friendly CMMS app, technicians can record what they are doing as they are doing it, take pictures of the work, and request help onsite. Mobile apps that offer offline mode allow these updates to take place even without a Wi-Fi connection.

Easy-to-use CMMS software

Many established CMMS companies make products that are very difficult to use. The interface hasn’t changed since the late 1990’s and many unnecessary, complicated features have been added to the product. More innovative CMMS companies often try to simplify the maintenance process and to make the software features easier to access and use.

Fast CMMS data entry

The majority of CMMS projects that fail do so because they are too difficult to use and it is time consuming to enter data into the system. The next frontier for CMMS systems is focused on designing intuitive user experience and efficient ways to integrate data into the system from various sources.

Cloud-based CMMS

New CMMS companies are mostly focused on providing a private CMMS for their clients, which runs online, through the cloud. The CMMS provider takes care of all the IT, security, and backups, making this a great option for modern maintenance teams

In short: There’s a CMMS for everyone

Today’s CMMS software helps businesses make informed decisions and stay on top of their work. A good CMMS system will streamline workflows and allow maintenance teams to easily keep a centralized record of all assets and equipment that maintenance teams are responsible for, as well as schedule and track maintenance activities and keep a detailed record of the work they’ve performed.

Good CMMS vendors are building for the future and are investing heavily in cloud-based solutions that are user-friendly and offer multi-tenancy, so that maintenance teams of any size at any number of locations can easily adopt the software. The evolution of mobile apps for maintenance teams is making it easier than ever for technicians to do work in the field, even when they’re offline. It’s important to select a CMMS that works best for your business, based on the features that are most important to your maintenance team.

Further reading:

If you are interested in learning more about CMMS software, have a look at these other resources:

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