Using a CMMS to Reduce Unplanned Downtime of Manufacturing Equipment

CMMS Software / June 2020

Costly downtime of manufacturing equipment, slow production processes, and a lack of asset data are just some challenges that production managers and plant owners face. Because of this, businesses are pointed in the direction of a specifically targeted CMMS for their manufacturing maintenance needs. But, before jumping ahead with any CMMS solution, it’s important for businesses to first understand the depth of their maintenance challenges.

How CMMS Eliminates Manufacturing Maintenance Issues

A Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is used to help asset-intensive businesses plan, track, analyse, and enhance their maintenance process. The ability to reduce maintenance costs and prolong the useful life of production-critical assets is essential for various organizations and industries, including oil and gas. One industry that benefits the most is manufacturing.

Whether managing an entire plant or leading a production line, carrying out responsibilities for the efficient production of tangible goods can be overwhelming. Especially if businesses are using paper-based methods or spreadsheets to track and manage their maintenance processes.

As well as making sure all equipment is compliant and in optimal working condition through scheduled maintenance and repairs, it is a businesses job to keep the production line in operation. That includes maintaining heavy machinery and equipment, organising inventory, placing orders for spare parts, and collecting asset management and performance data.

Without the use of a digital maintenance solution, users will run into a vast array of challenges. The one common issue facing manufacturing companies is the unplanned downtime of critical equipment. In fact, manufacturers face an unprecedented loss of up to $260,000 per hour through unplanned downtime alone. With 82% of companies experiencing at least one case of unplanned downtime between 2015 and 2018.

The Cost of Unplanned Downtime in Manufacturing without preventive maintenance

Other challenges that manufacturing companies will face include:

  • Overstocked/understocked inventory of spare parts
  • Lack of essential equipment and performance data
  • Delayed or missed work orders
  • Expensive equipment and machinery replacements

But, with a CMMS solution that is dedicated to improving manufacturing maintenance processes, these issues can be a thing of the past.

Operating from a centralised database, users are able to utilise tools and get a better hand on maintenance activities. By supporting a preventive maintenance strategy, a CMMS will increase uptime and life of machinery, reduce downtime during working hours, and efficiently handle work orders. All this, among other benefits that can help keep manufacturing operations running smoothly and enhance overall manufacturing operations.

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5 Benefits of Using a CMMS for Manufacturing

The benefits reaped by using a CMMS for manufacturing maintenance activities are vast. Overall, the right tool will help to control costs and increase efficiency throughout a production line. There are many key benefits that can help businesses get to this stage, including:

Scheduling Preventive Maintenance

Aside from further employee training and lengthy risk audits, the most effective way to overcome costly equipment outages is through a preventive maintenance approach. Also referred to as preventative maintenance, this approach is the process of regularly performing checks while equipment is still in working order. The aim of a preventive maintenance program is to build a maintenance schedule that reduces the likelihood of equipment failure to prevent downtime before it happens.

Users are able to log all past service reports and collect real-time operational data. As well as scheduling equipment maintenance based on automated triggers for running time, usage, and condition. All with the intention to build the most efficient maintenance program for keeping productional lines in optimal working order and extending the usable life of equipment.

Tracking Work Orders

With manufacturing CMMS Software, maintenance managers can build, track, review, and prioritise their team’s work orders. This feature can also be available to operators, technicians, and engineers. Each professional is able to submit maintenance and repair requests, input notes and documentation, mark a job as complete, and change equipment statuses.

A CMMS will also have the capacity to store all work order data, allowing users to view past data and plan for future reports. This data can include repair history, user manuals, documentation, and operational checklists.

Recording Real-Time Asset Performance Data

Included in all manufacturing CMMS products is a form of asset management. With this, businesses are able to analyse, access, and collect data in real-time to enhance the productivity of assets that are essential for production. This data is then stored and used to help build maintenance programs and identify trends.

Specific asset performance data that a CMMS can collect includes:

  • Usage (hours, mileage, gauge readings, etc.)
  • Condition
  • Operators
  • Maintenance history
  • Purchase date
  • Compliance

Optimising Spare Parts and Inventory Management

A useful part of a CMMS tool is its ability to manage and track inventory. Not only does this produce a definitive figure as to how much inventory a business has, but it also helps save money on needless purchases. By knowing how many spare parts are available, businesses can instantly know if they’re understocked or overstocked. This is also helped with a CMMS’s automation feature, which can be programmed to order inventory when it is needed.

Users can also label, store, and assign the right spare parts to the right equipment. This means when an asset needs repairing, technicians will know which part is available and where to find it.

Accessing Manufacturing Data Anywhere at Any Time

With a cloud-based manufacturing CMMS solution, users can access, edit, and upload data from anywhere at any time from a mobile device. This allows field workers and technicians to use laptops, smartphones, and tablets to analyse important maintenance data. It also leads to a reduction in wait times and delays to work orders, as information is available instantly without having to wait for an email or phone call.

How to Find the Right Manufacturing CMMS Solution

The process of finding the right CMMS solution for your manufacturing maintenance activities can be broken down into 4 stages:

  1. Highlight challenges in your current maintenance processes
  2. Map out the features you need from a CMMS to meet your core requirements
  3. Consider the factors of implementing maintenance software into your manufacturing plant
  4. Shortlist, compare and evaluate CMMS options against one another

As you’ve already specified the need for a digital platform in your manufacturing maintenance activities, you’ll be aware of the gaps in your current processes. Now you’ll want to identify what your core requirements are and the features needed to match them.

Identify CMMS Features to Match Core Requirements

A useful method for identifying the core requirements you need from a CMMS solution for your manufacturing maintenance needs is to create two groups; Essential features and Non-essential features.

  • Essential features: These are made up of the core requirements needed to close the gaps in your current maintenance activities.
  • Non-essential features: These are features that are nice to have, but do not directly affect your current maintenance issues.

Having an understanding of which features are essential and which aren’t will allow for a more focused approach when it comes to enhancing your manufacturing maintenance processes.

Operational Factors to Consider

When choosing the right CMMS, there are a number of factors that may affect your decision and approach. Common factors that a manufacturing manager should consider include:

  • The type of CMMS (e.g., cloud-based, web-based, on-premise or open-source)
  • Pricing models (e.g., one-off, subscription or monthly)
  • What support and training is needed to run the system
  • The timescale of implementation across the production line
  • Migrating existing asset management and performance data from current systems
  • The need for additional maintenance hardware such as energy-usage and GPS trackers

Compare, Shortlist, and Evaluate Tools

Once you’ve scanned the market and shortlisted suitable vendors offering a CMMS for manufacturing companies, you’ll want to compare them against one another while also considering your core requirements.

By doing so, you can attain a more focused approach as to which vendor, and product, will offer a better approach to improve your maintenance activities and enhance your production output. There are a number of factors you’ll want to look out for when comparing manufacturing CMMS solutions, including:

  • Do they offer the features needed to match your core requirements?
  • Do they offer a free trial or demo to try-before-you-buy?
  • Is the program easy-to-use and familiar (not just for yourself, but also for operators and technicians)?
  • Can it be integrated with other software and tools?
  • Does the vendor have past experiences dealing with manufacturing companies?

Implementing CMMS for Manufacturing Maintenance Activities

Once you’ve chosen a suitable CMMS vendor and product that matches your needs, there are a few final steps to take before presenting your option to the company’s decision-makers and getting buy-in:

  • Have a calculated ROI
  • Assemble an evaluation team to test the program (if you’re a smaller company, the evaluation team may only consist of yourself)
  • Ensure that everyone is happy with your choice (the tool will be used by most employees including technicians and the financial department)

Once your computerised maintenance management system is up and running, you’ll be on your way to figuring out the optimal running times for your equipment and building preventive maintenance schedules. You can begin to monitor the true cost of your maintenance and get detailed insights into your manufacturing operations. Eventually saving you thousands of pounds.