Maintenance Information Systems
Kathy | July 1, 2005
Directory of EAM/CMMS software for maintenance and reliability organizations.
Enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) are essential to most maintenance and reliability strategies irrespective of plant size. The software must manage and optimize reliability and performance of plant physical assets and maintenance operations, support a company’s business process, and be tied in to business drivers. It must support a company’s overall asset management strategy. The software is key to information flow and moving knowledge from the plant floor up the organization to help run the business.
Buying decisions begin with an analysis of how a maintenance organization operates today and what its strategy is for the future. Total cost of ownership also needs to be considered. These systems can help organizations implement their strategy to decrease downtime, increase the use of their resources, reduce maintenance costs, and can be viewed as a communication tool to help make better decisions.
Software can help companies improve their business but no program will do everything the way users want it to, so compromises will need to be made. A previous article, “Managing an EAM/CMMS Project—Phase one: An unbiased team approach to system selection” (MT 5/05, pg 35) discusses ways to balance the wants and needs of various plant departments that are all looking to select a package that best serves their needs.
Using software to track all maintenance activities becomes critical as more companies establish best practices to drive continuous improvement and develop KPIs to measure their progress, Management support, strictly defined maintenance work processes, and ease of use have been identified as keys to success.
Maintenance information systems run on multi-platforms using mainframe, client/server, thin client, or browser-based applications. Smaller, stand-alone systems run on PCs or local area networks. Because some powerful packages can run on a single PC or networked PCs without a midrange server, the dividing line between small and large systems has blurred. Therefore, we are including all software packages in one directory.
Many companies offer programs specifically built to be accessed across the Internet. These Web-architected programs enable rapid deployment across a number of sites using a Web browser and established wide and local area networks. Multi-site organizations can benefit from a centralized data repository which allows for normalization and standardization across plants. Another variation of this method lets users access the program through the Internet but the data resides in their own plants.
Using these approaches, maintenance personnel can access information and work orders in a number of ways—dedicated terminals and PCs, or mobile Palm-type personal digital assistants (PDAs) and handheld computers running Windows CE. Other wireless and radio frequency devices to access information are also at hand. Developments including e-commerce, supply chain integration, the Internet, and wireless technologies that first were implemented in larger plants also are benefiting smaller and midsize plants.
Some companies offer an application service provider (ASP) option to their programs. Users pay a monthly fee to access the software through an Internet-enabled workstation. The ASP stores the program and the data on its server. Users always have access to the most current version of the program. This delivery method eliminates the need for on-site hardware infrastructure, system administration, and associated costs at the user’s end and lets companies concentrate on operating their plants rather than their computer systems.
To meet the needs of the increasing number of companies that recognize the benefits of electronic transactions, some software suppliers provide Web-enabled systems that support e-procurement within their own program or allow users to integrate their EAM or CMMS system with other vendor software.
Another growing area is connectivity with programs having the ability for data integration with other plant ERP business applications, production automation and control systems, and other software in the plant.
The directory provides basic information on systems from 45 companies. The listing of maintenance information systems is followed by .addresses, telephone numbers, and URLs of maintenance information system suppliers. A software/company index to help users find entries when only the software name is known make up the final section.
Information in the main listing is provided in five columns: Software and Company, General Information, Technical Information, Installed Base, and Relative Cost.
• Software and company. Entries are arranged alphabetically by supplier company with a separate listing for each software package. Some companies have indicated that their offerings are a functional module of a larger enterprise resources planning (ERP) system or can be considered an ERP system in their own right, and they are so noted in this column.
• General information. Basic system architecture is indicated by M for mainframe, CS for client/server, TC for thin client, B for browser, PC for standalone or small local area network, Mb for mobile, or A for application service provider . Some systems can be configured by more than one method. The staffing figures represent the number of people engaged in research and development activities and the number of people in all aspects of the EAM/CMMS business. Year of software introduction provides added insight to installed base figures in the next to last column.
• Technical information. Five lines of information provide a basic description of application support requirements (server hardware, server operating system, database manager, client operating system, and PC operating system).
—Server hardware. Some suppliers listed specific hardware requirements for their software. Other suppliers listed computer manufacturers.
—Server operating system. Type of operating system provides more information about the system on which various applications are designed to run. Unix, a popular system for midrange computers, may be listed as Unix or as a proprietary version offered by hardware manufacturers specifically designed for their machines.
—Database manager. The relational database manager used by a program is an important selection factor for organizations with other business or back office software. If the database managers are the same, it is likely that the EAM/CMMS can work with these other applications.
The database manager is a significant contributor to the performance of an EAM/CMMS. It handles procedures that otherwise would have to be written into the application software, adding to its complexity. Many EAM/CMMS programs are written to run with a variety of databases. Other programs are written for a single database, which allows them to make better use of the features and development tools provided by the database. ODBC indicates compliance with Open Database Connectivity, an SQL-based interface from Microsoft designed for consistent access to a variety of databases.
—Client operating system. This entry lists the operating system for the client portion of the software.
—PC operating system. This entry lists the operating system for PC or PC-LAN based systems.
• Installed base. Each company was asked to indicate the installed base for its software in four site categories: process industry (Pro); discrete manufacturing (Mfg); hospitals, schools, government installations, and other facilities (Fac); and utility plants (Util). The last number (Tot) represents the total installed base.
• Relative cost. Supplier companies were asked to indicate the typical cost for installing their systems in various size maintenance departments. Cost codes and installation sizes are listed at the bottom of directory pages.
Information for the directory was directly provided by suppliers who are actively promoting their products.