Asset Management Management September

Don’t Procrastinate…Innovate: Outside The Box — Tuning Up Your Maintenance Management System

EP Editorial Staff | September 15, 2011

ken_bannister_thumb_thumbBy Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

Asked if you were happy with the current setup of your asset management software, what would you say?

If you answered no—and that you would relish the chance to do it all over again—you would be one of many (i.e., countless) disenchanted CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), AMS (Asset Management System) and EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) users out there.

Even after 25 years of these systems being implemented and upgraded across industry, many of them still run only as a work-order system. They can’t—under their current setup—produce actual management information. Therein lies the quandary: ALL maintenance software packages employ the word “management” in their product descriptions. ALL are capable of becoming excellent management tools, providing they are deployed with that function in mind. This includes the system you’re using today!

The most common complaint I receive about maintenance software is the inability to easily retrieve usable reports (even though a lot of resource time is spent diligently entering data from the work order into the system). Data only becomes information when it can be used to make a validated management decision. Once the system is set up to filter data into meaningful reports that can be trusted to make management decisions about planning, scheduling, performance, failure analysis, etc., can the system truly be a “management system.” Otherwise, it’s purely a work-order tool that collects what I characterize as MUD: “Meaningless Unrelated Data that only serves to chock up hard-drive space.”

Once we understand the difference between a work-order system and a true management system, we’re ready to tune up our chosen software package and unleash its real horsepower. To do this, we must step “outside the box” and take an innovative approach to setting up the system.

An innovative approach to unleashing the power of your software
When purchasing a vehicle, most people already understand how they want to use it and have developed basic expectation or deliverable standards for that use. Virtually every person who buys a car or truck will have his/her driver’s license and be able to demonstrate basic driving skills.

Those wishing to step up their vehicle’s performance and tap into its true potential, however, will require additional tuning and operating skills, along with exact specification knowledge of what they expect from their new ride. Similarly, many industrial software users have already learned basic “driving” skills and would like their “vehicle” to perform better, but have yet to attain the knowledge to develop a new vehicle performance specification or tune the system. Again, like a car or truck, maintenance software has tuning potential built into its motor and can be rebuilt to a higher level of specification or upgraded to a different model should the original manufacturer or vendor no longer support the vehicle.

Either way—setting up a new system or re-implementing an existing system to provide true management information—will require you to implement it backwards following seven simple steps:

Step #1: Establishing the need (MOER®)
In the last “Don’t Procrastinate…Innovate” installment, “The Three Orders Of Innovation”, we reviewed, in the 1st Order, the concept of “establishing the need.” Performing an MOER (Maintenance Operation and Effectiveness Review) will deliver a quantified current state of maintenance and a defined future state of maintenance complete with a gap analysis and MAP (Management Action Plan) to close that gap utilizing your maintenance management system (MMS).

Step #2: Establishing workflow improvement
The MOER will also review current workflow and map out the current “communication touch points” of document, data and knowledge transfer between the maintenance department and all of its partners. This mapping will identify duplication and redundancy of workflow so that new value-based flows can be established using the MMS as the main communication instrument.

Step #3: Establishing goals and performance measurements
Establishing departmental goals is usually based on performance and service level improvement requirements that are achievable, tangible and measurable. These goals are future requirements that must also be designed to match corporate goals—this will assist with any ROI-justification requirements later.

Step #4: Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs)
Performance indicators provide management with tangible information that defines and trends how assets, resources and work management are doing. These will allow analysis of the following:

  • Asset-performance analysis (availability, downtime, OEE [overall equipment effectiveness])
  • Asset-failure analysis (reliability, MTBF [mean time between failure], failure type)
  • Workflow analysis (MTTR [mean time to repair])
  • Resource analysis (variance, completion)
  • Planning/scheduling analysis (variance, completion, effectiveness)
  • Inventory analysis (turnover, ABC, outages)

Step #5: Building reports
By now, we know what we need to measure to move the maintenance improvement program forward. At this point, we review the matching established KPI formulae to determine what reports the MMS must deliver immediately and configure the system to provide them as standard reports.

Step #6: Building data tables and registers
Here we’re building sort filters that add immediate value to the maintenance program—i.e., turning data into true management information. These data registers must conform to the report requirements established in Step #5 and are used in designing the work-order layout and minimum information requirements to close out the work order and ensure the right data is always collected for every job.

Step #7: Building the asset structure
The asset structure is the parent/child relationship setup that allows us to close the work order at the correct level and “roll up” costs to suit different management reporting needs, as well as act as a management information filter.

Once you’ve made it through Steps #1-7, your MMS is ready to launch and populate with asset and work-plan information migrated over from the legacy system. The next installment of this column (coming in the November issue) will show why this is a crucial phase in successfully firing up your “tuned-up” system—and how innovative thinking can save huge amounts of time and effort and ensure the soundness of whatever MMS tool you’re using. MT

Ken Bannister is author of Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication section of the 28th edition Machinery’s Handbook. He’s also a contributing editor for MT’s sister publication, Lubrication Management & Technology. Email:

MOER® is a trademark of EngTech Industries Inc.





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