CMMS Reliability

Revisiting Benefits of A CMMS

EP Editorial Staff | May 16, 2018

In today’s reliability-oriented environment, relevant existing knowledge also must be captured so successes can be replicated. A CMMS can be a readily available single source of truth for this valuable information.

Advanced software options are easing the monitoring, tracking, and managing of asset health throughout industry.

Computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) plays a vital role in the fabric of the cultural evolution and prolific operational success reliability and maintenance organizations have achieved over the past three to four years. CMMS is software that records and tracks all organizational maintenance activities by deploying an ecosystem of interrelated program modules designed to facilitate maintenance business processes and the optimal administration of resources such as labor, material, tools, and information to achieve sustainable and dependable operational stability. Today’s asset-intensive organizations are making better use of modern user-friendly, scalable CMMS platforms now than ever before. Consider the following areas and functionality.


Best-in-class organizations manage asset health and performance to deliver well-communicated organizational objectives to their stakeholders. In highly competitive environments, this means ensuring that operational activities and employee engagement align with organizational strategies and policies, so the desired achievements are delivered by the assigned deadline. Visibility from the boardroom to the warehouse shipping dock is paramount to success. Many of today’s CMMS offerings use cloud-based technology to provide 24-hour access by any stakeholder with a login, which means that anyone, anywhere can be informed about asset health. Whether at a workstation in the facility or on the golf course on a smartphone, data stored on the cloud is always available.

Many organizations have realized they can’t run Lean operations without dependable assets. This means deploying effective strategies that empower all employees to make informed decisions based on their unique skillsets. While asset knowledge is vital, relevant existing knowledge also must be captured so successes can be replicated, and the team must learn from mistakes. In this regard, a CMMS can be a readily available single source for this information.


One of the important prerequisites of a successful CMMS implementation involves the ability to collect quality asset data and record the information in the CMMS. Most CMMS best practices are guided by the method detailed in ISO14224: “Petroleum, petrochemical, and natural gas industries—Collection and exchange of reliability and maintenance data for equipment.” The main purpose of employing a hierarchical equipment- or asset-taxonomy structure is to measurably improve the effectiveness of repairs, manage degradation and functional failure, and support capital planning.

A CMMS organizes the data to match parent-child relationships of location categories, classes, functions, systems, units, sub-units, and components to ensure that priority functions are dependable as labor resources are limited. Resource limitations require operations and maintenance teams to do more with less, and 24/7 accessible data helps teams receive and analyze data from anywhere in a plant or facility. Combining asset-management plans and standardized work-execution processes, including planning and scheduling and maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) management, with asset knowledge such as torque specifications and asset history, for example, assures that maintenance activities are well-planned, oriented for maximized uptime, and cost-effective.


At the core of asset management is asset knowledge. Having easily accessible, searchable, and valuable asset histories is another benefit of adopting a well-planned asset hierarchy and taxonomic data structure within a CMMS. Successful organizations will take this a step further by performing asset-criticality analyses and establishing work-order priority rankings.

During unplanned downtime, failures may be discovered later when performing troubleshooting on CMMS work orders on which the technician provides detailed feedback about the failure found at the component or maintainable item level at the source. Those work orders might then be flagged based on criticality and reviewed in the CMMS by a reliability engineer or system-design engineering personnel with the goal of specifying effective periodic tasks or one-time corrections.

This approach reflects an alternative to temporarily and/or repeatedly addressing higher-level symptoms of a broader operational system or subsystem that, in turn, ties up resources for repeat offenders.

Another key attribute of asset knowledge is the asset’s location and performance history in the operational context of that location. The CMMS may require that it pinpoint where the scheduled work should be performed for mobile/non-fixed assets or, in the case of semi-fixed assets, when changes in a functional location (for example, a rebuilt motor may be moved from one system to another within a plant) occur. Asset-location data sources may be a GPS or RFID technology platform that digitally tracks and locates asset movement and updates and stores this data—including the movement history—in a table within the CMMS, so that teams can view the data away from desks and work stations.


When considering the lowest level of the asset hierarchy and asset knowledge, MRO management best practices in the CMMS are key. We only know what parts to carry or how to best manage an MRO stores program with this asset knowledge base included in the CMMS.

A CMMS becomes the definitive repository for Bills of Materials (BOMs) or MRO-parts associations for assets referenced in a BOM. A properly configured CMMS allows teams to quickly analyze data that provides statistics and trends in wearable part performance for maintaining optimal asset performance.


As a tool for tracking and improving individual asset-management plans, a CMMS can include all work-execution management processes, job plans, and resource requirements to sustain them and allow access for any personnel. It can also help maintain alignment with organizational strategies that track and monitor the performance of operational effectiveness, asset-throughput performance and availability, and business outcomes related a plant’s overall operational performance.


Tracking asset performance, total cost of ownership (TCO), and asset-value management reflects an essential competency in successful capital planning. A CMMS is best employed to identify areas and opportunities for improvement using baselines, benchmarking, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Asset managers are in a prime position to take full advantage of the abundance of structured data within a contextually configured CMMS. The software can help them deliver:

• automated workflows of well-designed work-execution-management processes from any location

• continuous-improvement efforts and vigilance within activities such as identifying and mitigating bad actors and eliminating defects with the ability to move between assets and still have access to all data

• effective dependability, i.e., the availability, reliability, maintainability, and safe operation of assets.


In the context of asset management, the CMMS is a natural solution for executing preventive-maintenance activities that mitigate or reduce risks associated with achieving organizational objectives. A CMMS is designed to handle the full range of needs to perform risk-assessed maintenance, such as planned periodic maintenance activities and meter-based scheduled discards.

It also helps with planning material requirements, projecting required labor hours and skill requirements, and the frequency of performing the tasks and task specifications in standard operating procedures (SOPs), all while providing a full range of other informational resources that support risk-based asset health.


Condition-based maintenance (CBM) is a predictive approach to managing asset health rather than a predetermined risk-based or preventive approach. CBM has been made more appropriate and cost-effective because of the IIoT. This approach may include any combination of the following:

• inspections with measurement tools
• shock and vibration monitoring
• ultrasound monitoring
• fluid and oil analysis
• structural integrity analysis
• non-destructive testing (NDT)
• thermal or infrared imaging.

CBM can be performed by a technician using specialized test tools, fixed-condition monitoring sensors, or by sampling the existing network and infrastructure of sensor technologies that exists within supervisory-control and data-acquisition systems, along with other distributed-control systems and Industrial Internet of Things applications. Known failure modes specified by the asset-management plan are addressed and monitored.

A CMMS can capture and organize the condition of the asset, analyze the data pertaining to imminent potential failure, autonomously create corrective work orders based on predetermined parameters, and determine additional prognostics from visual information provided by trending and charting. EP

Information in this article was provided by Scott Rojas, a maintenance and reliability consultant for eMaint and Fluke Corp., Everett, WA ( For more information on CMMS best practices, email or visit

Additional CMMS Benefits

Quality management: A CMMS can help with calibration tracking to help ensure that required functions and defined performance standards are consistently met.

Total productive maintenance (TPM), 5S, operator-driven reliability: A CMMS is often used to organize and manage daily tasks such as cleaning, minor adjustments, inspections, and startup and shutdown procedures.

Safety management: The CMMS can store identified hazards so that dangerous situations are avoided by providing visibility and standard procedures on work orders to warn of potential hazards, such as hot work and explosion dangers, personal protective equipment requirements, lockout/tag out procedures, fall protection warnings and pinch points.

Financial management: When properly implemented, a CMMS helps manage the reduction of inventory carrying costs and logistics costs, reduces high-cost reactive maintenance and unnecessary overtime, and improves labor effectiveness.

Project management: From an asset management perspective, a CMMS can help with project management. This might include shutdowns/turnarounds/outages, re-commissioning, modifications, and other capital improvements administered through the full ecosystem of work execution and asset management modules under one project header in the CMMS with financial reporting and life-cycle cost tracking built in.

Plant- and facility-asset management: Use of a CMMS can help keep facilities running efficiently and drive business growth. It lays the foundation for business continuity and clean, orderly, comfortable, and safe work environments.



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