Happy Barcode Day! – Do you Barcode?

Do You Barcode? 

Many of our current customers take advantage of this amazing feature. If you’re not one of them, you’re going to want to listen up.

Barcoding has been around since 1951 and is widely used in retail environments where hundreds—even thousands—of SKUs exist. Keeping track of inventory, pricing, and purchase orders make taking care of those SKUs possible. But what about your maintenance department? How can it help you?

Let’s first look at your current stock room. Are your spare parts neatly arranged and labelled properly? Could you successfully send a new employee in there to find them? If not, you may need to use a barcode system.

You might be wondering whether it’s necessary to have a neat stock room. If you can find the parts eventually, does it matter? Imagine the following scenario: you’re pulling your PMs for the day, and you have a few pieces of equipment that need parts replaced; one needs a new belt, another needs a new hose, and some need new bolts. These appear to be quick and simple fixes—until you visit the stock room and struggle to find what you need. The bolts aren’t the right size. The belts you have are for other assets that aren’t interchangeable. That hose you know you saw yesterday is gone. Now what do you do?

If you search for another 20 minutes you might find that hose, but perhaps nothing else. Congratulations! You’ve just wasted an hour, and you can only do one of three PMs. Now you might need to track down your supervisor and explain why you can’t do the rest of your work. On top of that, you might need to wait on a purchase order for those parts to be approved, ordered, and shipped, delaying the scheduled PMs even further.

If you’re already doing heavy lifting to optimize your department with a Preventative Maintenance Plan, consider including barcoding. When you set up barcodes for inventory in your Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), you’ll not only be able to find parts within minutes, but the system also will automatically remove items from your inventory and charge them to the correct assets.

Nuts and bolts in blue bins

 

Maintaining a real-time overview of your inventory will help with purchase orders by indicating when to order new parts, how often you order certain parts, and enabling you to decide how much to order. Perhaps you’re ordering too frequently and have more inventory than you need, or perhaps you can include a part with a different purchase order and save on shipping costs.

Charging a part to its correct piece of equipment helps you be more efficient. The goal of which is to track your assets, keep them running, and maintain a safe work environment. Using a barcode system, you can take the information you receive from your CMMS and turn it into actionable processes. Examining your assets each month, as well as who has worked on them and which parts were used, allows you to adjust your PMs as needed. As an example, imagine that you have an asset that goes through hoses quickly. The CMMS history shows that you’ve changed hoses twice in a single month, but one hose should have lasted two or three months. With barcoding, you can examine what’s going on with that asset and find the root of the problem before it gets worse.

Before utilizing a barcode system, perhaps you were too busy to notice that your hoses were being used more than they should have been. The CMMS doesn’t show which asset is using which parts because the PM wasn’t filled out completely, or it was taken out of inventory without being charged to an asset. This might leave you with problems that could have been avoided, including asset failure and unplanned downtime.

Barcoding systems have come a long way since 1951 and have grown increasingly important in several industries, including maintenance. By keeping your assets running efficiently, avoiding costly downtime, and completing PMs on time, you can vastly improve your bottom line with a barcode system. MaintiMizer™ can provide you with barcoding that you can build directly into your existing system. In addition, we can share best practices for labeling and organizing your storeroom.

For more information, please email us at info@aschomtech.com. If you currently use our barcode system, please email marketing@ashcomtech.com with a note about how it helps your department. We’d love to hear from you.

Happy Barcode Day!

Team Ashcom

Dirty Data? Clean it up!

When data is dirty, you’re getting the wrong picture. Incomplete, unorganized data with inconsistencies significantly affects not only your bottom line but also your efficiency. To stay on track, complete work orders, and keep equipment functioning properly, you need clean data. Clean data also allow you to look at your entire business. You’ll understand exactly what is going on with just a glance. Is work getting done? Why or why not? Are you going over or under budget?

How do you get rid of dirty data?

Let’s first discuss what it takes to clean data with MaintiMizer™. Look at your equipment and parts labels. Are there duplicates? Are they consistent? For instance, are your blenders labeled as follows: Blender1 and Blender2 or Blender01 and Blender02? I’ll give you a tip, MaintiMizer lists items in alphanumeric order. When adding equipment or parts with multiples, we suggest using “Blender01” instead of “Blender1.” If you have over 10 pieces of the same equipment and you pull up a report to look at each blender, Blender11 would be behind Blender1.

Next, be sure abbreviations are consistent throughout the system––are you abbreviating your mixers? What about pumps, thermostats, and conveyors? Keep it consistent throughout. Alleviate any guesswork about what a piece of equipment is or how many you have. Doing this helps avoid duplicate PMs and inventory that will skew your assessment of the work to be done, PM completion, and wrench time. It can also ruin the reports you need for that audit that’s coming up.

If you’re looking at your labels and see several mistakes, you’ll likely get a headache. Don’t worry––you don’t have to do this yourself. At Ashcom, we offer Professional Services, including data cleanup. We can help merge your equipment and inventory and do anything else you need to keep your system clean and ready for anything.

Your best bet to clean up your data or keep it clean is to use the barcode system: label your equipment and inventory with individual barcodes. You should also keep your counts accurate, and equipment labeled properly, ensuring you’re performing PMs on the right equipment at the right time.

Before you do any cleaning yourself, be sure not to delete anything. Why? There are many reasons, and we will outline them in our next blog. Stay tuned!

Also, ensure your data is clean when you upgrade to MainiMizer™ 5.0 to start the new upgrade off right. If you don’t know about MaintiMizer™ 5.0, check it out here. You’re not going to want to miss it!

MaintiMizer™ 5.0

Something we’ve been working on for a while is now finally here: MaintiMizer™ 5.0!

We have given MaintiMizer a huge facelift—an entirely new, modern, and sleek look. Updated search functions. Sidebar menus. Upgraded tablet functionality. Let’s not forget the part we’ve been begged for and are extremely excited over: a whole new home page dashboard with report widgets. The homepage is still customizable, we have five available report widgets—with more coming—you can display up to four widgets nicely on your home screen.


MaintiMizer™ 5.0

 

We are over-the-moon excited to launch this product for you. It’s everything you need in a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and then some. MaintiMizer has been a popular CMMS for over 35 years now, and it just got even better.

Don’t just take my word for it, check out my demo here. 

Be sure to get on our preorder list here.

This is one launch you’re not going to want to miss. Once you upgrade to 5.0 you’ll be able to upgrade to each version of 5.0 as it becomes available. Quarterly updates are our standard. As we add more report widgets and continue adding all the features you’ve requested, you’ll get each of those updates for free.*

Upgrading to any software can seem daunting. At Ashcom, we will make it easy for you. Hands-on training is completed either virtually or in person. A world-class support team is standing by to integrate your data, answer simple how-to questions, and install your new software. We make it easy because your success is our success.

—Team Ashcom

*Must have an active AMA for MaintiMizer™ 5.0 to enjoy free updates. 

Maintenance Management Software that will fix your most common maintenance problems!

Your maintenance management team faces new challenges every day.  Equipment breakdowns, a growing backlog of work, missing parts, increasing pressure regarding costs – the list goes on. It is no wonder they always look so stressed. If only there was a simple, cost-effective way that your business could address these issues and reduce your maintenance teams’ stress levels? Well in a world short of good news, here is some cheer, there is!  Maintenance management software or as it is commonly known CMMS will not only help eliminate your daily maintenance challenges, it will also often correct the root cause.  The good news doesn’t stop there either.  The right software, from the right provider, will address your most common maintenance headaches straight out of the box – without any additional development. So, what maintenance management problems do customers most often report and how will your CMMS help?

A real-time, overview of your entire maintenance management operation

When you log-in to your CMMS the first thing you will most likely see is your maintenance dashboard. This vital module gives you a real-time, overview of your entire maintenance operation with access to the key data you require to remain in control just one click away:

  • KPI’s and Performance Metrics: View and review all your important data in one place, you can filter what you see to suit your changing needs.
  • Work Order Status: See the status of live, upcoming, and overdue work orders and PM’s
  • Real-time data: Get an up-to-the-minute look at your maintenance operation in real-time.
  • Customized dashboards: Create dashboards based on an individual’s rights or roles or needs. You can include custom reports too.

As your maintenance dashboard gives you a real-time, overview of your entire maintenance operation it also provides all the maintenance intelligence you require to continually improve and increase your operational efficiency, and not simply after the fact but during the same shift.

Maintenance Overload: Maintenance backlog will always exist, will quickly get out of hand, and overload your maintenance team if not managed appropriately. Your CMMS dashboard allows you to see what tasks are due and when they become overdue. Presenting you with all the information you need to adjust your plan of attack and address this productivity stifling problem.

Bad Communication: It’s hard to make decisions, delegate work, and fine-tune maintenance schedules when you don’t have access to up-to-date information. Not only does the dashboard give you live insights into your maintenance operation, a shared dashboard will also ensure your whole team is looking at the same key metrics, allowing them to work as one.

Team Performance: Having key metrics front and center makes it easy to analyze your team’s performance – a key asset in any operation, identify areas that need improvement, and make changes that increase asset performance.

Track critical work flows

The Work Order module is a vital component of your chosen maintenance management software solution, in fact, we are often approached for ‘Work Order’ software. It is where you build, assign, process, complete, and document work requests and work orders:

  • Work Requests: Allows your entire team, including and perhaps especially those outside of your maintenance team to record problems and create work requests for your maintenance team to address. 
  • Instructions and Documents: Adding manufacturers manuals, SOP’s, drawings, photos, and more to work orders ensures more efficient communication across your team and boosts the likely hood of Work Orders being completed successfully the first time.
  • Spares, Tools & Safety Equipment: Associate all the spare parts associated with an asset or Work Order, produce Kit’s, and include the safety equipment or tools needed for a task.
  • Failure codes: Outline a problem, cause, and action for asset failure and report on it
  • Scheduling: Set deadlines, choose a priority level, and assign an appropriately skilled team member.
  • Additional notes: Include helpful details, like the sound a machine made before breaking down in work requests and work orders.
  • Tracking: See the status of work, monitor costs, and store closed work orders in a secure and easy to interrogate manner.

The additional control the Work Order module provides will solve many of your maintenance problems by contributing positively across your operation by driving efficiency and saving you money:

Costly Downtime: The Work Order module makes the work order process faster than with pen and paper and more accurate than Excel. The quicker a work request or order is created, assigned, and completed, the less time an asset is down. Assets will get running in less time reducing your costs and ensuring output targets are achieved.

Poor Workflow: This feature allows staff to document, submit, and see requests instantly without writing it down twice or by searching through paper files – maintenance becomes a team effort. Also, your Maintenance team can access the resources required to get the task done fast, first time, and safely without wasting your most precious and costly resource TIME.

Lack of Information: The work order builder ensures every detail for a task is available. This eases communication, makes troubleshooting more straightforward, enables smarter decision-making, and improves outcomes.

Deliver on your maintenance management plan

Your CMMS will allow you to create a Preventative maintenance schedule. Not only will it make building an effective preventative maintenance schedule easier. It will also help your team deliver on your plan because of features like:

  • Planned Preventative Maintenance: Automatically trigger scheduled tasks based on date, meter hours, seasonality, or any combination of these factors.
  • Activity: See your team’s schedule and assign tasks intelligently, dependent upon availability, workload and craft.
  • Purchasing Insight: Make sure inventory purchases critical to upcoming tasks are made and the items are held in reserve against tasks.
  • Planned Maintenance Metrics: Quick and easy access to key performance data such as planned maintenance compliance, or indeed non-compliance.
  • Complete PM Equipment Builder: Add all information available from a work order to a scheduled maintenance task enabling smarter decision-making and therefore improve outcomes.

The maintenance intelligence the Preventative Maintenance scheduler module of your CMMS provides will solve many of your maintenance problems, by enabling you to make decisions based on data, rather than gut feelings and other more subjective reasons:

Increased Proactive Maintenance: The single largest advantage of this module is that it will help you establish a preventive maintenance schedule and not only that the means to help you manage it. This will reduce your over reliance on fire fighting and improve everything from safety to boosting asset uptime.

Doing too many PM’s: There is such a thing as too much maintenance. The maintenance planner helps you establish the best frequency for tasks based on real data and maintenance intelligence, so your team are better utilized

Overspending: The planner tool gives you a view into every part needed for scheduled maintenance so you never order too many parts, schedule too many people or the wrong skills, overpay on expediting parts, or lose sight of how your department is performing.

If you’re ready to deliver on your maintenance management plan visit us here

Your team and your successors will feel like they have worked on your Assets all their career

A Digital Asset inventory provides you your business with a complete overview of your assets and not just that but their history too. Helping you, your team and your successors feel like they have worked on them all their career:

  • Asset Hierarchy & Location: Organize assets into a hierarchy, be that based on asset type, function, or production cell and know exactly where each asset is located.
  • Work History: See an asset’s entire work history including past problems, fixes, trends and which skills are required to support specific assets.
  • Documents & Notes: Attach bills of materials, manuals, drawings, safety notes, and more to assets to empower your team’s decision making.
  • Asset Costs: See how much an asset is costing your business to maintain, just how much has been spent on parts and labor for each specific asset.
  • Asset Status: Set the status of an asset and track availability, how much time has been spent online or offline, MTTR (Mean Time To Repair), MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) and more.
  • Supplier Information: Associate warranty and vendor or manufacturer information to an asset.

The additional insight and easy access to critical asset data your digital Asset Inventory provides will solve many of your maintenance management problems and contribute to increasing your operational efficiency:

Audit ready: Audits can be stressful. They require the provision of very specific information about assets and their maintenance history. Digital asset profiles give you the ability to find and present critical information in a stress-free and professional manner.

Building accurate budgets: Digital asset profiles contain all the details you need to calculate how much maintenance costs for each piece of equipment within your facility and therefore allows you to make better informed choices about repair or replace decisions, and more.

Inefficient PMs: It’s hard to see the value of preventive maintenance if it’s inefficient. This tool helps technicians avoid having to search for all the information they require about an asset before they start, making it easier for them to complete scheduled maintenance quickly and safely first time.

Get to grips with your inventory

If it is quick wins you are looking for (who isn’t) the Inventory feature is going to be your new best friend.  It will quickly help you get to grips with your spares stock:

  • Parts Monitoring: Know exactly what parts you have, where they are located, how many you have available and what your stockholding days are.
  • Barcodes: Pick the right parts, first time and automatically update stock figures.
  • Stock Alerts: Set minimum and maximum quantities and automatic reordering for critical parts when stocks are below minimum.
  • Part Tracking: Use parts based on date of purchase or use by date or any other method you prefer.
  • Multi-site Organization: Have access to spare parts across multiple sites, not just your facility.
  • Equipment/Work-associated Parts: Add commonly used or recommended parts to work orders and Preventative Maintenance tasks.
  • Purchasing: Automatically create and send digital purchase requisitions and purchase orders and track this activity too.

A robust inventory management system will address some big headaches for your maintenance team by taking control of the many and various spares fundamental to their day to day activity. Your purchasing department will be much happier too:

Mystery Maintenance: Your maintenance management team isn’t your only department relying on accurate inventory numbers. A CMMS makes it possible to share important data with financial software, like an ERP, so maintenance costs are always reflected in company financials.

Out of control costs: Spare parts can be expensive, especially if you are purchasing them in an emergency. Your CMMS should eliminate these circumstances and cuts costs by forecasting inventory needs and establishing just-in-time delivery.

Stock redundancy: Excessive stock holding is a drain on your profits, your CMMS will help you identify redundant parts and slow movers and introduce controls over your future purchases.

Elusive inventory: Hard to find inventory wastes time and can extend downtime – which is super costly. Not only will your CMMS identify parts it will also give you the precise location of each part, down to a bin number so you can always find what you’re looking for.

Track, Analyse & Optimize Maintenance Performance

By simply using your CMMS you will create lots of useful data. The ability to Report on this data will make it easier to track, analyze, and optimize maintenance performance, as well as inform other key departments within your business:

  • Pre-built & Custom Reports: Choose from many pre-built common reports or create your own to find information tailored to your very specific needs.
  • Dashboard Reports: Get real-time metrics sent to your CMMS dashboard.
  • Scheduled Reports: Set up regular reports to automatically run and shared with whoever needs to see them.
  • Other Reports: Create reports for maintenance spending, audit compliance, or other related functions

A universal truth is the data doesn’t lie, which makes your reporting tool essential for making better, more informed decisions, which will in turn further improve your operation moving forward:

Maintenance ROI: Effective maintenance provides value, true. But how do you show it? The numbers will back it up. Easier reporting helps you connect better maintenance to higher production and lower costs, so your team becomes recognized as the profit center it is.

Time Creation: Creating reports by hand in Excel can be tedious, time-consuming and often leads to errors. Pre-built, reports eliminate this issue and save everyone time.

Value Creation: Meanwhile, Custom reports provide everyone from management to technicians exactly what they require.

Identify Problems Build Solutions: Answers to your biggest problems can be hidden amongst a mountain of numbers. Your CMMS makes it easier to sort data, pinpoint problems, or what is causing them, then develop and implement a strategy to fix it.

So, there you go. Do any of these problems resonate with you and your business? Do you think implementing a new or upgrading your CMMS would help you address your pain points (and their cause) Would a product 35 years in the making and the support of a company like Ashcom Technologies supercharge your maintenance management operation? If you’re thinking about implementing a CMMS, Ashcom Technologies is here to help why not get in contact.

Don’t just take our word for it, we have compiled a list of Case Studies from customers. How they use MaintiMizer™ and how it’s improved their maintenance management systems. Find them here.

How a CMMS Makes Workplaces Safer

These days workplace safety is on everyone’s minds as companies take extensive precautions to protect their workers from COVID-19. While it’s no safeguard against viral infection, one of the underrated, yet very valuable benefits of a CMMS is improved workplace safety. 

Supporting OSHA Compliance

Even before COVID-19 made employees and employers more cognizant of workplace safety, a CMMS was a useful tool in promoting a safe work environment. It can even help comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standards. If you’ve worked in maintenance or facility management, you’re probably familiar with OSHA, which was created by Congress in 1970 to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”

On OSHA’s website, there’s a list of “employer’s responsibilities” a short summary of the basics an employer should do to provide a safe workplace. One of those responsibilities is to “make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment”.

Hey! That sounds like the perfect job for a CMMS, which loves nothing more than maintaining equipment and tracking tools, ensuring that your maintenance team has what it needs, when they need it.

Another of OSHA’s Employer Responsibilities that can be supported with a CMMS is the call to “examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards”.

Conforming to OSHA standards depends on your industry, company, facility, and equipment amongst other things and should not be taken lightly but a CMMS does promote a regular examination of workplace conditions with reoccurring preventive maintenance (PM).  A CMMS will remind users when PM needs to be performed, which usually requires a comprehensive examination of equipment.

Here’s another safety reason to keep a CMMS around, it can help prevent the number 9 most cited OSHA standards violation of 2018: Machinery and Machine Guarding.

Take, for example, an injection molding machine. These machines always have safeguards that prevent workers from putting their body in harm’s way of the mold while it’s in operation.

A trained maintenance technician conducting preventive maintenance on an injection molding machine would spot a faulty safeguard and could perform a Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) on the faulty machine and alert the rest of the maintenance team via CMMS. A CMMS notifies the maintenance team that this equipment needs repairs, facilitating a quicker response and thus a safer workplace, sooner.

Preventive Maintenance = More Reliable Equipment

Reliability equals predictability and when it comes to large industrial machinery, predictability means safety. When preventive maintenance is ignored, larger more dangerous problems can arise. Take for example this story of a paint drying oven which wasn’t given proper preventive maintenance leading to a fatal accident.

What we saw in the above story is one of the biggest perils of poor preventive maintenance: the loop of reactive maintenance. When preventive maintenance is performed it’s planned and fit into a schedule, when unplanned maintenance is performed it can lead to poor repair jobs. And other important tasks being neglected.

Anything in a facility can fall victim to poor preventive maintenance which can lead to a dangerous environment. The best way to ensure that a maintenance management team is following a proper preventive maintenance schedule is with a CMMS.

Digital Documentation

A CMMS is more than just a tool for preventive maintenance though, it’s also a place to store important documentation on standard operating procedures, preventive maintenance procedures, and in-house safety plans.

And unlike paper documents, a CMMS stores this vital information in one easily located place.

Digital Documentation of work orders and other documents can even limit the amount of physical interaction needed to perform maintenance, which in the age of COVID-19, is a plus. When information can be accessed digitally, there’s no need to pass along paperwork orders or even necessarily be within close proximity of the work requester. 

Maintenance Reporting

By providing Safety Equipment Reports, a CMMS’ reporting function can be another boon to a maintenance management’s workplace safety.

So, what goes into a Safety Equipment Report? A CMMS, like MaintiMizer, can usually include the equipment description, equipment condition, risk level, and even all of the work orders tied to that equipment so you can accurately assess the reliability and safety level of that particular equipment.

A CMMS is built to manage maintenance and by doing so it mitigates the risks that come with poor maintenance practices. If you’re thinking about implementing a CMMS, Ashcom Technologies is here to help and can guide your implementation with the safest, most responsible methods possible.

On-premise CMMS vs. Cloud-based CMMS, Which is Right For You?

There are maintenance teams in almost every industry, from manufacturing to hospitality. This means there are maintenance teams of every size, from 1 man-bands of maintenance to entire companies dedicated to the upkeep of critical equipment. So, CMMS software must be adaptable to each company’s varying needs and concerns. One of the most critical questions to consider is whether to deploy a cloud-based CMMS or an on-premise CMMS.

To put it simply, cloud-based CMMS software is hosted on the CMMS software vendor’s servers whereas on-premise CMMS software is hosted on the client’s server.

“Hosting” software on a server is sort of like hosting guests at your house. As host, the brunt of the work/implementation falls on you, but it does have its advantages, like not worrying about having to make the trip home.
In reality, it depends on your company’s resources to determine which is right for you.

Here are 3 things to consider when deciding whether cloud-based or on-premise CMMS is right for you.

Security

This is one of the most common reasons cited for choosing an on-premise CMMS over cloud-based CMMS; limiting unnecessary exposure to data. If you’re deciding between the two, it’s one of the first things you should consider, as cybersecurity becomes more important.

The common thinking is cloud-based software sends data in and out of a facility, so it could be exposed to more vulnerabilities and cyber-attacks. 

If we go back to the hosting guests analogy, it’s like when your guests (data) leave your house and make the trip home (vendor’s servers) while you sleep soundly and safely in your bed.

Of course, the matter of which is more secure is not so black and white.

Some security experts would argue that cloud-based software is actually more secure.

When you host your data on a CMMS vendor’s server, more than likely, you’re sending your data to an organization more equipped to handle the security than your own. 

Of course, if you work for a company or organization in the military or energy sector, chances are keeping your valuable data behind a firewall and on-premise is not only more secure, it’s required.

Usually, the biggest determining factor of whether a company chooses on-premise CMMS or cloud-based, is whether they have the resources to support an on-premise CMMS.

On-premise CMMS software requires server hardware, an IT team, and the ability to integrate the software. If your company or maintenance team doesn’t have access to those resources, chances are a cloud-based CMMS would be a better choice.

Convenience

Those required resources make convenience one of the biggest reasons companies pick cloud-based CMMS.

For cloud-based software, deploying it is often as simple as logging into a provided URL.

For on-premise software, the implementation will likely need all the resources listed above.

And even if your company has all the above resources, oftentimes an IT team won’t necessarily have the time to execute the implementation. If this is the case, a cloud-based CMMS may be a better solution.

Of course, convenience is a double-edged sword. An on-premise CMMS solution can be more easily tailored to a facility’s particular needs. So, while the initial set-up may be less convenient, the personal configuration may prove to provide more convenience in the day-to-day.

Costs

You probably knew costs were going to mention at some point, right?

Now, you might assume, due to the extra resources involved, that an on-premise solution is more costly. And you would be right, at first. On-premise CMMS software can usually have more initial costs, but most cloud-based CMMS services are subscription-based, meaning you can only access the software for as long as you pay for it.

With on-premise CMMS solutions, it’s possible to buy the software license outright. Over the course of a few years, the initial investment in hosting the software yourself will prove to be more cost-effective than paying for a subscription model.

Now that you know the big 3 considerations when it comes to the debate of on-premise CMMS or cloud-based, meet with your facility manager, maintenance manager, and IT team (if you have one) to figure out which CMMS deployment is right for you. Schedule the meeting at your house, so you don’t have to worry about the drive home.

3 Maintenance Management Trends to Watch in 2020

Maintenance Management Trends change often and Maintenance Management is considered an old-fashioned industry. You’ve probably come across headlines proclaiming the end of manufacturing facilities as they struggle to replace their aging workforce.

While it’s true that the average age for management positions in facility management, manufacturing, and similar industries skews higher than other industries, according to the IFMA the average facility manager is 49 years old with 28 years of work experience, these industries are often on the cutting edge of emerging technology.

These industries that rely heavily upon maintenance management are huge drivers of implementing IoT technology, one of the most fascinating industries in tech. In fact, the top 3 use cases for IoT technology were remote monitoring, preventive maintenance, and asset tracking. If you’re in maintenance management, you’re probably very familiar with all three.

2020 will be no different. Maintenance Management, Facility Maintenance, and Manufacturing will be on the cutting edge. Here’s 3 Maintenance Management trends to watch in 2020.

5G

5G is here. Well, sort of. Cellular carriers are slowly implementing the technology that’s up to 10 times faster than 4G.

Right now, for the most part, it’s in select metropolitan areas. But carriers, like AT&T, plan to have nationwide coverage in the first half of 2020. So, how is 5G going to affect the maintenance management industry?

Well, faster internet speeds mean faster flow of information. For companies that span across multiple facilities, being able to download reports or other pertinent information 10 times faster than before is huge. Even more important than speed is reliability. At the end of the day, maintenance management is all about reliability – and cellular networks inside a manufacturing facility have a reputation for being not so reliable.  5G’s reliability and adaptability might be able to change that.

Predictive Maintenance

Every year, technology improves and organizations’ ability to implement Predictive Maintenance becomes easier and more costs effective.  2020 will be no different. More companies will adopt and implement predictive maintenance technology because being able to predict downtime or when maintenance needs to be performed is incredibly valuable to maintenance management. 

Predictive Maintenance is possible because of the wealth of data that machine sensors provide, such as an increase in vibration. An increase in vibration picked up by a sensor may indicate that maintenance needs to be performed to avoid downtime.

Cyber Security

Destructive malware attacks are on the rise.  In 2019 companies saw an increase in malware attacks by 200%.  If that trend continues it’s going to become more and more pertinent that organizations protect themselves from any would be hackers.  

So, what does that have to do with maintenance management? Remember when we talked about predictive maintenance above?  The technology needed for facilities to move to predictive technology means more ways for a hacker to access a organization’s information. 

If your facility is interested in acquiring predictive maintenance or 5G technology, they must consider how those technologies will affect their cyber security and plan accordingly.

Maintenance Management is at the forefront of industrial technology. Like all emerging technology it can be insanely valuable or it can leave an organization vulnerable, depending on how it’s utilized. These are the 3 we believe that any maintenance management team should be aware of and consider as they head into 2020. 

3 Ways a CMMS Can Help You Survive Turnover

“Let’s Stay Together…” There’s no way Al Green meant maintenance technicians and slowing maintenance turnover when he sang his 1972 classic, Let’s Stay Together. But if you employ a maintenance team and know some of your employees are on the way out, you may end up serenading your exiting workforce.

Why? Because turnover in any industry is a huge drain on resources. In fact, some studies suggest that replacing an employee can cost a company 6 to 9 month’s of that position’s salary. Even if you lose an employee who is less than ideal, replacing them is still going to cost time and money. In industries where maintenance technicians are needed most, like Real Estate and Manufacturing, turnover can be at its most frequent.

Manufacturing, one of the industries we work most closely with, reported a turnover rate (or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “separation rate”) of 32.6 percent in 2018. 32.6 percent. Real Estate, another industry that employees a high number of maintenance technicians, clocked in at 35.3 percent.

It’s tough to find a golden number for a healthy turnover rate. We often hear a 10% mark thrown around but it varies from industry to industry. We do know that routinely rehiring a third of your workforce is not healthy, but it is the reality.

There are ways to lower turnover but even if you operate the most stellar company, turnover will still happen. Luckily, we’re here to show you how a CMMS, a staple of high-functioning maintenance teams, can help you get through the inevitable turnover. 

A CMMS Tells Your Company’s Story

In a nutshell, a CMMS is a place to store valuable maintenance information. From there, you can track trends, identify issues, and create routines. When you do that, your CMMS software will create a history of all the maintenance tasks performed. One of the biggest losses, when someone leaves a workplace, is the knowledge they take with them. Utilizing a CMMS allows you to store that valuable information. Now, when you replace your maintenance techs, they can pick up where the last guy left off, because all of his tasks we’re notated in the CMMS. 

Helps New Employees Become Autonomous

Let’s take inventory, an important aspect of a typical maintenance tech’s job, i.e. “Where’s that freakin’ part located?” Instead of new workers asking old workers where something is located, they can simply refer to the CMMS, which shows exactly where a part, a machine, or a tool is located. This frees up your current employees and empowers your new ones to be more effective workers.

Enforces Standardization

Workers can see all past work requests, work orders, purchase orders, PMs, etc. in a CMMS.  Now, a freshly minted employee will be able to reference this past work and compare their current work. This allows, assuming the past work was done correctly, the new employee to adopt the practices of the company in a practical and visual way.

A CMMS is a serious way to transfer tribal knowledge, workplace practices and culture, slow maintenance turnover in a convenient package that just makes your workday easier. So now, with your new workers integrated into your workforce, maybe instead of looking for the exits, they’ll be working away, humming, “Let’s Stay Together…”

The Benefits of Clean Data

Over the past few years data has become the currency of business, companies are even giving away products for free – just for personal data! But not all data is created equal. So, how do you distinguish your company’s $100 data from $1 data?

There are plenty of factors that go into the value of your business’ data, depending on the sort of information your company wants.

It could be internal operations data, which can affect leadership decision-making or client data, which can affect customer satisfaction.

No matter why the data is valuable to your organization, in order to get the most value out of it, it needs to be clean and clear. But what does “clean” data look like?

According to this analysis, conducted by Siemens, any data cleaning technique should satisfy several requirements: 

  • Should detect and remove all major errors and inconsistencies both in individual data sources and when integrating multiple sources.
  • Should be supported by tools to limit manual inspection and programming effort and be extensible to easily cover additional sources
  • Should not be performed in isolation but together with schema-related data transformations based on comprehensive metadata


Let’s try to translate that. Into English. When cleaning data, you should:

  • Identify and remove all major errors and inconsistencies in data and the data sources
  • Limit the possibility for human error and make it easy to integrate new data sources
  • Make sure you’re aware of how your data cleansing will affect the rest of the data or databases that it’s tied to.

Sounds like a lot of work, yeah? Well, if you’ve ever had to work with unorganized, inconsistent, or inaccurate data you know the legwork needed to keep data clean is worth the time and effort.

If you haven’t, here are a few more reasons why “clean” data is absolutely worth the effort:

1. Improved Decision Making

The more information you have the easier it is to make decisions, that’s not a complicated concept. But when leadership can’t trust the information it’s given – well you might be better off having no information at all, instead of having data that could steer you in the wrong direction.

2. Costs Saving

Let’s take, for example, a manufacturing facility. If the data regarding inventory numbers is inaccurate it can lead to inaccurate stock orders. Now, extrapolate that over a year and you could be looking at hundreds of dollars in money your company is throwing away. (That manufacturer should probably read our article on symptoms of an unhealthy facility)

Or not just hundreds, it might cost you millions. In 2013, Gartner surveyed a wide range of companies and found that poor data hygiene was costing them $14.2 million a year. This was in 2013. In 2019, companies are gathering more data than ever.

3. Time Savings/ Loss of Productivity

We know time is money. So, having to sift through a cluttered database or unorganized CRM will cost your organization. If you plan on using certain sets of data in the future, the time it takes to organize and cleanse data will pay for itself.

4. Customer Satisfaction

B2C organizations pile up tons of customer data, so keeping your client’s data accurate and consistent can be the difference between a satisfied customer and a customer abandoning your services.

Also, if a customer is willing to trust a company with their data, it’s up to that company to do everything possible to protect and maintain the integrity of that data. If your organization deals with customers or is based in an EU country, you may also be subject to the legal bindings of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

5. Missed Opportunities

This might be the most obvious of benefits, gathering data isn’t just for keeping a repository of records, it can be used to gain distinct advantages as a company. For example, if a marketing research team conducts a survey and discovers that a new prototype product would be adopted by a majority of users – that’s data creating opportunities. Alternatively, if the survey conducted by the marketing research team returns with inconsistent and inaccurate data or data that can’t be easily analyzed – that’s a missed opportunity.

Cleaning data is a bit like exercising, it sounds terrible in theory and isn’t all that fun in practice, but the benefits are extraordinary.  It could grow your business, increase profits, increase customer satisfaction and even improve productivity. Actually, that sounds way more rewarding than working off those 4 extra slices of pizza from Saturday night.

 

Written by Steven Garcia

 

4 Tips for a Manufacturing Preventive Maintenance Program

Wherever we work, whether it’s a manufacturing facility or a software company – we want to practice continuous improvement. It’s our nature, as human beings, to try and determine the best solutions to our problems. That’s why we’re on top of the food chain, baby! Here at Ashcom Technologies, we like to practice what we preach. So we put together an article with basic tips on how to improve your manufacturing facility’s preventive maintenance program. Let’s get started!

1. Set Goals

Admittedly, this is not some grand revelation but it’s surprising to discover how many maintenance teams either don’t set goals at all or let them fall by the wayside as time goes on.

Plenty of manufacturing maintenance teams have goals passed down to them from corporate, but if you are part of a smaller maintenance team and in a position to set goals – this could be an incredible opportunity to not only boost your team’s productivity but earn some recognition.

So, the next question is, how to set goals for a preventive maintenance program?

One common technique is S.M.A.R.T goal setting, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Now, S.M.A.R.T may trigger memories of middle-school teachers desperately attempting to get students to finish their homework but there’s a reason why so many organizations use it: it works. It gives simple guidelines that can be applied to almost any goal-setting scenario.

If you’re reading this article, there’s probably some internal issues that caused you to seek out answers. So, take a moment to think of SMART goals, that could put your team on track. For example, if a certain asset’s PM schedule is being neglected, try giving your team a goal of 95% PM compliance for next year.

2. Set Key Performance Indicators

After you’ve brainstormed a few goals the next step is measuring progress, and that’s when we turn to the ever-reliable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

KPI’s can be as simple as keeping track of open, closed, and past-due work orders or they can be as complex as calculating the MTBF or Mean Time Between Failure, they’re simply the statistics that you use to track your performance.

There are a few advantages of using KPI’s. Not only will you be able to track progress towards your team’s goals, but you’ll also be able to identify weaknesses in your preventive maintenance program.

If you’re not using KPIs at all, start with the basics, like tracking work orders in categories illustrated above. After a few months time, you’ll be able to track trends and analyze team performance, which should give you clues into how to improve productivity and reduce downtime.

3. Talk to Your Maintenance Team!

A lot of maintenance teams are so busy that they don’t have time to reinvent the wheel – maintaining and making sure everything is running smoothly can be a challenge in of itself.  So, give your maintenance team an opportunity to air any issues they’ve discovered in their day-to-day tasks.

Talking to your maintenance team can uncover ways to improve your maintenance program and it can also determine if the PM goals you set are realistic.

4. Create Company Specific Best Practices

You’ve established goals for your preventative maintenance team, you’ve established KPIs to measure your progress towards the goals. Now, it’s time to make sure that your organization can replicate those processes moving forward.

As you progress closer to your goals, take the time to create documentation on the practices that helped you achieve those goals. Staff turnover is inevitable, but it’s the conscious effort of creating an organizations’ identity through goals and best practices that separates good companies from great companies.

Hopefully, you can use this article as a guide to begin correcting issues in your preventive maintenance program. For further reading on KPI’s check out this article from Ins Research or for setting PM goals and strategies, check out this article by Plant Engineering.

If you’d like additional expertise in achieving a reliable manufacturing preventive maintenance program, please contact us! We have over 30 years of experience in maintenance management and maintenance management solutions.

 

Written by Steven Garcia

  • cmms software - Preventive Maintenance
  • Computerized Maintenance Management Software
  • CMMS Programs
  • Asset Tracking Software
  • Preventive Maintenance Software

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