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

4 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Facility (And the Only Cure is More CMMS)

“There’s got to be a better way.”

Hundreds of over-worked facility managers have come to this conclusion.

But here’s the tricky part: a busy facility manager, with a litany of day-to-day issues, may not have enough time to find a better way. Or even worse, they’re so entrenched in their day-to-day work that they don’t realize their facility could be managed in a more efficient manner.

Some facility managers are aware that their facility could run a little smoother, but with dozens of employees to manage and supervisors to please – they address the symptoms with band-aids instead of curing the disease.

Well luckily, there is a cure to the disease of a poorly run facility – a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). It tracks and manages everything inside of your facility, giving managers the data they need to run a facility as efficiently as possible.

But before we prescribe the remedy, let’s look at the 4 symptoms that could be signs your facility is in need of a CMMS.

Ineffective Method of Generating & Tracking Work Orders

Even more noticeable than a lingering cough is a giant stack of work orders. Take a look around your facility – if you see a skyline’s worth of work order stacks, you may have a sickly facility.

A CMMS takes that pile of papers and stores them digitally. In addition to storing the work orders, a CMMS alerts maintenance technicians when a work order is generated.  No more shuffling through a messy work desk to find today’s to-do list.

Keeping a digital record of your work orders makes for a healthy facility by creating accountability, making audits a breeze and decreasing shrink.

Historical Information isn’t Being Tracked

Storing information digitally, as we mentioned above, doesn’t just allow your team to be more organized and communicate better, it allows you to be more mindful of the overall health of your facility and major assets.

A doctor wouldn’t proceed without your medical history and you can’t make any confident decisions without your facilities history.

Check the historical information to identify machinery that’s a consistent problem or preventative maintenance that’s been neglected.

Machinery has a life-cycle of usability.  If you aren’t mindful of that, surprise downtime could become the norm. Observe the historical data on your machinery and you could save untold amounts of money over the long run. This is one of the main reasons that a CMMS gives your facility an incredible return on investment.

Inventory is a Mess

Not really sure where certain parts are stored or how many are on-hand? Wondering why there are golf balls and a copy of Sports Illustrated from 2008 in a spare parts drawer? These are signs of a disorganized inventory – one of our biggest symptoms of an unhealthy facility.

A well-stocked inventory is key to a well-functioning workplace. A big issue commercial facilities can run into is having a key piece of machinery down and not having the parts in stock to repair it.

A lesser problem, but one that will still cost you, is having too much inventory. Over-ordering parts can be a real issue for smaller facilities that value space.  And managers that value money.

Preventative Maintenance Schedules Aren’t Being Followed

Constantly reminding team members of preventative maintenance? Or just missing it altogether?

Preventative Maintenance is like getting a check-up with your doctor, no one actually wants to do it, but you’re better off in the long run. And just like regular checkups will lengthen your own life, keeping a regular PM schedule can lengthen the life of your machinery.

Think of a CMMS like a little digital doctor for your machinery, right on your facility floor. It stores the PM schedules of all of your most valuable assets and alerts you when they’re due. We all like the idea of regularly performing PMs but it’s easy for a busy manufacturing facility to have schedules fall by the wayside, a CMMS will help to prevent that.

So, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms please, do not hesitate to reach out to a trusted CMMS provider and see if a CMMS is a right fit for you. Side effects may include: less machine downtime, increased facility output, increased maintenance productivity, reduced operating costs, and a much, much happier facility manager. (For a more detailed description of CMMS benefits check out our Big Picture Benefits of a CMMS blog post or the Department of Energy’s Operation & Maintenance Best Practices Guide.)


Written by Steven Garcia

Please, If You Love Your Maintenance Department – Stop Using Excel and Move to a CMMS

CMMS vs. Spreadsheets

Microsoft Excel is handy, it’s probably right there on your desktop – just waiting to be booted up. So, it’s no wonder that companies default to Excel when they need to manage data or start keeping records. If they knew the advantages of a CMMS vs. spreadsheets, they might think twice.

At Ashcom Technologies, we’ve had plenty of customers turn to us after giving up on managing their maintenance department via Excel spreadsheets, and they’ll tell you the same thing we will:

Excel will work – but not well.

Writing simple formulas or creating a budget in Excel is a breeze. Beyond that, Excel can be an absolute disaster.

Do a quick Google search on Excel business errors and you’ll find countless accounts of Excel costing companies billions. Yes, billions.

Here’s an example, where a spreadsheet error cost Fannie Mae $1 billion.

Here’s another where Tesla made a $400 million mistake.

There’s even a non-profit organization called European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group that exists solely to mitigate the inherent risks of utilizing spreadsheets. They have a page on their website titled “Horror Stories” which is a lengthy list of notably disastrous Excel mistakes.

Needless to say, the room for error when using spreadsheets is incredibly high. An article by Forbes led with the title, “Microsoft Excel Might Be The Most Dangerous Software On The Planet.”

Spreadsheets are Not Built for Maintenance Data

This article goes on to describe how Excel and the world of finance have been tied for decades. And if you notice, most of the above errors are accounting related. One reason why is that big dollar discrepancies make news, but also because Excel has been designed with finances in mind.

Maintenance management is a far cry from finance. If finance errors are a common occurrence in a program specifically built to handle them, what mistakes will arise when that program is used for maintenance data?

We’ve all had the experience of Excel auto-formatting information we did NOT want formatted. Those part numbers you entered? Yeah, Excel thinks that’s November 23rd, 1906.

Maintenance management software, such as a CMMS, isn’t built with just data management in mind, it’s designed to service entire organizations with the maintenance department acting as the hub. For a more comprehensive list of CMMS benefits check out our article, Big Picture Benefits of a CMMS.

Let’s take for example creating and finishing a simple work order in a CMMS. You can track every aspect: the parts used, your company’s parts inventory, which vendor the parts came from, which machine the parts were used on, the location of the machine, how often that machine has been serviced, who serviced it, and how many hours they worked that week.

In order to communicate that story, you’d need a stack of spreadsheets that would make Herman Melville blush.

Once you have your pile of spreadsheets, analyzing that data and pulling relevant information would be, to put it politely, time-consuming.

If you’re a maintenance tech, time is your biggest resource and most likely there’s not enough of it to bother analyzing data – you need to get to the next project. But by disregarding data, you’re costing yourself more time in the future.

Relevant maintenance data is just more easily communicated via a CMMS than a spreadsheet. Most CMMS software will supply you with reports that will undoubtedly make your maintenance operations a smarter, more efficient machine. Reports that will show you “all open work orders” or “upcoming scheduled preventative maintenance.”

These reports are possible because of a CMMS’ ability to store historical information, information that a spreadsheet is just simply not designed to communicate or store effectively.

Another reason that spreadsheets are less than ideal is that most organizations have a designated “excel expert” who sets up the spreadsheets and enters the data. If this person leaves, so does all the knowledge behind the inner workings of the spreadsheet.

The 6 Reasons Why Spreadsheets Will Drive Your Maintenance Team Nuts

So, if you’re keeping score at home, here are the reasons NOT to use Excel for your maintenance management:

  1. Insanely high room for error.
  2. Not designed to track maintenance related information.
  3. Not designed to track historical data.
  4. Time-consuming and labor-intensive.
  5. Difficult to analyze data.
  6. Storing data is cumbersome.

Look, spreadsheets are powerful enough to track your grocery budget or track information about small projects but please, if you love your maintenance department – ditch the spreadsheets and move to a CMMS.

Written by Steven Garcia

Why Software Implementations Fail

Have you ever been forced to use a piece of software at work that you absolutely hated, but — for some reason — consumer reviews made it sound great?  It can be frustrating to read reviews or watch testimonial videos claiming that CMMS 123 is a godsend that’s doubled maintenance productivity when wrestling data into CMMS 123 has actually doubled your workload.  In these instances, CMMS 123 is probably a perfectly fine piece of software, but there is a systemic problem that started when CMMS 123 was brought on board at your company.

There are two major factors that lead to this type of poor implementation that prevent software from shining: data integrity and training.

The Data Needs to Match the Reality

Generally speaking, software for business captures data from which management can run reports and inform decision-making.  It should offer other value to the organization by increasing profits or lowering costs, but I challenge you to find an enterprise software that doesn’t have back-end reporting as part of its value statement.

The people who are looking at those reports are the change-makers within your organization, be them the C-Suite, people managers, or Finance.  If people in these positions aren’t happy with the software, you better believe that software is hitting the bricks, and the software’s champion who brought it to them won’t look too good.

To prove your decision to buy a particular software is the right one, you need to give the change-makers what they’re looking for.  So, once you’ve decided to buy, why not walk into your CFO’s office and ask her what she needs to be successful?  Better yet, why not ask before you’ve made the decision, so you can make sure the software can meet that need?  Make sure all of the appropriate stakeholders have had a proactive voice because if they have requirements that aren’t established upfront, there’s a serious risk the system won’t be configured to meet those requirements.  If you find out about that come year-end review time, you could be looking at a costly data migration or, worse yet, having to start the whole buying process over again.

Be sure to connect with these decision makers early and often, then document their requirements in writing so nothing gets missed.  Not only will this ensure clear communication between all parties, but it also creates an audit trail that can be used for future reference or, at the very least, covers your backside if mistakes are discovered down the road.  I think we can all agree butt coverage is a good thing.

The Importance of Training

Training, regardless of the modality or the source, is an invaluable asset whenever you’re introducing new systems into an organization for the first time.  In the case of software specifically, training is often offered by the vendor and it is well worth any additional costs they charge.

Consider a tool like Microsoft Excel.  It’s been on the market for decades and millions of people use it every day.  Some organizations simply need Excel to record basic information, such as the number of orders shipped. Others, however, need to leverage a number of complex formulae and graphing algorithms to be truly efficient at their jobs – and that level of knowledge is never free.  Even if you spend the time looking up reference documents and how-to videos on YouTube, you are still spending your time.

Now, in the case of Excel, there is a wealth of information out there, but for other systems, it may not be as readily available.  The time spent searching for answers in a complex software system will, at the very least, cost you and your organization many hours that could be better spent producing. 

Also, if you’re entering data into software without proper training, it’s very possible you will enter that data incorrectly.  This compromises the whole database and, depending on the severity of the inaccuracy, can cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to repair, potentially offsetting the value of the software entirely. Whenever you’re implementing new software – or change of any kind for that matter – be sure to find the most efficient ways to empower your workforce.

Here’s one personal example when I was given a piece of technology without training: I worked at a local dispatch center for a worldwide truck rental company.  We were given iPhones in a rugged case to check in trucks that were returning from rentals.  The method I was shown for pulling up contracts on the iPhone took 9 clicks, which was often performed while the customer was waiting in the rain or snow. 

After I had been there for nearly a year, I found that the large cases on the phones contained a scanner, and each truck had a barcode sticker right next to the driver’s door.  What had been a time-consuming 9-click process turned into a point-and-shoot that took one second.  Had I been properly trained on that equipment from the start, the check-in process could have been shortened by about a minute per truck, and we often received two dozen trucks on busy days.  If someone had taken a mere two minutes to properly train me, I could have saved the company hundreds of dollars over the course of the year, even at the hourly rate I was being paid.

In Conclusion

Not all software companies are created equally, but the ones worth your time will push to make sure the right people within your organization are involved in the implementation, and that your team has the proper supports in place after go-live.  Don’t simply look for who will check a box for the lowest dollar amount.  Even if you’re under pressure to make a purchasing decision, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.  Do what you need to do to ensure your software implementation is successful.

About the Author

Graham Bennett is an Account Executive at Ashcom Technologies.  To learn more about Ashcom Technologies, MaintiMizer, or how to better support software within your organization, he can be reached at 1-800-366-0793 ext. 112 or

How to Pass an Audit with a CMMS

A huge perk when you implement a CMMS is having the ability to store all of your maintenance information digitally. This is incredibly useful when you’re checking the preventative maintenance history of an asset but it’s even more useful when that dreaded 5-letter word is being whispered throughout your facility’s corridors. Audit. Some of the common auditors our clients at Ashcom Technologies see include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), International Standards Organization (ISO), and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Of course, there’s even more auditors with different guidelines and rules and regulations to comply to, but there’s one thing that all auditors have in common: their need for documented proof. Proof, for example, that a certain preventative maintenance task was performed every 120 days. A CMMS can provide a report for that. It can also provide reports on tracking incidents, ensuring inspections are done when needed, work history, and just about anything else maintenance related that may be audited. Generating reports instead of hastily compiling paper records is a baseline of competence that maintenance teams should strive for. Beyond surviving audits, recording the daily records of maintenance can help enable a cultural shift. Someone once said, “Excellence is a habit.” To get the most out of a CMMS, it needs to be part of your maintenance team’s daily habits. A CMMS acts as a hub and reminder for tasks that otherwise may get lost in the shuffle. It keeps your team accountable and ensures the little things, like preventative maintenance, that prevent the big things – like asset failure, get done. So, in a way, a CMMS can act as an internal audit for maintenance team’s practices so they can pass a real audit when the time comes. It’s ultimately up to the maintenance team to perform the protocols and best practices that will ensure compliance, but a CMMS is a fantastic tool for companies that want to get ahead of the game. Written by Steven Garcia

What is an EAM?

EAM is a term you may have come across if you’re in a maintenance, repair, and operations role. It stands for Enterprise Asset Management, which does explain the initials but offers little guidance on how an EAM executes or how it’s delivered. Is it software? A team of managers? A very strong robot? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out.

Via Wikipedia, “Enterprise asset management involves the management of the maintenance of physical assets of an organization throughout each asset’s life cycle. EAM is used to plan, optimize, execute, and track the needed maintenance activities with the associated priorities, skills, materials, tools, and information.”

Ah, that’s better. Now, if you’re reading this, you’ve most likely heard of or even use CMMS software (if not, here’s our brief description). Functionally, Wikipedia’s description of an EAM sounds awfully similar to a CMMS.

And if you’ve done a fair amount of research into CMMS or EAM software you may see that they’re used synonymously.

Heck, we use them synonymously on this website!

So, is there a difference between the two or is this a Kleenex versus tissue type situation?

In order to understand the differences and why the two phrases exist, we have to look back at their origins.

History of CMMS and EAM

Despite their status as an all-in-one hub for asset and maintenance management, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems have humble beginnings.

The first iterations of CMMS software can be traced back as far as the 1960’s and came in the form of punch cards. Maintenance workers would record their completed maintenance tasks onto punch cards which were then fed into mainframes.

1960's Computer Mainframe

Image via Wikipedia

Luckily for maintenance teams and businesses everywhere, CMMS continued to evolve, as did businesses and maintenance practices. Jeff O’Brien from American Machinist does a fantastic job here of breaking down each iteration of CMMS technology into delineated generations.

Somewhere in the 4th generation of CMMS evolution, the term EAM started popping up.

According to this article via Plant Services, EAM was likely coined as a marketing phrase.

This makes a lot of sense – up until this point, somewhere between the late 80’s and early 90’s, CMMS software was associated with simply managing maintenance tasks.

At this time there were incredible advances in computers and networking, as well as changing views on maintenance. Once considered a necessary evil, it was now seen as an opportunity to gather valuable data and cut expenses.

As a result, CMMS software and EAM software was more fully integrated into business operations. Now, instead of just issuing work orders for maintenance teams, C-level employees could utilize CMMS/EAM software to monitor the status of their valuable assets.

The companies that could offer these features wanted to differentiate themselves from their simple maintenance management CMMS competitors, hence the term Enterprise Asset Management.

So, we know why the term was coined but does that differentiator still exist today? Well, not exactly.

Today, a quality CMMS software is expected to offer the features that once set EAM apart. In 2019, if a company offers maintenance management software, whether it’s categorized under Enterprise Asset Management or Computerized Maintenance Management System, it needs to have a certain number of features in order to compete on the open market.

Our CMMS software has come a long way over the years, and as we head into the 4th Industrial Revolution, CMMS software will continue to evolve to better serve the needs of maintenance teams and businesses. This constant evolution will continue to blur the line that once differentiated EAM from CMMS.


Written by Steven Garcia

3 (really simple) Rules for a Successful CMMS Implementation

Written by Steven Garcia

There’s no denying how effective a CMMS can be at reducing costs and downtime for a maintenance team. According to a survey of over 500 companies using a CMMS (featured in The U.S. Department of Energy Operations and Maintenance Best Practices Guide) there was, on average, a 20.1% reduction in equipment downtime compared to when the companies weren’t using a CMMS.

Pair that with the reported 28.3% increase in maintenance productivity and 19.4% savings in lower material costs and it’s obvious that a CMMS, given enough time, will pay for itself. In fact, according to that same survey, it took an average of only 14.5 months for a CMMS to pay back the initial investment. Imagine if all of your investments paid off that quick! You wouldn’t have that storage unit full of beanie babies anymore!

So, with everything we know about how effective CMMS software can be, why is it that some CMMS implementations just don’t work?

Conveniently enough, that same U.S. D.O.E. report covers the common pitfalls of an unsuccessful CMMS implementation. Let’s break them down:

Improper selection of a CMMS vendor

Every CMMS has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to assess your maintenance team’s needs and your business needs to select the appropriate CMMS. Does your company have multiple facilities with sensitive customer data? Then an on-premise CMMS would be the right fit. It’ll help keep your data in-house and will more easily integrate with existing business software.

On the other hand, if your maintenance team is small and needs basic work order software, a lightweight Software as a Service (Saas) is most likely the right choice.

You can mitigate the chances of improper selection by conducting extensive research, every business has different needs and every CMMS is unique.

Inadequate training of the O&M administrative staff on proper use of the CMMS.

Image result for rocky training

Unfortunately, some organizations like to cut corners by skirting costs they may see as superfluous, such as training. They must have never watched Rocky. At Ashcom Technologies, we may be a little biased, but we speak from decades of experience when we say that one of the biggest indicators of whether a CMMS implementation will be successful is the number of training hours utilized.

If you’re a maintenance professional then you’ve most likely taken some sort of formalized or safety training. You understand exactly how important training is when it comes to properly utilize your tools.

Software is just another tool at your disposal. Unlike, say a forklift, a lack of CMMS training is unlikely to end with a hole in your warehouse wall, but it’s important nonetheless.

Lack of commitment to properly implement the CMMS and lack of commitment to persist in CMMS use and integration.

One of the biggest barriers to making any large-scale change in an organization is getting the staff on-board. Whether a CMMS is committed to, both in implementation and use, is largely determined by that organization’s culture.

If company culture is a progressive one, where change and improvements are encouraged, then adopting a CMMS should be relatively painless. On the other hand, implementing a CMMS in a work culture with an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ideology can be a bit more of a challenge.

This report does a wonderful job capturing some of the challenges we face at Ashcom when integrating CMMS software. If you want to successfully launch a CMMS and reap the long-term benefits, we find it’s helpful to remember these three basic rules: schedule the necessary training, research CMMS vendors to find the best fit, and make sure your team is ready to commit to using a CMMS in their day-to-day operations.

So, if we analyze these common pitfalls and flip them on their head, we can then build 3 Rules For a Successful CMMS Implementation.

Rule #1: Research CMMS vendors extensively.

Ugh GIF - TheSimpsons HomerSimpson Stressed GIFs

Reading reviews and visiting company websites is a solid first step but in order to find out whether a CMMS is going to work for your specific situation, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.

Get on the phone with a sales rep or CMMS engineer and explain your business problems. Then, evaluate each CMMS based on its effectiveness at solving those particular problems.

Rule #2: Schedule necessary training.

Once you’ve found a CMMS that aligns with your needs, you’ll need to actually use it!

Most CMMS providers offer different training options. Determining the best option for your team often depends on a number of factors like travel logistics and which type of training the CMMS provider offers. If available, on-site training at your facility is usually the most effective – it offers a direct look at how the CMMS will function within your business.

Other common options include in-house training, where CMMS companies host your employees at their training facilities and online training.

Rule #3: Ready yourself and your team to commit to using a CMMS.

A CMMS can be a culture shock to an entrenched maintenance team. Adding new work processes to a busy workforce can be met with pushback and without the support of the users, a CMMS will fail.  It’s incredibly important to ready your team to reassess their daily activities and determine how a CMMS can be incorporated into their responsibilities.

Illustrate the increased efficiency and work processes that come with a CMMS implementation. There is an initial time investment that must be paid, but given enough time it will lighten the maintenance team’s workload.

Look at that – turning lemons into lemonade! These 3 rules should help you avoid the common pitfalls, outlined above, as you navigate the CMMS shopping and implementation process.

The Value of Preventative Maintenance

Written by Steven Garcia

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” You’ve probably heard this phrase before and for most situations this is a sound piece of advice. Take, for example, the common kitchen stove; attempting repairs on a functioning stove will most likely just result in concerned looks from your significant other.

But! There are numerous situations where “fixing” or performing maintenance on something that’s not broken is the right thing to do. We call this “preventative maintenance” and it’s one of the core values of any successful industrial company.

Alternatively, performing maintenance on an asset or item that is broken is called “reactive maintenance.” This is a perfectly suitable solution for your stove but an incredibly less effective method for manufacturers and other large-scale operations.

Unlike the common stove, manufacturing plants are an interconnected web of machines, tools, and employees all working together to produce an item in the most efficient method possible. So, when one of those machines or tools stops working, it affects everything else in that web and efficiency plummets.

This is called downtime and it’s very, very bad. When downtime occurs, it costs the company time because production is halted while reactive repairs are performed. It costs the company money because product is not being manufactured. Ultimately, it creates an unsafe, unstable and stressful environment for employees.

An effective preventative maintenance program is a systematic approach to reducing downtime and addresses each of the aforementioned issues. Typically, preventative maintenance is performed through scheduled routine inspections and processes that ensure and preserve the functionality of an asset. Reducing downtime isn’t the only benefit of preventative maintenance; here’s a few more for consideration.

Cost Savings & Improved Efficiency

One of the common knocks on preventative maintenance is that it takes time out of day-to day operations to implement. While there may be an initial investment of time during implementation, the payoff in the future more than makes up for it. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, an organization using preventative maintenance can expect a 12 – 18% cost savings over reactive maintenance*. That’s no small potatoes.

Along with the incredible amount of money that can be saved from preventing downtime, it can also provide your maintenance team with a surplus of hours that can be utilized in more effective ways. Instead of spending hours or days performing unexpected repairs on a malfunctioning asset, they now perform routine maintenance for a few minutes in a scheduled routine.

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Besides preventing downtime, preventative maintenance can also extend the life of your valuable assets. Just like car owners perform regular maintenance (such as an oil change to extend the life of a vehicle) so should manufacturers perform regular maintenance to extend the life of their machines.

Besides the obvious cost savings and improved time utilization, preventative maintenance is also beneficial to your employees.  Properly maintained and functioning equipment creates a much more stable and safe working environment, which at the end of the day, should be your top priority.

This applies to mental health as well as physical. A malfunctioning machine may cause bodily harm, but a regularly malfunctioning asset will create a stressful environment for even the staunchest of maintenance teams.

With preventative maintenance, your workers now enjoy the peace of mind that comes with operating in an environment with properly functioning equipment, a surplus of hours to perform their duties, and less stress on their mental well-being.

So, when we consider all the benefits of preventative maintenance; saving money, saving time, safer and more harmonious work environments, happier employees, and more efficient production, it’s hard to think of any reason not to adopt a preventative maintenance strategy. Maybe it’s time to retire the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and adopt something less catchy but more practical like, “If it ain’t broke, just make sure.”


Written by Steven Garcia

* Statistics provided by Department of Energy

4 Things to Consider When Implementing a CMMS

Written by Steven Garcia

The fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and more and more organizations are adopting data-driven solutions by combining the physical elements of manufacturing with the digital elements of the Internet of Things (IoT).

This advanced approach to industry further encourages integration across all “cyber-physical” systems. Companies use the information that digital systems gather (e.g. CMMS) about their physical systems (e.g. manufacturing equipment) to make decisions that are best for the organization as a whole.

But as the IoT grows so does the number of systems that have to be able to speak to one another. This means if you work for an organization on the cutting edge of facility management, it may take a dedicated team willing to lay the necessary groundwork to spearhead a successful CMMS implementation.

Alternatively, if you work for a smaller organization you may not need to focus on the perils of integrating a CMMS into a larger enterprise system. Smaller organizations should be more focused on making sure their workforce is prepared to be trained on new software and how it will affect their day-to-day operations.

The team here at Ashcom Technologies wants you to be prepared to implement your CMMS no matter the size of organization or business. So, whether it’s a maintenance team of one or a corporation of 4,000 here are 4 things to consider before you implement a CMMS.

1. Evaluate Infrastructure

Well designed CMMS software becomes pervasive in an organization and often acts as a central communication hub for your maintenance team. So in order to properly implement CMMS software an organization has to identify the number of physical locations and the number of maintenance technicians that will be utilizing the system. This not only includes maintenance techs that complete work orders but any employees that would need access to a CMMS to request a work order.

Like we said above, companies are much more than just a collection of facilities and workers. In Industry 4.0, with integrated systems and data coursing throughout, organizations are much more akin to a living, breathing organism.

2. Hosting On-Site or in the Cloud

One of the biggest decisions you may face when implementing a CMMS is whether to host on-site or “in the cloud”. Hosting a CMMS on-site may be preferable for companies or organizations that have secure and stable server infrastructure and an on-site IT team. On-site hosting is the preferred method for certain data-sensitive industries.

That’s not necessarily true for most organizations; if your company is smaller in scale and doesn’t have its own server system or employs a smaller maintenance team then cloud-based hosting may be right for you.

With cloud hosting, smaller businesses don’t have to worry about server maintenance, IT hours, or anything else that may pull resources away from actual maintenance work. With a cloud-based CMMS, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), all you will need is a computer capable of accessing an internet browser and a CMMS license.

3. Time Allocation & Training

Implementing a CMMS is an investment not only in money but also in time, one that will undoubtedly return dividends. But, when you’re incorporating a new system into a pre-established workforce, it’s likely that some of your day-to-day operations may have to take a back seat.

In order to squeeze the most juice out of your CMMS, you’ll have to make sure the users are using the system properly and efficiently, which requires training. As an organization, be prepared to get creative with your team’s work hours so you can allow for CMMS training time.

Luckily, most CMMS companies offer a few ways to become certified by offering on-site training, online training, and off-site training.
There are advantages to each and the right choice depends on your organization. On-site training is valuable for larger organizations because it allows the CMMS experts conducting the training a direct look into facilities and overall operations so they can determine best practices on a case by case basis.

Off-site training, where users learn the ins and outs of a CMMS at a remote training facility, may be better suited for companies that already understand how a CMMS will be incorporated into their facilities and simply want their workers to be proficient users of the CMMS software.

Online training allows users to learn at their convenience but may not be as in-depth or expansive as the other two options. No matter your preferred method of training, it is absolutely necessary that your maintenance team is trained on their CMMS software.

4. Data Migration

Necessity is the mother of invention. If your organization is considering implementing a CMMS, it’s most likely that the need has arisen from your current system not providing enough data or your organization producing more data than can be handled via traditional methods.

If so, the next step in preparing your organization for CMMS implementation is gathering the current data on your organization’s equipment, assets, tools, employees, inventory and anything else that may be useful down the road. The more data the better – not only will your CMMS be able to operate more efficiently, it’ll allow your company to make smarter decisions for the future and that, at the end of the day, is what makes a CMMS a great tool for any organization.

So now that you’ve gathered your data, allocated time for training, decided how your CMMS should be hosted, and evaluated your existing infrastructure you’re ready to implement your CMMS. This is exciting! For a lot of organizations, progressing from traditional pen and paper to a CMMS system is the maintenance equivalent of going from a flip phone to a smartphone, and we’re glad that Ashcom Technologies could be a part of that very cool journey.


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