What is a CMMS?
According to Wikipedia, a CMMS is defined as:
"Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), also known as computerized maintenance management information system (CMMIS), is a software package that maintains a computer database of information about an organization's maintenance operations. This information is intended to help maintenance workers do their jobs more effectively (for example, determining which machines require maintenance and which storerooms contain the spare parts they need) and to help management make informed decisions (for example, calculating the cost of machine breakdown repair versus preventive maintenance for each machine, possibly leading to better allocation of resources). CMMS data may also be used to verify regulatory compliance."
It is also sometimes referred to as an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM).
The Evolution of CMMS
Prior to the great technological revolutions of the late 1970s, commercial buildings were content with managing their assets manually. Head of repairs and maintenance departments went about with their staff on a routine basis to inspect assets, after which they spent long hours correlating the data collected, so as to make sense of it all and determine how to proceed with a maintenance schedule.
These processes were often time consuming, inefficient and costly. This led managers and owners of commercial properties to begin asking for more in terms of automated systems. For a while, Microsoft seemed to have provided a solution with its MS Excel application, but its applicability was short lived. This was due to the rapid innovation of the commercial building industry, which now had numerous technological components for which Excel sheets were not equipped to handle their maintenance. The first CMMS system was released in 1965, but it wasn't until the 1990s that most commercial buildings began having access to affordable versions of it.
Fast forward to 2018, and CMMS alongside a host of other commercial building automated systems are now an industry norm. One can only shudder in despair at the thought of using manual maintenance processes for commercial buildings in this age and time where information represents the pinnacle of our very existence. Even using excel spreadsheets seem antiquated.
Best Practice for using CMMS
Like most commercial building automated systems, CMMSs also operates on an input/output basis. This therefore implies that for the system to operate optimally, certain basic procedures must be done right. Below are two important aspects for using a CMMS.
The world is still a long way from singularity, and until such a time as we are able to conquer this technological challenge; humans will continue to be at the core of every system operation. For a CMMS to work properly, the staff in charge of using the system must be adequately trained by an expert in the CMMS system. Training is also important because it reduces the additional costs associated with outsourcing the systems management.
Proper asset labeling is essential as it allows for asset tracking and maintenance scheduling. It is always recommended to use durable barcode or QR code labels with adhesive backs, as these are compatible with most CMMS in the system.
Advantages of a CMMS
The single most prominent feature of a CMMS system is its ability to collect and aggregate real time data. Some of the advantages associated with this feature are:
Proactive Maintenance Planning
Commercial buildings often host tenants and occupants in the thousands at any point in time, with these people in turn depending on the commercial building's management to keep everything running smoothly. Smooth running will imply management having its fingers on the every pulse of the building's assets to ensure that they are in good form. The only way this can be accomplished is by being proactive with respect to maintenance. With a CMMS system, commercial building managers can know the exact state of every asset, scheduling for its maintenance to ensure that it doesn't breakdown during operation.
There is always maintenance to be carried out on commercial property assets. However, some maintenance is more critical than others. With the sheer number of assets that commercial buildings have, it will be next to impossible, trying to manually aggregate data from these assets in an attempt draw up a priority maintenance schedule. With the real time data fed in to a CMMS, maintenance could be automatically prioritized to ensure that those assets needing immediate maintenance (operations critical assets) are attended to first, with the others being attended to progressively as per the schedule. Maintenance prioritization ensures for optimal labor allocation.
In the sea of commercial building assets, real time asset tracking has always proved to be a great challenge. Sure, the manager might sometimes be aware of when a certain equipment has been purchased but the question is whether he or she might know about when they were last repaired and whether or not they are currently in need of repairs. These are the type of questions for which Computerized Maintenance Management Systems were created, and whose answers could be gotten through a few clicks. With a CMMS and proper labeling system, commercial building managers are always on top of their asset tracking process.
Reduced Risk of Data Loss
Data loss is one of those very frightening prospects inherent with computer systems. With a CMMS, data loss could imply months of paper sorting and re-computing in an attempt to get everything up to date. With most CMMS, the risk of this occurrence has been significantly reduced through the incorporation of local and cloud backups to ensure data safety and integrity at all times, so much so that irrespective of the occurrence, the building's asset maintenance data could always be accessed from anywhere with a computer.
Cost Benefit Analysis
There comes a time in every assets life when it has to be exited from a commercial building. Asset disposal however is a managerial decision which shouldn't just be taken on a whim, but which should be supported with concrete data. The real time data that is always generated by CMMS allows management to make a decision as to whether it is more profitable to repair an asset or to exit it from the system in favor of a new one. This analysis is important as it ensures that assets are exited at the right time without incurring any more avoidable costs.
In its daily operations, it is the job of commercial building operators to ensure that building occupants are safe as they utilize the assets within a commercial property. The last thing any commercial building needs is getting slammed with a negligence lawsuit resulting from occupant's claim of asset malfunction. CMMS allows management to ensure occupant safety while growing its goodwill by maintaining assets before they result in the occurrence of a risk.
Adherence to Regulation
Depending on where a commercial building is situated, state or local regulations might mandate specific time periods for different asset maintenance. Given that these regulations are often not blanket for every asset, and coupled with the fact that assets may have different purchase dates, it will be very difficult to adhere to these regulations without an automated system to constantly remind you along with real time data. With a CMMS, asset maintenance reminders could be scheduled way ahead of time to ensure that the commercial building is operating within the confines of the law.
In conclusion, buildings today cannot do without a computerized maintenance management system. A CMMS helps commercial building owners and facility managers to keep track of assets, maintenance schedules as well as proactive recommendations for maintenance that reduces the risk. All this is made possible only with the help of real time data that the CMMS generates. This real-time data helps in maximizing the benefits that any CMMS provides.