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Efficient asset management is a great general goal, but knowing where you want to be doesn't automatically get you there. And that's why standards like the ANSI TAPPI TIP 0305-34:2008 for preventive maintenance are so important. Combined with modern CMMS software, they can show you how to get ahead of the maintenance curve, improving reliability and cutting costs. 

The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) TAPPI TIP 0305-34:2008 standards help organizations create checklists for preventive maintenance inspections and tasks. But before looking at them more closely, it's important to work through a few definitions and clear up some confusion. 

Differences between regulations and ANSI standards for maintenance professionals 

Instead of looking at them individually, it's easier to understand these ones based on how they're different from one another. 

On the most basic level, a standard is a suggestion while a regulation is a requirement. For example, even though the government has all kinds of advice on what foods you should eat to stay healthy, you're still free to eat junk food. You don't have to follow their suggestions. It's different for the people selling you the food. They must follow lots of rules related to how they label, package, transport, store, prepare, and serve food. They don't have a choice. 

With maintenance standards, though, there can be some confusing overlap between suggestions and rules. 

According to this explanation of ANSI standards from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE),  if you want to understand the differences between standards and regulations, you have to keep these four seemingly contradictory principles in mind: 

  1. Standards are voluntary. A group of industry representatives, technical experts, and policymakers try to reach some agreement on the best way to accomplish different tasks and reach different goals. But these groups have no way to enforce compliance.
  2. Some of those standards are now regulations, thanks to a process called "incorporation by reference." Basically, a regulation includes a reference to a standard, making it an enforceable, mandatory government regulation.
  3. Even with voluntary standards, you can still get in trouble for not following them. The idea is that government regulations tell you what you need to accomplish but not how to do it. There are some cases where not adopting a standard related to a regulation can be used to show you are not taking reasonable steps to comply with the regulation. 
    For example, there were a set of regulations mandating personal protection equipment (PPE) for anyone working near electrical hazards. But the regulations didn't specify which equipment to use. That information was in a separate standard from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). When a worker was injured, OSHA cited the company for failing to provide the right type of PPE. The company had provided PPE, which is in the regulations, but it was the wrong type, which only relates to a standard that OSHA had neither included nor referenced in a regulation. 
  1. But that still doesn't mean you need to adopt every standard. Remember, they're voluntary.

Even though it can be confusing, the benefits of maintenance standards are clear. 

Benefits of maintenance standards, including the ANSI TAPPI TIP 0305-34:2008 

The TAPPI TIP 0305-34:2008 standards are specifically about setting up checklists for preventive maintenance tasks, but they share the same general benefits as all maintenance standards. 

The first is that standards help you benchmark your current maintenance operations by giving you a "gold standard." Your current PM checklists might each be hundreds of items long. Or they might all be fewer than five. And that might be great or terrible. But it's hard for you to know unless you have a sense of what a properly developed PM checklist looks like. Standards show you how far along you are on the path to best practices. 

There are many other benefits, and one of the most important is how standards simplify operations through standardization. Once your organization has established clear checklists for PMs, everyone performing the inspections and tasks knows what to do. Standard operating procedures remove the guesswork. They eliminate the time maintenance technicians would have spent reinventing the wheel every time you assigned them a PM. 

Another benefit of standardization is that it makes it easier for you to improve your preventive maintenance program. Because you know how the team is maintaining each asset, you can systematically find the weaknesses and implement improvements. 

Let's say there's a PM task related to lubrication. The problem is that the equipment still tends to overheat, so you want to adjust the PMs. If there are no SOPs in place, you don't know what to change. It could be that every technician uses a different lubricant. Or, some might be checking the levels when the equipment is running while others wait until it's cooled down. It's only when the team is consistent that you can systematically make adjustments and monitor results. 

So far, we've covered some basic definitions and benefits. But before we can look at how modern CMMS software can help you meet maintenance standards, we need to clear up any possible confusion about compliance. 

Maintenance standards and compliance, especially for CMMS software 

When it comes to maintenance standards, compliance is about your organization meeting the standards, not your CMMS solution. That means you are in compliance or not. It's not the software. 

It's roughly the same as with seatbelt laws. When you drive your car, there is a law that says you must wear a seatbelt. And when you do wear one, you are complying with the law. The seatbelt is only there to allow you to comply, but it doesn't make sense to say the seatbelt is in compliance with that law. 

This applies to other maintenance standards, including ISO 55000. You can use CMMS software to support your efforts to meet the standards. But the software isn't compliant. 

Implementing ANSI TAPPI TIP 0305-34:2008 with CMMS software 

Now that we've covered all that ground, we can start to look at the standard a little bit and see and how the right maintenance management software can help you meet it. 

A basic checklist for preventive maintenance might include: 

  • Check motor 
  • Check pumps   
  • Check piping 
  • Check panel box 

And beside each one, a box for the technician to add a checkmark to confirm they did the inspection or task. 

The problem is that there's almost no explanation of what checking each part or asset really means. Is checking the motor the same as checking the piping? What should the technician be looking for when inspecting each one? And if they do find a problem, do they leave out the checkmark? 

Preventive maintenance checklists with CMMS software 

One of the problems with old-fashioned paper- and spreadsheet-based methods is that there's never enough room to include all the information technicians need to work effectively. It's hard to get a lot of information onto a single piece of paper, and spreadsheets are notoriously difficult to read. All those individual columns and rows collapse into a confusing jumble. 

Easy-to-read CMMS PM checklists 

A good CMMS solution has a clean, easy-to-read layout, which allows you to include lots of information at every step without worrying about technicians having to squint to see it. With the ANSI standards, the goal isn't to make your checklists as long as possible, but because technicians can easily scroll down the desktop or mobile device screen, you can include everything the team needs. 

Easy-to-include CMMS PM checklists 

And including all that information is easy with PM templates. Once you've built your checklists, you can save them as templates, which you can then add to PMs in just a few clicks. You never have to write them out a second time or endless copy and paste them into new spreadsheet cells. 

Easy-to-update CMMS PM checklists 

Older maintenance management systems rely on paper or spreadsheets, making it nearly impossible to hold onto and share accurate checklists reliably. If you're doing everything by hand, not only is the process slow, but any data you do collect is easily lost. No matter how carefully a technician follows a checklist, they can still easily misplace it. And if you're using spreadsheets, you have the opposite problem. There are so many versions of your files out there that no one knows if they have the current version of the checklists. 

Modern CMMS software keeps everything in one place, a central cloud-based database, and because everyone is accessing the same data, everyone is using the most current versions of your checklists. If you ever update them, everyone sees the updated versions. No one ever works from a stale checklist. 

Work order and task comments with CMMS software    

The ANSI standards for PM checklists are not rules written in stone. Your organization will need to make adjustments for your specific industry and needs. Part of the process of fine-tuning your PM checklists is looking at feedback from the technicians. 

And you can collect their feedback easily with preventive maintenance work order and task comments. If there's something on the checklist they don't understand or want to include, they can use the mobile maintenance app to quickly and easily add comments to the PM or a specific task inside it, which the maintenance manager and the rest of the team can see right away. 

Next steps 

If you're hoping to use standards to improve your maintenance operations, you need a CMMS solution. Implementing effective PM checklists using paper or spreadsheets is slow and prone to error. Ultimately, it's just frustrating. 

If you're ready to move up to a modern solution, or you already have a CMMS, but it's not delivering what you were promised, now's the time to reach out to providers. They can walk you through the whole process, including feature sets, pricing packages, and onboarding options.

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About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.