Maintenance documentation is any record containing information that you might need to complete maintenance tasks and inspections. It tells you what you have, shows you how to maintain it, and has records of all your past work.
Of course, there's that old saying about "never putting all your eggs in one basket," but if you want accurate, accessible maintenance documentation, that's exactly what you should do.
You just have to make sure you choose the right basket.
What is maintenance documentation?
Before deciding where to keep it, it's worth spending more time looking at what it is.
You can think of it as your collection of answers to critical questions about your operations: What do we have? How do we look after it? What work have we done so far, and what were the results of that work?
For example, an equipment operator might submit a maintenance request related to a press that's making a new and strange sound. The request is reviewed by the maintenance lead, who then uses it to generate a work order, complete with instructions and checklists. From there, they prioritize it and assign it to a tech. Once the tech has it, they look up the manual for the press, along with some of the recent closed-out work orders. Once onsite, they notice there's a leak in a section of tubing. It's leaking but it also looks new, so the tech checks the warranty to see if the manufacturer is obligated to cover it. Unfortunately, they're not, so the tech goes to inventory and gets the required parts and materials. Once they complete their work, they close out the work order, after filling in a description of what they did.
In this situation, the maintenance documentation includes:
- Maintenance request
- Assigned work order
- Equipment manual
- Equipment warranty
- Completed work order
Each piece of documentation plays an important role in the process. Without it, the maintenance lead wouldn't know there was a problem, the tech wouldn't have known how to fix it, and later, no one knows what the tech did.
What are the different types of maintenance documentation?
Although there are many types, they all tend to fall into one of three broad categories: what you have, what you do and how you do it, and what you did.
What you have
Here, you can include documents that describe your assets and equipment, including:
- Serial numbers
- CAD and BIM files
- Insurance policies
You can also include here all the documents that tell you who you have in the maintenance team, including certificates for training and trade-specific seals.
Collecting all this information and compiling it into something useful can be a complicated task, but it is necessary if you're trying to make the move from all reactive to more preventive maintenance. The good news is that you can find help with your facility audit.
What you do, how you do it
Here, you have all the documents that explain how to look after your assets, including:
- Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manuals
- Checklists for inspections
- Step-by-step instructions
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- General policies and procedures
- Preventive maintenance schedules
- Because safety is so important, it can be its own subcategory, and include:
- Safety-specific policies and procedures
- Lock out/tag out policies
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMIS)
- OSHA documentation
Depending on your location, you might also add workers' compensation documents.
A common problem for a lot of departments is that they have all this information rattling around inside the heads of their senior techs. Instead of having it down where it's safe and accessible, it's locked up. And as soon as those senior techs walk out the door either because they're moving to a new company or retiring, you lose all that critical maintenance know-how.
What you did
And here, it's all the documents related to the work completed by the maintenance team as well as any third-party vendors. You can include:
- Maintenance requests
- Work orders
- Maintenance metrics
- Key performance indicators
Work orders have many documents inside them, including notes and images created by the technician.
Why is maintenance documentation important?
Passing audits often comes down to how well you can answer these questions:
- Do you have a process in place?
- Did the team follow your processes?
- If they followed them, when did they do the work?
- If you have SOPs and the team is following them, when's the last time you updated them?
Now that we know what it is and why it's important, we can answer the next question: What's the best way to keep it safe and make it accessible?
Why is a CMMS the world's greatest egg basket?
Back to the eggs and their basket, our fragile metaphor. The idea about eggs and anything else you want to keep safe is that you shouldn't keep them all in one place. But for maintenance documents, it's the opposite.
You just have to make sure you have the right type of basket, a modern computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
With traditional manual methods, you're fighting against piles of paperwork and random spreadsheet files. And every time you need to connect two documents, there's a good chance they're two different formats. The PM schedule might be in a spreadsheet, but the related warranties are all paper. The work order you just assigned is on paper, but the schematics for the asset are all PDF files.
With a modern CMMS, all your documents go into one central database, where they are all safe, accessible, and connectable. The CMMS provider takes all the IT weight off your shoulders, and they're in charge of making sure your data is backed up and there when you need it. And they also make sure your data is everywhere you need it, accessible by everyone on the team through their Internet-connected devices.
When you need to generate and assign a work order, everything is done in one place, inside the software. When the tech uses their mobile device to access the info in real time, they can also pull up the related images and SOPs they need to work smart and safe.
Maintenance documentation is your collection of records that help you complete maintenance work. It's how you know what you have, how to look after it, and what work you completed so far. So, the first category can include asset serial numbers, images, CAD and BIM files, warranties, insurance policies, and information on your maintenance team, including certificates and trade seals. For the second, you have SOPs, preventive maintenance schedules, checklists, and manuals. In the third, there are closed-out work orders, reports, and KPIs. All of this information is vital to your operations, and you can think of it collectively as a map that shows you where you've been, where you are now, and how to get to your goals. To ensure your documents are both safe and accessible, you need a modern CMMS solution. Because everything lives in a central database and your provider takes care of all the back-ups and updates, you never have to worry about losing or losing access to your maintenance documentation.