Asset maintenance requires a lot of time and effort, so it stands to reason that the more efficiently you can do it, the better. Maintenance management can help you with that. It is the process of organizing and overseeing your maintenance activities to optimize the performance of your assets while controlling time and costs.
But what does good maintenance management look like, what are the different maintenance management strategies, and what role can computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software play?
What is maintenance management?
Maintenance management is the process of maintaining your assets and resources efficiently. The main objective is to reduce the costs, time, and resources associated with your maintenance processes while ensuring that everything flows as intended. When done well, your maintenance management program will help you avoid wasted resources and downtime due to broken equipment. Instead of being surprised by unexpected events that hamper your workflow, you’ll be able to control all maintenance processes without unwelcome failures.
Maintenance management used to be a chaotic process involving handwritten notes. Now, you can combine CMMS software, best practices, and trained personnel to keep your assets in working condition. Importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, your maintenance management program should be highly customized to suit the maintenance employed at your plant, whether you use a time-based maintenance strategy like preventive maintenance or a condition-based strategy like predictive maintenance.
Why is maintenance management important?
The efficiency of your maintenance has a big part to play in the success of your business. By properly maintaining your assets and equipment, you can keep production stable, reduce the likelihood of unplanned downtime, improve reliability and availability, and maximize your product quality.
Failing to get to grips with your maintenance management can lead to a spike in the cost of repairs, complete breakdowns of machines, delayed customer shipments, and lost revenue. It can also harm workplace safety and productivity.
What is the purpose of maintenance management?
The main objectives of maintenance management are the same regardless of the type of facility you manage. They include:
- Extending the life of your assets
- Reducing the risk of asset failures and downtime
- Scheduling maintenance and allocating your resources more efficiently
- Controlling your costs
- Complying with regulations in your industry
- Ensuring the safety of your workers
- Implementing better policies and procedures
Looking more closely at your historical maintenance data in your CMMS software can also give you a better understanding of maintenance trends. For example, it can help you cover details such as why an asset is underperforming or whether it has been maintained at the correct intervals.
What are the different types of maintenance management?
There are four key maintenance management strategies that can be used in combination or independently. The most appropriate type of maintenance management for your business depends on the assets you rely on, their age, their repair and maintenance histories, and how important they are to your operations.
Run-to-failure (reactive maintenance)
Using one of your assets until it fails and then repairing it is a legitimate maintenance management strategy for assets with no safety risks and a minimal impact on production. With this strategy, there is no requirement for your techs to perform any maintenance until a failure occurs. However, when it does, you must have the spare parts and the right techs on hand to replace the failed parts quickly.
This strategy can help you get the most value from certain assets at the lowest possible cost. However, you should only use this strategy with the right assets or you could find yourself dealing with lots of unscheduled downtime and expensive repairs.
Preventive maintenance (proactive)
This proactive maintenance strategy is based on the adage that “prevention is better than the cure”. By scheduling inspections of your assets and performing regular maintenance, you can take care of the smaller tasks such as adjustments, cleaning, lubrication, and repairs to keep your assets in good working order and reduce the likelihood of unscheduled downtime. In the early days, it might make sense to schedule your maintenance around the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, as your assets age, your techs will develop an understanding of any common problems and the adjustments they need to make to keep them at their best.
One of the main advantages of a preventive maintenance strategy is its efficiency. Everything is scheduled in advance so you know what work your maintenance team will do on a given day, the parts they’ll need, and the best time to get the job done (i.e. not during peak production). One of the downsides is that you could potentially perform more maintenance than is necessary, leading to extra waste and added risk.
Predictive maintenance (condition-based)
With this strategy, you use monitoring tools to determine when the best time to perform maintenance on your assets is based on their condition. The idea is to always be on the lookout for a sign of a problem and to intervene before it becomes a serious issue. For example, your maintenance team might use vibration analysis to check when things fall below or jump above certain parameters. When they do, you will take the equipment offline, inspect it, and repair it if required.
An advantage of predictive maintenance is that the sensors can inspect the asset while it’s still running and you’re only alerted if there’s a problem. That allows you to reduce the frequency of inspections and ensure that you only perform maintenance tasks when necessary. The downside is the cost of the monitoring equipment and the additional training your techs may need to set up and maintain it.
Here, you create a specific maintenance strategy for each asset that is optimized to maintain productivity while using the most cost-effective maintenance techniques. Reliability-centered maintenance can be a complex and time-consuming strategy to implement because you must analyze each asset individually. You can also end up with as many different maintenance plans as you have assets, so you’ll need an experienced, versatile, and highly-trained team of techs to implement them.
There are certainly benefits associated with this maintenance management approach, particularly when it comes to the reliability and availability of your equipment. However, its complexity and high upfront costs make it overkill for some organizations.
What are the different activities involved in maintenance management?
There are many different activities that you must coordinate and plan to create a seamless maintenance management program.
Although you don’t need to plan and schedule all of your maintenance, it is the cornerstone of any proactive maintenance management strategy. You must prioritize the maintenance work and organize it so that it can be completed efficiently by your technicians. As part of your maintenance planning, you need to decide:
- What maintenance tasks to do
- Who should perform them
- What tools and parts they need
Once you’ve planned the work, your next job is to schedule it (decide when you’re going to do it). Some maintenance tasks are urgent while others can be scheduled in the near future. Regularly occurring tasks such as inspections can be scheduled weeks, months, or even years in advance.
Work order management is another important aspect of your maintenance management. A work order is your primary channel of communication for maintenance work and outlines all the information about a maintenance task and the process your techs must follow. As part of your maintenance management program, you must define how work orders are created, processed, and completed, including how they’re prioritized, documented, and assigned.
Maintenance request management is another vital part of your maintenance management strategy. Although most of your organization’s maintenance tasks are identified by your maintenance team, requests for maintenance assistance can also come from other departments and employees. You need to decide how those requests will be reviewed and approved before becoming work orders.
Your maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory management is another element to consider. This includes all of the items that you use in your maintenance work, from spare parts and tools to safety equipment, personal protective equipment, chemicals, and cleaners. You need to think about how you procure, store, and replenish your MRO inventory to make sure that the right equipment is available at the right time.
Finally, as with all types of management, you need to think about your reporting. Producing maintenance management reports can provide you with information and insights about every aspect of your maintenance operation so you can see what you’re doing well and identify areas where improvements can be made.
How can CMMS software help?
Computerized maintenance management system software can help you take control of every aspect of your maintenance management. This type of software gathers, stores, and organizes all of your maintenance information in a central database. You can then use it to manage all of your maintenance activities and resources so you can control your operations based on your maintenance strategy.
A robust CMMS gives you all of the tools you need to organize, track, and manage your maintenance operations. You can track all of the critical data you need to make informed decisions about your assets, schedule critical maintenance activities, and automatically trigger preventive maintenance tasks based on preset conditions such as time and mileage. And as it’s cloud-based, you can do all of that at your desk or on the go.
It also lets your internal and external teams update and complete work orders wherever they are and helps you manage your inventory so you always know the right time to order more parts. You can also generate detailed reports on every aspect of your maintenance management strategy so you can see what assets are costing you the most, where your labor costs are going, and much more.
Maintenance management is the process of maintaining your assets and resources efficiently. The main objective is to reduce the costs, time, and resources associated with your maintenance processes while ensuring that everything flows as intended and without unexpected failures. The efficiency of your maintenance has a big part to play in the success of your business. When done well, it can help you extend the life of your assets, reduce the risk of asset failures, help you control your costs, and improve worker safety.
There are four key maintenance management strategies that can be used in combination or independently. They include run-to-failure, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, and reliability-centered maintenance. There are many different activities that you must coordinate and plan to create a seamless maintenance management program, from planning and scheduling your maintenance and managing your work orders to controlling your MRO inventory and producing maintenance management reports.
Computerized maintenance management system software can help you take control of every aspect of your maintenance management. A cloud-based, robust CMMS gives you all of the tools you need to organize, track, and manage your maintenance operations at your desk or on the go. It also provides planning, tracking, work order, inventory management, and reporting functionality in one fully customizable solution.