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With maintenance tracking, you know both what you have and how to keep it running smoothly. 

Without it, you're flying blind. 

Here are some quick definitions to make sure we're all starting from the same spot. 

What is maintenance tracking? 

Maintenance tracking is how you capture, safeguard, and leverage all the data related to your maintenance operations. It's how you can see what you have, understand what you need to do to keep it up and running, and then schedule the right work. 

Most maintenance departments try to use a combination of different types of data. 

Asset and equipment lists 

Here, you start with a comprehensive list of all your assets and equipment, making sure to include everything you know about each one, including: 

  • Serial numbers 
  • Digital images and schematics 
  • O&M manuals 
  • Warranties 
Although a lot of items on the list are static, there can also be ones that change often, including maintenance and repair histories

 

Preventive maintenance schedules 

Once you know what you have, you need to know how to look after it. With preventive maintenance schedules, you can track all the inspections and tasks that help you find and fix small issues before they have a chance to grow into big problems. 

MRO inventory 

There's no value to knowing what you should do unless you have the parts and materials that make it possible. Otherwise, it's the same as having the recipe but not the ingredients. You're going hungry.   

Why is maintenance tracking important? 

It all comes down to that famous quote from business, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." Maintenance tracking is the critical first step, where you measure it. And from there, you can start to improve it. Once you know what's going on in your maintenance department, you can start to make everything better. 

What does that improvement look like? 

Increased transparency enforces better accountability. Once you can see what's going on with your operations, you can start pouring more time, money, and energy into what's working while pulling away from what's not. 

And increased predictability means less stress. If you never know what's hiding around the next corner, you always feel on edge. But when you can arrive at work every day with a solid sense of what's on your plate, life is just better. 

What industries track maintenance? 

The short answer is "just about all of them." 

The long answer is that maintenance tracking is especially important for asset-heavy industries, including: 

  • Facility management 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Health care 
  • Food and beverage 
  • Municipalities 

Tracking maintenance is not only important for businesses. Places of worship and other non-profits also benefit from better control over maintenance work. 

What do different industries track? 

Most track the same broad categories, including: 

  • Which assets and equipment they have 
  • What work they've done to them 
  • What work they need to do to them 
  • Which inventory they need for that work 

On top of that, there are a lot of different maintenance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) they can track. In many cases, they build them using raw data. So, if they're looking at MTTR, they would need to take several data points and put them together to get that failure metric. 

It's another great reason why tracking can be so powerful. Once you have the raw data, you can start to leverage it into actionable insights into your operations. 

For something like manufacturing equipment tracking, organizations would have complete lists of all their assets and equipment, including complete histories on completed and scheduled work orders. 

But they could also have detailed site maps and floor plans where they've plotted the locations of all their critical assets.   

For fleet vehicles tracking, they would likely have a stronger focus on tracking all their inspections because the industry has to deal with a lot of compliance challenges. They need accurate records to not only properly plan their preventive maintenance but also avoid costly fines. 

Why are older maintenance tracking systems so terrible? 

For a long time and across industries, people have been trying to track their maintenance. They knew if they could get reliable numbers, they could do the right math and see what was really going on with their maintenance departments. 

The desire has almost always been there. But for the longest time, the delivery was terrible. 

Paper-based tracking

With paper-based maintenance tracking, the main problem is that it's hard to generate good data but then even if you do, it's easy to lose it. 

For example, if you need a new work order, you have to copy everything out by hand. With even a simple repair, there's still a lot of chances to add in mistakes. But even if you write everything out perfectly, and you have great handwriting, you still only have one copy, which makes getting it to the right tech a slow process. Either you have to chase them down or wait for them to come to the maintenance office. 

Getting it to the is a slow process. And hoping they then don't misplace it is often a lost cause. 

After all the effort you have to go to generate and protect your data, you're still left without any easy way to use it. Figuring out even the most basic metric or KPIs involves shuffling through a lot of paper and punching numbers into a calculator. 

Spreadsheet-based tracking

You'd think being able to quickly copy and paste data would make everything better, but it just makes it worse. 

Now you can generate a lot of data, but you don't have any way to keep it up to date because all your data is disconnected. What happens in one spreadsheet does not carry over to any other spreadsheet unless you manually go in a make the updates yourself. So, even though you can quickly share spreadsheets, just as quickly everyone has their own version. 

In the end, everyone thinks they have the right data, actually no one does. 

How does maintenance tracking software make your job easier? 

Modern CMMS software solutions make it much easier to capture data, keep it both safe and up to date, and then make it accessible. Two of the many ways it does this are with a central database and a mobile app. 

Central database 

With a modern solution, your data isn't trapped on slips of paper, and it isn't spread out across disconnected files. 

Instead, everything is all together in one cloud-based database with everyone looking at the exact same data. Any changes are reflected in real time, which means no one is ever out of the loop. And because the team is able to access the data remotely, you never have to worry about them misplacing a slip of paper or accidentally deleting a file. 

Mobile app 

Generally, the sooner you can get data into the system, the more likely it's reliable. 

Think of it this way: If someone asks you what you had for dinner two weeks ago, there's a good chance you’ll give the wrong answer. If they ask what you had last night, you have a much better chance of getting it right.  

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And if they asked right after you finished dinner, there's really no way you can get it wrong. Those dishes are still sitting right there in front of you. 

It's the same with maintenance data. The sooner the tech can enter it into the system, the smaller the chance they make a mistake and misremember a critical piece of data. 

With a maintenance app, techs never have to wait to write it down or punch it in. As soon as they close out, they can take out their mobile device and update the system. 

Next steps 

Ready to implement modern maintenance tracking? 

Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, including answering your questions about maintenance management software, helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial.

Summary 

Maintenance tracking is a combination of processes and procedures for capturing, securing and updating, and leverage data about your maintenance operations. With it, you can see what you have and what you have to do to keep everything running. For example, many organizations keep detailed asset lists, preventive maintenance schedules, and counts on all MRO inventory. There are a lot of benefits, but they all tend to boil down to this: the more you know, the more you can control, and the more you can control, the fewer surprises you have to deal with. Although there are a lot of similarities across industries, there are also industry-specific focuses. For example, do help them avoid costly compliance violations, fleet managers tend to invest more in inspection tracking. Although older systems were cumbersome and unreliable, Modern CMMS software solutions deliver accurate data that you can leverage for actionable insights into your maintenance operations, boosting uptime and cutting costly delays.  

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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