Bar none, the greatest drawing card to Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) is the preventive maintenance plan system feature. When CMMSs first made their appearance approximately 50 years ago, preventive maintenance scheduling was not even on the radar screen. By today’s standards, maintenance management software functions were rudimentary. The early versions were math-based systems that were designed strictly to help business owners document, standardize, and verify manufacturing processes. While early CMMSs were a great improvement over “pencil and paper” approaches, they actually didn’t accomplish a lot more than spreadsheet software programs such as Microsoft Excel, Lotus 123 and Google Sheets that began to emerge during the late 1970s. Here, I discuss how CMMSs evolved across time as well as more recent developments in preventive maintenance systems.
Early CMMS softwares held little appeal to a wide range of businesses because of the associated high cost and logistics of operating them. Consequently, these systems were only attractive to large manufacturing companies that could afford the large centralized mainframe computers systems needed to house them and the keypunch operators well versed in Fortran or Cobol computer languages, to run them. When it came to conducting maintenance, these early systems simply sent out reminders to technicians to conduct simple recurring tasks. In addition to being costly and limited in their appeal and capabilities, these maintenance management dinosaurs were cumbersome, inefficient and prone to errors.
Now let’s fast-forward to the past ten years when automated maintenance management systems made quantum leaps in both functionality and accessibility. To begin, CMMSs made great strides by offering both cloud-based and onsite platforms. This advance largely due to Internet technology, gave customers the option of having a user friendly and no maintenance system or the ability to maintain full control and customizability over the software. In either case, there was no longer a need for mainframe computer systems or keypunch operators. And even with onsite platforms, all CMMS data can be stored on a company’s own server. These platform options came with lowered costs and opened the door to businesses of all size and across a wide range of industry corporate and service sectors.
With the rise in the popularity of smartphones and tablets, CMMS developers integrated this technology into their cloud-based systems making CMMSs totally mobile. With this added feature, it is now possible for maintenance staff to access all features of the maintenance management software using cellular or WIFI access from wherever they are. Other innovations along this line included bar code scanning and photo imaging capabilities. Considered together, current CMMSs have become extremely powerful. They have the ability to analyze thousands of data points that at any given time, provide users with an overview of a facility’s operation or alternatively, the status of an individual piece of equipment. Current CMMS systems offer businesses the ability to monitor inventory levels, track work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and instantly determine which of their assets require preventive maintenance.
The preventive maintenance system component of current day CMMSs forms its heart and sole. The purpose of a well-planned preventive maintenance plan is to assure maintenance managers of optimal working conditions for all company assets through regularly scheduled maintenance checks. It is also largely responsible for conserving the life span of the equipment while at the same time saving time, resources and money because unexpected and costly breakdowns that interfere with production cycles can be prevented. For these reasons, preventive maintenance is why an increasing number of business owners are making the shift to automated maintenance management software (also known as facility management software).
Just as CMMSs have evolved over time, so have preventive maintenance systems. As noted earlier, preventive maintenance was not incorporated into early-automated maintenance systems and because of that, routine scheduled preventive maintenance was almost nonexistent. Back then, maintenance generally occurred on a reactive basis - meaning that maintenance was usually done when a piece of equipment was in need of repair. This did little to improve overall operations efficiency because maintenance managers had to struggle with allocating technician time and dealing with interruptions in production cycles. Reactive maintenance also did little to prolong equipment lifespans.
In recent years, scheduled preventive maintenance (PM) systems were introduced into CMMSs. These systems are highly sophisticated and can be customized to a company’s specific needs, industry and asset type. PMs can be set based on a number of variables including calendar, asset priority, repair history, operation down time, inspection dates or equipment manufacturer standards. Using the CMMS analytics, it is possible to assess equipment performance based on repair history, cost of repair, type of repair and downtime. Among other things, the PM maintenance reports can also help business owners assess the overall savings achieved by implementing the PM system as well as play an important role in strategic planning for company future operations. The customizable function of PMs makes it possible to alter preventive maintenance schedules based on the reports generated.
CMMSs and preventive maintenance softwares have come a long way since they were first introduced. With the advent of computing power and the emergence of the Internet, these advances have been incorporated into the development of the robust automated maintenance management systems of today. For example, while maintenance departments previously depended upon hard copy work orders that often sat on a desk or in a maintenance tech’s inbox until they were retrieved, it often took days before maintenance was completed. With mobile access and a user-friendly CMMS interface, work orders can now be sent instantaneously through the system with replacement parts ordered, if needed. The preventive maintenance system feature also makes it is possible to implement flexible maintenance scheduling that saves time, money and resources. CMMS developers remain committed to keeping pace with evolving economic conditions, industry trends and technology. In doing so, they are also committed to ensuring that their growing list of customers has the best maintenance management solution possible.