Unplanned downtime is a real headache. It throws your schedule out of whack, forcing you to reorganize resources on the fly. It kills productivity. And it's expensive. Overworked maintenance technicians and idle operators cost a lot of money. That famous quote about whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger? It's not true. The stresses of unplanned downtime always leave you and your department a bit weaker, less able to respond to the next emergency.
The good news is that maintenance management software is just what the doctor ordered. It helps you prevent problems either before they happen or before they have a chance to develop into something serious. Basically, the software is the apple that keeps the doctor away. And if there ever is a problem, the software helps you get back on your feet faster.
If I were talking about actual pills in a bottle, the FDA would demand I back up all those bold claims. So here they are: 5 ways maintenance management software helps you fight off unplanned downtime.
1. Set up a preventive maintenance schedule
Every comparison to preventive medicine you can think of makes sense here. It's just like when you're trying to avoid getting sick in winter. Setting up and following a PM schedule is just like when you:
- Get a flu shot
- Make sure to sneeze into your elbow (and not your hands)
- Wash your hands frequently (even if you didn't sneeze on them)
- Wear warm clothes when you go outside
With preventive medicine, you're taking steps to make sure you don't get sick in the first place. With preventive maintenance, you're making sure little issues with your assets and equipment never have a chance to grow into giant budget-busting problems.
OK, we know why we should do it and that maintenance management software makes it possible, but how do we actually do it? Check out our blog post How to Make a Preventive Maintenance Program in 6 Steps. It's full of practical advice on how to get started.
2. Create info-packed work orders and PMs
How much information can you get onto one piece of paper? Not much, especially if you're reduced to writing everything out by hand. How easy is it to read information that's been crammed into rows and rows of Excel cells? Not very, especially if your department uses home-brew DIY templates.
Maintenance management software let's you pack tons of useful information into your work orders and PMs, all nicely formatted for easy reading. Technicians have everything they need to close out work orders efficiently, including:
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
- Digital images, O&M manuals, and schematics
- Associated parts and materials
- Complete asset work order history
- Interactive floor plans
Best of all, the software makes the information accessible from any mobile device. Technicians can access everything they need from anywhere, at any time, thanks to cloud computing.
How does this reduce downtime? One, PMs get done properly, even when assigned to your most junior techs. Work is consistent and gets done according to current best practices. Two, when there's an unplanned failure, technicians show up knowing exactly what to do, armed with the right parts and materials. If they have questions, they can quickly refer to the image, O&M manuals, and schematics. No more wasting time running back to the office or trying to track down the tech who fixed the asset the last time it broke down.
3. Automate inventory control
The Holy Grail of inventory management is to have the right part at the right time at the right price. And maintenance management software can get you there. Hippo Chief Operating Officer breaks down the topic and sets you up for inventory success in our blog post 5 Tips for Efficient Inventory Management.
But how does automating inventory help you fight off downtime? A big part of your PM program is going to be replacing parts before they fail. Another big part of switching in new materials. For example, you want to replace fan belts before they break and top off the lubricants for your pumps before they degrade. The only way for you to make sure PMs are done according to schedule is having the associated parts and materials in inventory. You can't replace the old fan belt before it fails with a fresh new one if you don't have one on hand.
4. Crowd source maintenance management
The classic walk-through, where technicians routinely go through the facility looking for early signs of trouble, gets a shot in the arm with maintenance management software. With a simple, easy-to-use request portal, everyone from the front-office folks to operators can submit tickets. With more eyes out and a smoother, more systematic way for reporting issues, your department finds more problems and they find them sooner.
Once you've set up a request portal, all the tickets come in from the same place. No more random emails and voice messages. From inside the maintenance management software, you can then review the tickets, decide which to accept, build the ones you want into data-packed work orders, delegate the work, and track progress. Everything is streamlined.
5. Fine-tune everything with KPIs and reports
Maintenance management software is a data sponge, soaking up data about every aspect of your maintenance operation. With automated, customizable reports, you can finally see the maintenance big picture. And once you can see what's really going on, you can start to make critical adjustments.
When you start your PM program, you'll likely depend on manufacturers' recommendations for when things get checked and replaced, which makes sense because they know the machines better than you do. But over time, with all the data it's collected, your CMMS will know the machines better than even the people who designed and built it. If you know your compressor has had problems roughly once every 90 days for the last year, you can schedule PMs for ever 80 days.
Repair or replace
Once an asset gets old enough, the only way to really reduce its downtime is replacing it altogether. But how will you know what it's not worth repairing an asset one more time? By looking at it's work order history and how much it's costing you to keep up and running, you're finally able to make repair or replace decisions with confidence.
Unplanned downtime is like a bad case of the flu. You feel awful. But just like most illnesses, unplanned downtime can be avoided if you take the right precautions. And every single one is made possible or at the least significantly easier with maintenance management software.
That means that if you don't already have a CMMS software, now's the time to get one. The old systems, just like old medicines, were often as bad as the problems they claimed to cure. Get with the new science. Modern cloud computing-backed CMMS solutions take all the IT weight off your shoulders. Providers are in charge of updating the software and protecting your data. All you have to do is access the software from your computer or mobile device.
Be proactive and reach out to providers. It's just like your health. If you can't find the time to exercise, you'll have to find the time to be sick.