In 2018, two leading trade associations revised ANSI/ASJRAE/ACCA 180, which the industry had first developed to address inconsistent preventive maintenance practices for HVAC systems. Many of the changes were part of a larger effort to make the standards easier to understand and implement, including a cleaner separation between inspection and maintenance. 

The changes meant a lot for those in HVAC. But they can also mean a lot for maintenance managers across industries. 

By looking at ANSI/ASJRAE/ACCA 180-2018, we can see where standards come from and how they evolve. We can also see how the right CMMS software helps us implement and fine-tune standards-based preventive maintenance programs. 

A very brief history and the important lessons of ANSI/ASJRAE/ACCA 180-2018 

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America based these new standards on an earlier set from 2012. Although there had been an opportunity to update them in 2015, the organizations had waited until both the technology had changed enough and they had enough feedback on the older standards. 

The goal was to create a set of minimum standards for professionals in the industry that they could use to justify their costs and bids. There were changes throughout the standards, with many of the updates focusing on helping organizations develop HVAC-specific preventive maintenance processes. 

Looking at the history, the two big takeaways are that good standards are the product of a deliberate, formal process and that standards evolve. 

So, where does CMMS software fit in? 

The right CMMS software makes it easier to create a preventive maintenance program 

Before you can implement a preventive maintenance program, you first need to develop it. And that begins with data that you can access, trust, and leverage. You need to be able to search your data, trust what you find, and turn it into good decisions. And the best way to accomplish all those goals is with CMMS software and a database in the cloud. 

Centralized database keeps everything in one place, safe 

The easiest way to understand the benefits of a centralized database in the cloud is to think about how hard it is to run a preventive maintenance program using older methods like paper and spreadsheets. 

With paper, the challenge is generating enough data and then keeping even that small amount safe. Every time you want to generate a new PM, you’re writing things out manually, accidentally leaving sections out and introducing small errors. When you hand the PM off to the technician, they’re getting only a small percentage of the data they need to work efficiently. There’s always going to be a hard limit on how much information you can pack onto a piece of paper. 

And even if you could pack a lot of data onto a single piece of paper, you’re always going to be at risk of losing it. Once you or a tech misplaces that paper, that data is lost forever. 

With spreadsheets, it’s the exact opposite problem. Instead of not enough data, you’re now creating too much. Every time you send out a copy of a spreadsheet file, you inevitably end up with different versions. Although the two start off identical, as soon as you make a change to your copy or the technician makes a change to theirs, you both now have out-of-sync versions. And the worse part is neither of you knows that you’re working off stale data. 

What you need is to keep all your data in one spot and then make it accessible by the whole team from anywhere. That way, everyone is always looking at the same data, and when someone changes something, everyone on the team can see it in real time. 

Customizable checklists for inspections and maintenance 

The database ensures everyone is working off the same data and that they can access it from anywhere. Now you need to make sure you have lots of good data to share. 


The nuts and bolts of a preventive maintenance program are the specific PMs, both their steps and frequencies. It’s what the techs do and how often they do them. For many organizations making the jump to preventive maintenance, it makes the most sense to set up PMs using the manufacturers’ recommendations, especially for newer assets. When an asset is new, no one knows it better than the people who designed and built it. Also, you’re likely going to need to follow their recommendations for inspections and maintenance to avoid voiding the warranty. As time goes on, though, it’s the people who maintain the asset who know it best. Eventually, you’re going to need to revisit your PMs and update them. 

Once you have your preventive maintenance program set up, you need a way to track it accurately. But before that, you first need a way to run it reliably. 

The right CMMS software makes it easier to run a preventive maintenance program 

Once you have everything set up, you need to run the program. It’s just like getting ready for a big road trip. Once you have your route all figured out and the car packed, it’s time to start up the engine and hit the road. The right CMMS makes everything a lot easier. 

Calendar view and automatic reminders 

With the PMs loaded into the CMMS, you can easily see the maintenance big picture using the calendar view. With a paper-based system, you’d have to wallpaper your office with thumbtacks and Post-it Notes. With spreadsheets, you’d need to fill your computer screen with a bunch of open, overlapping files. 

With the right CMMS, you can see the whole week or month all laid out in front of you. Everything is right there, allowing you to see what’s coming and when. 

And when you need to make changes, you can easily move PMs around your schedule with simple drag-and-drop. The CMMS software then automatically notifies the affected technicians. 

Preventive maintenance task and inspection templates 

It’s great when you have all your checklists and step-by-step instructions worked out, but the last thing you want is to have to carefully retype them for every PM. With templates, you can add the ones you need all at once with just a few clicks. 

Not only do you save a lot of time, but you also don’t have to worry about accidentally removing any important information or adding typos. 

Although this feature has always been helpful, with the new challenges created by COVID-19, it’s becoming indispensable. Many maintenance departments have had to create and implement new cleaning and disinfecting schedules, involving complex steps for the mixing and safe handling of various chemicals. On top of that, technicians need to follow specific rules for correct use, including matching chemicals to surfaces. Thanks to templates, maintenance managers can quickly add the required information to PMs. And as we learn more about the virus and best practices changes, maintenance managers can quickly update their PMs with new instructions and checklists, ensuring everyone’s safety. 

The right CMMS software makes it easier to fine-tune your preventive maintenance program 

Remember, ANSI/ASJRAE/ACCA 180-2018 is an update of the earlier version from 2012. Like all good standards, they’re evolving as data is generated, captured, and evaluated. 

Automatic maintenance metrics and KPI tracking 

A good CMMS makes it easy to capture quality data and share it with the team no matter where they are in the facility. The software makes it easier to work with the data, but it also makes it possible for you to get the data working for you. 

With auto-generated reports, you can track your PM program to see what’s working and what needs fine-tuning. 


Take a small press as a simple example. Based on your current PM schedule, you might be inspecting it once a month. But when you look at your maintenance metrics and KPIs, you notice that the press tends to have problems more often than that. A quick review reveals there’s an on-demand work order generated about once every three weeks. 

Based on that information, you can adjust the frequency of your inspections. Also, you can add new things for the techs to check. For example, if you’re running into problems with overheating, you can have them check the lubricant more often. 

Next steps 

If you’re ready to make the move to preventive maintenance, now’s time to reach out to CMMS providers and get the conversation started. Once they have a sense of your current setup and challenges, they can walk you through your options and help you map out implementation and onboarding. 

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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