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What is a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)?

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what is a Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)?

Key Takeaway

  • A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a software application widely used in warehouse and facility management. CMMS solutions are used to assign work orders, track equipment and other assets, monitor equipment health and performance, and more.
  • Maintenance is an essential part of owning equipment. Regardless of your industry or hardware, regular maintenance is a best practice for making the most of your investment.

    However, managing all maintenance tasks at scale can be challenging. That’s why more organizations are embracing computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) to assign work orders, track equipment health, and much more.

    Adding a CMMS to your workflows may feel like an additional solution to maintain, but it’s a best practice that puts maintenance on autopilot, making the most of both your equipment and costs.

    In this guide, we’ll explain how CMMS work and why they’re so beneficial. We’ll also share expert tips on how to choose the best CMMS for your needs and offer best practices for CMMS return on investment (ROI).

    CMMS Market Snapshot

    Metric Details
    2022 Market Size $1.06 billion
    Projected Growth 10.9& CAGR from 2023 to 2030
    Growth Drivers
    • Emergence of new technologies like IoT and AI
    • Need to extend asset lifespan and delay capital investments
    • Increasing compliance regulations
    Key Capabilities
    • Work order management
    • Maintenance scheduling
    • Inventory control
    • Asset management
    • Reporting and analytics

     What Is a CMMS?

    A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) schedules, tracks, and monitors maintenance activities to provide cost, component item, personnel, and all reporting history. CMMS systems interface with production scheduling and cost systems and are often used to follow system-wide preventive maintenance in government or large enterprises.

    This is a growing area of demand for enterprises and small businesses alike. In fact, the global CMMS market size was valued at $1.06 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% from 2023 to 2030​.

    Line graph illustrating the global CMMS market size forecast based on Grandview Research data

    Based on data from Grandview Research

    CMMS systems include key functionalities such as:

    • Maintenance scheduling: CMMS schedules regular preventive maintenance to ensure that equipment is in optimal condition, minimizing downtime and extending the life of your assets
    • Work order management: The system tracks maintenance tasks through work orders, from initiation and execution to completion and documentation. This provides a systematic way to organize, prioritize, and resolve maintenance tasks in one place.
    • Inventory control: CMMS systems manage the inventory of spare parts and supplies needed for regular maintenance. This feature helps you avoid overstocking or running out of crucial parts, keeping all maintenance tasks on track.
    • Asset management: The computerized maintenance management system maintains detailed records of each asset, including its maintenance history, operational costs, and performance. Assets are tagged with CMMS Maintenance Management Asset Tags, allowing you to scan a barcode to quickly and easily access an asset’s unique data. You can use this data to make informed decisions about asset repair or replacement.
    • Reporting and analysis: CMMS platforms collect an impressive amount of data on all maintenance activities. They generate reports that, along with add-on features such as artificial intelligence (AI), quickly analyze the effectiveness of maintenance programs, track costs, and identify areas for improvement.
    • Integrations: Modern CMMS solutions should integrate with other enterprise systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), production scheduling, and cost accounting systems. Solid integrations align maintenance operations with overall business objectives and enhance operational visibility.

    In recent years, the increasing complexity of facilities and the need for improved efficiency have made CMMS indispensable for facilities that need 24/7 reliability.

    Benefits of Using a CMMS

    Computerized maintenance management systems offer numerous benefits to companies, including a reduction in maintenance costs. Compared to traditional maintenance management without a CMMS, a technology-first approach leads to a 30% gain in time saved, a 35% improvement in cost efficiency, and an impressive 30% gain in error reduction.

    Traditional vs CMMS-Supported Maintenance Management chart

    Unplanned equipment downtime costs an average of $260,000 an hour, which is no small sum for any business. Since aging equipment and mechanical failure are the leading causes of unplanned downtime, solving these issues with a CMMS can lead to tremendous cost savings.

    While cost reduction is a tremendous win for any organization, CMMS platforms come with multiple benefits that make your organization more efficient.

    Master Asset Management

    CMMS enable streamlined recording of data related to your company’s valuable assets and property, such as equipment and infrastructure assets. Asset management using CMMS allows you to ensure warranties are up to date, monitor the value of spare parts, and oversee service and warranty contracts.

    However, it’s essential to have a tool that bridges physical hardware with CMMS software. Marking assets and points of maintenance with durable barcode labels  or Metalphoto® anodized aluminum asset tags can help manage relevant data, allowing your company to keep maintenance management programs up to date.

    Oversee Inventory Control

    In addition to monitoring maintenance and repairs for high-value, fixed assets, CMMS provides a framework for managing inventory, including spare parts, supplies, and other materials needed for production or service provision.

    Effective inventory management prevents unexpected downtime caused by out-of-stock spare parts. Some CMMS also provide solutions for tracking shipments, managing purchase orders, and monitoring stock and inventory levels on an ongoing basis.

    Simplify Preventive Maintenance

    Worker performing maintenance on equipment

    Your company’s high-value assets have an expected lifespan, but failing to provide ongoing preventative maintenance can shorten equipment lifecycles and require premature replacements. Preventative maintenance is possible without a CMMS, but 80% of companies with a preventive maintenance strategy credit their CMMS for their improved productivity.

    A CMMS can help you monitor and manage ongoing preventative maintenance to ensure these valuable assets are in optimal working order. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of organizations with preventive maintenance strategies use a CMMS for this exact purpose.

    Improve Compliance

    Regardless of your industry, you’re beholden to regulatory guidelines. Risk mitigation and compliance are multi-faceted, but instituting a CMMS provides a much-needed foundation for proper auditing and reporting. CMMS helps organizations comply with regulations by following better maintenance practices and record-keeping, simplifying the compliance process.

    benefits of using a cmms

    Save Time with Automation

    Computerized maintenance management systems integrate with other business systems. With the right setup, organizations can automate key processes like inventory reorders, shift scheduling, and work order assignments.

    Not only that, but automations and integrations streamline the exchange of data across systems, reducing the odds of errors and miscalculations.

    Boost Safety

    Regular maintenance ensures that equipment operates safely and within industry standards, reducing the risk of accidents. The CMMS assigns and schedules maintenance tasks and keeps records of all maintenance procedures, safety standards, and compliance requirements.

    The recordkeeping function ensures all maintenance happens in accordance with your established safety guidelines. If there’s ever an incident, the CMMS tracks and analyzes it, helping you take corrective measures to prevent future occurrences.

    Maximize Performance and Reduce Downtime

    With careful planning, a CMMS will reduce equipment downtime. This tool improves the performance of your company’s equipment and maximizes the usable lifespan of your most expensive assets through regular maintenance and repairs.

    CMMS also allows for improvements in quality rate. By monitoring equipment usage, you’ll gain valuable data on the actual effectiveness and quality of your equipment.

    Tracking data such as the number of hours per 100 hours that a piece of equipment operates at expected quality standards provides key insights that can help drive future decision-making and planning. This allows you to optimize the use of your existing assets and make sound purchasing decisions.

    How to Choose the Best CMMS Software System

    choosing the best CMMS software

    There seem to be just as many CMMS software solutions as organizations that need to use them, which can make selecting the right one seem daunting. Consider these factors to choose the best CMMS for your organization.

    Calculate ROI

    Of course, before you delve any more deeply into your options, you need to calculate the price and return on investment (ROI) over the software’s lifetime, which will limit your choices.

    Consider your budget for a CMMS solution. It’s a good idea to calculate the total cost of initial implementation as well as the cost of maintaining the software itself.

    You may need to purchase additional hardware, like scanners, to implement the CMMS. Take these costs into account to come up with a rough budget before shopping around. Careful budgeting will help you select the best long-term solution for your organization.

    Consider Your Organization’s Size

    One of the best ways to choose a CMMS software system is to consider the size of your organization. You don’t want a CMMS that’s too big for your company; you’ll get bogged down in figuring out all the bells and whistles, and you’ll pay for features that you don’t need and won’t use.

    On the other hand, if you expect to grow as a company, you should invest in CMMS software that’s scalable and can scale over time. In this case, look for software that allows you to easily adjust the number of devices or user subscriptions.

    Consider Usability and Training

    The only way your organization will benefit from a CMMS software solution is if it’s easy enough for everyone to use. Training will be a major factor in the success of implementing your CMMS software, so consider the support available to you from the software company and how you can train your workforce to get your CMMS software solution running.

    Assess the Provider’s Technology

    Technician using CMMS software on a tablet

    You need to know more about the technology associated with the CMMS software before making your selection. As technology advances and changes rapidly, your CMMS software will need to be adaptable and flexible to keep up.

    Cloud-based CMMS software benefits organizations that need immediate access to information and reports from anywhere, anytime. CMMS software available via a mobile app helps technicians submit work orders and scan durable asset tags from anywhere in the field or on the floor. A Go for a CMMS software solution that features an application programming interface (API) that synchronizes data from various devices, scanners, computers, and more.

    Top Reasons CMMS Implementations Fail

    Worker using CMMS software on a laptop in a facility

    In the next section, we’ll review a step-by-step process for successful CMMS implementation. However, before we discuss how to implement a CMMS successfully, it’s important to understand the most common reasons CMMS implementations fail.

    Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) implementations can fail for various reasons, often due to issues related to planning, user adoption, and management. Here are some of the top reasons why CMMS implementations might not succeed:

    • Lack of planning or unclear goals: If the goals, objectives, and requirements are not well defined, the system selected may not align with the organization’s needs.
    • Lack of vendor support: Vendor support is crucial to overcome technical issues, such as software bugs, integration problems, or hardware compatibility issues. Users may struggle to effectively use the system without proper vendor guidance, and without ongoing vendor support and updates, the system may quickly become outdated and obsolete.
    • Lack of executive buy-in: Without the support of key decision-makers within the organization, the implementation is likely to face roadblocks and obstacles.
    • Poor organizational alignment: If there isn’t a clear and shared understanding of what the organization aims to achieve with the CMMS, different departments or teams may use the system in ways that do not align with intended goals. This inconsistency can lead to errors, duplicated efforts, and difficulty in tracking maintenance activities and outcomes effectively.
    • Insufficient time, budget, or resources: Implementing a CMMS can be resource-intensive. Without adequate financial, human, and time resources, the implementation can stall or not be completed to the necessary standards.
    • A flawed CMMS selection process: Selecting a CMMS that doesn’t fit the specific needs of an organization can lead to complications. Factors like scalability, compatibility with existing hardware, and specific features relevant to the organization’s operations are crucial.
    • Migration and configuration mistakes: Migration and configuration errors can result in inaccurate or incomplete information being transferred over to the new CMMS, leading to inefficiencies, errors in maintenance processes, workflow disruptions, delays in implementation, and increased costs for fixing errors.
    • Inadequate training: Training should be provided not only during the initial implementation phase but also on an ongoing basis to ensure that employees are able to maximize the potential of the system.
    • Resistance to change: Change management is critical in CMMS implementations. Implementing a new system can disrupt traditional workflows and processes, leading to resistance from employees who are comfortable with the way things have always been done.
    • Lack of user adoption: Without widespread adoption, the data in the CMMS may be incomplete or inaccurate, making it less useful for decision-making and maintenance planning. If staff do not understand how to use the system effectively, they will likely revert to old habits or underutilize the CMMS, leading to poor return on investment.
    • Low-quality data: If the data input into the system is inaccurate or incomplete, it can lead to errors and inefficiencies in maintenance processes. Organizations must have processes in place to ensure the quality of data being input into the system.
    • Failure to monitor and improve performance: CMMS implementations are not a one-time activity but require ongoing evaluation and updates. Failure to continuously improve and adapt the system can lead to its obsolescence and underperformance.

    How to Implement a CMMS: Step-by-Step

    Successful CMMS implementation is a major component of your overall preventive maintenance program. Follow these essential steps to ensure a successful implementation and smooth rollout.

    1. Evaluate your current maintenance processes. Map out your existing maintenance workflows. Take stock of your assets, maintenance schedules, work orders, and any other relevant data to highlight pain points and gaps in your current system.
    2. Establish objectives and define the project scope. Identify the goals and objectives you want to achieve by implementing a CMMS system, such as reducing maintenance costs, improving asset reliability, increasing productivity, or improving regulatory compliance. This will help you select the right CMMS to meet your organization’s needs.
    3. Get buy-in from key stakeholders. Stakeholder buy-in ensures that the project receives the necessary resources, including budget, time, and personnel. Stakeholders who support the initiative are more likely to prioritize it within their departments, facilitating smoother implementation and operation.
    4. Determine your budget. Establishing a budget ensures that the organization allocates sufficient funds to cover all aspects of the CMMS implementation, including software acquisition, hardware (if needed), training, and ongoing support. It helps avoid unforeseen costs that could disrupt financial stability. Balance your budget with clear ROI projections to justify the investment.
    5. Assemble a project team. Form a project team with representatives from all relevant departments such as maintenance, IT, finance, and operations. This team will be responsible for overseeing the implementation process, making decisions, and communicating with the vendor. You should also establish a team dedicated to migrating assets.
    6. Choose the right CMMS solution. As discussed earlier in this guide, research and evaluate different CMMS providers based on your specific requirements, budget, and scalability needs. Consider factors such as ease of use, mobile compatibility, technical support, and integration capabilities with other systems.
    7. Develop an implementation plan. Work with the chosen CMMS vendor to develop an implementation plan. This plan should outline key activities, timelines, responsibilities, and resources needed. Establishing milestones and a clear path to achieving them is essential.
    8. Implement asset tagging. An asset tagging system is the foundation of successful CMMS deployment. Uniquely identifying each asset or piece of equipment allows staff to quickly access all relevant information about an asset by simply scanning a barcode. Asset tagging also streamlines documentation of maintenance activities and reduces human error, improving the accuracy of your records. Choosing durable CMMS Maintenance Management Asset Tags is essential to ensure readability throughout the lifespan of your assets. Visit our Asset Tag Buying Guide for more guidance on selecting the right asset tags and barcode labels for your organization’s needs.    
    9. Collect, clean, and organize data. Gather all relevant data that needs to be integrated into the CMMS, including asset information, maintenance schedules, historical maintenance records, and inventory details. Cleanse data to remove any inaccuracies or duplications before migration. Your CMMS vendor may offer services to assist in the migration process.
    10. Migrate or enter data. Organize data according to the CMMS’s needs. This might involve formatting data to match the CMMS’s requirements or restructuring it to ensure compatibility. Migrating data to your CMMS standardizes and automates data entry processes, reducing the potential for mistakes and ensuring consistency across records.
    11. Configure and customize the system. Configure the CMMS to meet your organization’s specific processes and workflows. Customize the system to incorporate your maintenance policies, procedures, and reporting needs. Make sure it aligns with the defined goals and objectives.
    12. Outline user roles and responsibilities. Create written policies documenting user roles and responsibilities, providing users with clear guidance on how to complete tasks. Your implementation team should create users and user groups in the CMMS, setting user permissions to ensure users can access the information they need to perform their duties while limiting access to sensitive or regulated data.
    13. Provide user onboarding and training. Develop a comprehensive training program for all users, including maintenance managers, technicians, and IT staff. Training should cover system functionality, best practices, and how to leverage the CMMS for daily operations. This can involve a combination of in-person sessions, webinars, online tutorials, and user manuals.
    14. Conduct a pilot test. Before full-scale deployment, conduct a pilot test with a selected group of users and on a limited number of assets. This phased implementation approach allows you to identify any issues or gaps in training and make necessary adjustments.
    15. Roll out the system. Once testing is complete and adjustments are made, proceed with the full implementation of the CMMS across the organization. Ensure continuous support and resources are available to address any issues as they arise.
    16. Monitor and analyze performance for continuous improvement. Keep track of key performance indicators, such as maintenance costs, asset uptime, and work order completion times, to determine if the system is meeting your goals and objectives. Regularly review the system and make necessary adjustments to optimize its performance.

    Best Practices for Using CMMS

    how using a Computerized Maintenance Management Systems improves equipment performance

    A computerized maintenance management system will make your organization more efficient, but only with proper use. A CMMS is a tool, and like any business tool, it’s your job to fashion this solution so it solves your most critical business needs. Follow these best practices to get more ROI from your investment in a CMMS.

    Switch To Predictive or Preventive Maintenance

    It’s difficult to escape the vicious cycle of reactive maintenance (also known as corrective maintenance), but this approach is both more resource-intensive and expensive. With a CMMS, it’s much easier for organizations to take a proactive approach to maintenance, either through preventive maintenance or predictive maintenance approaches.

    The future of CMMS lies in leveraging both preventive and predictive maintenance techniques to decrease unplanned downtime, extend asset lifespans, and enhance safety.

    Predictive systems require a lot of historical data to draw conclusions. They tend to be more expensive, so many organizations often go with preventive CMMS instead.

    The CMMS calculates which hardware needs maintenance and when, routing your teams to optimize equipment performance before there’s an issue. This setup won’t prevent all unplanned downtime, but it will significantly reduce the chances of unexpected failure—and the $260,000-an-hour price tag that comes with it.

    Standardize Asset Tagging Procedures

    Asset tags are an essential tool for bridging the gap between CMMS software and your equipment. Identifying and tagging assets, including meters, stored maintenance items, and stock locations, creates important information for the maintenance department and allows your maintenance team to carry out their important duties seamlessly.

    With good planning, identifying key assets and applying asset tags is quick and efficient, providing a framework through which your organization can effectively manage its materials, equipment, and other assets.

    However, disorganized or inconsistent asset tagging procedures will hurt your progress. Companies using CMMS solutions should establish standards for asset tag numbers and associated sequential item numbers for CMMS data.

    It’s important to define maintenance standards and verify that your team follows these standards. Implementing standard practices, documentation procedures, and protocols ensures that the data managed within the CMMS is accurate and up-to-date.

    Embrace AI, IoT, and Integrations

    AI and IoT technology icons illustrating network connections

    Not all CMMS include these technologies just yet, but some solutions include artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and integrations. AI and IoT automate maintenance planning and enable smart devices to self-monitor and report in real time, preventing unexpected failures.

    AI can even use IoT data to generate incredibly accurate performance and maintenance reports, making predictive maintenance a reality for your organization.

    Integration is also a best practice for computerized maintenance management systems. The more your solutions integrate with each other, the fewer platforms you have to consult to perform maintenance.

    For example, asset performance management (APM) is a robust solution that combines the maintenance scheduling of a CMMS with the asset tracking and management capabilities of enterprise asset management and IoT. This approach enables real-time tracking of asset performance, anticipating potential faults and preventing them before they occur​.

    This is just one of the many ways your systems can integrate and create a more cohesive maintenance strategy with little human intervention.

    Improve the User Experience with Technology

    Manual data collection can be difficult and time-consuming. Not only does this give employees a negative experience, but it also leads to more errors. Set up your CMMS to be as user-friendly as possible to speed up maintenance tasks and encourage organization-wide adoption.

    For example, portable handheld barcode scanners are more efficient than manual data entry. These scanners, paired with proper asset identification tags, make it easy to enter data, update information, and record maintenance procedures, parts orders, and other information with minimal data entry errors.

    It’s also helpful to choose a mobile-first CMMS. Some solutions even allow employees to use their personal devices through the use of a CMMS app, significantly reducing technology costs. These apps also support offline access, photo attachments, voice-to-text notes, and push notifications for new work orders. These features simplify the maintenance process, empowering workers to do better work in less time.

    Analyze and Act on CMMS Data

    Thanks to barcode scanning, automation, and AI, CMMS data today is cleaner and more actionable than ever before. While some CMMS solutions will automatically generate conclusions based on your data, others require you to comb through the data to find actionable information.

    Analysis is the purpose of data collection, so regularly review your CMMS data for helpful insights. Look at costs per machine, maintenance timelines, and downtime to better understand ROI and spot opportunities for improvement. Take advantage of these opportunities to see even more value from your investment in a CMMS.

    Harnessing CMMS for Operational Excellence

    A computerized maintenance management system helps organizations embrace a more efficient paradigm for maintenance management. By automating critical maintenance tasks, optimizing asset utilization, and enhancing operational efficiencies, a CMMS not only helps in significantly reducing maintenance costs but also in minimizing downtime and extending asset life spans.

    The strategic implementation of a CMMS enables businesses to harness data-driven insights for improved decision-making, which is crucial in today’s fast-paced and increasingly complex operational environments.

    For a deeper dive into maintenance management, check out The Ultimate Guide to Maintenance Management.

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