Mainteancne technologyAs we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution the various asset management and Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) offer bigger, better and more affordable solutions than ever before.

Instead of using your own computer network you can buy into cloud based systems. In the world of interconnected devices every user can access the system using tablets or smart phones.

Even the machines can connect direct to the hub, feeding information back for analysis and receiving instructions to optimise running conditions. Old equipment? No problem, there are plenty of low cost retro fit devices for monitoring key parameters.

And of course all these systems are scalable, you can start small and add as you go along.

But before you rush out to buy the latest sensing technology and cloud based multi-screen service there are some important things to do to ensure you get the best out of your investment.

  1. Decide on your maintenance strategy – how much are you willing to spend and for what expected benefit?

What is the overall goal of your maintenance strategy? Are you planning to maintain the same level of effectiveness and reduce maintenance costs or, continue to spend the same on maintenance and increase effectiveness?

Figures from Dupont’s 1991 benchmarking study showed that:

  • Minimising maintenance costs while maintaining plant efficiency at the current level of 83.5%, would save them $1.2m per year.
  • Maintaining the current level of maintenance spend and improving efficiency to 93.3% would increase profit by $9m per year.

The choice here was described to me as a “no brainer!”

  1. Select the most important pieces of equipment

With the lure of relatively cheap devices, say £100-£150 per sensor, it may be tempting to connect all your equipment.

But is this the best use for your money? What value will you get? Will the mass of information cause you to spread your maintenance resources too thinly?

Most of us do not have the luxury of unlimited maintenance crews. You can focus the allocation of spend and labour by identifying your most critical items of equipment.

Simple tools like Value Stream Mapping and structured equipment ranking systems will help you do this.


              3. Maintain that equipment well

From a lean manufacturing viewpoint your assets generate value by being available to run when they are required, at the optimum speed and produce the right quality.

This is opposed to the traditional view of creating maximum value by running the equipment at all times.

Key to maintaining equipment availability is being proactive and looking after the equipment itself. Not just monitoring it and reacting to break downs.

And a final thought. When selecting CMMS features, which is more important – equipment efficiency or maintenance efficiency?

Concentrate on improving equipment efficiency before tackling maintenance efficiency. Having to repair items less frequently is better than being able to repair them quickly.

Now you are in a position to invest in technology to further improve both equipment and maintenance efficiency.

  • You know what budget you have and what you want to do with it in terms of plant efficiency.
  • You can prioritise which equipment you want to spend it on.
  • You have a solid starting base of well-maintained equipment. This prevents you wasting money on reactively monitoring equipment that is prone to failure.

You can now pick the technological interfaces which will benefit your human resource the best – eliminating wasteful tasks and enhancing the team’s problem solving and diagnostic capabilities.


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