The CMMS Mistakes Most Facilities Make—And How to Fix Them

CMMS - Computer Maintenance Management SystemWhat if I told you there’s a relatively simple and affordable way to dramatically increase productivity and uptime in your warehouse? In fact, you may already have it in place—but if your company is like most, you’re probably underutilizing it.

It’s a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).

“Most companies are not taking advantage of everything a CMMS can do,” said Tom Ryder, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Total Fleet Solutions (TFS). “There’s a major difference between a company that harnesses CMMS information for the benefit of asset management versus one that simply uses it as an administrative tool to ensure that they’re capturing work orders.”

Tom Ryder sees this divide time and again when he visits the warehouses of prospects and clients. Before he explains how to bridge this gap, let’s first define CMMSs and how most facilities use them.

In general, a CMMS defines any software that enables users to compile and maintain a digital record of their maintenance operations. It serves as a central database, tracking and communicating maintenance activities.

But as Ryder said, there is a big difference between organizations that use a CMMS in a “standard” way and those that leverage a CMMS for continuous improvement.

“With a CMMS, you can’t expect to just plug it in out of the box and have it solve all your problems,” says Ryder. “Sure, you’ll get access to the basic features that way, but there is so much more you can do with a CMMS that can truly drive a business.”

Take forklift fleet management, for example. At a basic level, Technicians use CMMS software to look up an asset’s maintenance history before doing their work. And while that’s useful, that work order/maintenance data could drive improvements for the entire facility.

The real value of a CMMS is that it captures a wide range of asset management data (e.g., usage, spending, repair type, required parts and labor, etc.). Operations executives could leverage that data to manage not only that lift, but also the entire fleet. TFS, for example, is constantly analyzing CMMS data.

“The TFS maintenance system, for instance, captures 56 data points for every client work order. Then, our analytics platform translates that information into actionable, insightful data,” explains Ryder. “We take those reports to our clients and say, ‘Here are your top ten repair types for the last quarter, along with the root causes. On top of that, we offer recommendations to improve those issues and drive productivity, safety, cost reductions, and other benefits.”

Companies aren’t limited to out-of-the-box CMMS software, either. There are ways to make it more actionable and user-friendly.

For example, Ryder said, “We’ve synchronized the TFS CMMS with Microsoft’s Power BI, a business intelligence tool. It automatically turns all that maintenance data into dashboards and charts about your top five repair types, spend per asset, utilization per asset, and so on.”  

Optimizing your CMMS 

Operations executives can’t give CMMS software their full attention for many reasons. Most are so busy keeping things running that they’re unaware their platforms can do more than they realize. Others lack the time, expertise, and staff to fully use this dynamic tool and the data-driven insights it may contain.

“Some simple process tweaks can help teams use their systems more effectively,” says Ryder. “For example, I often see Technicians who open a work order in their CMMS at the beginning of the day and then do nothing with that work order until the end of the day when they come back and say, ‘Over the last eight hours I worked on all these different jobs on all these different pieces of equipment.’

“In that case, all those maintenance activities are documented in a single work order, rolling all these different parts and jobs into one,” Ryder continues. “Sure, the company is tracking the labor and parts used by that individual, but now the data is intermingled. That means you can’t use it to manage individual forklifts effectively.”

Training and upskilling help teams take full advantage of an organization’s CMMS. Another option is outsourcing to a fleet management specialist like TFS, whose representatives can leverage the CMMS to take fleet management to the next level.

Still not sure about the next step? Here’s what Ryder advises:

“If you’re not using a CMMS, you should be—and if you already have a CMMS in place, take a hard look to see if you’re leveraging it to the fullest extent. If you’re like most companies, you’re not. On the bright side, it offers a fantastic, untapped opportunity to take your facility and fleet to the next level.”