MAINTENANCE DEPARTMENTS seem to have gotten the message when it comes to the advance of computer technology.
Not all that long ago, maintenance managers and their staffs were more than a little hostile — to say the least — when it came buying into assertions that computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) held tremendous potential benefits for their departments.
I recall a visit I made 10 years ago to the offices of a physical plant director at a major university. The visit was part of a my efforts to familiarize myself with the workings of maintenance departments as for my job as the founding editor of Maintenance Solutions.
During my visit, I talked at length with a number of people at various levels in the department in an effort to better understand their challenges and attitudes.
One such conversation took place in the office of an HVAC supervisor, whose desktop held a dusty PC. When I asked him how much time he spent using the computer on a typical day, he replied, “Oh. That thing.” That was his entire reply, but those three words told me all I needed to know about his attitude — and probably that of many people in the department — toward computer technology.
Fast forward 10 years, and the change in many departments could hardly be more drastic. Now, many front-line technicians routinely use handheld PCs. They access work orders via the Internet or an intranet. Their customers throughout facilities track the status of work orders via the Web. In short, computer technology has changed nearly every aspect of maintenance.
Our Facility Issues coverage explores a recent development in the spread of computer technology — the challenges managers face in specifying a CMMS that integrates with software elsewhere in facilities.
Somewhere right now, a supervisor in a maintenance department probably is casting a wary eye toward his new handheld PC. The difference is that instead of feeling certain the technology can’t do much to help him, today’s supervisor more likely wishes he could find more ways to put the technology to work for him.