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CMMS: The Importance of Data with Susan Deane

Deane, technical assistant with the facilities management department at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., discusses her department's computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and its impact on maintenance and operations

Susan Deane

Susan Deane
Technical Assistant
Facilities Management
Chapman University
Orange, Calif.

What are the main functions of your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)?

Like most maintenance departments, one of the most heavily used modules within our CMMS is the work-order system. Work orders assist us in the management of daily operational maintenance requirements for the campus and residence halls. Time spent by each trade completing these work orders is added to the CMMS through use of the labor-entry system. Data from work orders and labor successfully provide the capability for our managers to be able to review work-order backlogs and to investigate any trends that might be occurring.

Use of our CMMS web-based work-request system allows us to provide to our customers the ability to request work at any time, day or night, work week or weekend. The system automatically notifies the customer when requests have been received and converted to work orders, and it will send an update should a change in work-order status occur. Finally, it confirms when the work has been completed.

To procure parts and services through generated purchase orders, we use the materials-management module of our CMMS. An inventory of stockroom parts is maintained within the CMMS, enabling us to manage department material costs through the posting of stock, materials and vendor services to the work orders. Bar-code technology is used for the disbursement of stock to the work order at the time parts are distributed to the technician. Bar-code technology is also utilized for cycle and annual stockroom inventory counts.

To assist in maintaining equipment, we have an ongoing project of identifying and updating university equipment and equipment systems to those already entered in our CMMS. For example, we recently completed a kitchen equipment ID project in which we identified and tagged kitchen equipment located throughout the campus and residence hall areas. This project has enhanced our ability to track equipment costs through work orders linked to our CMMS equipment records.

We use the preventive maintenance (PM) section of the CMMS to perform scheduled PM activity for university equipment systems, as well as other area-based PM tasks.

How do you ensure technicians understand the importance of data?

That’s a great question, as the measure of value for our CMMS lies in the accuracy of the data being added to it daily. The higher percentage of data accuracy in a CMMS will result in data that will provide the ability to extract information via reports to make better departmental management decisions.

We limit technician administrative and paperwork tasks, as our primary focus is maximizing the time technicians have each day to resolve work orders. However, ongoing training occurs with the technicians where the importance of work-order accuracy is stressed for time reporting, work-order comments and the procurement of parts and vendor services. The main audience for a formalized training program is our office support staff, who reinforce CMMS procedures with the trades. Training classes and training material for existing staff and new staff help ensure procedures for CMMS operations are communicated adequately.

We are currently in the process of instituting an annual, refresher training program to review established CMMS operational procedures, as well as any procedural changes that may have been added since the prior training time.

How often do you upgrade or enhance your CMMS?

We keep current with major upgrade releases issued through our CMMS provider. However, we don’t always upgrade to all released versions of the CMMS, as there are usually multiple maintenance releases distributed within a year. Having said that, upgrades are scheduled when a maintenance release is received that contains a fix that will resolve a reported operational problem within our production version of the CMMS.

Does your organization equip technicians with mobile devices to access the CMMS?

Smart phones are used daily for normal and emergency situations by our managers and maintenance leads. Cell phones have been assigned to all other technicians and are utilized to communicate with each other regarding maintenance solutions, an alternative that has replaced the cumbersome process of detailed conversations over the normal radio-communications system. All phones are used for emergency callbacks as required.

In support of stockroom parts-disbursement operations, we have implemented hand-held PCs that have bar-code technology and scanning capabilities. These hand-held PCs enable stockroom personnel to check out stock to the technicians by scanning the bar codes on the technicians’ work orders and by scanning the bin label that displays a bar-coded part SKU number for each part being distributed to the technician.

The move from a paper checkout system requiring a person to post parts through data entry to the CMMS to the much more efficient process of electronically disbursing parts to the technicians has resulted in a time savings, as well as an increase of data accuracy through synching to the CMMS to update the stockroom parts inventory.

We are interested in the use of other technology to equip our technicians in their daily tasks but have chosen, at this time, not to invest in more PDAs or hand-held PCs, as this would involve a huge dollar investment for technologies that are obsolete almost as soon as you begin usage in daily operations. Instead, we have begun to use on a limited basis a netbook PC to control lighting for some of our campus events. Finally, the iPad interests us as a product that could become a future tool to be used out in the field.

How has the CMMS made your department more efficient?

Requiring all work requests to be submitted through our web-based work-request system has streamlined the process for receipt of work-order requests and facilitated faster distribution of those work orders to the technicians. This process change has allowed us to better manage our support staff time by the reallocation of duties to support tasks other than receiving work requests via phone and work-order data entry.

Our CMMS has allowed us to perform trend analysis and make management decisions regarding those trends. For example, an increase in graffiti was an identified trend that allowed us to share information with the university security department, resulting in time and materials cost savings. In addition, benchmarking trends becomes a tool to predict at what time additional security intervention may be required for affected areas we have identified. With the recent implementation of our new kitchen ID program, we anticipate a savings in technician time, as well as a decrease in the downtime of broken kitchen equipment as a direct result of linking a work order with the equipment record.

The implementation of bar-code technology has allowed us to cut costs by eliminating duplication of tasks for the annual parts inventory, resulting in a reduction of time to complete the inventory from four days to two days, greater data accuracy and less support staff required.

Overall, the unlimited value of historical research allows for administrative forecasting and decision-making, in addition to work-order history support for our technicians through the corporate housing of accurate data within our CMMS.

Find more on this topic:

cmms, software, maintenance software, bar code, inventory management, work orders, training, spare parts

posted:  1/12/2011