Preventing the Preventable with Machinery Maintenance

– by Paul Lachance, President and CTO, Smartware Group, Inc., with contributions from Barton Henderson, Manager, Statewide Bearings

If you’re 16 and you’ve just received your driver’s license, changing the oil every 3,000 miles is a foreign concept. But a seasoned driver who only changes the oil when the little lantern flashes on the dashboard may deserve a more dubious designation.

Likewise, if you’re in charge of maintaining heavy machinery and you wait for a malfunction before you attend to it, the impact on lost production could end up being as expensive as the machine itself. A well thought out preventive maintenance (PM) plan with a CMMS in place to track day-to-day asset maintenance is a no brainer for most teams, large and small.

But equally important are the CMMS PMs that get generated to keep an eye on machine components before they break down. Even the most basic maintenance tasks, such as regularly checking and changing fluids and checking belts and hoses in an assembly, should go on a PM calendar to keep machinery humming. PMs come about by trial and error. A machine fails and the diagnosis shows that a simple fix and a PM – oil the bearings every two months, not three – does the trick.

Or PMs are created from information about machinery components that tell maintenance transmissions should be checked regularly for lubrication; gaskets and seals for contaminants, and vibration levels for proper alignment. Shafts and gears, while seldom needing to be replaced themselves, their assembly components, including gaskets, valve covers, belts and hoses should all be PM items. Ball bearings and their tracks should also be regularly checked, cleaned, and lubricated.

Generating a set of PMs for cleaning machine cabs is also important. Maintaining a clean breather prevents the creation of a vacuum, which sucks dirt and dust into the cab. Integral systems and components, like the clutch, are also impacted by exposure to debris and should be regularly cleaned.

Operator Training, Safety & PMs

Compliance with workplace safety standards is more than good PR. An environment that is free of obstacles and hazards helps prevent accidents that can damage your machines and harm employees, so encouraging the safe and knowledgeable use of every machine is important.

Routine training and reinforcement of safe workplace practices will extend the life of your machinery. Set up PMs to prevent injuries by ensuring proper operator training. While employee training occurs when machinery is first purchased and inspected, PMs will remind technicians it’s time to refresh skills, as one defense against worker injuries. You can also set a PM to update operator manuals with new fixes, and other updates from the manufacturer.

PMs can also be distilled down to a set of best practices to increase the lifespan of a machine, which can be maintained in your CMMS, regardless of asset location. A thorough PM procedure list helps standardize machine operation across the board and cuts unnecessary costs.

Taking stock of PMs and doing an inventory of preventive maintenance tasks per machine are as important as checking inventory for spare parts and ordering backups. Once you set up these in your CMMS, you can look forward to a well-oiled maintenance management system to maintain your well-oiled machinery.

Through Unified CMMS, Organizations Thrive

militaryaircraftturbinesLet’s say your company manufactures gas turbines for military aircraft. It’s a medium-sized outfit with four plants all located within 30 miles of each other. You manage the maintenance department for one plant, and your team takes pride in running a sane, efficient, and proactive operation in part because all the asset maintenance and repair history is logged into your Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). You couldn’t imagine running your department without it.

But your brethren can’t make the same claims. One of the plants uses spreadsheets, the third plant uses an antiquated stand-alone CMMS, and the fourth one uses paper binders. Ordering spare parts is a “best guess” affair for all three shops since inventory management is nonexistent. Moreover, purchases from the Department of Defense (DOD) have slowed down, so management intends to cut costs and has its eye on maintenance and operations to trim staff.

While your maintenance department may not be on the chopping block, there are still good reasons to centralize maintenance processes with an enterprise-wide CMMS: cost, compliance, ease of use, and flexibility.


The importance of creating a maintenance culture that instills pride and commitment to asset optimization should be the primary goal, and the use of an easy-to-use, enterprise-wide CMMS should support that goal.

Costs from having multiple maintenance departments operating independently can add up. For one, without a CMMS to track asset repair history across multiple sites, a contractor could end up being called five times in one week to fix the same equipment at each site. The departments wouldn’t be able to know that they’re each using the same contractor and paying full retail for the service.

With an enterprise CMMS, a maintenance manager would have all assets tracked under one system and be able to drive down costs by doing a comparative analysis from plant to plant. He could compare work orders for two HVACs in two different plants that had the same repairs. If one repair was higher than the other, he could go back to the service provider and negotiate a credit and a new service contract on behalf of all sites.


A sample Work Order Actual versus Estimated Costs and Hours report in Bigfoot CMMS, which can be easily compiled across multiple sites, locations, and more.

Also, by tracking all asset repair work in an enterprise CMMS, maintenance can easily collate expenses from each department, measure performance, and show decreases in costs and downtime at multiple sites, rather than tediously gathering data separately from different maintenance programs.

Another cost benefit involves spare parts inventory. While it’s important that parts be on hand for breakdowns or repairs, if the same item is available at more than one site and both sites use the same CMMS, they can share each other’s spare parts as back up if stock replenishment is delayed. They also increase their buying power by sharing and consolidating purchases and suppliers.

The next thing to think about is compliance, beyond physical maintenance. With OSHA’s top 10 safety violations and costly fines, organizations can’t afford the consequences of an inconsistent approach to compliance. Without an auditable history of maintenance and each department doing things differently, how do you know everyone is complying with OSHA safety rules adequately and consistently?


Managing safety programs, as an integrated component of the entire maintenance operations, is a key aspect of Bigfoot CMMS.

What if you have to prove to an auditor that you have the records to show you are compliant across all sites when a worker suffers an injury? With an enterprise CMMS, you can design a central PM schedule and assign work orders to cover routine safety tasks, track and record audits and inspections, pull together reports based on work order history, and produce an indisputable audit trail of assets and equipment, across all locations.

Equally important to centralizing maintenance management and safety compliance is having an enterprise CMMS that adapts to any device used by maintenance staff, whether they’re walking the shop floor, fixing a machine, sitting at a desk, or scanning a spare part into a work order. A maintenance manager should be able to monitor asset repairs from screens of any size from anywhere, whether she is standing, walking, or sitting down.

Keep in mind, if the CMMS is as complicated to use as a macro-infested spreadsheet, technicians won’t use that system either. While management may be sold a complex CMMS, if the shop floor guy who does the input and issues the work orders finds it too cumbersome to use, it won’t be long before spreadsheets, paper, and post-it notes sneak back in.

There are enough arguments for tying maintenance together across multiple sites with an enterprise CMMS, but the importance of creating a maintenance culture that instills pride and commitment to asset optimization should be the primary goal. By starting with a well-designed organization with processes that improve production throughput and asset integrity, regardless of location, the choice to manage daily operations with a centralized CMMS will be an obvious one.


Scoring LEED Platinum Points for Operations & Maintenance; CMMS Can Help

Whether you’re the facilities manager of a factory, a warehouse, or residential apartment building, you have probably encountered the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification program and the opportunity to earn this prestigious designation for designing, constructing, and operating a sustainable, energy-efficient, water-conserving building.


LEED, created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the most widely recognized and widely-used green building program across the globe. To receive green building certification, ad hoc teams choose the best fit for the project in building design (interior and exterior) and construction, and operations and maintenance. They must meet a vast list of requirements for each of the three categories, and earn enough points to achieve different levels of LEED certification.

Developers, owners, architects, and operators see that reducing energy consumption, water, and waste is good for business and shows good corporate citizenship. They go to great lengths to use sustainable or green resources and materials to construct and maintain these buildings, whether it’s an energy efficient single family home or the world’s tallest residential skyscraper in Dubai, over one quarter mile high!


Developers, owners, architects, and operators go to great lengths to use sustainable or green resources and materials to construct and maintain their buildings, including the 162-story Burj Khalifa shown here.

Organizations are eligible for four awards, depending on the number of points they score, and the amount they have budgeted for the project: Certified (40 to 49 points), Silver (50 to 59 points), Gold (60 to 79 points), and Platinum (more than 80 points).

Facility directors that take on a LEED certification project for Building Operations and Maintenance (O&M) gain points by initiating and/or continuing a sustainability program for an existing building. The LEED Building O&M lists 60 different “credits” with points assigned to each. Some credits are required, such as site management policy or facility maintenance renovation policy, while the remaining others merit “extra credits,” such as indoor and outdoor water reduction and renewable energy and carbon offsets.

And this is where a well thought-out maintenance plan and CMMS can help achieve the results, whether you’re applying for LEED certification for one building or a cluster of buildings. After all, the best way to reduce energy consumption is by preventing equipment from breaking down. And a modern CMMS, like Bigfoot maintenance software, can hold an unlimited quantity of equipment and non-assets for PM scheduling and specific maintenance. It ensures that buildings consistently maintain the equipment, and the sustainable materials and features that went into the original construction, such as timed LED lights and photovoltaic glass, are also monitored and replaced.

A Michigan developer that uses Bigfoot CMMS for its six buildings applied for LEED certification by committing to operate and maintain its renovated historical building and keep up sustainability standards that were incorporated at the beginning of the project. Among other features, the developer installed an energy-efficient geothermal system, as well as low-flow toilets, LED lights, Energy Star appliances, and a rooftop solar system that preheats hot water. These features and other criteria would quality the developer for points in energy efficiency and indoor water use reduction, as listed under the Building O&M criteria.


Installing energy-efficient systems to control resources, like indoor water, is only half the battle. The other half? Monitoring the systems for optimal maintenance efforts and effectiveness.

And here’s how Bigfoot CMMS helped the developer. At a basic level, Bigfoot monitors and schedules LED light replacement and tracks parts in inventory. Within the developer’s geothermal system, the main pump is modulated through a control panel to keep it running at the capacity needed to reduce energy consumption. That pump — and the other pumps in the building, all have PMs.

Another Building O&M benchmark is maintaining “setpoints” for all HVAC equipment. Bigfoot CMMS could set a PM to keep tabs on an air handler to make sure it doesn’t overheat, which can be caused by something as simple as a slipping belt.  Replacing it results in using less energy. Over time, maintenance technicians can observe energy spikes on a particular air handler unit and become proactive about scheduling PMs for those peak periods.

Installing alternative energy systems doesn’t necessarily equal energy efficiency, unless equipment is being monitored. Bigfoot CMMS helps with LEED certification through its ability to set up PMs based on meter readings, whether they are manually entered or gathered through Bigfoot’s OPC Interface, which allows for building automation system integration. Through either method, Bigfoot CMMS monitors a variety of meter readings, such as pressure, temperature, voltage, and hours run, and helps operators identify energy peaks or spikes.

Going after LEED certification for Building Operations & Maintenance is not for the faint of heart. It requires education and an understanding of “credits” for earning green points, and the time and resources to pull it off. A modern CMMS can be a key partner and fundamental contributor to energy efficiency and supporter of green practices.


Change Management & CMMS, Part II

Maintenance managers that make the leap to CMMS without considering how to help stakeholders adapt, are likely to end up with a frustrated maintenance department, resistant employee requestors, and a shiny new system that languishes “on the shelf.”

The maintenance department of one specialty grocery chain learned this the hard way. The department had reached the boiling point of maintenance dystopia. There was no paper work, no formal way of keeping track of what was done and how much was spent on equipment maintenance, and, therefore, no paper trails.  And the maintenance decree? “Keep it up no matter what it costs, and fix it fast!” That policy cost the company more than $200,000 a year on equipment repairs for its four stores – without knowing which equipment brands were more reliable.


To get control of spending, the grocer decided to install a CMMS to manage 400 assets across the four stores. Both construction and facilities managers were involved in the decision, and in the end, all agreed to make the switch. Maintenance for every piece of equipment, from life safety equipment, sprinkler systems and security alarms to pizza ovens, baking mixers, and juicers would be automated by the CMMS.

But even after painstakingly entering equipment information and getting the system up and running and creating separate preventive maintenance for each store, employees still called maintenance and expected quick turnarounds. According to the maintenance manager, “They still wanted to do things the old way – ‘just tell someone who’s walking to lunch to fix the problem.’  It’s still a work in progress.”

The Metamorphosis

Besides getting maintenance team members on board, you should also consider what it will take to enact behavioral changes for employees who request maintenance services. Any change will take people out of their comfort zone, which is the biggest hurdle to success according to a change management expert. Each person will “ascend the change curve” at different rates and times, and have a reason not to adapt until the change is “institutionalized.” Until you understand their concerns, people will never move up the curve and the change will not be successful.


While it may seem obvious, change does not typically occur instantly within organizations – regardless of size. Exercises in patience and encouragement are vital to keep teams on track and spirits high.

Communication cannot be overstated and people respond to different forms of communication. One method will not work for everyone. Maintenance should clearly communicate the change, including the time frame and the impact it will have on all stakeholders. Let them know ‘what’s in it for me,’ and identify a team champion who can help his or her team members understand the benefits of the new initiative.

In order to get the stage set for a successful change in attitude and cooperation and adaptation to CMMS, keep these points in mind:

  1. Demonstrate flexible communications to show why the change is necessary and what the benefits are for the people making the change,
  2. Exercise patience to face the resistance that may come up along the way, and for the backsliding, even if everyone agrees “on paper,” and
  3. Be generous with encouragement as progress is being made.

Have you seen change management success in your own environment? Share your story in the comments below.

Change Management & CMMS, Part I

We can all agree that if you have equipment that needs servicing, has value, and depreciates – you need a structure to keep up with maintenance.

For one Canadian salmon producer, this structure was fairly basic. The maintenance team was able to keep track of smaller tasks on paper.


For many organizations, employee buy-in is crucial to securing the right CMMS. Working with all maintenance operations personnel to prioritize CMMS requirements, such as ease-of-use for a simple and intuitive user experience and modern functionality, can go a long way toward building team relations and making the best software selection for your organization.

“We started small and were able to give a lot of attention to each piece of equipment,” according Snow Island’s Vice President, Bryan Bosien.

But as the company grew, a maintenance structure with flexibility became compulsory. “If we needed to change the oil on our fishing boats, it was easy to look after two boats. But if you have 10 boats, you can no longer rely on manual maintenance.”

Equipment maintenance tasks can slip through the cracks as companies grow. But if you’re at the point of needing a more efficient maintenance system and are considering CMMS, you’ll need to get buy in from your team, especially if, as in the case of Bosien’s crew, they know how to operate a fishing boat and clean a fishnet grid, but lack computer training. You’ll also need to prioritize CMMS requirements accordingly, such as placing greater emphasis on ease-of-use for a simple and intuitive user experience while not sacrificing modern functionality.

As with any CMMS, time is required to set up equipment records before the system can start generating preventive maintenance items and work orders. Users may not be inspired by the promise of time and money saved when they’re doing tedious data entry.

But, Bosien says, after all the equipment was set up in Bigfoot and the structure was in place, the number of breakdowns experienced before implementation and after going live with Bigfoot CMMS was like night and day. “With Bigfoot, my team could easily learn on the job… and they could see the results at the end.”

Robert Bourman, the operations manager of a dietary fiber food processing plant, also had to get his team on board with a new CMMS. The previous system was difficult to work within, and none of the technicians wanted to use it. Instead, the team relied on one user to do all the data entry, print and hand out the work orders, input the details once the job was completed, then start all over again.

Because Bigfoot CMMS was much easier than its predecessor, Bourman didn’t need a huge effort to get his team on board. The team could pull up equipment to check preventive maintenance and complete their own work orders. “Basically Bigfoot gave my team everything they needed to manage repairs in the most efficient way possible.”


CMMS, like any new software, involves a learning curve that can be shortened through on-site training, as pictured, or virtual training.

But regardless of how intuitive your CMMS is, shifting from reactive to proactive maintenance mode will require some orientation and training during the transition.  Even the iPhone has a learning curve.

For best practices on easing personnel through the transition to a new CMMS, tune in for next week’s blog, “Change Management & CMMS, Part II.”

Swish Every Shot with Maintenance ‘Coaching’

You wouldn’t play professional sports without a coach; so why implement the right CMMS without a consultant?

One Bigfoot CMMS user produces highly sophisticated radar systems for the U.S. Navy that, as you can imagine, requires precision-perfect equipment to build them in a highly-regulated environment. They put on their game face with Bigfoot “coaching,” and have the preventive maintenance (PM) completion rate to prove it.


The U.S. Navy uses a radar system that monitors its submarines within a 20-square-mile radius; it is never off duty and can never afford to fail, requiring the system to have a flawless maintenance management program.

The Navy needs to know where its submarines are at all times, and whether there’s an intruder sub in the area. Each radar system made by the Bigfoot user sits underwater and monitors the subs within a 20-square-mile radius; it is never off duty and can never afford to fail.

Staying Up to The Challenge

Likewise, maintenance of the 200 machines used to build these radar systems have mission-critical requirements of their own. These machines are highly specialized and don’t lend themselves to factory automation, like vehicle manufacturing. They need people to operate the machines, fit the components together, and test the systems.

While the company’s radar system is monitoring subs, the Navy is constantly monitoring this Bigfoot user to make sure the radar systems are built on time with accurately-calibrated equipment. If the Navy sees that one of these assets are not running properly, they lose confidence – and that’s a risk.

Take It to The Hole

So it’s no surprise that the maintenance team needed a CMMS that could bend to the needs of maintaining these production machines and devices, each with its own special PMs that are set up for time, calibration, and testing. The team took a strategic, big-picture approach to adopting CMMS and made the decision to not only invest in Bigfoot CMMS, but to configure it with the help of Smartware Group’s Strategic Consulting services.

The maintenance manager began by bringing all the players together with the Smartware Group consultant to make sure everyone understood what was needed to get started on the right foot. The Smartware Group consultant helped them figure out how they wanted to lay out the maintenance structure within Bigfoot.

The consultant was then given a drawing of the plant, a comprehensive equipment list, and the maintenance needs of each. He figured out what fields were needed for PMs and work orders. Then he instructed the team to import equipment data into the Bigfoot CMMS database, and made modifications based on feedback and suggestions. According to the user, it was a fluid process that continues today.


As a result of molding Bigfoot to the customer’s maintenance specifications, the company completes PMs at a rate of 100%. Overdue PMs have become a thing of the past. By working with the consultant, Bigfoot has also helped change the maintenance culture from being reactive to proactive to planning what they are going to do next in the CMMS.

If you’re struggling to improve maintenance and reliability, success depends on a maintenance tool and the advice of an expert to guide you through implementation. For this user, success came by way of adapting Bigfoot CMMS to its unique maintenance needs, with the support of a Smartware Group consultant.

After all, you can play basketball without a coach – but just don’t expect to make it to the majors.

Keeping the ‘Green’ in Greenhouse

Let’s face it. Changing a light bulb is not exactly a major technical challenge for maintenance professionals.

lightbulbBut what if your staff had to keep 20,000 light bulbs glowing every day of the week? And what if the success of your business depended on adjusting each of those 1,000-watt bulbs for maximum efficiency?

To deal with those questions, the maintenance team at a giant commercial greenhouse employs Bigfoot CMMS to manage grow lights and a host of other systems needed to run the climate-controlled facility. The greenhouse – which covers acreage larger than two dozen football fields – is used to grow produce year-round for major grocery chains and other markets.

To maintain proper growing conditions, literally thousands of components have to be kept in tip-top shape. Blowers, dampers, and sensors, as well as irrigation, heating and natural gas systems must all work together smoothly. In this indoor agricultural environment, if something as simple as an air vent fails to open or close properly, part of the crop could be ruined. And if the gears of an ordinary scissor lift get stuck, workers cannot reach the produce and harvest it for market. Staying ahead of breakdowns, then, is crucial; so the maintenance team depends on Bigfoot CMMS to schedule preventive maintenance items (PMs).


A proper CMMS is necessary for facilities like greenhouses, in order to generate reports for government agencies like the EPA and the USDA, and to create maintenance records on PMs such as safety policy reviews, emergency action procedures, and spill control plans.

Then there is the issue of what to do with the waste produced by growing and harvesting plants. To address this problem, Bigfoot CMMS is monitoring CO2 emissions. Rather than dump leaves, branches, and other detritus into a landfill, the greenhouse managers decided to partner with another company to compost its waste. When that waste is blended into a slurry stream, it gives off methane gas that creates electricity. But methane also emits CO2. Instead of allowing that CO2 to escape into the atmosphere, the facility pumps it into the greenhouse where the plants absorb it and release oxygen.

And just because produce is grown indoors at the greenhouse, does not mean insects and other pests can’t get to it. Consequently, the maintenance team also has to keep careful records on pesticide use to comply with governmental regulations. Again, Bigfoot CMMS proves its worth on a regular basis through its ability to generate reports for government agencies like the EPA and the USDA, and to create maintenance records on PMs such as safety policy reviews, emergency action procedures, and spill control plans.

Given the complexity of the greenhouse operation, the maintenance team naturally fields complaints when things go wrong.  But since installing Bigfoot CMMS, the hundreds of daily phone calls from other departments have dwindled to a handful. Now, greenhouse employees can view updates on the status of repairs via Bigfoot, and unnecessary duplication of repair requests has been eliminated.

Read other success stories like this one at

Maintenance Resolutions for the New Year

As 2014 quickly approaches, you may have to peddle faster to squeeze out your maintenance goals in time for the new year. Perhaps 2014 is the year you finally change the perception that maintenance does more than change a light bulb – that maintenance keeps up production and cuts down costs.


Use your remaining time wisely to take stock. Make 2014 the year you widen back and look at the big picture. Do you oversee a maintenance culture that thrives? Are your employees well trained and happily on track with PMs and repairs? Does upper management know that your department helps keep capital costs under control?

If you hesitated on the answers, it may be time to review your plan, fine-tune your maintenance team, and exploit the powers of your CMMS. Start the new year with a consultant to help you fulfill your maintenance dreams and configure your CMMS to support them.

Plans already in place? Get outside help to identify and implement critical 2014 tasks:

  • Prioritize assets by risk associated with production and revenue loss
  • Lower asset maintenance costs — add up maintenance expenditures for each asset in 2013, i.e., frequency of repairs, labor costs, replacement parts costs, downtime, vendor maintenance costs; improve repair efficiencies
  • Increase conversion of asset maintenance tasks into PMs
  • Convert soft tasks into PMs, too: upload all machine schematics and procedures; lease payments, vendor contracts, vehicle drivers’ licenses and registration renewals, etc.
  • PM all safety compliance tasks
  • Cut spare parts inventory costs; use CMMS for inventory control; set up safe levels; reduce order overages

Or take the advice of your maintenance peers who weighed in on our LinkedIn discussion of 2014 goals:

We are taking a look at our 2013 performance and our ‘bad actors,’ making necessary corrections and prioritizing efforts. Our main goal is to lower costs and improve performance.


The goal of maintenance should be reliable asset operation without downtime… which includes optimal spare parts inventory, optimal use of manpower to achieve maintenance safety targets and [here’s one you don’t hear every day, but not one to overlook either] ensure all employees enjoy their work life as well as their personal family life.


Minimize equipment downtime, compared to last year…  Comply with all maintenance plans and schedules.


2014 will be an easier year to resource work, having spent time fixing up maintenance plans and tasks lists to truly reflect the work. This will provide better budgeting and resource understanding going forward. It should also help to increase reliability of our plant due to carrying out the best possible maintenance outcomes. This is our ongoing improvement plan for the next few years.

But most of all, lead your team by example and “play in the mud;” encourage new ideas and have fun. If you hear rumblings of techs wanting to start up an employee baseball team, spring for the bats and mitts. Make 2014 the best year for your department yet!




Highway to the Lean Zone

Facing never-ending challenges to remain profitable amidst rising fuel costs and an unpredictable world economy, aviation is a prime example of an industry that must stay lean to survive.

That means the aviation maintenance professionals who service everything from ground equipment to aircraft must learn to do more with less on a daily basis. Here’s some of the ways to accomplish this mission:

  • Improve efficiency by automating preventive maintenance schedules

Tapping into a CMMS is much more efficient than spreadsheets, paper notes, or other DIY systems when it comes to managing preventive maintenance tasks. That efficiency translates into spending less time on managing the work order process and more on “wrench time” to actually keep equipment up and running.


  • Quickly identify malfunctioning machines – and what’s behind those breakdowns

Instead of searching through stacks of paper to see how often equipment is malfunctioning – and why – maintenance personnel need to quickly pinpoint trouble spots. A CMMS provides instant access to the entire work order history for a piece of equipment, making it much easier to analyze problems and make informed decisions about whether to replace or repair assets.

  • Allocate labor effectively

Typically, labor gets assigned to various maintenance tasks solely on the basis of availability. Using a CMMS to prioritize critical assets, review work order histories, and match appropriate personnel to the task at hand, helps to eliminate that approach. As a result, labor is allocated more efficiently toward the assets that need it most.

  • Take the guesswork out of asset analysis

Too often, the decision to purchase a major asset is based on its upfront cost or minimal maintenance requirements. Running an Asset Life Cycle Analysis on a CMMS lets maintenance managers grade equipment-specific data they need to support those decisions.


Missing a part? Use bar code technology in conjunction with your CMMS solution to get a better handle on spare parts for greater organization and efficiency.

  • Improve tracking of inventory to cut costs

Walking through storage areas to constantly check inventory through manual counts wastes time and money. A CMMS enables maintenance teams to scan and search parts according to location and quantity. That capability prevents potential shrinkage and theft and improves just-in-time re-ordering of parts.

Get these and other valuable lessons on thriving in lean environments by listening to Paul Lachance, president and CTO of Smartware Group, when he addresses the AVM Summit in Orlando, Florida on November 21.

His talk entitled, “Lean in MRO” will take place from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. during the Summit. Fly on over to Booth 16 for a demonstration of Bigfoot CMMS, and see how these tips translate into efficiency. To learn more and register for the conference, go to:

Spreadsheet Temptations for Asset Management, Part III

– by Alistair Finely, Technical Director, Ellmak Solutions Limited

Part II of this blog series covered many common issues associated with using the spreadsheet to manage assets and track their maintenance. In contrast, an investment in an application designed specifically for this purpose overcomes all the issues discussed with spreadsheets, and more.

A proper Computerized Maintenance Management System or Enterprise Asset Management solution should demonstrate the advantages below, as well as give you the security (from both a data and user perspective), data consistency through validation, ease of use (so the task isn’t left with one person), and audit trail of changes to your data that you should come to expect of modern systems today.

For one, a system should be cloud-based for accessibility anywhere in the world. All your assets, wherever they are located, should be able to be stored in one database.


Users should be limited by privileges and roles. That means uncontrolled changes cannot be made to the system and consistent, validated data is entered and stored in the database. This way necessary users can be ‘confined’ to a site, so they can only see the equipment that is relevant to them.

Help in the form of technical support and training is readily available, so there is no need for use of the system to be restricted to a couple of super users. A fully featured Asset Management System should easily give you:

  • An Asset Register – everything you need to know about a particular piece of equipment is stored in one place
  • Asset Integrity (Maintenance – planned and unscheduled breakdowns)
  • Spare Parts Inventory – keep track of stock with long lead times or high cost
  • Maintenance Costs (labour and parts)
  • Safety and Data sheets stored in one place and linked to equipment or spare parts or even to the individual tasks required as part of a maintenance routine
  • All changes to data is stored, creating a full audit trail
  • Full technical support and updates

A proper CMMS and EAM solution should give you the security, data consistency, ease of use, and audit trails that you should come to expect of modern systems today.

There is no doubt that a spreadsheet will do an admirable job in assisting the tracking of your assets if you only have a very small number of simple assets to maintain and monitor. However, for a relatively small outlay, you can invest in an Asset Management System and avoid all the issues highlighted previously, giving you the assurance that your assets are being maintained cost effectively and with full traceability.