February 28, 2023
7 CMMS Maintenance Problems
I am not a fan of most customer service representatives and the accompanying IT service reps. Most of the time, I feel the CSR is a placeholder unable to provide practical assistance and not caring if any help is given. I'm not wanting to focus on criticizing customer and IT service, but it's the first step in the discussion of 7 CMMS maintenance problems.
I begin this way to note that while I've suffered horrendous service/support calls, several of the calls were exacerbated by my blaming problems on (A.) the software /equipment and (B.) the IT person unable to fix the issue that may not have been the fault of the software.
Case in point: An early hospitality job had me using a computer program that was not completely compatible with the computer's operating system. Each grudgingly accepted the other most of the time. When spats occurred and glitches and errors couldn't be resolved, I blamed the support person for being unable to resolve the issue so it wouldn't return. The problem also was not the fault of the software or the computer. An outside factor—the fact someone thought they could work together—was to blame.
The blame game also is seen in companies with a lot of equipment and a maintenance department. When a machine stops functioning, it's easy to fault the machine or maintenance for not doing the job to keep it from failing.
Either blame is valid. However, many times the issue is because of that outside influence.
Lack of adequate training by the user.
Improper usage. An example is wanting a printer to accept heavy stock paper, then blaming it when the paper jams.
Another human element is an unreasonable expectation the equipment will do more than it can so it's overused.
On the opposite end is underusing a machine or not using it to its full or intended capacity. An analogy is a Formula One racecar is designed for speed. Problems will occur if the vehicle is used for city or normal highway driving.
Switching to a computerized maintenance management system, it's important to remember that this is software. Too often, people expect all problems to disappear just by using a computer program. Just by using a CMMS, a maintenance supervisor cannot expect perfection in asset/inventory management, work orders, and purchasing.
Let me relate this to something personal. I'm a published author. I cannot expect my word processing program or writing assistant program to write a best-selling novel just because I start typing in the words. The responsibility for a quality manuscript is still mine. The program will guide me to make better choices, flag mistakes, suggest corrections, help me format the pages using headers/footers/page numbers/margins and paragraph indents/spacing, kerning, etc. It will show me word count and other statistics, provide spell- and grammar checks, and convert the document to other file types.
Before I invested in a writing assistant program, I considered what I wanted to use it for. Was there anything better suited for my needs?
After I decided to purchase a system, I started inputting information and checking out the features. At the same time, I learned how to use it.
Once all parameters were set, I started using it for actual story organization. If I had questions, there was a manual to read and a community forum site for posting inquiries.
Normally, I'll receive notifications to download updates and patches, but nothing in the way of new features unless I purchased an upgrade.
Let's see how these points relate to a CMMS. As my word processing program doesn't create my novel, CMMS software is not creating maintenance management plans. One should already be in place, even if it’s simple or archaic, such as paper work orders, spreadsheets, and a reactive maintenance mindset.
As I did with the writing software, a maintenance supervisor should plan what he wants for the CMMS, and the features to be used.
After investing, information will be implemented. If a department has been using spreadsheets, ask for assistance from the CMMS vendor to import the data into the CMMS.
Schedule training to learn the system. Start using it and overcome the challenges. Expect excellent service from the CMMS support team. Expect updates and new features.
The CMMS is to help improve and organize maintenance strategies and operations, to be an assistant for better communication.
A lot of people don't like change. An irritation for me in a previous position was in the five years of employment, I switched teams and desks half a dozen times with a new team leader each time.
People accept change better if it's self-initiated rather than forced upon them.
With the switch to using a CMMS, there might be resistance from those who have been used to the old way, those who aren't tech-savvy, and/or those who don't comprehend the value of the system.
The solution is seen in the previous section. Planning and discussing the needs of a department and obtaining the details of how a new system will help. Training and support play major roles in assisting workers in adapting to the change.
Change is inevitable throughout our personal and work lives. How change is presented, implemented, and valued can determine the ease of transition and the spread of success.
Whenever I use a new computer program, there's a feeling of being overwhelmed. This may be only short-term, there is so much involved and so much to learn. However, I find what I need to do to get started and expand to use more features in time.
It's natural to experience a modicum of anxiety with something new or when that change comes to fruition. The solution is to refer to the planning from before. You know what to expect and what to look for when navigating the CMMS menus.
In the implementation and training stages, stick with the basics, and explore more options later. Specifically, with training, there's no need to feel overwhelmed. You took courses and/or learned the job of maintenance when starting out. A CMMS is another step in that career progression.
As with any new position or duty, you'll take the time to settle into the CMMS, working through how everything functions and knowing you have the CMMS vendor support ready to answer questions.
Remember, this is software. It's a 'tool.' The electric drill won't do the job for you even if you turn it on. You have to use it…correctly. CMMS is software, which means you have to keep in mind the acronym GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. It won't read your mind or generate a report you meant to have.
When working with new software, I sometimes forget it won't 'solve my problems.' It will help me solve my problems. A CMMS will help you organize assets, inventory, preventive maintenance, work orders, and purchasing.
It won't improve workers' mechanical skills. It can help the worker be more efficient and effective with clearer work orders, tracking in-stock inventory, and keeping a record of assets from both the worker's experiences and recording 'health' readings.
In time, you'll discover the best way for the CMMS to work for you. You'll find 'tricks' for the features to give you more benefits.
The blame game may never go away completely. Line workers may still fault the equipment for breaking down and maintenance for not keeping up on repairs.
However, with a CMMS backing you up, you can show the line worker the better way that you're conducting maintenance. Use those meter and gauge readings. They'll give you a direction for preventive maintenance and move you out of reactive thinking.
For equipment failures, record, what happened (i.e., a failure code); why it happened (cause code); and the best solution taken (action code).
Yes, the problem could be with the piece of equipment. Maybe it's aging and has failed because of worn-out parts.
The cause of the failure could be a short from vibration or moisture. The reason could lie at the feet of the operator (lack of training or misuse of the machine) or the maintenance worker (lack of training, an error in the job, or incomplete work). Again, look for the outside factor (refer to the printer example), and use the CMMS for a history of issues and solutions for maintenance.
Expecting too much too soon from a CMMS. Do you expect a new worker to be at the top of his or her game after only two days or even a week on the job?
CMMS Value and Conclusion
The system is not designed to overhaul, replace, or radically change the way you conduct maintenance. It's there to improve, streamline, and better organize whatever is currently in place. Okay, it may, in essence, replace the spreadsheet method for asset and inventory management, but look at it as a vast improvement over that old method. Don't delete those spreadsheets. They're still beneficial for viewing list reports from the CMMS.
CMMS has menus for an asset list, inventory list, PM list, and work orders. You're not going to be surprised to find this. Again, you may have something like this already in existence. The CMMS presents options for these in an organized fashion.
Just like writing assistant software. I'm not surprised that mine has options for chapter separation, character profiles, images, storyboard, and more. I already had a version of all of those. I've seen entire notebooks separated like that. The software is designed to keep it handy and more orderly.
I stress again the human factor in operating any software, including a CMMS. Productivity and efficiency can be measured through a CMMS, but only if used correctly. It's up to the maintenance team to utilize the features of a system to the best advantage.
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