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The Maintenance Management Blog

July 05, 2023

The Value Of Overlap

When we discuss the value of overlap, what are we referring to? A simple example of this is that you have a set of items. Label them X. You work well with X for many years. In time, you have the opportunity to better your work by adding another set of items labeled Y. This set affects and is affected by X. Still later, you add a third set labeled Z. Again this set affects and is affected by X and Y.

Let me give you two other examples.

Many cable systems allow you to program a list of your favorite channels. You've chosen the essentials—three channels of action movies. Later, you decide the new shows on a couple of sci-fi stations are interesting. Then you watch a new show about American history, so you add that channel. Soon, you're adding education stations and other movie genres. You end up with a lot of shows to watch but consider each to be worth the time.

You have a hobbyist who tinkers with small jobs but has decided to expand into bigger projects for friends, maybe open a small business. You realize you'll need more equipment and tools, and will have to keep some inventory in stock. As you grow, you'll need to keep better track of costs and from whom you buy. Again, the more expansion, the better chance of success if you keep everything organized.

Now, take these two examples, especially the second, and relate them to a company's maintenance department. One of the best tools to use for organization is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Within this system, a supervisor is going to have lists of assets, inventory, and work orders. I start with three, but let's back up a step and see the connection.

Image: production facility

A company has assets. These can include equipment and non-equipment assets. The latter includes the building(s) and grounds, including parking and walkways.

Assets need maintenance. Preventive maintenance and repairs. Logically then, parts and supplies are required. Thus the need for inventory in a stockroom or other storage area. The overlap here is easy to see. Parts for some assets and supplies (cleaning, lubrication, etc.) for others.

Someone has to conduct the maintenance, hence work orders. Those work orders are for assets and inventory can be attached to them. Again, the overlap is clear.

How do these three relate to a CMMS? First, a supervisor or admin individual is going to create the list of assets, designating details such as type, description, location, vendor, cost, etc. Already, you can see where the overlap is going to occur with later lists.

Then, there's the list of stock with such details as specs, description, package size, cost, quantity, and location. A CMMS is a great helper when it comes to 'putting stock in its place' as it were. Look for a stockroom layout feature for a location assignment for each item.

Where's the overlap between these two lists? Look for an area to assign certain stock to assets. That reference now will show up on each individual listing.

Image: man working on truck engine

Next, the admin will create a list of preventive maintenance jobs. Details here include type, priority, and look at the overlap—the PM is for a specific asset and will use specific pieces of inventory, everything listed in the PM record and showing up on the other two records (the asset and piece of stock).

Now it's time for work requests and work orders. Many jobs may start as work requests. PMs can be converted to work orders in a CMMS. For a 'new' work order details include type, priority, location, and what asset it's for. This could be a PM or repair for a vehicle or processor. This could be a safety-related job as in tending to the parking lot and sidewalks or a hanging light fixture.

The overlap here is that you're assigning the asset (logically) and inserting a bill of materials (inventory).

Inventory doesn't just appear in the stockroom. It must be purchased. Who handles that in a company? Does the maintenance department authorize purchases or is there a separate department? In either case, the same CMMS can be used. Hold on, though, let's back up a half step. Before we make purchases, let's create a list of vendors. Remember the asset listing detail of adding a vendor? Your list of vendors overlaps with assets and inventory.

Now get to purchasing. Purchase requests and purchase orders. With either, draw from the list of assets or inventory. In the latter, you might make what's known as a blanket purchase order. Again, the admin would make a list of regularly purchased items from Vendor A, another list for Vendor B, and so on. When initiating a purchase order, you can draw from that BPO instead of scrolling through the entire inventory list.

Vendors send invoices. Who handles those? With a quality CMMS, maintenance, purchasing, or accounting can process receiving and invoices.

See the overlap? Multiple departments all using the same system for various functions.

Regarding work orders, you're going to dispatch them to individual technicians, crews, or specialized crafts. Which means you need a list of workers/employees available. You'd create a list of either users or non-users with their contact information (usually work email), and you're all set to dispatch work orders.

Do you see the progression and value of overlap? One benefit leads to another…and another. It's easy to see how the addition of extra menus can be a boon to your operation. That's why a CMMS should offer additional modules to help you expand. If you're a church, library, or other small operation, you may not need Barcode modules. (Unless you barcode those hymnals.) If you're a little larger organization with more employees, you might consider the Human Resources module.

What's the one feature that overlaps everything? Reports. Admin and management need reports to get a specific overview of those assets, inventory, work orders, and labor, and everything associated with them.

Don't underestimate the value of overlap. What's great about a quality CMMS is its scalability. You use only what you need. This means those companies that only want assets, inventory, and maintenance are content. Those who want that purchasing power can have that module.

The folks at Mapcon Technologies will help you choose the best system for your company. Trainers will assist in adapting the features within each module to your specific needs. Just as you might find a feature on a new tool you don't at first use, but later discover its benefits, the various records, reports, and menus within your added module are ready to use when you're ready. Of course, we'll show you how. When you call 800-223-4791, or email support from the Mapcon website, you'll reach our support staff right here in Des Moines, Iowa.


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: cmms, maintenance, asset management — Stephen Brayton on July 05, 2023