MAPCON Maintenance Software Article Series

This is one in a series of Articles published by Mapcon Technologies, Inc. to provide our customers and interested members of the public a unique insight into the world of CMMS, Maintenance Software and Preventive Maintenance Management. Please feel free to send us your comments via email.

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CMMS Myths

Heather Wilkerson, Marketing Coordinator, Mapcon Technologies, Inc

Making the decision whether or not to purchase and implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) in an ethanol plant can be a challenge. There are many things to consider before taking the plunge. Not only should the needs of your company be considered, but also the plant’s financials. While researching software, you may come across some common CMMS myths that might concern you. Here are just a few of those myths, along with the actual truth.

Myth: A CMMS costs too much. Upon doing initial research, it’s common for maintenance professionals to see the cost of a CMMS as an unnecessary expenditure that is not in the budget.

Truth: Many times, a CMMS actually saves ethanol plants money. While there is, of course, a cost associated with having a CMMS, many companies (like Mapcon Technologies, Inc.) allow users to purchase add-ons as needed instead of buying huge systems, keeping the cost down. In addition, the features included within a CMMS can save plants money. For example, preventive maintenance scheduling enables users to see issues and make repairs before a machine breaks, thus decreasing costly downtime. This feature also helps prevent emergency repairs, which can be very costly.

Myth: A CMMS is difficult to get set up. It can be intimidating to get an entire CMMS system set up, especially if someone has never done it before. Many believe it is not worth the time upfront.

Truth: Many CMMS companies offer extensive training options to help with the initial setup process. Some even offer complete courses. If needed, many can also send employees on-site to assist. In addition, online training webinars and video tutorials may be offered, allowing users to learn about their new system from the comfort of their own office. Also, many times a free trial of the software is offered, which can help users get to know the software before it is even purchased, making the transition even easier. Systems can also be setup using the Cloud, which makes things even easier.

Myth: Spreadsheets work just as well as a CMMS.

Truth: Spreadsheets have many faults when it comes to maintenance planning and control. First, valuable historical data is either not kept at all, or easily overwritten. In a spreadsheet, it is incredibly easy to inadvertently overwrite data. Simply click in the wrong box and begin typing, and information is gone. A CMMS, however, automatically keeps historical data, such as repair and cost history. This can be useful when making important business intelligence decisions, such as whether to repair or replace a piece of equipment. One can simply look at the repair history on it and do a cost comparison to determine the best course of action.

Also, spreadsheets generally do not display who made changes to the document. This can make it difficult to determine who did a certain repair on an asset if a question comes up. CMMS software automatically tracks and displays who has made changes to a record. The addition of a mobile application is another huge advantage of a CMMS over a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets can be used on phones or tablets, but are often difficult to use and read. A mobile CMMS eliminates this issue.

Myth: Paper work orders are good enough. Writing down the repairs that are needed and handing it to a technician works well, so a CMMS is not needed.

Truth: Paper work orders have many faults. First, a piece of paper is quite easy to lose or accidentally destroy. Inadvertently losing or destroying a work order could lead to important repairs or preventive maintenance tasks not being completed. Paper forms also make tracking historical data a lot more cumbersome, whereas a CMMS keeps that information all in one easy-to-locate place.

Myth: A CMMS is only for preventive maintenance, nothing else. Therefore, it is not worth the cost.

Truth: While it is definitely a primary feature, a robust CMMS will offer a number of features, aside from preventive maintenance. The software will include many other features which can be beneficial to the plant’s operations. Purchasing, for example, may be added to the system. Purchasing allows users to create purchase requests for spare parts or tools, right from the maintenance software. Automatic reorder can also be set up, which ensures critical spares are always on-hand when needed.

Myth: It is time-consuming to use. It’s quicker to just do things manually.

Truth: While a CMMS may seem time-consuming during setup and implementation, it’s actually usually more time-consuming to not use a CMMS. A maintenance management system can help save time in many ways. First and foremost, it provides a one-stop-shop for everything maintenance related, from preventive maintenance tasks to important historical data. Workers save time by going directly to their software system to locate this information, rather than spending time going through spreadsheets and paper files.

In addition, checklists within a CMMS can save a lot of time. For example, a checklist can be added to a preventive maintenance task, which will ensure all necessary items are completed at that stop, and saves time by having the steps or questions detailed right on the work order. Adding a mobile application saves even more time because the checklists can be brought up easily while workers are on the plant floor, near the equipment being worked on.

Myth: Only large plants need a CMMS. Small or medium sized plants can track things easier, so the software is not beneficial.

Truth: Any sized plant can benefit from a CMMS. The main features of a CMMS, work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory tracking, and maintenance planning, are things that small and medium sized plants can benefit from as well. Many CMMS companies offer add-on modules so the system can be adjusted to fit the individual plant.

When considering whether or not to purchase a CMMS, it is important you know fact from fiction. Once you figure out what’s true and what isn’t, then your search for maintenance management software can truly begin.


CMMS Myths © was also published in Ethanol Producer Magazine under the title, 'Cutting Through the CMMS Clutter' on August 12, 2020 with the author's permission without remuneration of any kind.

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