Updated March 7, 2014 - The advantages of CMMS software are well documented in thousands maintenance books and Internet articles, however, the benefits of cloud-based CMMS over traditional on premise CMMS are less well known. Cloud or hosted software means the software is available over the Internet whereas on premises is downloaded and installed on local computers or servers.
April 16, 2013 - Quebec-based Cogep—a player in computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) solutions—launched Guide Ti Mobile, calling it the world’s first CMMS/EAM application developed specifically for the Windows 8 operating system and the Surface Windows RT tablet. (If you’re attending the Plant Management & Design Engineering Show [PMDS] in Montreal next week, visit Cogep’s at Booth #233.) Guide Ti Mobile is as simple to use and as intuitive as the PC-based version, says Cogep, yet offers the advantages of a touchscreen and mobility. Guide Ti Mobile allows workers to access data already on the tablet while they are working in buildings in which the internet is not available; they can even create new work orders and close them while at these locations.
Ralph Rio, research director, stated, “The pace of technology evolution continues to accelerate. Now, cloud, mobile, social, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D are impacting industrial concerns for improved business processes and enhanced business models.
“Technology adoption is not an option. Each of these major technology groupings involve multiple specific technical skills. GSPs have access to a diverse set of skills, and can map them into a project as needed for lower cost, less risk, and faster time to benefit.”
GSP selection has become mission critical. The needed services include application and IT infrastructure development, roll-out, and maintenance. The companies have become complex and decision making involves a range of capabilities from specific technologies to managing major programs. Suppliers have specific domain expertise, geographical presence, and knowledge of certain industry dynamics.
The ARC STAR Supplier Evaluation and Selection Service guides users through a step-by-step process of selecting and evaluating suppliers against specific technology, application and industry requirements. The process guides the user through the project and team definition, reviewing and editing ARC-provided selection criteria and supplier questions, weighing selection criteria, developing a supplier Request for Information (RFI) list, evaluating supplier responses, and developing a final ranking of RFI results. ARC STAR then fully documents the process and results for management review and approval.
According to Carol Owens, president, “Our new site highlights DPSI’s mobile and cloud-based offerings, as well as our expertise in the manufacturing, facilities and fleet markets. We also offer improved navigation, in-depth information on our products and easy-to-find downloads, all wrapped in a more contemporary design. We have streamlined the information gathering process for visitors, even as we provide them access to more information about DPSI, our products and markets.”
The use of the software is by invitation only, but users can visit cloudruge.com and request to be added to the invite list. cloudruge is a cloud-based (think dropbox) CMMS, so the application runs on cloudruge servers and users need only a browser to access it. The company says this results in important cost savings as there is no need to employ specialized IT staff. Up-time on remote servers is also generally much higher than if the servers are kept in-house (availability is usually in the order of 99.8 per cent, excluding scheduled server maintenance).
The main features of the alpha version are:
- Developed with the most secure, efficient and advanced web application framework.
- Asset organization tree.
- Manual Work Request/ Work Order assigned to asset.
- Upload of documents assigned to assets.
- Upload of documents assigned to work orders.
- Use it anywhere with its native mobile version. cloudruge detects the client type and adjusts its display on the fly to suit smaller mobile screens.
- User avatar implemented through the gravatar service.
Other functionality to be available very soon on the alpha version:
- Work-order scheduling.
- Asset list import using an excel file.
- User level implementation.
Cloudruge Ltd. is a software company based in Macau SAR and in Hong Kong founded by a team of professionals with experience in industrial maintenance and web software development. Cloudruge's goal is to become the most popular cloud-based CMMS solution in the market for small to medium-sized companies and will include modules for: inventory control, labour and spare parts costs and advanced maintenance reporting among others.
All too often, packages are selected on the basis of which vendor has the most impressive sales pitch. As a result, vendors have invested heavily in perfecting their dog-and-pony shows. Although many large companies with significantly large maintenance budgets usually do conduct a more thorough evaluation process, they do not necessarily apply the same level rigor on other fronts. For example, the bulk of the process engineering work, which in my view should drive the definition of user specifications, is often left until implementation of the CMMS or later.
Another alarming trend is exhibited by senior management determined to implement the perfect, fully integrated, enterprise-wide system that does it all, from shop floor to the executive suite. A huge software package with so much functionality does not necessarily fit the needs of a given maintenance shop in a given industry. Perhaps it does, but without going through a process design, needs analysis and vendor selection process, how do you know you are getting a tool that fits your requirements? Even if it is the best solution for maintenance, processes need to be optimized to get the most out of the software. As well, without due process, buy-in from maintainers, planners and their supervisors may be weak or non-existent, which will make it difficult if not impossible to realize any benefits from the system.
Whether big or small, most companies can learn a few tricks from those organizations that have conducted an effective vendor evaluation process. To be successful, these companies have made the following changes to the typical evaluation process:
1. More detailed specifications based on process engineering:
Companies have taken a more proactive approach to evaluating CMMS options. Rather than jumping immediately to the exploration of software options, most of the energy is expended on first determining the specific needs of the users based on rigorous examination of process change requirements. Users will take the time to sort out what is important versus what is simply nice to have, providing vendors with weightings for each specification criteria.
For large companies, a very formal request for proposal (RFP) document is sent to an appropriate number of CMMS vendors, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages with a fully integrated CMMS module. The RFP contains such things as your objectives in implementing a new CMMS, critical success factors, background on your company including the technical and business environment, and procurement terms and conditions. In the appendix of the RFP, technical and user specifications are provided in the form of hundreds or even thousands of user criteria related to the vendor, its products and services.
The vendors are expected to respond directly to the RFP by stating whether or not each specification can be met, how, and at what cost. When the vendor responses are received by the users, they are evaluated based on a number of pre-determined criteria. The scoring of vendor options is then used to determine a short-list of one to three candidates. A more detailed evaluation of the short-listed packages is conducted face to face with each vendor and their package in order to select a winner.
For smaller companies, a formal RFP may be overkill. Vendors may be reluctant to respond because the profit margin on a smaller installation is not enough to adequately cover the cost of responding properly to the RFP. In realizing how expensive it is to buy and implement the “wrong” package, some companies are quite willing to pay the vendors to respond. Regardless of whether or not a formal RFP is issued, the specifications document can still be used as a guide in judging any of the vendor options, including status quo or upgrading your existing CMMS.
2. More meaningful vendor demos:
CMMS vendors are seeing a trend to more meticulous testing of their software by prospective customers during the final selection stage. Increasingly, companies will send detailed test scripts to short-listed CMMS vendors ahead of a vendor demonstration, so that the software is evaluated based on real data and relevant procedures. For example, test data and procedures can be compiled for entering sample equipment, suppliers, parts and trades; simulating the creation and completion of corrective work requests and purchase requisitions; and reporting on equipment and supplier history. Test scripts can be prepared during the writing of the specifications.
3. Greater cross-company involvement:
Ten years ago, the selection of CMMS packages was considered the sole responsibility of the information systems and/or maintenance departments. Today, it’s a family affair. Operations for one, has seen the value in participating in the development of performance standards, as it relates directly to the service level agreements with the maintenance department. As well, the CMMS can be used to directly monitor the condition of assets, operating conditions or even production levels.
Accounting and finance departments have an interest in the writing of the CMMS specifications in order to ensure viable interfaces with modules such as accounts payable, activity-based costing, project tracking, fixed asset management, and so on. Purchasing and Stores need to be involved in integrating with the purchasing and materials management modules. Engineering is concerned about change control on engineering drawings, project tracking, reliability engineering, etc. The human resources department needs to understand the relevant features and functions related to payroll, resource scheduling, skills inventory, and others.
4. Improved reference checking:
In the past, companies have typically asked vendors for a list of references. However, these references were not pursued that aggressively, if at all. Over the years, companies have learned the ease and importance of phoning and visiting reference sites for benchmarking purposes. Much information can be gleaned at all levels in the reference company as to the strengths and weaknesses of the CMMS vendor and package. Critical success factors can be discussed regarding software and hardware implementation, managing the vendor relationship, ensuring proper process design to fit the package and many other areas.
5. Greater emphasis on vendor partnership:
After more than a decade of three-letter acronyms such as Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Reliability-Centred Maintenance (RCM) and so on, forming supplier partnerships or strategic alliances has become a natural part of the vendor selection process. Companies have realized that they are not just buying the CMMS package that best meets technical specifications. They are entering a relationship with a supplier/partner that can add value over an extended period of time. This explains why companies are interested in such services as implementation, training, Internet and telephone support, consulting, and user groups.
Proteus MMX Mobile allows technicians to update work orders, asset information and other critical data in real time via smartphone or tablet. By staying out in the field with their mobile CMMS, technicians can spend more time maintaining equipment and completing work orders without having to travel back to their home office or computer. Asset and work order data can be accessed wherever they are, 24x7. Since data is communicated real-time, the minute a technician updates a work order, adds a new asset or closes a PM, managers can use this data to make facility-wide decisions or issue new work orders to technicians in the field.
The application is very user-friendly, with large buttons and a clean work flow. Each day, technicians can quickly gain access to their work orders. Once a work order is selected, they can access tasks, parts, assets, schematics and more to complete the work order. Harshad Shah, president of Eagle Technology, states, “Accessing comprehensive maintenance data while in the field allows maintenance professionals to instantly update records, record conditions, and flag necessary alerts without having to return to their home base.”
Proteus MMX Mobile can be implemented in a fraction of the time of other systems. Since Proteus MMX can be hosted at Eagle’s site, all technicians need is their phone or tablet, and the free Proteus MMX Mobile app, and off they go. It is the perfect tool for a mobile workforce, including field technicians, campus maintenance staff, and mobile users around the facility.
Proteus MMX Mobile gives technicians the assurance that all of the information they need is accurate and up-to-date as possible and accessible at all times. Proteus MMX Mobile is available as an add-on module for Proteus MMX, and runs on Android phones, iPhones, and Windows Mobile 6.5 phones as well as tablets running the Android or iOS operating systems. The app is available in the Android Marketplace and the Apple Store.
Enter EAM software platforms, which can do all that and more. Using these programs is recommended in PAS 55 (the Publicly Available Specification: 55-1:2008 for Asset Management), which is rapidly being recognized around the globe as the best guidance for optimizing asset management (AM) systems and processes. “For asset-intensive businesses to effectively adopt PAS 55,” a recent PAS report states, “they need a standardized method for identifying, tracking and managing the condition of every known asset, managing risk before it becomes a problem, standardizing the asset-registry process and generating reports that show compliance to plans and strategic direction.”
While widespread use of EAM is still to come, PEM has sought out the perspectives of three providers about what these systems can provide, and how to best integrate the use of the software — from the day a piece of equipment is installed until it’s time to replace it.
One of the most valuable aspects of EAM software platforms is their ability to analyze large amounts of data and provide solid automated AM decisions.
“We now have the convergence of real-time operational data from an asset — conditions monitoring data gathered with mobile devices or gathered automatically, and so on — with transactional data, which is baseline data indicating how a machine should optimally be performing,” says John Benders, vice-president of product management at Ventyx (parent company ABB). “We want companies to look at their production targets and how various assets support that, and based on that, what assets are considered critical.” Unexpected downtime with these assets must be avoided, and he says EAM software is the best way to assess their condition and manage them appropriately. “The power of such software is found is its ability to focus in on which parts of the information coming in is critical, and pick up on the important trends,” he notes. “It’s not just about gathering more data, but analyzing it efficiently.”
Kevin Price agrees the data-integrating power of EAM software is what makes it worth integrating. “When an asset is commissioned, it is relatively easy to keep it running and thoroughly maintained for the first while, but efficiency declines,” says the director and senior product manager for Infor’s Infor10 EAM software product suite.
“Preventive time-based work orders ‘reenergize’ the asset, but EAM software allows you to go beyond this. It will integrate and analyze everything, and may determine that preventative maintenance should be accelerated.” He calls this next level of AM ‘predictive,’ where preventative maintenance schedules are integrated with analysis of heat/vibration/oil, ongoing inspection and assessment data, power consumption anomalies, and manufacturers’ specifications.
“The result of the software’s use is that theoretically, the asset will run as it was when it was first operated,” Price notes, “which is the ultimate achievement.”
Energy consumption by assets is something often not examined, according to Price — and it should be. “ ‘Consumptive asset management’ is a way to diagnose asset health by looking at energy consumption,” he explains. “The City of Des Moines is a case-study customer of ours. It has 60,000 pumps in their water and sewage system, and using consumptive asset management with our software, they’ve saved a lot of money not just on asset management itself but with savings in energy consumption. We look at power or water, air, gas, consumption, either from sensors on the asset, or even from readings of the consumption of your plant lighting circuit or HVAC circuit at various intervals.”
The value of EAM software is also found in its inherent centralization of all data, says Patrick Zirnhelt, director of sales (asset-intensive industries) at IFS North America. “You certainly need the right data-gathering technologies and systems in place, but ideally, EAM software provides that critical one place for data to be held and worked with, that everyone who’s in the company or who comes in from outside to work on assets interacts with, and that’s centrally updated on an ongoing basis over the entire asset life cycle.”
It’s tremendously risky, he says, when workers have to go to different sources (binders, files or computers) for information on assets. “Millions of dollars can be lost in wasted time, and in sub-par asset management decisions,” he asserts. “It’s truly shocking how many companies are still using spreadsheets, tons of them, and sometimes they’re not on networked computers.
“This means data access can be limited for those who need it, and it poses security risks and the risk of data loss as well.”
EAM software, such as IFS Applications, features project management as an integrated component. This supports phases of an asset life cycle, including equipment or asset design, construction and commissioning — or decommissioning and asset retirement. Secondly, it allows for effective management of plant shut downs and other large projects that take place during the asset life cycle. And finally, it allows the entirety of an asset life cycle to be managed as a single years- or decades-long project that executives can manage for profit.
IFS has worked with several clients where EAM software replaced thousands of spreadsheets. “That’s a lot of threat eliminated,” he says, adding, “It’s also very hard for executives to be able to estimate the value of their equipment in this type of situation and with EAM software, you can do this analysis with complete confidence.”
Benders foresees that mobile computing will become more and more important in effective asset management — and in maximizing the benefit of EAM software. “When personnel are doing manual maintenance inspections, it takes a while sometimes for this information to make it into the CMMS and there might be input errors made, undermining people’s confidence in the information,” he notes. “Mobile device are less subjective, allowing a worker to choose a level, like low, or medium or high from a drop down menu, or to gather an actual number value from a mobile sensor device — and it’s also available to the software to analyze right away or very quickly.”
In terms of the future, Benders adds, “The volume of data with asset management will only increase, and the shift to using computer power to analyze and filter this information to get optimized automated decisions has only just started.”
Treena Hein is a freelance writer based in Pembroke, Ont.
Quintiq, a provider of advanced planning and scheduling software, will be supplying ArcelorMittal Dofasco with a Quintiq Workforce Planner solution, which will be used to maximize on-time maintenance performance, reduce maintenance staff overtime, and to lower the overall costs of its maintenance organization.
The Quintiq Workforce Planner software interfaces with any maintenance work order system and is able to optimize maintenance workforce and operations. The software captures, processes and visualizes data in a way that will allow planners to reduce planning times and improve scheduling effectiveness across multiple systems.
“We’re pleased to further our partnership with ArcelorMittal and expand our footprint in the metals industry with maintenance planning and scheduling,” said Victor Allis, CEO of Quintiq. “We are confident that our software will help ArcelorMittal Dofasco achieve more with their maintenance workforce.”
MRO tools are at the heart of the indirect supply chain and play an important role in the production lifecycle. MRO supply chain, thus, presents one of the most valuable opportunities for cost reduction, cost avoidance and improved productivity. Many companies in the past have focused their cost-reducing efforts on direct materials and capital spending rather than MRO supplies, which have been traditionally seen as value with little potential for savings. But manufacturers are starting to take a hard look at their MRO supply chain.
With manufacturing facilities spread across multiple locations, companies find it difficult to control their MRO spend without a standard framework in place. Lack of visibility into the inventory hinders asset utilization, prevents efficient use of resources, creates excessive costs and expenses for equipment repair and replacement, leads to low productivity and gives rise to bloated inventories. Lack of visibility into the supplier base gives rise to maverick spending and inefficient sourcing and procurement strategies, thus leading to lost savings opportunities. The list goes on — but all these challenges, when traced back to their points of origin reveal one single root cause: bad master data.
The challenges with master data arise from the structure of the organization itself. Organizations today have been built around a number of mergers and acquisitions, with several ERP and legacy systems in place. Production and manufacturing plants sprawl across various locations across the globe. There are a number of machines operating in the plants with a large number of moving parts within those machines. Many people over many years service or repair the machines and purchase replacement parts for them. Materials are dispersed across many warehouses with every division following different sourcing and, in many cases, inefficient strategies.
This gives a clear picture of how enormous amounts of inaccurate master data piles up over the years. The bulk of material, supplier, customer and product master data is inaccurate, inconsistent de-duplicated, unclassified or misclassified and outdated. This leads to degradation in data reliability. Several negative business outcomes stem from failure to control and manage MRO item and supplier master data:
- Bloated inventory and high obsolescence;
- Invisible and undocumented inventory;
- High carrying costs;
- Increased plant downtimes; and
- Inability to manage spend and reduce total MRO consumption.
With such MRO scenarios playing out every day all over the world, there is a pertinent need of master data management to cleanse the historical master data, optimize the indirect supply chain and sourcing initiatives and streamline the data governance workflow across the organization. Master data management is a comprehensive strategy to build a single, accurate and authoritative source of a company’s information assets and deliver this on demand as a service.
An effective master data management initiative is composed of two key parts: historical data cleansing and ongoing data maintenance.
1. Historical data cleansing involves classification and business-value enrichment of the existing legacy data across all the systems, applications and organizational units of an enterprise. It ensures enterprise wide visibility of the material and supplier bases leading to efficient MRO asset management and supply base rationalization.
2. Ongoing data maintenance involves maintaining quality of data on an ongoing basis and creating a framework for the creation, use, access and maintenance of data across the organization, leading to enhanced operational efficiencies and improved sourcing strategies.
This adds immense value to the MRO and strategic sourcing initiatives of an organization, driving significant bottom-line savings and achieving enhanced business and operational efficiency.
Nupur Agrawal is the analyst and public relations lead with Zynapse. For more information, visit www.zynapse.com.