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Maintaining Machine Reliability & Securing Optimal Uptime via CMMS

With the proper CMMS usage, downtime may be a thing of the past, helping to predict equipment failure and ensure workers and parts are there to do something about it.

For some reason, January, or at least the first few weeks of it, is the designated time to really care about your health. People vow to stop eating too much or start exercising more; they might even wear that knock-off FitBit until February. It's hard to keep up with it all because you don’t know if any of it is really going to make a difference. We can go at any time, healthy or not. It's different with machines, though. Attach the right sensors and you can know everything you want. And if you have a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), you can take that data created by the sensors and have a supernatural control over your equipment's life. Used right, an experienced worker will know right down to when a motor will conk out or a compressor wheezes its last breath. It's kind of like that Christopher Walken movie, The Dead Zone, where he can predict when people die by touching them.

Maybe a CMMS is not quite like that. But it's close.

"We're really talking about capacity assurance and uptime," says Greg Perry, capacity assurance consultant for Fluke Digital Systems. That means maintaining equipment to their "highest level of inherent reliability," or expected optimal lifespan.

The better you can plan for preventative maintenance, or predict when equipment will fail, the better you can prepare, Perry explains. For example, by keeping repair parts in stock and ensuring the work order can be executed, the less likely the work will interfere with production.

Without a CMMS, Perry says, the data collected from Fluke or other companies' monitoring devices and sensors can get sucked into and trapped in a data "black hole."

Perry joined Fluke when the electronic testing device manufacturer acquired eMaint Enterprises two years ago to gain control of its leading CMMS of the same name. The web-based SaaS eMaint has been used by more than 50,000 customers, ranging from manufacturers to power plants to hospitals.

Fluke Digital Systems

The eMaint dashboard

On average, this CMMS boasts improvements including 35% reduction in emergency work orders, $2 million in annual savings due to reducing waste and a 75% drop in cycle count time.

The pairing makes perfect sense for Fluke, which can now help maintenance teams create the data to better understand assets, as well as manage them in a horizontal, not vertical, way. The software serves as management's indispensable assistant, helping to "plan, schedule and prioritize critical work," the company says.

The simple act of deploying the right planning and scheduling processes can increase throughput by 33%, says Perry, citing industry best practice standards. And that's just the start.

eMaint connects to the IIoT and ERPs, providing the first line of defense for your machines, the maintenance technicians and engineers, a means to weaponize the data. This also ripples to operations and supply side. Do you have the repair parts in stock? Is someone available to perform the repair? Does this happen frequently and should you evaluate getting a new machine?

Perry offers the example of a pneumatic tool used for surgery at a hospital. That obviously requires an air compressor, a power source that you wouldn’t want to go down prior to an operation. One or more sensors can be placed on the HVAC compressor, like a perpetual stethoscope, to gather a baseline virtual heartbeat. In this case, the maintenance staff are the caregivers, and the CMMS can ping if that heartbeat is off. They can check out the problem and resolve it well before it the a problem occurs that can interfere with a surgery.

That predictive form of maintenance has become all the rage, and we've written about it a lot. But does it occur enough to dedicate the attention?

"It’s very prevalent," Perry says.

Data from Aberdeen Research found that more than four out of five companies suffered unplanned downtime over a recent three-year period, and cost them up $260,000 an hour. And these downtimes lasted on average four hours.

A CMMS such as eMaint halts this not just through early diagnosis, but by making sure the right parts are there when maintenance needs them.

Storm door maker Larson Manufacturing improved downtime response by 15% by improving inventory accuracy, while Pratt & Whitney saved $100,000 on one project by improving spare parts availability and estimated avoiding three months of down time.

Perhaps the most important component to all of this is the departure of the experienced technicians and managers across the industry to much deserved retirements. The expert who knew had a supernatural ability to always know where everything was, when stuff was about to break and what was needed to fix it will soon be busy fixing their golf swing mechanics or puttering around in an RV.

So now, while you still have those equipment caregivers on payroll, is the time to invest in a CMMS, which in eMaint's case, is priced per person at several affordable rates as low as $33 per month per user.

"It's absolutely critical to a company's future to make sure they're capturing that tribal knowledge, digitizing it and putting it to work for them," Perry concludes.

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