What, another TLA?

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The computer industry seems to love using TLAs (three letter acronyms) to make things most mysterious. So here are two more for you to be able to show off to your friends and colleagues:

  1. CMMS – Computerized Maintenance Management System is also known as Enterprise Asset Management and Computerized Maintenance Management Information. CMMS is all about the use of computer technology to schedule plant and equipment maintenance, track assets, and efficiently carry out overall facility management.
  2. OEE – Overall equipment effectiveness is a hierarchy of metrics which focus on how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized. The software uses a methodology for assessing process capacity and utilization of equipment and in addition takes into account availability, efficiency and quality.

So lets us look a little bit more and what is involved in these two TLAs.

Managing your assets
A CMMS software package maintains a database of information about an organization’s maintenance operations. This information is intended to help maintenance workers do their jobs more effectively. So, for example, a CMMS package can be used to determine which machines require maintenance and which storerooms contain the spare parts they need. Thus they help management make informed decisions, such as calculating the cost of machine breakdown repair versus preventive maintenance for each machine. CMMS data may also be used to verify regulatory compliance.

Colin Beaney, IFS Global Industry Director, told me, “The main benefit of CMMS is the whole integration it provides. Within manufacturing, direct links from the manufacturing process through to the shop floor data capture systems are made into the Maintenance module. The advantages are that both areas can easily see the ‘work load’ within their respective areas. Manufacturing can see the upcoming planned maintenance and maintenance can see the production schedules. Key performance details, such as lost opportunity costs due to maintenance downtime, are visible.”

Different CMMS packages offer a wide range of capabilities. A typical package deals with some or all of the following:

  • Work orders – this is concerned with the scheduling of jobs, assigning personnel, reserving materials, recording costs, and tracking relevant information such as the cause of the problem, downtime involved, and recommendations for future action. The software schedules preventive maintenance automatically based on maintenance plans and/or meter readings. This part of the solution is likely to cover the following:
    • Inspection – this is all about the recording of the conditions of the assets being managed.
    • Preventive maintenance – here the software package keeps track of preventive maintenance jobs, including step-by-step instructions or check-lists, lists of materials required, and other pertinent details.
    • Machine breakdown – this all about recording the incidence of machine breakdowns. This includes details of repairs completed and repairs “to do”. Preventive maintenance tasks are often undertaken during breakdown repair and so preventive maintenance tasks need to be rescheduled.
  • Asset management – this is the core of the software package as it supports the recording of data about equipment and property including maintenance activities, specifications, purchase date, expected lifetime, warranty information, service contracts, service history and spare parts.
  • Inventory control – this is the warehouse management part of the package dealing with where spare parts, tools, and other materials are stored. There will be support for reservation of materials for particular jobs, determining when more materials should be purchased, tracking shipment receipts, and taking inventory.
  • Safety – that forgotten but critical part of any factory. CMMS provide the ability to manage permits and other documentation required for the processing of safety requirements. These safety requirements can include lockout-tagout, confined space, foreign material exclusion (FME) and electrical safety.

So who are the players in this market? There are probably 300 to 400 systems now on the market.

The first group are the ERP vendors such as SAP, Oracle JD Edwards, IFS and Infor that have CMMS modules as part of their ERP offering. In the case of Oracle, they offer a stand-alone package as well called Oracle Enterprise Asset Management. In some people’s view ERP has just been about the integration of HR, finance, SCM and production planning. However, real ERP for manufacturing, in my view, is the complete bundle of all the systems needed to control operations in a manufacturing company and that includes the asset management in its fullest sense as well as work scheduling and what is often referred to as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) which run the actual machinery. ERP is the brain of the manufacturing company. How each of us implements this concept depends on what we have in place already. The ERP vendors have recognised this need and have either built their own CMMS capability or developed relationship with specific niche packages to provide as seamless as possible complete view.

Beaney describe IFS position as, “IFS started life as a CMMS provider back in 1983 and its first CMMS implementation went live in a power plant in Sweden in 1985. Today, IFS provides extended ERP functionality covering the full Asset Lifecycle Management. Typically, this is relevant for customers who have capital investments in manufacturing assets and need a CMMS package to provide integration with a corporate finance package.”

The alternative to the all-in-one pot solution is to use specialist vendors and here we have a large number of specialist niche vendors. Examples include:

  • CMMS Software is a branch of Perspective CMMS, an independent CMMS consultancy. They offer two products. PM Coordinator CMMS Software is their base system for CMMS Software. It is targeted at companies that require a computerised maintenance system but do not require inventory control and purchasing. The alternative is Maintenance Coordinator CMMS Software. It comes in standard and professional versions and can also be customised to meet client’s specific needs.
  • Shire Systems claims to have over 10,000 customers around the world. Like CMMS Software they offer two different products. The FrontLine CMMS is a suite of linkable modules. The integrated suite provides maintenance, asset and service management solution. Some modules can be operated as independent, standalone systems. Pirana CMMS is a browser-based system for the management of maintenance, materials and services. The system can be accessed through the internet, intranet or mobile phone
  • Cayman Venture is a British based engineering software company who have been developing and supporting maintenance and engineering systems since 1991. Workmate is geared to supporting engineering companies. The solution has an impressive set of customer such as BMW, De La Rue, Dairy Crest and Heinz.

So where does OEE fit in?
Just like you have KPIs for all the other things in your organisation that you measure so understand CMMS you need to KPIs to measure the performance of your equipment to determine whether the plant is under achieving. The most widely used measurement is OEE, as it provides an all-encompassing measure of the machine performance. Mike Hodge, Managing Director of Cimlogic, said, “Perfect OEE is equipment running with no downtime, no idle time, no quality issues or no speed slower than the maximum: while this isn’t possible in the real world, the figure is a reflection of how close to 100% the output is.” The components of OEE are availability, performance and quality. These can be affected by a variety of issues such as downtime losses, speed losses and reject/re-work losses. Hodge feels that, “it helps you truly understand how your plant is working and ultimately improves output.” Beaney added the following comment on OEE, “With advanced functionality, like maxOEE, customers can monitor and analyse events, production and quality statistics to achieve complete visibility. OEE is a critical KPI in determining how a manufacturing operation is performing. It also allows supplementary business performance measures such as Mean Time To Repair and Mean Time Between Failures to be determined.”

CMMS packages may be used by any company that must perform maintenance on equipment, assets and property, including service management organisations. There are a large number of providers of CMMS software and the market does not appear to have gone through any major consolidation. Therefore it is a case of buyer beware—understand what you are looking for and what sort of company you are.

Some CMMS products focus on particular industry sectors, whilst other products are more general. CMMS packages are closely related to computer aided facility management packages (also called Facility Management Software) and in some ways there is a great deal of crossover between these two types of applications. So much that for many they can be viewed as one in the same.

CMMS packages can produce status reports and documents giving details or summaries of maintenance activities. The more sophisticated the package, the more analysis facilities are available. Many CMMS packages can be either web-based, meaning they are hosted by the company selling the product on an outside server, or LAN based, meaning that the company buying the software hosts the product on their own server.

If you take my brain analogy then, CMMS, MES, ERP and any other TLA that the IT industry give to the applications that manufacturers use, need to integrated together. Beaney’s explained what the vendors are doing to help this occur, “I believe in the future we will see more direct integration. For IFS, we have recently joined FIATECH, which is an industry consortium that provides global leadership in identifying and accelerating the development, demonstration and deployment of fully integrated and automated technologies to deliver the highest business value throughout the life cycle of all types of capital projects. This is all about working on International Standards for Integration of large Capital Assets directly into Business Applications.”

This article appeared in The Manufacturer earlier this year.