Using Reports to Improve Equipment Maintenance

Computerized Maintenance Management System/Maintenance Software

Equipment Costs

Computerized Maintenance Management System/Maintenance Software

By Sanjay Murthi

It can be challenging to manage preventive maintenance for the many different pieces of equipment you oversee. Regular maintenance must be done, however, and it must be done on schedule. To ensure you have the technicians to do the required work, it helps to be organized. You should consider what must be done-as far in advance as possible. Regular reports from your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)/maintenance software can help stay organized. Following are reports normally available in maintenance software and how you can use them to improve equipment maintenance.

Equipment Maintenance Calendars-Scheduling Preventative Maintenance

Equipment maintenance calendar reports-or maintenance calendars-can provide the preventative maintenance jobs due in the coming weeks and months. Knowing what to expect and being prepared will help ensure the jobs are done correctly. It's not foolproof, however, and you will need to expect the unexpected.

Equipment Costs
Figure 1. Example report comparing equipment costs

What to Watch For

• Remember, there are always unexpected equipment breakdowns and other issues that will arise without warning. Be sure you always have maintenance technicians available, even when you don't have much work planned. Look at previous years' breakdown work orders for an idea of the workload to expect.

• If old equipment is going to be replaced or new equipment is to be installed, you may need to make adjustments to your maintenance calendar.

• Carefully check that your planned workload is in balance with the staff you will have available at any given time. Be prepared to make adjustments to your schedule if you become overloaded in a busy week.

• Talk to your operations staff to see if it would be acceptable to take some equipment out of service at certain times. You may find it is a busy period, and that can be the worst time to perform planned maintenance. You can tweak the settings on your schedules to ensure planned maintenance dates are adjusted to accommodate such needs.

• You should also have an estimate of expected spare parts demand in the coming months. This way, you can get your orders into the suppliers early. You will also have an estimate of the quantities of the parts you will need and may be able to negotiate a discount. CMMS software reports on work orders for future periods may have an option that allows you to calculate parts usage and availability. Having an idea of the type and number of spares you will need will make your job easier.

Equipment History Reports-Analyze Machine/Equipment Breakdowns

One of the many things an operations or maintenance manager must watch for is problem equipment that is causing serious, and/or ongoing operational problems. This can incur significant, increasing maintenance costs. When you are responsible for hundreds of different pieces and kinds of equipment, it can be difficult to know where the problems are. You must be able to identify the equipment that needs to be investigated as quickly and efficiently as possible; this is where equipment history reports in your maintenance management software can help. Based on the software package used, the following information may need to be collected from one or more reports generated by the software.

Here are several ways reports can help identify problem equipment:

• Total Maintenance Costs by Equipment: Review this report for total equipment maintenance costs during the previous 12 months. This includes planned and unplanned work that had to be done. While checking a shorter time period may seem easier, costs will tend to become skewed if certain equipment needs specific maintenance only during certain times of the year. Based on these costs, you can identify the most expensive equipment. Go through the costs to see if anything seems out of line. Consider the cost estimates provided by the manufacturer, and review the prior year's data to determine if the maintenance costs seem unusual.

• Equipment Downtime Duration: In a similar way, you can use CMMS reports to observe equipment downtime in the past year. Keep in mind that downtime can be unusually high for some equipment. This could be the result of spare parts being unavailable or on order. In some cases, technicians may have been pulled off the job to complete higher priority work.

• Complaints History and Work Requests: Look at any reported complaints and/or work requests that may have been made over the previous year. This will allow you to identify equipment that has had an unusually high number of complaints or problems.

• Equipment Statistics: Statistics on your equipment can be useful, but they may not be helpful if you have several different types of equipment. It may still be difficult to pinpoint which equipment needs to be checked-e.g., you cannot compare statistics of boom trucks vs. wire stringing equipment. If you have similar pieces of equipment being used in operationally similar ways, you can compare the statistics to try to learn if any one unit is out of line when compared to the others-e.g. compare statistics of similar types of boom trucks.

Identifying the Causes of Equipment Breakdowns and Possible Solutions

Once a list is made of the equipment causing problems, you will need to research more to find out what the underlying causes are. There are several possible reasons why your equipment may be failing. Here are a few of the most common culprits:

• Equipment that is Getting Close to End of Life: Ongoing maintenance will go far in prolonging the lifespan of your equipment. There will come a point, however, where it is no longer cost-effective to continue with constant repairs. Internal metal fatigue, an inability to source spare parts, or a lack of maintenance skills may be to blame. It may be better to accept that some equipment should be replaced with new units. This may increase productivity and efficiency while reducing the number of problems for you and your team.

• Poor or Inadequate Maintenance Practices: If preventative maintenance is being skipped or the technicians are not properly trained to perform the tasks at hand, your equipment will suffer. Check the quality of your spare parts if the same parts keep needing replacement. Also speak with personnel to see if any issues have been reported about one part in particular and that work orders are being properly followed.

• Poor Operational Practices: Be sure the operators using the equipment are properly trained to use it, and recognize issues before they become costly repairs. Check that equipment is not being overloaded as a result of insufficient capacity. You may need to invest in additional equipment or consider altering the operational flow to reduce peak loads.

• Equipment that is Badly Designed or Built: If your equipment has internal flaws in its design or construction, it is likely it will experience frequent failures. It may be just one unit, or it could be several devices of the same make and model. If this is the case, it may be a design flaw. Check if other organizations using this equipment have had similar issues. You may need to contact the manufacturer to correct the problems.

• Incorrect Installation or Use: It is imperative that equipment is installed and used according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Failing to do so will lead to breakdowns and reduced productivity. It also could be that the unit was damaged during setup, and this is what is causing your present problems.

This is just a sampling of how you can use some of the reports from your CMMS software to improve your equipment maintenance practices.

About the author: Sanjay Murthi is sales manager at SMGlobal Inc. SMGlobal's FastMaint CMMS maintenance management software is used worldwide by a variety of organizations for plant maintenance, utility maintenance, facility and building maintenance, and more. Learn more at And you can visit the CMMS/ Maintenance Management Blog ( for additional tips and articles about getting more out of your maintenance software.

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