Tag Archives: cmms

What is 1% Improvement Worth?


I recently attended the National Facilities Management Technology show, and was able to visit a few of the educational seminars. There was an interesting presentation by a CMMS consultant who shared some information which I would like to share with you. A 2010 Aberdeen Group study showed that implementing a CMMS can have incredible benefits, especially when there is no formal “system” in place to help manage the maintenance processes.

Results from CMMS implementations

(2010, Aberdeen Group)

There’s no question that implementing a CMMS like Maintenance Connection can produce incredible results. In addition to these metrics, think about some of the gains that can be made in these areas:

What is 1% improvement worth?

  • Energy (what do we spend on utilities?)
  • Asset availability (are we operating 24/7?)
  • Operator/trades utilization (are we labor intensive?)
  • Asset life (are we capital intensive?)
  • Response time (how spread out are our facilities?)
  • Safety (what do we pay in works comp?)
  • Production line speed/output (can we push through more volume with better asset performance?)
  • Spare parts inventory level/turns (are we inventorying the right spares to avoid catastrophic downtime?)
  • Inventory service level (are parts there when we need them?)
  • Quality of output, i.e. rejects, rework, loss, giveaway, shrinkage, yield, and waste (what is the cost of poor quality?)

Ready to Give Back

MC Gives Back

About 15 of our employees are heading out Today on our annual MC Gives Back trip. Our plan this year is to once again work with Young Life to help with a few construction projects as well as spend time at an orphanage. The trip will take place from October 4 – October 12 in Chiapas, Mexico.


You can follow our progress and receive updates at our MC Gives Back website. You can subscribe to receive automatic updates on the right hand side about half way down the page.

We hope to not only help the people we come in contact with in Chiapas, but also look forward to the change this will bring to all of us involved in the trip.

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5 Ways Maintenance Management Software Can Help Schools

Schools around the country are nearly out for Summer. It’s no vacation for those in charge of maintaining the schools and facilities though. The planners out there need to keep a watchful eye on their school’s budget, the state of their facility and the personnel tasked with keeping everything in order. There are countless ways a maintenance management system can help schools and the people responsible for their buildings and equipment.

1. Keep Assets Running

Increase Asset Reliability

A recent study estimated that the ROI from using proper preventive maintenance procedures versus purely reaction maintenance is 545%. Taking the time to sit down and map out exactly when you need to service your equipment and what inspections need to happen are critical. Tracking all that with a pen and paper or even a few Excel docs can be a nightmare.

A computerized maintenance management system or CMMS can keep track of that data for you. So after scheduling and inputting the information, your work orders for the chiller or the generator will pop up automatically.

2. Manage Supplies

Manage Supplies

Tons of items flow into a school every year, from air filters to overhead projector light bulbs. There are several benefits of tracking supplies and parts with a CMMS.

First, tracking usage with a CMMS makes it easy to see when you are coming close to running out of parts. Alerts can even be setup to notify you. Second, reports can be run based on part data. This information might be helpful in determining if there is a specific building that is using more parts than others. Knowing that will let you investigate the issue and solve. Furthermore, a maintenance management system can be used to generate purchase orders for parts, saving time.

3. Track Labor

Track Labor

The old proverb goes “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it takes near a village of labor to manage a large school or facility. There is not only the full time maintenance and custodial staff, but also outside vendors who assist with projects.

A maintenance management system can make sure that their time is accounted for. Knowing where the hours are spent in a work day can make employees accountable and keep your priorities in-line. With maintenance software, you can also associate hours with work orders and inspections and know who fixed what.

4. Keep Everyone Happy

Work Requests

A school can be thought of a symphony of teachers, parents, students and paraprofessionals. A broken A/C unit or dirty bathroom can turn that symphony’s sweet music sour.

Preventive maintenance can stop some of those problems from occurring, but on-demand or emergency work orders are bound to occur. In this case, responding to issues in a timely manner is key to keeping everyone happy. Setting up an online work order request system allows anyone in the school to submit a work request, monitor the request and even rate how the request was resolved.

5. Save Maintenance Time

Save Time

The largest campus by size in the world is Berry College in Georgia. The campus at Berry measure 27,000 acres! Imagine how long it would take to drive your Polaris across, much less walk.

Accessing your CMMS from the field with a smartphone or tablet can save time and increase accuracy of data. With mobile maintenance software, your maintenance tech will no longer have to go back to the office to either pick up hard copy work orders or update their desktop-based system.

Take Action Today

To get your school or campus on the path towards better operations, request a free consultation. Our experts will listen to your needs and develop a plan of action.

How to Run a Tight Knit Ship in Your Warehouse

Warehouse Interior

When it comes to running a warehouse effectively, organization is the key. Everything from employee procedures to inventory listings must be up-to-date and closely followed by everyone involved. However, there are different organizational elements that are important to the productivity of a warehouse such as building layout, paying attention to details, and having suitable computer software. Together these all make a world of difference.

Building Layout

In order to be extremely efficient, you need to utilize every inch of your space. You can start by developing a basic map of your warehouse and list where all the important functions are being carried out as well as storage spaces that are available. The spaces where you handle receiving, shipping, packing, and returns need to work well together, which means that you should be storing goods according to priority or frequency of use.

Building and facility management software can help plan the layouts to increase efficiency. You need to find new ways to increase the activity flow and accuracy on any orders. This can be difficult to do if your warehouse has been laid out the same way for a few years. People hesitate to change things that have been around long enough to be considered status quo. However, when you want to tighten things up in the warehouse, you need to be willing to change and reorganize.

Pay Attention to Detail

Any errors or unsafe practices that happen inside the warehouse, no matter how small, can really hurt productivity because you will need to go back and correct the issue. The best way to limit these errors is to have a process that pays attention to details and holds someone accountable for the task. Ideally, this should lead to the kind of preventative maintenance that improves, rather than limits, overall efficiency.

For instance, when a shipment is received, a specific person should be counting pallets and doing an inventory check to ensure everything is there before signing it off. Mistakes can be made anywhere, including shipping the wrong amount of an item to someone or sending to the wrong location. Inventory mistakes can be extremely problematic, and overworked employees can easily miss those important details.  You need to have the tools and process to manage all your accounting, purchasing, and filing claims with suppliers as efficiently as possible.

The Right Software for the Right Job

Technology is something that is often both under-utilized and over-utilized in a warehouse environment. The key to effectively implementing management software is to make sure everyone is using it. If someone takes inventory out of the warehouse without marking it down in the program, any number of problems can crop up because there are a lot of people who depend on having accurate numbers.

Warehouses can use dedicated programs for fleet management to monitor all the vehicles that are responsible for shipping, and maintenance procedures can be tracked by managers to make sure that everything from oil changes, tire rotations, and other important work is being done.

In order to keep a warehouse running smoothly, a lot of elements have to work together. You should include your employees in your decisions, take a look at all the collected data before making workflow decisions, and make sure everyone is using the available tools. In the end, you’ll be able to maximize efficiency and improve organization.

For more information on how MicroMain can assist your warehouse to help make it run more efficiently, contact us today.

Behind the Scenes – 2 of 2 – CMMS Implementation

For this second post in the interview series, we caught up with Paul Klein and gained some insight on an entirely different type of integration. In this situation, the customer had an extended roll-out to multiple sites.

Can you share some information about a larger implementation you worked on this past year?

“Sure. Firestone Building Products is a good example as they had eleven plants using different systems and wanted to unify them on a central platform. They started their implementation in early 2012, and phased in their implementation to all eleven plants over a one year span. “


What strategies did you employ that were unique to an implementation of this magnitude?

“First off, we ensured that the project had both a Project Manager and Technical Lead. Chris Frayer, the Project Manager, established the timetable and ensured the project remained on track. The Technical Resource, Terry Gurley, became a very active participant from the beginning. This type of resource, with such strong knowledge of their business process and internal systems, was integral to keeping the project moving forward. We also deployed a phased approach, starting with a smaller plant and working our way up to the largest. This proved to be quite helpful in getting everything important in place prior to the larger roll-out.”

Did they phase in functionality as well?

“Not really. They pretty much rolled out full functionality including Work Order Process, PM Management, and Inventory Control at each site. The only exception was the parts integration to their Tiny Term system. They implemented a system integration that exports part usage and reconciles on-hand quantity; this was not in place until some of the smaller plants had gone live.”

What were some efficiency measures put in place to keep a project of this size on budget and on-time?

“To allow us to roll-out more expediently, we ran training sessions at multiple sites simultaneously. While I was holding a training session at one plant, Terry Gurley would be onsite at another, using desktop sharing software to allow participants to follow along. Having Terry onsite and available for questions made this approach especially effective and proved to be both time-saving and cost effective .”

Did you come across any difficulties or special challenges?

“The Building Products Division was set up in a single database with each plant established as a separate Repair Center. This allowed them to use repair center access restrictions to ensure that each user only saw data applicable to their plant. However, once parts were integrated, they realized they wanted the ability to see if out-of-stock parts were available from another plant. With the repair center restrictions in place, they didn’t have access to this data. To solve this, they set up a special user account that had access to all repair centers, but could only see parts data. Staff in the stock rooms use this special login to take a peek at stock room inventory at other sites.”

Were there economies of scale with each plant go-live?

“Once the basic structure and process were defined, it was much easier to phase in additional plants. In fact, as Terry continued to gain expertise, he was able to independently handle much of the data importing, allowing me to focus more on the training aspect of the go-live. We brought up the first plant in Beech Grove, Indiana in June of 2012 with a handful of technicians. By the time we rolled-out at their largest plant in Prescott, Arkansas in April of this year, we had a pretty smooth process and were ready for the 70 folks in attendance. All in all, it was a very successful implementation.”

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Behind the Scenes – 1 of 2 – CMMS Implementation

In this two part interview series, we will chat with two Implementation Consultants from Maintenance Connection, sharing insights about customer implementations. MC IC’s maintain a pretty busy travel schedule, but we tracked down Steve Gustafson between flights and got him to share a story with us about a unique customer implementation.

MC Implementations always present challenges, but can you think of one that was especially unique?

“Yes, time is always of the essence to customers, but Kent Power approached their implementation with a very aggressive strategy, indicating they needed to be up and running in four weeks. After searching for the right Computerized Maintenance Management Solution for almost a year, the Kent Power management team was under the gun to make their CMMS dreams a reality. Based in Kent City, Michigan, Kent Power is recognized as a premier constructor of large electrical utility projects across the country. This translates to thousands of mobile assets spread across multiple job sites and locations, all requiring management and regular maintenance. The timeframe was especially challenging since they were basically setting up from scratch and had a pretty extensive infrastructure to bring online. Not to mention they had just hired their CMMS project manager one week before our initial implementation meeting.”

What was their hurry and what were they trying to achieve?

“After working with business strategy consultants from Total Process Reliability (TPR), Kent Power identified a number of areas where they were falling short such as the effective management of maintenance time and lack of preventative measures to ensure that equipment would not fail. Their maintenance process was almost entirely reactive. Their business consultants helped them to understand where they were falling short and what needed to be done to take Kent Power from “great” to “world class”. This involved getting a better handle on the work being performed on assets. They had a fairly manual process, using spreadsheets and emailed work order forms, and were in great need of a more formalized process. I am all too familiar with having to appropriately set customers’ expectations as it relates to the overall project implementation timeline, but with Kent Power there was little room for negotiation and I found it difficult to argue with their reasoning. They indicated that with the structure that they had in place at the time, there was not a good reason why they should not be up and running with Maintenance Connection in four weeks. I found myself becoming motivated by their ambition.”

How did you structure the implementation to meet this challenge?

“Right off the bat I made sure that they understood the importance of having a site champion or project manager that would take an active role in the initiative from beginning to end. We then reset the traditional implementation timeline to break things down into manageable deliverables, ensuring that all key activities required for work order roll out fit the four week timetable. We realized pretty quickly that to deliver a real solution in this short timeframe, some resources and plans had to be shifted. For example, additional funds and resources needed to be directed into early training to ensure that everyone had the skills and information they needed to make this work.”

How much were you able to get up and running in the four weeks?

“First, we defined the asset hierarchy structure and then did an import of some rudimentary spreadsheet data, followed by careful set up of classifications and a few rounds of asset updates to get the asset tree in shape. We then set up the work order process flow and configuration including preferences, ECC setup and SR Configuration. Once labor records were imported and permissions and access groups were established, we tackled setting up PM Schedules on their critical equipment, even importing tasks from available spreadsheets. And we made it; they had a fully functioning work order system on the go-live date.”

Were there any blips or problems encountered?

“Randy Lavoie, the Project Manager, was a rather frequent visitor to our support services during this period. The support team received so many calls that they were initially concerned that I was falling down on the job – throwing Randy to the wolves without sufficient training. Randy was passionate about making this work and kept support on their toes; he felt like part of the MC family he spoke to them so often. But persistence paid off, as he became an expert in his own right.”

What happened at the end of the initial go-live?

“Over the next six months, they continued to refine their process flow and extended their implementation with additional PM processes and Inventory management. They even put in place an automated integration to their fuel management system, Wright Express.”

What would you say was the key to their success?

“That’s an easy one – I attribute their success to Randy, the Project Manager. He was very proactive in making sure each deliverable was DONE and on schedule. This kind of site champion is always key to a successful integration, but with this kind of ambitious schedule it was essential.”

Randy Lavoi Speaking at Checkpoint

Maintaining Positive Relationships with Suppliers and Vendors

Vendors and suppliers are a critical component for any business. They provide the materials and services required to manufacture your own products or add value to your services, and maintaining these relationships should be every bit as important as those between the company and customer. It’s not always easy to do, though, because business relationships can be a real balancing act to maintain the mutually beneficial aspects of a long-term partnership.

The best foundation for any relationship must be built on respect, trust, and mutual benefit. Without one of those three legs, the table will quickly fall over. There are, however, some simple things you can do to maintain this balance and make sure your relationships remain positive.

Pay On Time – If you continue to delay or miss payments, vendors will look for new relationships that are more reliable. Pay your bills promptly and you’ll be their favorite client.

Be Reasonable – You need to be reasonable in your negotiations. Remember that a supplier or vendor should get a fair profit, too. While you’re  asking what’s in this deal for you, be aware of what’s in it for them. If you’re not offering enough of a return, this relationship will end.

Be Honest and Transparent – Negotiate in good faith. If you’ve had something change on your end, be direct and clear so the supplier knows why your requirements have evolved. Don’t inflate your requirements either, hoping to get some extra negotiating power. Be transparent about your situation, costs, and goals.

Be Fair – Don’t try to take advantage of the relationship. This is short-sighted behavior and will always lead to problems. Long term relationships will prove to be much more beneficial, yet many partnerships have been destroyed when one side of the equation saw an opportunity they believed they couldn’t pass up. This type of behavior only causes issues and destroys relationships.

Have Expectations – Just because you’re being as considerate and thoughtful as possible, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have expectations for your vendors and suppliers. However – in line with being fair – you should always be clear about what you expect. Spell it out for them. Never assume that they know what you want, even if they’ve been working with you for years.

Avoiding and Resolving Problems

No relationship is perfect, and eventually you will have disagreements or concerns cause problems. Any time two companies begin working together, they will have to deal with the fact that sometimes their goals, motives, and plans will clash. While you can carefully avoid many of the resulting conflicts, others you will have to face down and resolve. This may mean going back and re-establishing your expectations, being more transparent about your specifications, or explaining your need for consistent delivery times. Whatever the problems, address them quickly and directly, and, above all, keep the lines of communication open.

Long-term relationships can be extremely profitable for both sides of a partnership, but only if you’re willing to put in the effort to make sure it remains positive for everyone involved. Be direct and keep the long-term goals in mind because there may come a time when you have to rely on all the trust and respect you’ve built up over the years.

To learn more about using our CMMS Software and our building and facility management software to manage supplier and vendor information, contact us today.

Maintenance and PM Optimization

Optimizing preventive maintenance tasks performed is an effective way to streamline maintenance and help reduce the likelihood of failures. Simple changes in process and a little more planning are all that is needed.

Marshall Institute

Marshall Institute is an asset management consulting and training company dedicated to helping companies improve the maintenance contribution to their organizational performance. Their president, Greg Folts spoke at our Users Conference this past year and gave some helpful tips for optimizing PMs.

  1. Compare failure to current maintenance strategy
  2. Consider the effectiveness and efficiency of the current strategy
  3. Use the experience of the shop floor
  4. Consider the consequence of the failure
  5. Consider what type of PM can be utilized

Knowing the different failure modes of assets is also vital to planning PMs. The graphic below illustrates the types of failure and how to best plan for them.

Maintenance Options for Evident Failure Modes

To read the full list of PM Optimization tips and other information, visit the Marshall Institute to get the presentation (name and email required).  Also, look forward to guest blog posts from the industry experts at Marshall Institute in the coming year.

Building Efficiency and Your CMMS

Building Efficiency and Your CMMS  | Blog                  

Energy efficiency saves money and helps reduce greenhouse gases. IFMA partnered with Johnson Controls to look at how companies feel about energy efficiency, how they are achieving energy efficiency and what methods are the most promising. It all came together in the 2011 Energy Efficiency Indicator.

IFMA is the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for professional facility managers, supporting more than 20,000 members in 78 countries. Johnson Controls is a multinational company providing everything from climate control systems to car seats. They also utilize MicroMain CMMS software at some facilities they support.

Building Efficiency and Your CMMS

The study has been conducted over five years. Some key findings gleaned from the report include:

  • Managers and leaders want energy efficiency. 66% reported that energy was “extremely important” or “very important” to their organization.
  • Lighting is the best way to start saving on energy consumption. 81% of IFMA respondees implemented lighting improvements in the past year.
  • Lack of funding and uncertain ROI is the main deterrent to energy savings initiatives. Combined, those represent over 50% of the culprit for lack of action.
  • Smart buildings are the future. Incorporating reporting and sensing technologies into buildings show massive amounts of promise in the years and decades to come.

Building Efficiency and Your CMMS

MicroMain can help lead companies into a sustainable and money-saving future with our suite of CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), CAFM (Computer-Aided Facility Management System) and CPAM (Capital Planning Asset Management System) products and add-ons.

  • Preventive Maintenance on energy saving devices and systems can be set up and managed easily, keeping equipment and assets up and running.
  • Work Orders are the core functionality of any good CMMS software. Having work orders completed, tracked and reported on allows informed decisions to be made about areas where energy savings can take place.
  • Asset Tracking gives you the ability to asses and record the condition of your solar devices, lighting units or any other asset.
  • MicroMain Facility Management helps companies manage buildings, assets, and occupants. This information in conjunction with sensing technology can play a key part in reducing energy.

If you want to know more about MicroMain products, contact a MicroMain expert.

Maintenance New Year’s Resolutions

As the New Year rolls around there are thoughts of improvements and goals for the year ahead. Similar to personal resolutions, business resolutions involve a look at the past year: what worked and what didn’t work? Maintenance and Facility managers are realizing that fine-tuning last year’s operations are vital for the New Year’s success. We recommend these resolutions as a way to improve procedures, increase savings, and gauge success.

1. PlanPlan

A successful year is near impossible without some sort of plan. Monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals will help keep a maintenance department on track. Maybe you want to reduce your equipment downtime or re-organize all your assets; take these improvements and make them attainable goals.

Planning goals for the year go hand in hand with the yearly budget. Things such as new equipment, staff training, or department initiatives need to be factored in for the upcoming year in order to prioritize the plan ahead. Prove to the company’s upper management that maintenance and facility departments can be a profit center.

2. UpdateUpdate

If your company is still relying on spreadsheets or the even more painful pen and paper to track assets and work orders, this resolution is especially important. The time has come for an updated maintenance strategy and process. Let 2013 be the Year of CMMS.

There are many advantages to upgrading to a comprehensive computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), not to mention it’s paperless. These advantages include: preventive maintenance scheduling, analysis and reporting, accessible database, real-time information, and much more.

3. MaintainMaintain

All assets have a certain amount of upkeep. In order to preserve an asset, specific procedures must be in place. For maintenance and facility managers, these procedures can be achieved and scheduled with preventive maintenance.

Preventive maintenance is designed to extend equipment life and avoid any unplanned failure activity. By maintaining all assets, you will reduce downtime, conserve assets, and decrease repair costs. If any equipment was prematurely replaced last year or if there were an increase in breakdowns, a preventive maintenance strategy will guarantee operations improvements.

4. MeasureMeasure

Don’t wait until the end of the year to figure out if something is working. Start by setting certain benchmarks in order to measure maintenance performance and determine results. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) allow for operations analysis so goals can be set and monitored.

Track and measure the things that are most important to your department, such as, time between failure, pm schedule compliance, or unplanned maintenance. Set benchmarks, resume operations, get results. It is important to analyze these KPIs throughout the year in order to make improvements.

5. LearnLearn

Learning from the past year is essential to growth within 2013. But, the learning doesn’t stop once January ends. The study of your operations, those around you, and other industry professionals is key. Instead of trying to figure out the wins and losses of the past year on your own, get with your entire maintenance or facility department for new opinions.

Similarly, it can be extremely useful to get new perspectives from industry peers. This can be accomplished by picking up a copy of the latest maintenance magazine, joining a professional group, or even attending a conference. And, as always, staying up-to-date on industry blogs.

Does anyone have any other business or maintenance goals for 2013? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.