Tag Archives: work management system

Can Maintenance People be "Happy"?

I’ve been working in the maintenance industry for the past 22 years.  My first foray into this mechanized world of grease, wrenches, and safety shutoffs happened immediately after graduating as a mechanical engineer in the late 1980’s.

Since then I have migrated into the world of maintenance management consulting.  This journey succeeded due to my learning maintenance software early on (DOS, remember that?), applying its power to my real world surroundings, and showing results to upper management with pretty pie charts and numbers that made them smile.

So when the creators of this CMMS blog asked me for advice on how it should look, I advised them to somehow show people that maintenance professionals can also smile, and be  happy, just like those upper management people who are easily dazzled by pie charts and excellent numbers.

So they took my advice and made the first blog branding logo a “dancing maintenance guy”.

You can watch this happy dude dancing all day long at the top right corner of this blog.  Sure, it can be puzzling to see him rockin’ that tool belt.  Does such a creature actually exist?  Is there anything besides the lunch buzzer or breaking away from work that really makes a maintenance technician happy?  And what about their supervisors and managers?  Ever see them smile (let alone dance)?

By our nature, maintenance people are motivated by a challenge to solve technical, mechanical, electrical issues.  Fix things.  And fix them well.

Motivation, of course, is to feel that rush of accomplishment (which can lead to a smile, and when it happens repeatedly, will certainly lead to a quick jig).

Here is how it can work:

The maintenance team will many times need to troubleshoot an issue to find the root cause.  Other times, the cause is pretty obvious.  In either case, the maintenance team will only need a few simple things to achieve  that goal to “fix it well”.

  • We need spare parts.
  • We need authority to make decisions that help speed the process.
  • We need efficient access to information to help define the problem clearly (equipment specifications, repair history, backup plans, safety plans, troubleshooting guides).

So, I hate to state the obvious, but knowing that all we need are these (and possibly a few other simple items) to help us stay on track and be motivated, wouldn’t you think that the answer is yes, happiness can be achieved, and maintained.  All we need is a simple process that is understood and followed by the whole team.

However, companies tend to under-support their maintenance staff, which is not only a problem with less dancing, but also lower productivity overall.

  1. Start with looking at managing all your maintenance data with a maintenance software system.
  2. Next, go through every single minute of a typical day and determine how you can reach the perfect world of all issues getting fixed, and less issues coming up (preventive maintenance).
  3. Then give the technicians the chance to take ownership of success and failure.

Next time you see a frowning maintenance person, realize that turning that frown upside down, and possibly even seeing them dance, is achievable and probably desirable.  Find out what’s missing.

If you feel that seeing your people dance is unachievable, here is another place to learn about resources available to you: EAM University

Maintenance KPI’s – An easy way to define yours

I’ve worked in the plant maintenance industry for years.  How did KPI’s look in those days? Here is an example KPI in 1988: “Keep the machines running”.

Fresh out of engineering school and thrown into the corporate engine, my life was all about keeping the conveyor belts running.  That was the priority (and still is, but said differently) at United Parcel Service so that little Jimmy would get his red wagon in time for Christmas.   Although we had no clue that they had a name (KPIs), here was our mission during the UPS days:

  • Keep the belts running
  • Get your PM’s done
  • Anything stopped for 15 minutes was a breakdown
  • Make sure mechanics knew how to make a repair the UPS way
  • That is..because every action that a mechanic took was measured using a DOS program built by UPS (called PEMMS)

Now UPS was way ahead of their time with work measurement, starting, of course, among the fleet delivery drivers.  They moved that successful approach to every aspect of the business, including maintenance.

Now the world is catching up to such great role models like UPS.  However, the aspect of defining KPI’s has still been somewhat behind the curve.  KPIs can be a mystery unless you happen to be a maintenance professional with enough hours available in the day for reading all the great maintenance measurement books available.  Show me one of those people and I will immediately tell you that that person is a consultant.  (No offense to the great consultants.  I am guilty as charged)

Once again the Internet is bailing us out by saving a ton of time and making KPI definitions easier to grasp and define (without having to read a novel then construct a maintenance business plan, etc).

Here is example KPI where you can see the industry baseline then work your own numbers by taking a survey: Preventative maintenance hours as a percentage of total maintenance hours

CMMS = Could Mean My Salary

I recently spent some time helping a well-known yogurt manufacturer improve their visibility into their daily maintenance process.  Their CMMS product is 10 years old, not updated with the correct patches, and the reporting software is equally as ancient.

The manager in charge of maintenance performance seemed less stressed this time as compared to last.  During my first visit he was newly appointed as the person who would take their CMMS and revamp the plant maintenance performance within a few months.  I’ve seen that type of pressure placed on people before.  So many times, in fact, that I have a name for it….CMMS (could mean my salary).  Because if this guy fails, he is probably out of a job.

So of course their is a wonderful transference of that same pressure onto the consultant who the plant was so kind as to bring in and help the guy with a CMMS on his forehead.  “Could Mean My Salary”, in case you forgot.

Well this yogurt man had actually taken that old CMMS and incorporated the changes we had identified during the first visit.  So needless to say he was much more relaxed, knowing that his upper management team believed in him (and me…through transference).

To make a long story short, and then sum up my point, this latest visit proved to be successful as we took old reporting software and used it to improve maintenance processes weaved throughout an equally rickety CMMS product.  More specifically, we eliminated 8 labor hours per week that were previously “empty” labor hours spent transferring data from the CMMS to Excel then comparing to a production schedule, etc.

We took a single report and with prompts made it variable enough to manage all scenarios.  So the 8 hours transferring data was replaced with a single report that could be launched at any time to pull the required information LIVE.

The Point?  CMMS either “could” mean your salary, or it can also “justify” your salary and make it grow.  And having the latest, greatest CMMS system is not a guarantee or precursor to success.  It’s more about the basic concepts of “minimal touch” information gathering and maintenance process efficiency.  If you want to learn more, email me directly: publish@eamuniversity.com

Web Based CMMS Systems: Efficient, Mobile, and Environmentally Friendly

     “My facilities personnel are busy people.  They need to be out in the field getting work done … not sitting in front of a computer.”

    This familiar complaint has been repeated by my many facilities managers for quite sometime.  Their plea for help usually goes unanswered like someone yelling into a canyon and hearing the echo of their own voice.  

    But, thanks to advances in Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) technology, maintenance professionals are able access their work database from anywhere, using their BlackBerry®, cell phone, laptop or other mobile device.

     Web based CMMS systems can be installed on either the client’s internal server or it can be hosted by the CMMS provider.  The second option is known as an ASP (Application Service Provider).  For an ASP system, the customer doesn’t require any servers to run the application or the associated license costs for databases, network and security software.  Also, with an ASP system, no IT staff or resources are required.  The customer is only responsible for their internet connection. All other IT requirements are managed by the CMMS provider that is hosting the system.

     The inherent web programming in web based systems enables remote devices such as laptop computers, BlackBerry®, or cell phones to connect via the internet in real-time to the CMMS central database.  So, maintenance professionals working out in the field can have immediate access to the following features:

  • Receive, review and modifying work orders
  • Record asset data from anywhere around the globe
  • Recall critical asset information in real-time
  • Review, order & monitor inventory and spare parts data
  • Monitor project status and material or labor assignments
  • Update field personnel in real-time
  • Automatically record time and materials utilized
  • Collect data and create reports

     This technology also enhances a company’s ability to manage assets in multiple locations with one fully integrated CMMS solution that ensures maximum efficiency of labor, equipment and asset management.

     Aside from allowing maintenance professionals to work more efficiently in the field, there is also an environmental benefit to using remote CMMS technology as it creates a paperless work environment.  It is no longer necessary to print all assigned work orders.  All daily work requirements can be stored and managed through the user’s mobile device. There is also a significant reduction in travel time between the job site and the central office or remote spare parts location.

     With the advancement of web based CMMS technology, maintenance professionals everywhere are now able to leave the confines of their stationary computer and work in an efficient, mobile and paperless real-time work environment.

Web Work by Tero was one of the first true web based CMMS systems.   The advantage of a web based CMMS system is that it can be accessed anywhere.  No software installation is needed.  All that is required is an internet connection and the user can login to their database from the office, home, or another city.

Web Work by Tero
www.tero.ca
Toll Free:  1-866-818-8376
Main Phone:  604-468-1401
General Email: sales@tero.ca