Cutting Through the CMMS Clutter

Mapcon debunks the many myths surrounding computerized maintenance management systems. When considering whether to purchase a CMMS, it is important to differentiate fact from fiction. When the truth has been identified, the software search can begin.
By Heather Wilkerson | August 12, 2020

Making the decision to purchase and implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) in an ethanol plant can be a challenge. Many things should be considered, including the needs of the company, but also the plant’s financials.

A few myths will likely pop up during research. Here are a handful, followed by some clarification and correction:

Myth: A CMMS costs too much. Upon doing initial research, it’s common for maintenance professionals to see the cost of a CMMS as an unnecessary expenditure that is not in the budget.

Truth: Many times, a CMMS actually saves ethanol plants money. While there is, of course, a cost associated with having a CMMS, many companies (such as Mapcon Technologies Inc.) allow users to purchase add-ons as needed instead of buying huge systems, keeping the cost down.

In addition, the features included within a CMMS can save plants money. For example, preventive maintenance scheduling enables users to see issues and make repairs before a machine breaks, thus decreasing costly downtime. This feature also helps prevent emergency repairs, which can be costly.

Myth: A CMMS is difficult to set up, especially for someone who has never done it before. Many believe it is not worth the time upfront.

Truth: Many CMMS companies offer extensive training options to help with the initial setup process. Some even offer complete courses. If needed, many can also send employees on-site to assist. In addition, online training webinars and video tutorials often are offered, allowing users to learn about their new system from the comfort of their own office. Check for a free trial of the software. It can help users become familiar with it before purchasing, making the transition even easier. Systems can also be set up using the Cloud, which makes things even easier.

Myth: Spreadsheets work just as well as a CMMS.

Truth: Spreadsheets have many faults when it comes to maintenance planning and control. First, valuable historical data is either not kept at all, or easily overwritten. In a spreadsheet, it is incredibly easy to inadvertently overwrite data. Simply click in the wrong box and begin typing, and information is gone. A CMMS, however, automatically keeps historical data, such as repair and cost history. This can be useful when making important business intelligence decisions, such as whether to repair or replace a piece of equipment. One can simply look at its repair history and do a cost comparison to determine the best course of action.

Also, spreadsheets generally do not disclose who made changes to them. This can make it difficult to determine who did a certain repair on an asset if a question comes up. CMMS software automatically tracks and displays who has made changes to a record.

The addition of a mobile application is another huge advantage of a CMMS over a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets can be difficult to use and read on phones and tablets. A mobile CMMS eliminates this issue.

Myth: Paperwork orders are good enough. Writing down the repairs that are needed and handing it to a technician works well, so a CMMS is not needed.

Truth: Paperwork orders have many faults. First, a piece of paper can be easily lost or destroyed. Inadvertently losing or destroying a work order could lead to important repairs or preventive maintenance tasks not being completed. Paper forms also make tracking historical data more cumbersome, whereas a CMMS keeps that information all in one easy-to-locate place.

Myth: A CMMS is only for preventive maintenance, nothing else. Therefore, it is not worth the cost.

Truth: While preventive maintenance is definitely a primary feature, a robust CMMS will offer a number of features that can be beneficial to the plant’s operations. Purchasing, for example, may be added to the system. Purchasing allows users to create purchase requests for spare parts or tools, right from the maintenance software. Automatic reorder can also be set up, which ensures critical spares are always on hand when needed. 

Myth: It is time-consuming to use. It’s quicker to just do things manually.

Truth: While a CMMS may seem time-consuming during setup and implementation, it’s actually usually more time-consuming to not use a CMMS. First and foremost, a CMMS provides a one-stop-shop for everything maintenance-related, from preventive maintenance tasks to important historical data. Workers save time by going directly to their software system to locate this information, rather than going through spreadsheets and paper files.

In addition, checklists within a CMMS can save time. For example, a checklist can be added to a preventive maintenance task, detailing the steps and questions right on the work order and ensuring all necessary items are completed at that stop. Adding a mobile application saves even more time because the checklists can be brought up easily while workers are on the plant floor, near the equipment being serviced.

Myth: Only large plants need a CMMS. Small- or medium-sized plants can track things more easily, so the software is not beneficial.

Truth: Any size plant can benefit from the main features of a CMMS—work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory tracking, and maintenance planning. Many CMMS companies offer add-on modules so the system can be adjusted to fit the individual plant.

When considering whether to purchase a CMMS, it is important to differentiate fact from fiction. When the truth has been identified, the search for maintenance management software can begin.

Author: Heather Wilkerson
Marketing Coordinator
Mapcon Technologies Inc.
800.922.4336 ext. 115