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Paul Lachance


Computerized Maintenance Management Benefits the Entire Company

Everyone within an organization is affected by machine breakdowns and downtime

Published: Monday, January 23, 2017 - 12:01

When it comes to asset management and facility management, everyone within an organization is affected by breakdowns and downtime. That means employees from the CFO to the environmental health and safety (EHS) director to the plant engineer should be involved in maintenance.

In the manufacturing world, downtime risks business output and jobs. In fact, research has shown that downtime can cost manufacturing companies as much as $22,000 per minute. What’s worse, a Plant Engineering maintenance study found that only 51 percent of plants surveyed are running a computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) for maintenance management.

Connecting personnel across departments and empowering nonmaintenance employees to take responsibility for efficient operations, and without downtime, presents a unique set of organizational and logistical barriers.

By turning to the right technology, however, companies can reduce the risks that come with an unpredictable industry.

The scenario

Say your production supervisor notices a substantial decrease in productivity, even while your maintenance department is working overtime to fulfill maintenance duties. As costs rise, the CFO wants answers, and so she sends out an email inquiring about the reduced productivity and increased overtime.

A similar situation happened with Multifilm Packaging, a manufacturer of flexible packaging solutions for the food and beverage industries. With a maintenance staff of three journeymen technicians, one apprentice, and two building maintenance and housekeeping employees, Multifilm needed an advanced strategy for streamlining its maintenance needs.

With two production facilities open and running 24 hours a day, five days week, and bound by stringent FDA regulations, Multifilm had its share of obstacles in implementing total productive maintenance (TPM). On average, the company was handling 60 or more preventive maintenance work orders a month, with unscheduled orders taking up approximately 48 percent of the maintenance time.

Not only was the company’s productivity strained, but it also was still operating on its own homegrown maintenance solution, relying on pencil and paper to keep track of maintenance orders.

The action

The CFO called a meeting, and supervisors attended from a variety of departments. The maintenance supervisor knew that his team was barely treading water to keep things running all day and all night. The production supervisor, on the other hand, did not want to shut down operations for any period, especially with productivity down.

Up to this point, the maintenance department had been operating almost as a separate company. To streamline processes, open up communication, and meet output goals, the team needed both a strategy and a solution. A newly hired plant engineer recognized that the department heads must compromise and the company must adopt a CMMS program to serve as a single system of record.

“Given a choice, what do you prefer?” the plant engineer asked. “Scheduled or unscheduled maintenance?” After some convincing, the CFO approved the purchase of a CMMS system, and the IT department and plant engineer implemented it across departments.

The resolution

Together with the plant engineer and the IT department, the maintenance staff implemented a TPM program utilizing a new CMMS. The CMMS and TPM program paid for themselves within the first six months of adoption—productivity came up, downtime decreased, and the CFO was happy.

In the case of Multifilm, it turned to a modern, cloud-based CMMS. With Bigfoot CMMS, Multifilm was able to automate and manage a number of processes. A full suite of preventive maintenance functions, and asset and equipment management—including infrared thermography of electrical panels, vibration testing of motors, visual inspection of normal print runs and ultrasonic bearing detection, and bar-coded inventory—cut downtime by 85 percent, with most of the success derived from increasing scheduled maintenance.

An investment in the future

The global economy is unpredictable, and manufacturing firms are constantly threatened by new risks and changing industry conditions, such as governmental regulations and budgetary limitations. With a modern maintenance software solution, manufacturing companies can gain a better grasp on controllable risks and reduce the costly impact from poor-performing equipment and assets.

The friction between maintenance teams and operations and production teams can plague even the best plants. When these departments, and others, champion a powerful CMMS, teams can visualize and track maintenance activity workflow and schedules. This level of transparency instills confidence that scheduled downtime, preventive maintenance, and predictive readings are all worthwhile investments going to the same output goal.

Implementing a configurable CMMS to make employee duties easier and quicker not only helps optimize output, but it also empowers personnel to improve work in other areas. Using Smartware Group’s Bigfoot CMMS, Multifilm has better prepared the company for downtime before it occurs, while enabling more intelligent decision-making for the future of the company.


About The Author

Paul Lachance’s picture

Paul Lachance

Paul Lachance is the president of the Smartware Group, the makers of Bigfoot CMMS.