Linking Media Files in CMMS Modules

Hi all,

Many of the modern CMMS products in the Market has the facility to upload links to media files in almost all the modules within the system. Such Multimedia files will help users in quickly referring to documents, drawings, e catalogues, SOPs, viewing maps etc. I came across a document on the subject. You could read the full document through the link given below.

Well defined removal routes for critical equipment, lists of special equipment with their storage details, emergency procedures etc will add pep to the CMMS that can give access to such documents to the concerned people whenever the need arises.

Any CMMS worth its while needs to have this facility as a quality value add. Check MPulse software for this wonderful feature.


CMMS/EAM Software Review: 9 trends spurring CMMS/EAM evolution


Plants Services is one magazine that I subscribe to. It comes up with highly readable material, written by knowledgeable people.

The latest issue had an article on CMMS / EAM evolution. Please click on the link below to access and read the same.

CMMS/EAM Software Review: 9 trends spurring CMMS/EAM evolution.



Combine vibration monitoring and ultrasound for more cost-effective predictive maintenance

Hi all,

predictive maintenance is one area that needs no introduction. Combination of techniques and tools available currently makes this a very competitive process. With this process, we can determine when to do any maintenance. Yes, preventive maintenance processes also will be followed, but instead of doing them mechanically as per a time schedule, it gets done when it is required to be done.

In most cases, the buffer time provided for time based preventive maintenance schedules is too much and we end up over-maintaining the equipment causing the following:

  • Doing maintenance on fully functional, healthy and operational equipment
  • Replacing the mandatory spares and consumables every time we do maintenance
  • Creating a condition where the equipment could fail due to man-made mistakes during assembly of equipment, post-maintenance.

I came across a wonderful article covering predictive maintenance using a combination of techniques and tools. The link is given below.

Predictive Maintenance: Combine vibration monitoring and ultrasound for more cost-effective predictive maintenance.

Please take some time to look up the link, read and be enlightened.


Take inventory of your maintenance costs

Hi all,

Inventory; the timely availability of spares parts, common supply items and tools is essential to both preventive and reactive maintenance. Preventive maintenance allows for some advance planning, but break down does not give us any buffer time.

An ABC analysis of inventory holding will indicate that the bulk of the material stored are from the A category – low-cost, frequently used, bulk requirement type. The B category items are also fairly large in number, but the C category would be less in numbers, but high in cost.

I came across an article on Inventory control and CMMS to which the link is given below:

Contracted MRO services: Take inventory of your maintenance costs.

A good CMMS will have an inventory module that allows to do analysis of inventory usage pattern, inventory carrying costs, inventory management etc.

Please read the article and be enlightened.

To Maintain or to Replace


One question that plagues the mind of maintainers is the question of replacing equipment as they age, sometimes gracefully, sometimes catastrophically.

The current trend and availability of condition monitoring techniques can save the blushes for the maintainers as regards critical equipment.

Safety is the most convincing factor to seek replacement of equipment. Unsafe equipment / structures should be replaced without too much discussion since one safety incident could be more detrimental to the whole business than  the cost of replacement.

We could first categorise equipment using  a standard ABC analysis on “Cost aspects”:

  • Category A will make the bulk of low-cost items. Probably these could be replaced periodically as per some agreed parameters. Let us take the case of common battery chargers in service for charging various types of large storage batteries or traction batteries. We may replace these, whenever the items go faulty.
  • Category B items would be of medium cost, but would be lesser in numbers. This is the category that would cause some head ache in the “Maintain or Replace Conundrum”.  Let us consider the large number of motor driven pumps of 5 HP rating and above. The purchase cost is sufficiently high to call for some deliberation on the maintain or replace question, but not critical enough to take too  much of management time. If the population of such pumps are high in a facility, It may be worthwhile holding “hot spare switchgear-motor-pump assemblies” that may be used to replace a faulty assembly.
  • Category C list will contain the lowest numbers, but of high cost items. Much thought will be required in making the decision to replace in view of the capital expenditure involved. Let us consider a 1000 KVA Diesel Generator. Barring a catastrophic failure, it will have a standard life expectancy depending on the usage pattern and conditions of use. Simple condition monitoring techniques such as visual inspection, parameter variation analysis, oil spectrometry analysis and touch & feel of the equipment to understand changes in vibration levels would help in understanding the changes in conditions. Use of vibration monitoring and analysing equipment and thermal imaging will help in pinpointing problem areas and deciding on maintenance requirements. Planning for a replacement over a period of a few years is possible in this case.

Now, categorising equipment using  a standard ABC analysis on “Criticality aspects”:

  • Category A will again make the bulk of the list, made up of low criticality items such as small pumps, electrical switchboards, battery chargers, small capacity window type air conditioners, small capacity UPSs, small battery banks etc.
  • Category B will be the medium criticality items. They may not be show stoppers, but still could impact operations in a way. Multiple conveyor lines in which even if one fails, the product line does not stop.
  • Category C will be the high criticality items or a “Show stopper”. These need not necessarily be the most capital-intensive equipment in the facility. For example, a 50T EOT may not be as expensive as the sheet metal  presses and hammers in an automobile body parts stamping shop. The EOT could be a show stopper if it is not able to move the required pressing and hammering dies to and from the presses and hammers.

Combining the above two aspects, we will get a well categorised list of equipment that will help us in deciding on the maintenance and replacement policies.


Electronic / Microprocessor based equipment go through obsolescence cycles periodically. Even core electrical and mechanical equipment may go through this process, but less frequently. The OEM will replace existing equipment with new designs time-to-time and declare the existing equipment not maintainable. This is another aspect to be considered in the replacement decision.

Take the case of UPS equipment. Every 5 to 8 years, such equipment may become obsolete. The batteries connected to the UPS will follow a different replacement cycle – more dependent on its own efficiency, discharging – charging  pattern and operating temperature.


Reliability of equipment and systems is another aspect to be considered in the replacement decision.

The bath tub curve giveBath Tub Curve for Reliabilityn on the left  will provide some general guidelines to follow on the reliability aspects.

Apart from the infant mortality failure, equipment failure rates stabilise over a period and then start to increase with age.

Periodic maintenance scheduled at the right intervals will increase the stable period of operations.

With the current modular designs, changing of critical, comparatively shorter-life sub assemblies would stabilise the overall equipment / system reliability.

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)

This could be a part of the reliability study. For critical and capital-intensive equipment and systems, the analysis of MTBF could give indications on whether an equipment or sub-assembly is reaching the replacement threshold.

This study could be extended to those equipment with large population also. The analysis would aid in deciding on the make and model of equipment to choose as replacement for the failing ones.

Total cost of maintenance

Every maintenance activity consumes resources in the form of material, labour and overheads. Life cycle costing of equipment will provide insight into whether we need to re-think on the maintenance strategy.

  • In the case of low-cost items, it may be better to choose a work to failure strategy. Replace the item, every time it fails. Try and reduce the instances of failure by choosing a better make or model.
  • In the case of all other items preventive / predictive / Condition based maintenance strategies could be used. The conditioned based maintenance strategy will have some added monitoring costs, hence may be limited to critical equipment.

As and when the total maintenance cost gets close to the cost at purchase of the equipment / system, analyse all other aspects and decide on the replacement.

Benefits of having a good CMMS

The discussion above has indicated analysis of a variety of data while making the “Maintain or Replace” decision. A good CMMS suite will help the maintenance team to record all possible data on maintenance cost, breakdown, failure pattern, inventory cost, inventory carrying cost, equipment replacement cost, total maintenance cost etc. Analysis of the data will help in making an intelligent decision.




CMMS and Inventory Management – To be integral or separate?


I am writing this out of the personal experience in the Facilities Management field and from having used a few types of CMMS packages, deployed by large organisations.

In India, many of the medium-sized industries are yet to get into the CMMS bandwagon. Some sectors such as the hospitality industry, hospitals, IT / ITES buildings, pharma / chemical industries, irrespective of their size, still use spreadsheets to monitor their maintenance effort. Some of the larger industries do use the maintenance module of a custom-built ERP or SAP. This is only a macro level information.

The maintenance effort mainly revolves around the planned / scheduled jobs, reactive jobs related to breakdown of equipment and systems, condition based predictive maintenance if practiced, assigning personnel (own staff or third-party vendors) for the work and assigning inventory required for the jobs and monitoring overall costs.

The inventory related to maintenance would be a minuscule, as regards quantities and cost, related to the overall procurement done by any organisation. In case of manufacturing units the value and volume of maintenance related inventory would be the lowest.

In the scenario mentioned above would the Facility Manager be overtly interested in accounting the maintenance related inventory and involving himself  in the inventory procurement, receiving, invoice handling etc? I doubt, unless he is pushed to do it. Accounting for the spares and supply items usage for each job and calculating the cost apportioned to this may still be considered worthwhile. Probably that is the reason why most of the CMMS suites restrict their inventory module to the end point of raising a purchase requisition.

Now let me state two case studies:

  • A large automobile manufacturing unit is using a “Maximo” based custom-built global CMMS programme. This has a fully functional Work / Job scheduling / monitoring module and a very detailed inventory management module. The inventory module is not used at all since it got stuck at the data entry point, on a question; who is responsible for the inventory data entry and maintenance of the inventory data base? The maintenance department or the stores people?
  • A global banking giant has a custom-built CMMS package with great features as regards maintenance management, but a very rudimentary inventory module. Purchase and procurement are done through a different application. These two are not linked.

What prompted me to write this Blog is an article that I read in the Plant Services web site. The link is given below. Please do read the article.

I have been a Facilities manager in large organisations and found it more convenient to let the purchase department do the procurement action. Firstly, they are eminently more qualified for that function. Secondly, if I were to take up that function I would have had to add specialists from that field in my team. This would mean,  duplication of effort. Thirdly, the team will have a disgruntled element, removed from his/her core group and having doubts about his career progress in the maintenance organisation.

For optimising the maintenance expenses, there is a need to account the inventory usage. This needs to be an integral part of any CMMS.

For timely availability of spares, supplies and tools, we need to monitor the on site availability too. This feature is also essential in a CMMS.

Inventory carrying cost needs to be minimised to improve the bottom line of any business. Hence, the CMMS should be able to report the stored inventory cost with segregation of high value and low value items / store house wise / Cost Centrewise / Location wise etc.

In my opinion, Purchase should remain a central function of any organisation and maintenance should utilise this department to do their procurement. If the CMMS package allows integration with the main purchase application (be it an ERP or SAP or anything else), by all means go for it. One word of caution: CMMS package may be able to update the inventory received and current stock levels from ERP or SAP, but may not be able to update on inventory usage to the ERP / SAP.

Comments on this Blog are welcome.


EAM or CMMS on the Cloud

In the developed, mature market, CMMS / EAM / CAFM sells without much concept selling. For the lesser developed and new market sectors, we normally start with concept selling about the benefits of CMMS itself. We also update our prospects about the available options of hosting the application.

Traditionally, almost all the applications including CMMS / EAM are hosted in a company’s server set up. This calls for essential overheads expenses on hardware, software and skinware. Periodic upgradation of all the three categories mentioned earlier is also essential to keep them up-to-date. Such expenditure would mostly go under capital expenses, “CAPEX”.

As far as large enterprises are concerned the above mentioned expenses for the maintenance team would be a miniscule part of the overall budget, but not so for the smaller enterprises.

When one shifts into cloud computing model or subscription model for using a CMMS system, there are a few distinct advantages:

  • Access from anywhere, any time
  • There is minimum overhead expenditure on hardware, software and skinware
  • Standard PCs, Laptops, Tablet PCs and even smart phones could be used to access the application
  • From CAPEX we shift into OPEX model
  • Upgradations and feature additions are automatically done by the Application supplier
  • Freedom to scale up and scale down user licences and databases as per requirement
  • Freedom to stop usage altogether as per mutually agreed timelines

There are disadvantages also:

  • Good broadband connectivity is essential to have consistent internet access
  • The maintenance data, though not of much strategic importance, is residing in an external environment
  • Quick updating of access information for people who leave the organisation is vital, to avoid misuse and intentional data corruption by such people

Data Security

A consistent question heard at every seminar on cloud computing is about security of data stored in the cloud site. Some amount of security is provided in the access to the data and the application through an encrypted password system.

Sharing of passwords among users and indiscriminate scribbling of usernames and passwords as a short cut method could cause accounting of access by people. This is a matter of self and enterprise discipline. – This aspect of security is applicable for both cloud and in-house hosted applications.

To cloud compute or not?; could be a Shakespearean question.

So, when dealing with the decision on whether to cloud compute for CMMS / EAM, the following aspects may be considered:

For Client / Server Set Up

  • Do you have the necessary infrastructure (hardware / software / networking) including dedicated / third-party skinware?
  • Have you budgeted for additional CAPEX for the essential infrastructure?
  • Have you got high-speed intranet connectivity through LAN / WAN  etc?
  • Will all the target users have access to the Intranet?

For Cloud version

  • Do you have good broadband connectivity?
  • Are all the users having access to Internet? (Many organisations curtail this due to security and other reasons)
  • How large is the database going to grow and how many people are going to access the application concurrently. (For very large databases, large number of concurrent users, large number of connected databases – a client-server version may be more appropriate)
  • Are many application going to be integrated with the CMMS / EAM? (If multiple integration with applications such as SCADA, Data loggers, BMS or BAM, Purchase & Stores, ERP, SAP are planned, a client / server set up is recommended)
  • Do you have varying requirement for usage by people and data transaction volume?

It is recommended that the decision be made after discussion with all the stake holders and considering all the aspects of your specific operations.