The benefits of going digital: Improving asset reliability with a digital knowledge hub

October 18, 2018

| 7 min read

Knowledge is power: How to improve asset reliability with a digital knowledge hub

This post is part of a series detailing the benefits of digital transformation in maintenance and how facilities can embrace new technology to improve asset reliability and asset management. Check out the other articles in this series:

Knowledge is a powerful resource for maintenance professionals. Spending years working on the same equipment often means a technician knows when something is wrong and what the problem is just from listening, watching or feeling a machine. But this information becomes a lot less powerful when it ends with that one technician.

When asset information lives exclusively with one person, it can lead to extra downtime, higher inventory costs, failed audits and accidents. In short, a lack of centralized knowledge can be a major wrench in the gears for any maintenance team.

Swapping out pen and paper and spreadsheets for a digital maintenance solution can do wonders for your maintenance program. Instead of having to track down the one guy who knows when a piece of equipment was last worked on (or shuffling through endless stacks of paper or searching for information trapped on a single computer), having everything on a digital platform accessible to anyone, at any time, can make things easier, quicker and cost-effective. This centralized hub will lay a foundation for better communication, faster repairs, improved planning, safer work and increased asset reliability.

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Key elements of a digital knowledge hub

What kind of information should you consider when building a knowledge hub for your maintenance operation? Here are a few crucial resources to include:

  1. Videos: Add videos on a machine’s profile, such as a how-to video on repairing a specific problem.
  2. Manuals and schematics: Images and documents can also be added to the profile of equipment. This can include manuals, SOPs, exploded diagrams and more.
  3. Checklists: Maintenance checklists can be added to any asset by technicians with experience on that particular machine.
  4. Work orders: A complete digital knowledge hub would include the option to have all work orders in one, easy-to-access place, prioritize the work orders, and sort them based on status.
  5. Asset status and notes: Make sure technicians can indicate whether an asset is online or offline and to make notes explaining the status of machines.
  6. Alerts and announcements: Send alerts and announcements to everyone, or select technicians, including updated policies, legislation, audit requirements, etc.
  7. Inventory lists: A centralized inventory list means parts can be sorted and tracked, and order forms can be created easily.
  8. Accident reports: Accidents reports can be created, stored and be made available for anyone to see, while being organized in one place for easy recovery.

The bigger picture: Why this all matters to asset reliability

Keeping all these little pieces of information in one place can be important to a facility’s bottom line, safety record, sustainability practices and more. With all this knowledge in one place, managers can gather data, track trends, create reports and make better decisions on asset reliability as a whole— all of which are important steps on the road to preventive maintenance. This is a big factor in controlling costs and boosting productivity in the long-term.

Instead of having to track down the one guy who knows when a piece of equipment was last worked on. . . having everything on a digital platform can make things easier, quicker and cost-effective.

Real world benefits of a knowledge hub

So how does creating a centralized information source actually help your day-to-day? We’ve outlined a few big benefits of building a knowledge hub with your maintenance solution:

Reduce repair time

Videos, manuals, schematics, checklists, and asset alerts and notes all reduce the time necessary to repair a broken down asset. This saves costs, reduces energy consumption and scrap and rework.

Make audits easier

Having all the data in one place makes it easier to formulate reports and flag issues, making audits less nerve-racking. Checklists can standardize processes, which makes audits smoother. Accident reports, training schedules and alerts on new legislation and standards can also be widely shared, making everyone aware and accountable for these often crucial parts for passing an audit.

Cut backlogs

Having resources to help with the repair process (ie. videos, manuals, etc.) can make repairs quicker. Being able to prioritize work orders and sort them by the expertise needed to complete each task makes it easy to target a project and send the right person for the job. A well-organized, accessible inventory list will help reduce the wait time for necessary parts.

Improve communication

Standardized checklists mean fewer communication breakdowns. The ability to attach notes to assets that anyone can see eliminates the need for sorting through papers and having lengthy conversations. Alerts and notifications mean communication between managers and technicians is more transparent, accountability is easier and response time is faster.

Implement standardization

Checklists help standardize repair processes across facilities, which improves the quality of data obtained across the board. The ability to send company-wide alerts also ensures everyone is aware of standards and procedures and that they are followed by all.

With all this knowledge in one place, managers can gather data, track trends, create reports and make better decisions.

Control costs

Videos, manuals and schematics can help control downtime costs and reduce inventory costs. Inventory can be tracked better, which means maintenance costs can be controlled more effectively as redundant parts are eliminated and surplus parts are returned. Optimizing asset reliability with the help of a knowledge hub also means more uptime, increased revenue and fewer costly repairs.

Reduce accidents

Checklists standardize the check and repair process based on the history of an asset, leading to fewer accidents. Alerts and announcements about new safety policies can also cut down on accidents. Accident reports help technicians know the potential dangers with particular assets, making them safer, and allowing managers to track accidents as a trend to create better processes and standards.

A step-by-step guide to creating a knowledge hub with Fiix

Step #1 – Create and apply naming conventions

Proper naming conventions provide a streamlined process for finding information. Although time-consuming, establishing naming conventions for assets, parts, documents, etc., is worth the effort because they help teams find the data they need more efficiently. Technicians can identify and locate assets, track inventory, locate documents and schematics, and put together reports in a snap. These elements help reduce downtime and labour costs.

When creating a naming convention strategy, make sure to include gaps in your identification method so you can insert new records, use consistent terminology, use letters as well as numbers and ensure naming conventions apply throughout the software for each module.

Step #2 – Gather and assign electronic documentation

The next step is to collect all the documentation available, including manuals, schematics, checklists, SOPs, etc., and assign them to assets, tasks and modules using the files tab. Having these resources available on the CMMS allows all members of the team to access the information remotely, effortlessly, and quickly. Having these documents in an online library can lead to time savings, reduced downtime, a safer work environment and consistency. Additionally, you will never have to worry about losing or damaging physical assets anymore!

For example, a maintenance manager can attach to a particular asset a link to a video explaining SOPs, as well as an exploded diagram. This can help technicians provide maintenance to the asset correctly and efficiently, without having to search the office for a manual or their phone for a video. Because time isn’t wasted on painstakingly finding the right resources, technicians can focus more on staying safe and improving asset reliability.

Step #3 – Create and optimize the work order process

Work orders are the next element to tackle when building a knowledge hub on Fiix’s CMMS. Once the process of creating work orders is established, it’s important to utilize the root cause analysis (RCA) module to optimize work orders by centralizing knowledge.

The RCA module allows technicians and maintenance managers to note the problem, cause and action for each work order. Having all this information in one place allows the team to run metrics over time and see how often a particular problem was due to a particular cause and what action was most effective. This allows maintenance managers to plan effective preventive maintenance and helps technicians solve problems quicker and easier.

Optimizing the work order process has all sorts of major benefits for a facility. It increases asset reliability, reduces downtime, cuts energy costs, makes audits easier and improves backlogs.

Step #4 – Make use of the calendar and scheduling modules

Using the scheduling feature is crucial for using centralized knowledge to your facility’s advantage. The calendar and scheduling modules on Fiix’s CMMS allow maintenance managers to schedule preventive maintenance and repairs on assets when there will be the least impact on production. Being able to view and add scheduled downtime for a piece of equipment in the software’s calendar helps bridge communication gaps and build a more effective preventive maintenance strategy that focuses on increasing asset reliability.

Step #5 – Collect and track health and safety records

Having all health and safety records in one place can not only make the workplace safer, but also make maintenance tasks easier and reduce costs.

Collect all staff certifications, training modules and safety documents in one place makes them searchable and accessible. This helps managers track the team’s requirements and possible deficiencies, keeps technicians safe, and cutting insurance premiums. Populating the health and safety module with detailed work records will help when an accident occurs and the facility is investigated. Having a record can mitigate fines. The module also allows users to take pictures and file them in the software. These photos, along with detailed records, highlight improvement and work processes to health and safety auditors.

Lastly, having these health and safety records stored on the module helps maintenance managers quickly asses which technicians have the required skills for certain tasks and assign those individuals to the proper work orders. This saves time and creates a more efficient system for tackling downtime, establishing a sustainable preventive maintenance strategy and improving asset reliability.

Step #6 – Set up and maintain a parts and supplies database

The ability to track all parts and supplies in one place on Fiix’s digital platform may be a complicated process, but once mastered, can be one of the most useful tools maintenance managers have for saving time and money.

Having all information on inventory in a central place is crucial to tracking how many parts are in stock, calculating the frequency of turnover, recording cycle counts and determining the location of necessary parts.

Having a well-maintained database of parts and supplies can have a huge short and long-term impact on productivity, costs and asset reliability. It allows for smarter purchasing decisions, more accurate budgeting, shorter repair times, more efficient preventive maintenance scheduling and more.

Step #7 – Create reports, analyze, repeat

The end game of creating any knowledge hub is to collect all the relevant data in one place, create maintenance reports and analyze the reports to establish more efficient processes and methods. Fiix’s CMMS reporting function allows users to aggregate data into meaningful reports and draw conclusions to provide impactful solutions.

For example, a report can be created about the meantime to repair for a single asset or group of assets. This allows users to identify persistent problems and challenges with these assets and create a strategy to optimize preventive maintenance tasks, reducing the mean time to repair.

Learn more about using digital maintenance tools to build  a knowledge hub and collect all your facility’s important information in one place:

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