Decoding maintenance software: How seven different types of maintenance software work

November 21, 2019

| 5 min read

Decoding preventive maintenance software: What it does and how to use it

Repairing broken equipment is part of maintenance, but when you’re dealing with slim resources, preparing for audits, compiling reports, and more, it can seem like all you’re doing is putting out fires. Leaning too heavily on reactive maintenance can have big consequences, from more downtime to losing millions of dollars. At the same time, establishing preventive maintenance can be tough when your team and budget are under constant stress.

Luckily, you’re not alone when it comes to battling reactive maintenance— there is a wide array of technology that can help teams establish a sustainable preventive maintenance program.

Leaning too heavily on reactive maintenance can have big consequences, from more downtime to losing millions of dollars.

Types of preventive maintenance software

Preventive maintenance software comes in all shapes and sizes, from extremely specialized systems like hotel preventive maintenance to giant platforms connecting maintenance to other business units.

Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS)

CMMS software and maintenance apps help maintenance teams easily keep a detailed and centralized record of all assets, equipment, and work. It allows facilities to plan, track, and optimize everything to do with maintenance, from work orders to inventory.

The primary duties of a CMMS include:

  • Automating work orders
  • Scheduling work
  • Workflow process and management
  • Resourcing and routing
  • Providing operating and repair guidance
  • Creating a record for reporting and auditing

A CMMS manages all maintenance activities during the operational part of an asset’s life—all the time that it’s working as a productive part of a facility.

All CMMS software can be divided into two groups: Cloud-based CMMS software and on-premise CMMS software. We took a deeper dive into the differences between the two types of CMMS, and the pros and cons of each system here.

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Enterprise asset management (EAM)

EAM software provides a holistic view of an organization’s physical assets and infrastructure throughout their entire lifecycle, from design and procurement, to operation, maintenance, disposal, and replacement. EAM systems record asset information, manage work orders, coordinate inventory purchasing and usage, organize labour, track contracts, measure costs and spending, and calculate KPIs.

Preventive maintenance software: Comparing CMMS and EAM

Asset performance management (APM)

An APM solution ties many different and advanced software tools and applications together, like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), to improve the reliability and availability of assets, plants, equipment systems, and infrastructure. Tools, like IoT and AI, collect and coordinate real-time data to continuously track the value and risks from current operations, inventories, and production outputs.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Here’s how ERP software works: every company has different business units that make it function, like accounting, human resources, and maintenance. ERP software takes everything these different departments do and connects them, so the entire organization has the same processes and information.

Because there is one, central place for all data, it means an accountant, a salesperson, a maintenance technician, and a CEO can all use the system for their day-to-day activities while relying on the same information to plan, assess, and complete those activities. By collecting transactional data from multiple sources, ERP systems eliminate data duplication, offers data integrity, and provides a single source of truth.

While it’s not exactly maintenance software, ERP systems are part of the larger maintenance technology ecosystem. It’s important for maintenance technology to be able to integrate with an ERP system to help keep accurate inventory levels, and keep your finance team in the loop.

Preventive maintenance software: How an ERP works

Manufacturing execution system (MES)

MES software controls all the activities occurring on the production floor, from receiving customer orders, to scheduling work, managing resources, and the actual production, to create items in the quickest, most low-cost, and high-quality way possible. The core functions of an MES system include data collection and acquisition, scheduling, staff and resource management, process management, performance analysis, and document management. The data collected by an MES allows decision-makers to understand the current settings of the factory floor and better optimize the production process.

SCADA systems

Although SCADA systems, and other data collectors (like PLCs), aren’t technically a preventive maintenance software, they are factoring more and more into maintenance. Understanding how these devices work is crucial to getting accurate and useful data from equipment that can be used to fine-tune maintenance tasks.

SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition. SCADA systems are a collection of software and hardware elements that allows manufacturers to control industrial processes by monitoring and processing real-time data from devices (like sensors, pumps, or motors), and recording events into a log file.

The process starts with microcomputers that collect information from an array of assets, sensors, and software. This information is centralized, processed, and displayed to users, who makes decisions based on the data.

Every piece of technology is the master of its domain…A CMMS reigns over maintenance, making everything from work orders to inventory management easier and measurable.

For example, a SCADA system can notify an operator of defects in a batch of product. The operation can be paused, the SCADA viewed, and the issue identified and fixed. The main goal of SCADA systems is to maintain efficiency, encourage data-driven decisions, and communicate system issues.

Other maintenance technologies

There are a host of other maintenance technologies used in asset-heavy, production and manufacturing facilities. These technologies can be utilized with or without the solutions mentioned above.

3D printing can be valuable for creating spare parts that are needed, but not readily available, and build moulds or tooling used in manufacturing spare parts.

Embedded sensors on equipment can provide information about the condition and performance of assets, such as temperature, vibration and volume. The data is used to spot early stages of disrepair and prompt intervention.

Virtual reality and augmented reality can help train new technicians and improve on-the-job performance. VR and AR allow technicians to practice in a safe environment, cut their learning curve, reduce the cost of training, and speed up repairs.

Video transmissions are helpful in training circumstances and tricky repair situations while wearable technology allows technicians to scan equipment, relay messages, make notes, call for help, and access instructions from anywhere.

Where does maintenance software fit in at your facility?

Every piece of technology is the master of its domain. For example, an ERP is great at coordinating data and processes at the highest levels of an organization, while MES software is the cream of the crop when it comes to managing and measuring throughput. A CMMS reigns over maintenance, making everything from work orders to inventory management easier and measurable.

However, these systems are far less effective when they operate as lone wolves. If software doesn’t work together, you’ll never have the full story. For example, if an ERP and a CMMS can’t talk to each other, the purchasing department will have a hard time ordering the right inventory and the maintenance department won’t be able to accurately track the spare parts budget. Whole teams are thrown into chaos and the company loses money. That’s where software integration becomes crucial.

Using integrations to get the most from preventive maintenance software

When you integrate software you build bridges from one system to another so they can share information and work together. CMMS software is the keeper and coordinator of maintenance data and tasks. When it’s connected to other software, it can swap information back and forth. Maintenance is not only improved, but so too are the decisions of every part of the organization.

However, these systems are far less effective when they operate as lone wolves. If software doesn’t work together, you’ll never have the full story.

For example, an equipment sensor can track the real-time condition of an asset and relay this information to a SCADA system. The SCADA system takes this data, analyzes it, and determines if the asset is deteriorating. If it is, an alert is sent to a CMMS, which creates a work order, preventing a breakdown. The spare parts used in the work order are logged on an ERP system, providing maintenance, purchasing, finance, and other teams with the same data to make better decisions.

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What preventive maintenance software is right for you?

When looking for a preventive maintenance software, it’s important to remember that just buying a system isn’t enough—you’ve got to get a system that will be used by the entire team. Without total buy-in, technology will not function the way it’s supposed to and the results will be underwhelming. That’s why every team needs to assess its needs, goals, budget and work culture to determine which technology or combination of systems will make the most impact. If this seems a little overwhelming for you, our CMMS buying guide is a great place to start. It will help you understand your needs, get organized quickly, and find the best software for your business.

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