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Condition-based Maintenance With CMMS Programs

May 24, 2011
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Condition-based maintenance (CBM) is a form of proactive maintenance that predicts when equipment failure will occur.

Unlike failure-based maintenance, which is initiated after tools and equipment have broken or are ultimately non-functioning, CBM can save facilities money by preventatively maintaining property before it stops working properly — something that causes downtime and hinders employee productivity.

In this age of strict budget constraints and doing more with less, CBM allows facilities to prolong investments by sending messages or alerts to computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) programs, which allow custodians and maintenance personnel to take corrective action and avoid costly equipment and infrastructure failure.

Is CMMS Right For You?

Simply put, yes.

CMMS can assist facility managers and building service contractors (BSCs) in keeping track of maintenance schedules, service contracts, reports and equipment and product inventories — all in one easy-to-use, centrally located program.

“Total revenues within our division have more than doubled in the past two years, and we credit our success to [CMMS],” declares Scott Murray, manager of the Aviation Division at ISS Facility Services Inc.

Moreover, “CBM is definitely applicable to all types of facilities and any organizations that want to eliminate equipment failures before they happen,” states Roger Davies, director of sales for Thinkage Ltd. “Rather than continuously changing parts in an asset because you ‘think'' it is going to fail — a preventive maintenance approach — CBM lets you know the asset ‘is'' going to fail, allowing you to take corrective measures before the failure occurs.”

Next Oil Change

Similar to how a motor vehicle notifies its driver of low oil pressure or of some other malady pertaining to the engine, CMMS, too, alerts users of potential breaches in equipment or building operation.

“Some important features of CMMS are CBM audits, work orders and scheduling CBM to be performed on a consistent basis,” proclaims Michael Jenkins, president of CleanBrain Software Inc. “When you get an oil change for your car, it is common practice to have a sticker that you put right on your inside windshield telling you when you should get your next oil change. [Similarly, CMMS programs] provide detailed CBM audits, work orders and maintenance schedules with notification reminders so CBM is never missed and equipment/assets are maintained optimally.”

Because CMMS monitoring is continuous, facility managers do not need to keep track of weekly, monthly or quarterly maintenance schedules and instead can focus their time and attention on more pressing tasks.

“CBM can reduce the need for traditional maintenance and free up resources for priority work,” notes Dave Griffiths, manager at CWorks Systems Inc.

It is important to note that CBM does not replace all traditional preventative maintenance, but instead provides another invaluable tool for maintenance managers looking to optimize their maintenance efforts.

An Intelligent Investment

According to Jenkins, there is an old adage, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

“This adage is true in many ways,” continues Jenkins. “If you wear the equipment/asset out, you may have to do without. Proper CBM will prolong the life of assets so they don''t ‘wear out'' as fast, so you don''t have to ‘do without.'' It could actually be a lot more expensive waiting until something breaks down.”

Because a CBM program can predict when equipment will cease optimum operation or when infrastructure will break — a leaky roof, worn carpeting, etc. — equipment downtime and expensive restorative repairs can be avoided.

When tools and equipment reach a predetermined level of wear, CMMS will automatically generate a work order, which enables the asset to be recalibrated or repaired before operations are negatively affected — saving valuable time and money and relieving staff of unnecessary stress.

As Davies opines, the old way of performing maintenance was to implement preventative maintenance on everything.

This is, however, not the ideal approach and many companies quickly discovered that they were wasting time, money and other valuable resources.

“Fixing assets only when you knew they were going to break made more sense,” adds Davies. “This is the CBM approach.”

All too often, CBM is lessened or eliminated altogether with the hope of saving money.

These efforts are marginal and usually cost more over time than they immediately save.

Would You Like A Tutorial With That?

As with any new concept foreign to one''s knowledgebase, some level of training is necessary to properly understand, implement and utilize that concept to its full potential.

Individuals need to be proficient in analyzing reports and graphs generated by CMMS programs so their CBM remains consistent and representative of actual conditions.

“You also need to understand that you could have two identical assets, but each one may have a different maintenance approach because of its operating context,” says Davies.

Luckily, many companies providing CMMS programs include training and customer service as part of their service offerings.

This value-added service allows for hands-on training in real-world situations that familiarize users with the various functions of their CMMS program.

“A CBM program is vital in this economy, and using CMMS can help save a company a lot of time and money,” concludes Jenkins.

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