Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Saving Money With CMMS

September 19, 2010

Are you trying to save money?

Well, nowadays, who isn''t looking to find shortcuts and maximize spending for short-term gains?

One way facility managers can save — without having to cut corners — is by investing in software, particularly in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

As budget cuts continue to zero in on slashing maintenance costs, validating services is now more important than ever before.

"Historically, maintenance has lived in the basement and no one really cared about it," asserts Roger Davies, director of MainBoss for Thinkage Ltd. "But now with the economy the way it is, the management of controls and the concerns about liability are increasing, and building owners are starting to realize that maintenance does impact their bottom line substantially."

Cost-savings: Productivity

CMMS allows users to control, optimize and validate maintenance tasks and procedures.

According to Michael Jenkins, who is the president of CleanTelligent Software, CMMS can help facilities increase productivity and lower costs in several different areas.

"CMMS software gives companies the ability to easily measure performance," notes Jenkins. "With just a few clicks and/or a few barcode scans, you can measure time, quality and quantity of performance. Not only will you be able to correct deficiencies in services as they are found, but you will be able to monitor performance over time and make permanent changes that will bring about the most effective results from your employees, thus helping them be more productive."

And when evaluating the total cost of facility operations, including waste reduction and productivity, Jason Lanier, who is @hand Corporation''s vice president of products, notes other indirect savings.

When properly designed and implemented, Lanier says, CMMS solutions provide a means for paperless data capture, electronic collaboration among work teams and intelligent data mining to support forecasting activities.

"These capabilities can increase the ratio of preventive maintenance to corrective maintenance and this improvement has a direct relationship with reductions in equipment downtime and facility costs," adds Lanier.

Additionally, simply planning your maintenance duties can lead to a solid return on your investment.

Typically, planned maintenance is one-third the cost of unplanned maintenance.

Cost-savings: Liability

As mentioned earlier, CMMS can also possibly provide the validation that some businesses and facilities need for protection against frivolous lawsuits.

"If someone in a facility is hurt, for whatever reason, then hopefully the historical records in the CMMS can be used to show that maintenance was performed on a regular basis and/or inspected on a regular basis," says Davies. "If you can potentially reduce just one liability suit because your historical records show in the court that you did your due diligence properly, that is a huge benefit."

Public, high traffic facilities are not accident proof and a solid defense with the help of CMMS against such incidents as slip and falls is key to potentially winning the case.

CMMS might assist in providing such a defense, which is critical because the number of injury lawsuits filed as a result of a slip and fall accident, for example, has risen by more than 300 percent since 1980.

And, the average cost per lawsuit is approximately $50,000.

Cost-saving Features

Now that you''ve made a case for CMMS software and its related cost-savings, it is time to shop.

Although the software package offering is important, a reputable manufacturer partner is equally as vital.

An initial step is to do your homework by knowing your facility''s particular CMMS needs.

"About two-thirds of CMMS implementations fail," notes Davies, who adds that most of these cases were due to the buyer jumping in and not doing their research.

As examples, do you need a turnkey solution, a "plug and play" application or a more flexible, modular system?

"Turnkey solutions are appropriate for facility operations that lack information technology (IT) complexity and for customers who are willing to manage data according to the design of the CMMS system," notes Lanier. "Other customers [may] need a highly-configurable CMMS system and a dedicated mobile solution for field operations that can match their specific work processes."

Another important characteristic of CMMS software, continues Lanier, is alignment with industry standards and best practices, such as Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM).

Benefits, Trends And Issues

According to Jenkins, there are two main benefits that should be received from using CMMS software: Customer service and quality control.

For customer service, the CMMS software should include:

  • Trackable communication with e-mail integration
  • Customized surveys
  • Mass e-mailing capability
  • Customizable forms
  • Upper management escalation
  • Reports.

"For quality control, the software should include the ability to do on-site inspections, inspection completion, accountability and trends reports and job scheduling of services (daily and periodic)," adds Jenkins. "Other features would include time tracking, supply inventory, job costing, workloading and asset management. [And,] the CMMS software must be web-based and accessible 24/7."

Generally, the success of your CMMS program will depend on three variables: Your homework, your ability to integrate newer technologies and employee buy-in.

This product category is customer-driven and today''s customers want mobile, multi-faceted solutions.

"Going forward we can expect to see systems further integrated with location-based services and improved asset tracking technologies, like radio frequency identification (RFID)," says Lanier. "Also, we''ll see CMMS application components available on increasingly-intelligent smart phones and other mobile devices."

When it comes to whether or not to buy a CMMS package, the debate should be brief.

Today, there are very few people sitting on the fence, says Davies.

Instead, there are two camps.

One camp is recognizing the need for optimization, in order to cut costs, retain customers, help avoid lawsuits, etc.

The other camp is not willing to invest and make the call to inquire about CMMS, and would rather wait.

"But those calls will never be made," warns Davies, "because those are the companies that are not going to be around."