The nature of economies of scale is simple on the surface: as you scale up production, your costs go down. The truth of this belies one of the most important problems that occur in larger companies – as your production scales up, so too does complexity.
This complexity is handled in a myriad of ways, from expanding your corporate hierarchy to incorporate more teams and management, to incorporating process automation. CMMS (computerized maintenance management systems) are one way you can automate processes – in this case, the management of equipment and inventory maintenance.
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What Is CMMS?
CMMS, sometimes known as preventive maintenance software, helps you organize, track, and automate maintenance-related activities. Some systems also incorporate predictive analyses, allowing you to better understand the costs of repairing or replacing a given piece of equipment or inventory.
Generally, CMMS functionality can be divided into four categories:
- Workflow management. This includes assigning personnel to jobs, be they preventive maintenance, equipment repair, and/or equipment inspection. Depending on the software, work may be assigned automatically, with the work order texted to the party responsible for the work.
- Asset management. This tracks when equipment has been purchased, the last time it was serviced, how long the warranty on the equipment lasts, its maintenance and repair history, and more. Some CMMS software can predict the next time a repair is likely to be necessary, and the average lifespan of the equipment.
- Inventory management. Tied to asset management, this tracks where equipment and machinery are located, as well as where tools and other maintenance equipment, like spare parts, are stored.
- Legal/safety management. Tracks permits, inspections, contracts, and other key documents for ease of access in case of regulatory or insurance-related inspections.
As you can see, CMMS does a lot of heavy lifting. Back in the day, you would have had to track all of this information manually, through some combination of pen, paper, and spreadsheet software. There are a lot of disadvantages to tracking maintenance that way:
- It takes a lot of time
- You have to pay people to do it
- Data tracking is prone to human error
- All of the data you’ve tracked might be located in different areas, making it difficult to access
CMMS solves all of these problems: Preventive maintenance can be scheduled automatically. You can put out a work order for repairs with the push of a button. Instead of paying someone to do all of this work, each relevant employee can be given access to parts of or all of the CMMS, allowing them to call for repairs or manage inventory at-need.
The chances for error are greatly reduced because the amount of bulk, rote work that needs to be done by any one party is reduced, eliminating mental exhaustion. All of the data is both centralized (because it’s accessed through one service) and decentralized (because the service is digital and can be accessed from anywhere).
CMMS for Larger Companies
CMMS is easy to implement for larger and growing companies. These services are modular, allowing you to add, modify, and delete inventory on the fly. That means that even if your company has multiple branches throughout the world, inventory added in any one space can be inputted into the collective tally. The locations of service technicians can be monitored, so techs from a given region are automatically assigned relevant work orders. Should one area be missing equipment or spare parts, excess equipment can readily be transferred from one region to another, and these location changes will be automatically tracked.
Larger companies are also more likely to benefit from the incremental benefits that CMMS can provide. Imagine you have only a single piece of equipment that needs maintenance. CMMS would be a money losing proposition, because a single person could track maintenance for that piece of equipment, and the benefits you’d gain from having a predictive preventive maintenance schedule would be erased by the costs of the CMMS.
Conversely, large companies with huge stores of equipment and spare parts will see all kinds of benefits: Every cent that you save by keeping up on preventive maintenance or by replacing machinery before repairs become too costly, adds up. These incremental benefits are multiplied by the amount of equipment and staff you have. While CMMS can be very useful for small businesses, it’s at its best in large operations. The bigger your company is, the more useful CMMS is.
Choosing a CMMS
Every CMMS is going to offer you similar core functionality, but there are all types of different features that you might look into. Some of them offer predictive analyses, some don’t. Some cost more than others. Each service has a different interface, and you might find one is more user-friendly than another.
To advise you on exactly which CMMS to use is outside the scope of this post. Instead, we recommend trying a number of different CMMS companies yourself, and decide which one you like best. Do your research. Many of these companies offer free trials so you can get acquainted with their system, interface, and features before committing fully.
Is CMMS Right For My Business?
To answer this question, think about how much equipment and maintenance inventory you need to manage. Think about how many hours of labor you put into maintaining equipment. You should be able to add those numbers up and determine if the time and labor savings of a CMMS are enough to make it worth the cost. For most large companies, getting a CMMS is very worthwhile.
After all, you want to build a business that stands out. That means finding every efficiency that you can, so you can pour your energy into other projects that add value to your business and to the world. Business process automation is here, and getting a CMMS is only one of the many ways you can automate. The more rote, repetitive, and error-prone labor you can automate, the more your team can focus their efforts on making your company’s dreams a reality.
Christie Simon is a writer based in Canada. She writes articles with a focus on marketing and entrepreneurship for a variety of businesses. Some of her favourite pieces can be found on the Funeral Home Marketing website.