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2 software solutions for maintenance activities

2 software solutions for maintenance activities
In today’s world with the advancement in technology, skillsets and production demands, the industries are evolving daily with new features and tools to remain competitive. One of them is plant maintenance activity which is crucial for any business to get the maximum performance from the equipment to achieve the end results. In earlier days plant maintenance was performed manually by detailing, planning and recording in papers and files. This was a tedious process to dig into the right documents to get the equipment maintenance history, take actions and keep the equipment in operation effectively during breakdowns.
Over the years with experience new tools & software’s were developed and with continuous introduction of new functionalities have resulted in various software packages like SAP PM and various CMMS.
In the specific in this article, I compare 2 software solutions for the maintenance activities of machinery and production lines. The most known SAP PM (today part of SAP EAM) that the majority of the big worldwide organization are using for their maintenance task, and the CMMS software off the shelf that can be adopt by small and medium size company with very low investments.

SAP Plant Maintenance (PM) component is a part of the SAP ERP system. It is a tool used by the maintenance division of a plant to execute maintenance activities. All the activities like maintenance planning, repairs, resource planning, materials, costing can be performed in this module. To perform these activities plant maintenance contains following submodules:
  • Equipment master record and management of technical objects;
  • Planning of maintenance task;
  • Manage workflow notification and work orders.
SAP PM manages the core function of plant maintenance such as:
  • Inspection: checking the actual condition of an equipment;
  • Repairs: activities performed to restore the equipment to the ideal condition;
  • Preventive Maintenance: activity to maintain the availability of an equipment, includes maintenance planning and work scheduling.
SAP PM module is integrated with other modules in SAP ERP like Finance, Materials Management, HR, Quality Systems, Sales & Distribution. Because of the integration whenever a maintenance activity is planned, the complete process is executed smoothly. Like a work order notification is issued for a particular equipment maintenance activity. This will require materials, labour, costing to be done. Hence the respective function modules of Materials Management, HR, Finance, etc in turn gets triggered with various requests during the work order process and finally when the work order is closed the complete details as to maintenance cost involved can be evaluated.
In SAP PM the maintenance notifications will be generated automatically as per schedule and also can be manually triggered based on the situation. 

Work order notification process flow 

Features of SAP PM
- Breakdown maintenance: in SAP PM, when there is a malfunction of any of the equipment, which requires a response from Maintenance team, the process of correcting this situation is known as Breakdown maintenance.
- Corrective maintenance: corrective maintenance contains all the process steps to improve malfunctions or observations reported by operator or technician about an equipment, which is not performing to its optimal requirement and necessary corrective actions, is required. 
- Preventive maintenance: in Preventive maintenance there are task lists defined in advance, which are sequence of activities to be performed. These task lists ensure the job is done as per mentioned in work order step by step. Against each task the status is updated of action performed, so that the maintenance is performed efficiently. The problems in a plant can be recorded in this work order for future analysis. The materials and labour required for the activities can be planned as the workorders notify the same in advance and costing can be done.
- Maintenance planning: maintenance planning in SAP PM is used to avoid any equipment breakdown or production breakdown. It is used to represent inspection, preventive maintenance and repairs for which you plan time and scope of work in advance. By performing effective maintenance planning, you can remove the breakdowns, which can result in environmental hazards. Maintenance planning component is integrated with different components of other modules and subcomponents in Plant Maintenance such as Maintenance task lists, Maintenance orders, Maintenance notifications, Work clearance management. There are various components of Maintenance Planning that integrates with other modules such as Quality Planning and Material Management.
- Equipment Master Record: SAP PM is completely designed around master data, which stored in and manipulated in centralized master data tables. Master Data types in PM include equipment, functional location, class (specifications for objects), characteristics, task lists, catalogue (data about maintenance history in codes), construction types (materials BOM), measuring points, and counters (captured data about equipment use, such as wear and tear or consumption). The master data is used to create transactional data in the SAP ECC, such as creating a maintenance record in PM and purchase order for spare parts in MM.
- Information system: plant maintenance information system consists of Information Structure, Standard Analysis, Characteristics and Key Figures, and KPI’s such as MTTR/MTBR. All these information and data lead and help the Maintenance Manager to stay aligned to the maintenance strategy he has to execute and guarantee for respecting maintenance budget and OEE of the machinery.

Summing up SAP PM offers valuable help for the following personas:
  1. Maintenance team to keep and improve the equipment performance. It provides records of maintenance activities planned, spare parts forecast, status of execution, budget planning, and KPI’s to check and control the execution of the maintenance strategy;
  2. Production team to manually trigger emergency action or maintenance on equipment’s that are deemed to disrupt production activities;
  3. Buyer team to get automatic purchase requisition for non-stock materials and spares requirements.
CMMS is Computerised Maintenance Management Systems used for the maintenance activities in a plant. There are many CMMS products available for small to big plant requirement, which in many cases are also customised to the particular plant based on their requirements and processes. It’s a database of maintenance operations being done in the plant, thus giving the maintenance team an instant data of the impending schedule, resources or materials required for effective maintenance. The tool is also used by the management to get the maintenance cost, the overall returns on equipment maintainability versus the breakdown repairs cost, thus giving an insight to budget allocation. CMMS can provide status reports and maintenance activities to be performed.

CMMS packages can be installed at client systems or also can be cloud based where the package developer has a server located. CMMS includes modules for asset management, work order management, preventive maintenance management, materials management, reporting.
The tools are developed in a user-friendly layout, with simple and effective UX where at the press of a click, it can navigate to the required page.

Maintenance departments typically use CMMS as their main maintenance software where the team strength is less, cost is a constraint, ease of managing a maintenance package is desired with less complexity, and they don’t want to integrate it with the company ERP (if they have one). It is a ready to use solution that can be used on the very first day of installation by the entire maintenance and production teams.
CMMS covers a wide range of functionality:
  • Manage work orders: CMMS’s features work order management where you can view the status of all your work orders -started, progress and done. Tracking of who’s assigned each work order and their status.
  • Plan preventive maintenance: schedule regular maintenance before equipment breaks down on any and all assets that need it. Preventive maintenance can be carried out following the calendar or the time of use of the machine. In addition, maintenance activities can be provided by the OEM of the machine or can be defined by the maintenance team based on the actual experience of the machine.
  • Monitor assets: CMMS incorporates asset management features which can track purchase dates, warranty information, asset specifications, expected lifetime and service history. With these details an equipment can be analysed as to when maintenance is required and history provides the nature of breakdowns related with this equipment.
  • Manage labour: CMMS can schedule maintenance workers for shifts and specific tasks during the shifts.
  • Track inventory: CMMS manages inventory of spare parts. For a particular equipment maintenance, in advance it can provide details of parts used to repair and perform maintenance on your equipment and other assets. This functionality allow to optimize the level of spare parts stock with obvious benefit on working capital issue.
  • Improve ROI: With all the above features integrated into a CMMS software there is savings on every front and hence early return on investment in the package. Usually the investment for a good CMMS is very low. The most important investment is in redefining the maintenance processes for the complete and systematic use of the tool.
  • Mobile Access: This is the latest features provided by many a package to give you details on the go and close to the production line. Thanks to this functionality it is possible to provide information to the operators and maintainers working in the production lines, and to collect information on the state of health of the machinery coming from the field.

6 advantages of CMMS
  1. The features of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems all add up to several big savings for an organization.
  2. The maintenance team will be organised to attend to breakdowns and maintenance appointment reminders.
  3. Maintenance team can track and manage tools or equipment, having always available the history of maintenance and activities to be carried out in order to restore in the shortest possible time the optimal functioning of the machinery
  4. The CMMS offers dashboards and KPI's that allow to keep under control the different maintenance strategies (breakdowns, preventive, corrective, upgrades) making the best use of spare parts and labor budgets, as well as limiting the cost of production losses.
  5. Implementation of advancements, innovations and customisation is far easier, less complex, costs less as compared of doing the same in SAP PM
  6. CMMS is available in a variety of pricing packages from open source to premium. Depending on the industry, process and budget, the package can be customised. The systems can be hosted either on-site at location via hardware, hosted in the cloud via the vendor’s servers, or a combination of the two.
As of today, Artificial Intelligence AI and Industrial Internet Of Things IIOT will continue to bring advancements and innovations to the field of maintenance management. We are talking about Predictive maintenance that deserves dedicated articles we will explore soon in this blog.

Researched for articles come from different general websites and some from below mentioned:

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