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By David Berger, P.Eng., contributing editor
Many CMMS vendors provide a healthy balance of functionality that comes out of the box as a core CMMS offering and functionality obtained through seamless integration with CMMS partner software. As technology matures, features and functions that were at one time available only through CMMS partners are eventually built into the core product of many CMMS vendors. At the same time, new partners that found innovative ways to exploit emerging technology appear on the scene. And so the cycle continues. Consider these examples of the wide range of CMMS partner software applications and services available today.
This software is one of the fastest-growing third-party products available to CMMS users. It’s typically sold either as a partner solution, fully integrated with a given CMMS package or as a stand-alone package. Reliability software can include one or more of the following features.
Criticality analysis: This functionality helps users determine and record the assets and components that are critical to operations. “Critical” means that, if failure occurs, the consequences are substantial in terms of effect on customer service, product quality, financial health, employee health and safety, the environment, regulatory compliance and community relations.
Failure analysis: Users can gather data, develop statistics, perform Pareto analysis and run reports on the extent and nature of failures for a given asset class, asset or component.
Root-cause analysis (RCA): Partner vendors offer a variety of tools such as cause and effect diagrams to help determine the root cause of costly failures, so that users might prevent their recurrence.
Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA): This technique is used to determine how an asset or component might fail — the possible failure modes — and what the likelihood and severity of the consequence might be.
Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM): This procedure builds on FMEA in that the most cost-effective maintenance policies are determined to predict, prevent or react to a given failure mode.
Lifecycle analysis: Users can determine the total cost of ownership of an asset class; asset type sorted by age, vendor or size; and component. This is useful for determining repair/replace decisions or for vendor selection for replacement purchases.
“Millions of dollars are at stake in better integrating software applications that can manage an asset throughout its lifecycle, from engineering design, procurement, and construction, to operations, maintenance, and disposal.”
For at least as long as CMMS software has been around, there’s been an abundance of plant automation options available. This includes hardware and software to monitor and control specific production equipment, the product itself, any relevant production processes and the surrounding environment, including facilities. As well, shop-floor data collection systems can be included as plant automation — time and attendance systems, asset tracking and locating systems.
Plant automation vendors are critical partners for the CMMS world because they deliver predictive maintenance (PdM) or sophisticated condition-based maintenance (CBM) functionality. It’s not surprising that during the past decade or so there has been increased partnering and even merger activity between some CMMS vendors and a few of the large plant automation vendors that recognize the incredible value that asset management software can bring to their suite of software products.
A few calibration software vendors have recognized the importance of integrating their applications with CMMS packages. In fact, some calibration software vendors have expanded their product offerings to include CMMS functionality, while some CMMS packages have added fully integrated calibration modules. However, there are still several vendors selling stand-alone calibration packages that have formed partnerships with CMMS vendors, offering access to advanced features such as tracking calibration sequences, test point data, tolerances, process control limits, “as found” results, “as left” results, action taken and calibration status.
Infrastructure assets such as roads, bridges, sewers, and water mains require regular inspections and risk assessment as a means of CBM. Historically, managers of these assets have sought applications unique to their industry, for example, a pavement management system for roads or pipeline integrity software for gas pipelines. As these industries mature and as regulators demand more sophisticated analysis and reporting capability, companies are looking to integrate these specialized applications into their work order management systems. This has facilitated the partnering of specialized risk assessment software vendors with CMMS vendors that have linear asset capability. Users are then able to gather a detailed history of inspections and work orders associated with points on the assets.
Another critical application linear asset managers require is a geographic information system (GIS). Most CMMS vendors that offer linear asset functionality have at least one strong GIS vendor partner relationship. This facilitates the recording and displaying of linear assets on a map, complete with GPS coordinates, mile post references, from/to reference points, closest main intersection, adjoining address and other geographic-based asset/component references. Users can then link history to points on a map and conduct sophisticated searches such as reporting on work orders issued for sticky valve problems during the past five years, within a given polygon drawn on the GIS map.
Most CMMS packages don’t have a robust enough document management capability for large multinational customers. Thus, some of the more sophisticated CMMS vendors prefer to partner with document management software vendors that help users store and keep track of electronic documents and images of paper documents. This includes version control, user annotations and cataloguing capability.