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Despite the uncertainty regarding the global economy, and the maturing of the computerized maintenance management system/enterprise asset management (CMMS/EAM) software industry, companies from every sector continue to upgrade, replace or buy new asset management software applications. This is especially true for asset-intensive industries because of the pressure to better manage ever-increasing asset lifecycle costs, while increasing the quantity and quality of production through greater asset reliability and performance. Another key driver appears to be the growing demands of regulatory bodies that seek tighter controls, greater accountability, and more detailed data capture and reporting.
Many senior management teams have come to the realization that, given the aging workforce being replaced across North America with younger, less experienced technical resources, modern knowledge management tools such as a CMMS/EAM are critical to help smooth the transition. These tools retain much of the knowledge lost when technicians and other maintenance staff retire or leave, for example, standard operating procedures and job plans, failure analysis data,diagnostic techniques and a complete asset history. Furthermore, younger technical resources have come to expect these tools, and are comfortable and proficient in their use.
There are 10 key trends in the industry, including important features and functions to consider if you’re contemplating the purchase of any CMMS/EAM products or services. Many of these features and functions are excerpted from the online Plant Services CMMS/EAM Software Review (www.plantservices.com/cmms_review), where you can directly compare the capabilities of a wide range of software packages.
1. Industry specialization
In the eyes of customers, one of the most important criteria in selecting a CMMS/EAM vendor and its products or services is the perception of how well vendors can demonstrate that they fully understand your business. This includes knowledge of your industry, asset classes, regulatory pressures, competitive challenges and even equipment. A large nuclear plant will have different CMMS/EAM needs than those of a small transportation company or a municipality.
Thus, if a vendor claims to specialize in a given industry, it should have experts on staff with deep experience working for companies in the customer’s industry. This facilitates developing features and functions that satisfy the needs of the industry, as well as configuring and implementing the software in a manner that fully exploits its potential. Examples of specialized functionality are calibration capability for Life Science companies, electronic signature for the food industry, Facility Condition Index (FCI) for university campuses, auto-polling of networked IT assets and help desk capability for IT maintenance service providers, and ability to handle compatible units and job estimating for the telecommunications industry. Other factors to look for in a CMMS/EAM vendor include:
Percentage of sales volume stemming from the specialty industry
- Number of customers in the industry
- An independent industry user group that meets on a regular basis
- An advisory council that provides input into the vendor’s product development
- Beta development programs to partner with the industry for product development
- A Web site specific to the industry presenting customer networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities
- Industry-specific newsletters
- Standard industry data like VMRS codes and equipment hierarchy for fleet management companies, oil and gas industry failure codes or aircraft industry problem/cause/action codes
2. Enterprise thinking
More companies, big and small, are looking for enterprise asset management solutions that span the needs of multiple departments, divisions and strategic business units. A typical mining enterprise, for example, might have one solution for maintaining production equipment at a given site, one for mobile equipment, another for managing multiple facility assets and yet another software solution for maintaining IT assets. Consider finding an enterprise-wide solution to help you think more strategically about managing your company’s assets.
This doesn’t necessarily require using a single software vendor for enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), human resource information system (HRIS), EAM/CMMS and other applications. There are excellent best-of-breed solutions for each of your asset management requirements that you should consider. Conduct a needs assessment and cost-benefit analysis to determine the best approach to managing your assets across the enterprise.