Coordinating CMMS and outsourced maintenance

Plant data integrity: Maintain the quality of CMMS data, no matter who's entering it.

In brief:

  • Trust your contractor as much as you trust your own people. If you don’t have that culture in your organization, then you shouldn’t think about outsourcing at all.
  • European factories have management systems that are combined with maintenance planning systems.
  • The key to deciding when an organization needs to outsource MRO is to start with good history and be able to analyze what’s gone on so far.

When an organization outsources the maintenance of its physical assets, it can have a variety of advantages and challenges that plants must recognize. Chief among them is maintaining the integrity of the data entered in the CMMS. But the system also can help to manage the contracted maintenance staff.

“When we put a contract together, we create standard operating procedures for how we work within a customer’s four walls,” explains Rob Bennett, product manager, Rockwell Automation Asset Management Portfolio (RAAMP), Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomation.com). “Many customers give us full access to their systems. I don’t create the POs or approve the quotes, but we are interacting within a customer’s system and doing the data entry. If a customer wants me to give a quote on a Rockwell repair, I can give a quote but offer other things that will help make a decision. Instead of just giving you a quote, I can email you or call and give options, such as last price paid, cost of buying a new product, price of repair or time to repair. There is value in having our people inside the system. A lot of companies are still lean from the downsizing and the resources haven’t been replaced, so there’s value in having us doing those other steps.”

The contractor has to work within your system, explains Magnus Pousette, vice president of reliability services in North America, Australia and New Zealand, ABB (www.abb.com). “Otherwise, data will be lost,” he says. “They will work within their own system, and this will cause duplication of efforts. You have to provide them access, but limit it somewhat. One first step is to trust your contractor as much as you trust your own people. If you don’t have that culture in your organization, then you shouldn’t think about outsourcing at all. If you don’t have the ability to trust other organizations, then it won’t work.”

Trust must be built between the organization and the MRO contactor, and it must be based on a defined set of operational or production and maintenance goals, says Dan Stedham, Asset Optimization (AO) Services global program manager, Operational Excellence/AO Services marketing manager, at Emerson Process Management (www.assetweb.com).

When an organization outsources the maintenance of its physical assets, it can have a variety of advantages and challenges that plants must recognize.

“Understanding our customers is what we do best,” says Stedham. “We take the time to systematically evaluate the customer’s situation and create a solution that provides value. We work alongside each user to set goals for their assets and for their organizations. As we implement new technologies or improved work practices, we are always working to support the goals we’ve mutually established. The trust builds as the progress shows improved availability and performance.”

European factories have management systems that are combined with maintenance planning systems, which go into a lot of technical detail, explains Andreas Reddemann, head of global service, SEW-Eurodrive (www.seweurodrive.com). “Many end users are introducing these IT systems and some OEMs are offering systems that can fulfill these tasks,” says Reddemann.

“Especially on a component level, an asset management tool becomes very complex, and therefore it involves a lot of work to record and maintain the data,” says Michael Herbort, business development for service, SEW-Eurodrive. “It is easier to implement an asset management tool on a system level. Components can be very complex — a gear motor alone, for example, can have around 250 technical features by which it can be described. These all need to be maintained in the software tool. In practice, it often makes more sense that the equipment operator maintains such tools. This ensures that data is properly maintained. If the MRO contractor were to maintain the tool, then a bidirectional interface between operator and MRO contractor would be necessary and the operator would have to inform the MRO contractor of all changes that he has made.”

CMMS can allow an organization to create a purchase requisition for the outsourced MRO services directly from within the work order, explains Russell Painter, senior business consultant, IFS North America (www.ifsworld.com/en-us). “This allows all of the cost to maintain the equipment, including any outsourced services, to be rolled up together through the work orders. IFS is flexible enough to execute corrective or preventive maintenance with internal resources or using outsourced resources.”

Using CMMS across multiple facilities and countries allows a company to leverage spare parts inventories across sites and also allows a true comparison of cost to maintain the equipment, says Painter. “It allows the standardization of key data elements for reporting KPIs, including RCA data, corrective and preventive maintenance costs, and mean time to restore (MTTR).”

The key to deciding when an organization needs to outsource MRO is to start with good history and be able to analyze what’s gone on so far, explains Paul Lachance, chief technology officer, Bigfoot CMMS (www.bigfootcmms.com). “You may be doing regularly scheduled date-based PMs,” he says. “Let’s say you have a conveyor system and you do a monthly PM because the vendor specification suggested this schedule. You can analyze the conveyor system based on miles the conveyor has moved or number of hours used, so you go on more of a usage analysis. You decide you can stretch that PM to six weeks, which is a more informed PM schedule. If you take the history of how you’re doing something and analyze it and apply it to your staff, and you analyze your work order history and rate of pay per maintenance mechanic, and your part costs, you now have a reference point to make a comparison between internal work orders or using outside services. You can also repeat this process with your outside contractors and the assets or work orders or PMs they do.”

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