How to use your CMMS to go green(er)

David Berger says use your CMMS to set targets for improved energy use, and track your progress.

By David Berger

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For most companies, a strong business case exists for decreasing waste, cutting energy and water consumption, minimizing transportation costs, curtailing emissions, and/or undertaking other environmentally beneficial initiatives.

Before your company spends a lot of money on certification programs, public relations campaigns, or consultant reports, consider how you can use systems like your CMMS for creating key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your business, setting reasonable targets, and executing an action plan for achieving them. Let’s look at some specific ways in which your CMMS might help you manage energy costs and meet environmental goals.

Energy management

The greatest cost of an asset stems from the “operate and maintain” stage of its lifecycle. On average, this accounts for roughly 80% of the total cost of ownership. During this stage of the asset lifecycle, one of the largest cost categories is the energy consumed by the asset.

Your CMMS will let users set improvement targets and track their progress. Some more-modern CMMS packages can track energy consumption – not unlike the metering of any asset for condition-based maintenance. This may require the addition of metering capability for individual assets, as many companies rely on utility companies to meter only site-level energy consumption.

Once individual assets are metered for energy consumption, data can be analyzed on a detailed basis. This allows for the following:

  • Use of condition-based monitoring, such as detecting equipment downtime, power surges, brownouts, and other important triggers
  • Correlation of other factors, such as aging and wear factors and prediction failure or other significant events
  • Analysis of peak, average, and total consumption
  • Translation of consumption volumes into dollar values
  • Use of lifecycle analysis to compare total cost of ownership for older equipment with costs for newer, more energy-efficient equipment
  • Validation and better understanding of utility bills.

Waste management

Three basic goals of any Lean Six Sigma improvement program are to reduce non-value-added activities, minimize variation in processes and products, and eliminate waste. A CMMS system is an invaluable tool for ensuring these are met, as through the following:

  • Pareto analysis on cause and action codes for work orders resulting from quality problems or unexpected downtime
  • Development of a work program complete with standardized and optimized job plans detailing how assets are to be operated and maintained
  • Condition monitoring to ensure minimal variation in processes and products and triggering of maintenance work orders if something trends outside control limits
  • Schedule compliance reporting to ensure the work program is executed on time, thereby minimizing the risk of variation, waste, and non-value added activities such as unexpected downtime.

Operators should be trained on not only how to operate equipment properly but also how to recognize and possibly even remediate anomalous findings, such as unusual noises, vibrations, or gauge readings. Maintenance can then be dispatched, or operators may be able to quickly make appropriate adjustments to reduce the risk of variation, waste, or downtime.

As assets become more complex and smarter, the lines between operators and maintainers continue to blur. This is why many companies have merged the two roles with titles such as “production technician.” Some companies also have adopted Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) principles, pushing much of the responsibility for adjustments, inspections, and minor maintenance to operators. TPM has been growing in popularity over the past 20 years, albeit slowly.

Facilities management

Almost all businesses require some level of facilities management. Building operations account for about 75% of electricity consumed in the United States, about 50% of U.S. energy consumption by sector, and more than 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by sector, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (2012). This sector is targeted for significant improvement in the next decade, via the design and construction of new facilities that have a much smaller carbon footprint.

Existing facilities can take a variety of steps to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Modern CMMS packages can assist in this regard as buildings are simply one of five asset classes (i.e., production equipment, facilities, fleet, infrastructure, and technology assets). Here’s how an advanced CMMS can help:

  • The system will generate and track a facility condition index (FCI), used to assess a building asset’s condition. The FCI is defined as the ratio of renewal cost in a given year to the replacement cost of an asset converted to a percentage (i.e., facility is in good condition if FCI <5%, and in critical condition if FCI >20%).
  • The CMMS integrates with building management systems to better operate and maintain safety, electrical, and mechanical systems. Work orders are generated if systems or components trend outside normal operating conditions.
  • CMMS dashboards monitoring energy consumption and carbon emissions can be used to observe the effects of improvement initiatives, such as lowering room temperatures, increasing insulation, or mounting solar panels.

Transportation management

Fleet or mobile assets such as trucks and rail cars can contribute substantially to your carbon footprint. More-sophisticated CMMS packages have features unique to fleet assets, including the ability to track the following:

  • Fuel consumption rate
  • Tire pressure, as this relates to energy efficiency
  • Vehicle mileage, use, and real-time operational status
  • Wear measure history and analysis of tires, brakes, etc.

Supplier management

Whether your company is large or small, you can encourage (or require) your suppliers to adopt best practices related to reducing their carbon footprint (and in turn your costs). You also can give preference to suppliers that promote green products, produced locally at prices competitive with offshore sources (i.e., minimizing transportation). Most CMMS packages today have the ability to track supplier history, and create a scorecard to rate your suppliers using multiple, user-definable criteria (e.g., quality of a supplier’s energy management program).

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