Asset management experts answer your questions

June 15, 2011
Our panel of industry experts says CMMS/EAM software can be a starting point for better plant maintenance decisions.

On May 26, David Berger, certified management consultant director of Western Management Consultants ( of Ontario, Canada, and a long-time contributing editor with Plant Services, and Michael Blalock, global industry director for energy and utilities at IFS ( participated in the Plant Services CMMS/Asset Management Software Webinar and discussed how companies are using the software to make better maintenance decisions.

Because of the overwhelming participation in the webinar, our experts were unable to answer all of the questions in the allotted time. Below are the answers to those questions.

Question: What percent of technicians’ time, as a group, should be spent on work orders?

Berger: Not sure exactly what your question means, but if you are asking what percent of a technician's time should be "wrench time," in my experience, industry targets are anywhere from 60 to 90% depending on many factors such as how spread out the facilities are, the nature of the work, the industry, level of safety and so on. I have witnessed actual average wrench time as low as 15%, but it's typically 30-45%.

Question: Does preventive maintenance equal blanket work orders in most instances?

Berger: Sometimes. Blanket work orders typically cover setups, changeovers, cleanup, minor lubes and inspections, and adjustments. You can also use blanket or standing work orders for small jobs under, say, 30 minutes to avoid having to complete a full work order for a 10-minute job.

Question: Do the more effect maintenance teams have a work order administrator, or does each tech do his or her own?

Berger: Each tech does his or her own. An administrator leads to double the work, more errors in interpretation and lack of buy-in for the tech.

Question: Can you give an example of the information you would take from the engineering/development part of the asset life cycle?

Blalock: Elements from the engineering design processes are critical for O&M support work later in the asset life, like the IEC 61346 plant structures and other plant objects such as cables, I/O cards, valves or even the buildings. This includes engineering documents and technical specifications, cross-references, cable/wire handling information and apparatus reports.

Question: By following the guidelines of the things you described as important in a CMMS can a program created in-house work, or does a purchased CMMS program function better to fulfill what a striving company needs?

Berger: It is rare for me to find a business in 2011 that can cost-justify the time and expenditure associated with developing an in-house CMMS. There are many reasonably priced and easily configurable commercial CMMS packages. Your requirements would have to be incredibly unique to argue that an in-house CMMS is the way to go.

Question: In your opinion what is the largest driving factor in a good PM program?

Berger: In my opinion, the largest driving factor in a good PM program is discipline — that is, the discipline to create meaningful and measurable PM procedures starting with the most critical assets/components, and the discipline to execute them as planned.

Question: How do you define "critical equipment"?

Berger: Assets or components are critical if, when they fail, there are catastrophic or near-catastrophic consequences that raise financial, safety, environmental or customer-service issues.

Question: There are many CMMS software packages out there at a variety of prices. Is it best to look at longevity along with which one best fits our needs?

Berger: Look for a CMMS solution with a good fit in terms of long-term technical requirements covering a minimum of five years out, and a great fit in terms of a long-term partnership with the CMMS vendor that will help you through implementation and beyond.

Question: Ive heard references regarding PAS 55 relating it to best practices. Is there a difference?

Blalock: Yes. There is a big difference. Maybe you’ve done the work and have established best practices in various areas of your organization, in your supply chain, in maintenance, in engineering, but if these are not coordinated in a framework that supports the corporate objective, that coordinates activities to the mutual end — your corporation’s strategic goals and mission — then it’s like listening to a symphony orchestra while they tune and warm up before the concert. While they are all certainly great at what they do, without using the same piece of music and a conductor, the results are not very pleasant.

Question: What are some of the most important features to look for in an I.T. PAS 55 and the new ISO standard?

Blalock: Well, remember that the system has to cover the entire lifecycle. So a system that focuses only on maintenance will not suffice. The ability to manage information across the lifecycle is required. Engineering design data regarding the asset, information from the capital construction project, supporting systems like procurements, supply chain and finance, are all important sources of critical asset information regarding events, specifications, data and history regarding your asset, as are tools to manage dissemination and collaboration for your stakeholders. So it is a long list of capabilities that are needed in addition to the traditional EAM to manage the one version of the truth. A broad-based enterprise solution, but one that supports all phases of the lifecycle, is the best place to start.

Question: What do you believe is the most critical element of those you discussed in your presentation for success with PAS 55 initiatives?

Blalock: I believe the most critical element is that of executive sponsorship, the need for a singular vision of asset policy that is harmonized with corporate strategy and resourcing. This is critical. Without it, and without the support needed to marshal your employees and stakeholders to a shared set of values and behavior, you’ll be left without the ability to deal with the needed change management issues or to make the initiative a living part of your business. Without executive support, PAS 55 would be just another set of dusty procedures setting on a shelf somewhere in the company that will not have the desired effects or benefits.