CMMS data can encompass facilities, infrastructure, and vehicle maintenance

Feb. 18, 2003
It's possible to include facilities, infrastructure and vehicle maintenance in the scheme of things
Most computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) packages provide an extensive base of core features and functions. However, many companies want three additional areas, namely facilities, infrastructure and vehicle maintenance. Although the lines are blurring, especially on high-end CMMS packages, there still remains distinct features and functions specific to each.


The following are the more popular facilities-based features and functions to look for in a CMMS.

Tombstone data:

A facilities-friendly CMMS provides tombstone data templates. Each uses specific facilities-oriented fields such as:

Doors (size, type, lockset).

Lighting (fixtures, replacement bulb).

Windows (location, type, manufacturer, last clean date, last replace date).

Flooring (dimensions, material).

Painting (information for walls, ceilings and trim).

Although this information can, in theory, be shoehorned into many existing CMMS packages, facilities maintenance people find it far easier to use a package that comes with the proper fields and descriptors already established.

Area master:

Every CMMS package comes with an equipment hierarchy that allows users to build parent-child relationships. For facilities maintenance, the needs are not just for an equipment hierarchy, but for an area hierarchy. An asset such as walls cannot be inventoried in the same manner as a pump. It requires an area-based hierarchy such as building, floor, wing and room.

Because walls are continuous surfaces, it's up to the user to decide the level of detail. Should walls be recorded in terms of square feet, as separate surfaces per room, or as total wall surface for a given room, wing or building. Users in a plant environment usually are content to log facilities maintenance activity using a more generic asset such as "building," or they charge facilities maintenance work to a given area/department using a standing work order.

CAD link:

The more sophisticated facilities-based CMMS packages provide a link to commercial CAD packages to provide a visual complement to the area master. Detailed drawings for any asset at any level of the hierarchy can be accessed. Some CMMS packages restrict users to viewing the drawings, while more comprehensive packages allow users to annotate and edit drawings.

More vendors are simply using macros to launch into a popular third-party package, such as AutoCAD, from within the CMMS. The downside to this approach is that users must learn to use the third-party package to do anything more sophisticated than viewing the drawing.

One of the emerging and highly popular features of CMMS packages is drill-down capability. This is especially impressive when done graphically using "hot spots". For example, a list of assets in a given room can be pointed to on an area master, for subsequent drill-down to individual asset descriptions. Double clicking on a "hot spot" drills down to a more detailed drawing. Then, a single keystroke can return to the CMMS asset master file for detailed tombstone data and maintenance history.

Sub-system overlays:

In a facilities environment, there are a number of sub-systems that overlay onto the building. This includes electrical, mechanical, air, water and gas. For example, specific maintenance requirements for a given sub-system would allow users to trace electrical feeders from equipment back to the main electrical entry point. Recording this information in most plant-specific CMMS packages is possible only by using descriptive fields.

Specialty packages exist for some sub-systems, including roofing, security systems and HVAC. These can be stand-alone packages the equipment vendor bundles with the maintenance contract. Over the years, some vendor offerings have evolved into full-function, facilities-based CMMS packages.

Tenant management:

This refers to a separate module for tracking facilities maintenance done for tenants, ie., by suite. Some packages produce an invoice for chargebacks to tenants.

Condition-based preventive maintenance:

A notable difference between plant and facilities-based environments is the ratio of preventive to breakdown maintenance work performed. Maintenance shops within a plant environment tend to default to a fire-fighting mode, as production capacity requirements create constant pressure to keep the equipment operational. This leads to a CMMS that must accommodate a high percentage of breakdown maintenance.

Although the preventive maintenance (PM) module of plant-based CMMS packages are highly functional, they may not meet the demands of a facility. For example, PM for facilities requires a higher percentage of condition-based PM, not just the more popular time- or meter-based PM. Thus, PM is triggered by the condition of a roof, ceiling or other element. Sometimes this is the result of a human inspection, while in other cases it's captured via on-line sensors.

If a human inspector is involved, another complex feature required of a facilities-based CMMS is the ability to handle PM routing. This allows users to have one PM work order covering the inspection of a given area or the inspection of a given asset type. Then labor, parts, observations and follow-up breakdown maintenance requirements must be logged against an individual asset or across assets by some user-defined allocation.


This covers maintenance of roads, bridges, pipeline and the like. Although much of the facilities-based functionality described above is relevant to infrastructure maintenance, there are other critical features to consider. The most important relate to geographic information systems (GIS).

Some CMMS packages accommodate this need through tight integration with third-party GIS software, similar to what's done with CAD software. For example, users can view an asset plot plan that shows GIS locator references. Drilling down on any asset "hot spot" accesses further mapping detail, or users can flip to the corresponding asset detail.


To satisfy needs in this area, CMMS vendors have added functionality such as:

Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards coding built into the system.

Tracking fuel consumption, consumable use and vehicle mileage.

Analysis of fleet utilization.

Determination of environmental correlations, such as weather.

Analysis of wear history for tires, brakes, etc.

Reservation of vehicles.

Real-time operational status reporting of vehicles.

Contributing Editor David Berger is a principal with Western Management Consultants in Toronto, Canada. He is a certified Management Consultant and a registered Professional Engineer. He is Founding President of the Plant Engineering & Maintenance Association of Canada, past President of the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Society for Industrial Engineering, and a past Vice President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

About the Author

David Berger | P.Eng. (AB), MBA, president of The Lamus Group Inc.

David Berger, P.Eng. (AB), MBA, is president of The Lamus Group Inc., a consulting firm that provides advice and training to extract maximum performance, quality and value from your physical assets, processes, information systems and organizational design. Based in Toronto, Berger has held senior positions in industry, including for two large manufacturers, and senior roles in consulting. He has written more than 450 articles on a variety of topics such as asset management, operations management, information technology, e-commerce, organizational design, and strategy. Contact him at [email protected].

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