Digital transformation continues to open new doors for streamlining processes, innovating faster, and improving the customer experience. And it’s had a significant influence on how companies run their asset and facility maintenance operations.
Digitizing maintenance through computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) solutions positively impacts the maintenance workforce. Companies are managing key assets differently to improve their operational and production effectiveness, and it’s delivering significant benefits to their bottom line.
The digital transformation of maintenance using CMMS and CAFM technology is also helping companies tackle some of their biggest business challenges. Let’s take a closer look at how they’re doing this.
Most organizations are battling tough trading conditions. Economic instability, rising operational costs, and increased material prices have affected profitability. In this climate, organizations are looking for ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency. And this improvement drive is pressuring maintenance teams to optimize asset performance and availability.
Replacing equipment comes at a cost which most businesses would prefer to defer until more predictable times. Maintenance teams are being told to prolong the lifespan of existing assets, which means ensuring those assets and their infrastructure are entirely reliable. This is where CMMS software plays a critical role.
If an asset breaks down, it could have a cascading effect on the entire operation. Planning when to regularly check and/or maintain a piece of equipment will prolong its lifespan, as maintenance teams can spot issues before they occur. Monthly checks, quarterly maintenance, and annual overhauls are reducing failures, increasing machine efficiency, improving productivity, and enhancing the effectiveness of maintenance teams.
Of course, managing these programs is complex work. As a result, forward-thinking companies have moved away from using a calendar or spreadsheet to plan preventive maintenance schedules. Instead, they use digital CMMS platforms to manage their maintenance teams and regularly check assets.
Finding skilled people is a major challenge for many companies right now. By 2030, the global manufacturing industry is expected to experience a deficit of more than 7.9 million people. In the U.S., the manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030; the cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone.
With talented people in short supply, many companies are automating processes to drive production with a reduced headcount. McKinsey research has found that 85% of companies have embarked on digital transformation to increase their operational efficiency. But more machinery increases the workload of maintenance teams.
In light of a greater digital investment, operational leaders are looking for ways to better monitor and manage underprioritized areas such as asset maintenance. Industry leaders are now using CMMS systems with business intelligence tools such as Microsoft Power BI to combine data from their maintenance systems with information from other production systems. This integrated approach allows them to monitor the effectiveness of production lines.
CMMS software is also giving maintenance teams greater insight into their workforce, monitoring the effectiveness of shift teams, week by week. Gathering this type of data will allow companies to further reduce skills and efficiency gaps, and ensure they are retaining the right employee levels in their maintenance operations.
While profitability is a priority in the current fluctuating market, it’s not the only target. Many companies are also focused on reducing their environmental footprint. And maintenance plays an important role in helping firms lower their carbon footprint.
Streamlined asset and facility maintenance enables companies to identify inefficiencies and other technical issues more quickly. In fact, CMMS software solutions can empower maintenance teams to:
- Regularly monitor meter readings to understand and optimize energy consumption.
- Monitor waste for production line shifts.
- Reduce/remove paper-based systems such as permits and risk assessments.
- Closely manage maintenance team visits to reduce mileage, fuel use, and emissions.
- Improve machine maintenance to reduce production downtime and maximize energy efficiency.
- Increase the lifespan of equipment to reduce wastage/scrappage.
- Manage stock movements and purchasing to optimize availability and reduce transportation emissions.
Implementing CMMS software as part of an overall digital transformation strategy also helps bring operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) closer together. Well-integrated solutions improve data visibility, which enhances sustainable decision-making. It’s an example of how applying technology to business goals delivers a better result.
MERGING OF IT AND OT
We’ve touched on the close relationship between OT and IT for data collection and analytics. But there are other ways IT can help companies improve asset maintenance. For example, the transfer of data and controls between a CMMS system and an ERP system helps businesses to manage stock and purchasing processes without manual intervention or double keying entries.
CMMS software can also use data from other digital assets to operate more efficiently. Many CMMS users claim that close-coupling IT and OT systems using API technologies improves metrics and process automation. By establishing such connectivity, maintenance becomes a value-driving area rather than an expense. Operational teams can demonstrate and report on how CMMS software boosts efficiency, streamlines processes, and reduces waste.
Market conditions and company goals have turned asset maintenance into much more than a routine process. Today, companies can digitally transform their operations to influence how well they run and grow their profits. And operational teams can now be accountable to upper management, shareholders, and customers. Even organizations with well-established plans are taking a fresh look at asset maintenance. Modern systems and processes can help them overcome economic pressures and future-proof their business.
About the Author:
David Hernandez is the head of U.S. for Elecosoft based out of Elecosoft’s Houston, Texas office. Visit the Elecosoft website at www.elecosoft.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, January 2024
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