reactive maintenance

6 Maintenance Troubleshooting Techniques Made Simple with CMMS

by ManagerPlus on December 8, 2014

The biggest step a company can take toward minimizing unexpected equipment failure is to implement a thorough preventive maintenance routine using a Computerized Maintenance Management software (CMMS) like ManagerPlus. A proactive approach to routine maintenance tasks and inspections is the best way to catch problems when they’re small and take corrective action early, before full-blown breakdowns occur on the shop floor or jobsite.

But what about causes of equipment failure that can’t be easily prevented, like operator error and extreme weather? What can be done to limit the impact of these random causes of downtime?

CMMS solutions can help in these cases too. By centralizing critical equipment data, CMMS solutions make it easy to implement troubleshooting protocols that can help identify the cause of sudden failures, and mobilize the resources necessary to get equipment up and running quickly.

All you need is a solid framework to organize your troubleshooting. The Marshall Institute has established six key elements of maintenance troubleshooting that provide a good start. Here are some tips on how to implement them with a CMMS system.

1. Understand the system

It’s important that maintenance personnel have a solid understanding of the machinery that they’re working on in order to troubleshoot issues effectively. This means that operators must take detailed notes on what happened at the time of a breakdown—what sounds they heard, what they saw, what were they doing when the failure occurred, etc.

With ManagerPlus, an operator can use their phone or tablet to immediately submit a work request ticket with these critical details the moment that a piece of equipment goes down. An alert can then be automatically sent to a mechanic, who can view the work request on a computer, phone, or tablet, and view asset details and associated parts to ensure they will have everything they’ll need to get the equipment up and running quickly.

2. Understand the problem and history  

Context is vital when troubleshooting equipment failure. If a mechanic can easily see all of the historical work orders, inspections, and parts associated with a piece of equipment, it will be much easier to narrow down the possible causes of the failure.

In ManagerPlus, full historical records can be viewed for any piece of equipment, including past work orders and inspections, associated parts, and notes created by mechanics and operators. Manuals, pictures, links to web content, and other useful files can also be attached to equipment records in the system, eliminating time wasted tracking this information down.

3. Eliminate the obvious

The process of eliminating possible causes depends on the availability and accuracy of the information discussed in keys one and two. Combining details from the operator about the circumstances of the failure with information on the equipment’s maintenance and inspection history will make it much easier for the mechanic to zero in on the cause of the issue.

Schedule groups can be created in ManagerPlus that include a list of spot checks that can be performed any time a specific piece of equipment goes down. When an issue arises, a work order can be generated when the work request comes through with these services to give the mechanic a basic guide for how they should go about troubleshooting.

4. Develop possible causes and theories

It’s important to take good notes when a piece of equipment goes down unexpectedly. This information will inform future services and provide insight if the equipment ever malfunctions again. In ManagerPlus, these notes are attached directly to the equipment record, ensuring that nothing gets lost.

It’s also smart to conduct periodic web research on your equipment to see if there are any well-known issues that others have reported. This information can then be used to create provisional schedule groups with services to check items that others have had problems with.

This is another case where it is vital to have complete historical repair information on your machinery: many components are interdependent, so if there have been a number of issues with a certain part of a machine, there’s a good chance that other issues could develop there as well. This information is helpful in creating theories that can help address the root cause of maintenance issues, which can prevent further issues down the road.

5. Eliminate causes, start with what is easy, or likely

The easiest, most accurate way to determine which causes are the most likely is—you guessed it—to have good data on your equipment. The easier it is to track this information, and the more accessible it is throughout your maintenance operations, the more useful it will be when it’s needed most.

Failure codes can be created in ManagerPlus to standardize data on unexpected breakdowns and determine what the most common causes are.

6. Validate and document the solution

If it wasn’t clear by now, information is really, really important when it comes to equipment failure. Promoting a culture of thorough documentation and transparency is the best way to minimize maintenance turnaround time and keep equipment running in optimum condition.