Manufacturing has shifted over the years from an exclusively mechanical focus to more data-enabled operations. And there’s good reason: Data-driven processes are helping plants save time and money, leading to greater profitability.
Many manufacturing plants are adopting computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software or enterprise asset management software, and now leaders are able to modernize their asset maintenance strategies, moving from spreadsheets and unruly stacks of paper records to a system that offers a single source of truth to organize all their maintenance information.
Generally, the best EAM software offer the benefits of:
- Well organized preventive maintenance (PM) tasks
- Greater productivity from maintenance teams
- Better control of parts and materials inventory
- Data insights that lead to a better bottom line
Enterprise asset management has truly advanced the art and science of maintenance for manufacturing plants, elevating the vocation and the industry as a whole.
Manufacturing plays a major role in the U.S. economy. According to the Census Bureau, manufacturing plants employ 11.6 million people, and the sector is the nation’s fifth largest employer. More than $5.4 trillion worth of products leave manufacturing plants each year. Transportation equipment, such as cars and trucks, represent the highest shipment value at $959 billion in products per year, followed by food at $764 billion.
With so much at stake, guesswork is never good enough for manufacturing leaders. They need to operate their plants with data informing all their decisions. Maintenance is no exception, but it’s not just about inspecting or maintaining assets. It’s also about making a positive impact on the company’s overall business goals.
EAM software supports your uptime goals
Achieving the maximum amount of uptime is always paramount in manufacturing. However, making that happen requires a solid strategy to achieve all the incremental goals that lead up to it.
For example, you might want to shift a greater percentage of your maintenance tasks from reactive (run to failure and fix it when it breaks) to preventive (avoid the failure by keeping the asset in good working condition). Or perhaps you want to ensure your parts and materials are appropriately stocked so your technicians can complete regularly scheduled maintenance exactly when it’s due.
With EAM software, maintenance and facilities managers can organize, plan, and get dramatically better results out of their uptime strategies. It’s an investment that can create a sharp competitive edge in the global manufacturing market today.
Consider your own ambitious list of uptime goals. That list will help you define what you need from an EAM software solution.
Find the top EAM software: 7 things to consider
Shopping for EAM software is easier if you already have a good idea of your needs and what to look for. Here are seven critical elements to consider when evaluating EAM solutions.
1. Industry-specific data fields
Any amount of downtime leads to lost production, which ultimately harms profits. By prioritizing preventive maintenance, you can gather and analyze exactly the type of data you need to avoid equipment failure.
When shopping around, be sure to look for a solution that is specific to manufacturing and can hold your required asset data in a way that makes sense to you. You’ll likely need the ability to create custom fields for certain specialty assets as well as a place to record additional information about the asset in a searchable note, for example.
Maintenance management software systems that are designed only as calendar notification tools might not be enough for managing preventive maintenance and work orders in a busy manufacturing plant. Look for an industry-specific solution.
2. Mobile access
Some manufacturing plants are sprawling campuses with multiple buildings and large shop floors. When you need access to your maintenance data, going back to your desk to look something up typically isn’t just a quick walk down the hall.
The best EAM software platforms offer the power of the cloud with mobile features that allow you to operate the software on a tablet or smartphone. Mobile access ensures you can respond to work orders and organize maintenance tasks anywhere, anytime. By breaking away from a central, physical location, you can react immediately to priority requests, get them assigned, and ensure your equipment is back online and your production run is on time.
3. Insightful dashboards
EAM software collects and stores maintenance data, enabling managers (eam software users) to track key performance indicators, such as asset utilization or completed tasks. However, getting your hands on the data is only part of the strategy.
Analyzing the data and turning it into action is an entirely different requirement. You’ll want your EAM dashboards to display practical, intelligent snapshots at the asset as well as at the big-picture level. The interface should be fast enough to load the dashboards immediately without sluggish redraws of the display.
Look for charts, graphs and color codes that will quickly answer questions, such as, “What percentage of our preventive maintenance tasks were completed on time?” or “How many requests for maintenance were categorized as high priority?” With a quick glance, you should be able to glean the insight you need without taking the extra step of running a report manually.
The best EAM software dashboards also include information that helps you manage the dollars and cents of your maintenance strategy. For example, you’re probably conscious of the cost of labor and want to find new opportunities to gain more productivity from your teams. Rather than working harder, you can redirect their time to tasks that improve your plant’s reliability.
A state-of-the-art EAM software system will help you examine productivity with a critical eye. A quick look at individual labor hours could reveal which assets require more time and more expertise to maintain. That’s an opportunity to assign those related tasks to your most experienced technicians.
4. Real-time work order management
Work orders are the drivers of maintenance strategies for manufacturing plants. They serve as a cue for technicians to perform their tasks but they also do more when they’re delivered through EAM software.
A state-of-the-art software solution will connect all the elements related to a work order and capture them in one place so your teams can complete the work efficiently. For example, a work order can display the required parts and materials needed to perform corrective maintenance on a particular asset. Operating manuals, documented procedures and safety information can be included so no one has to rely exclusively on memory.
And when your EAM software offers real-time notifications, the maintenance manager can assign tasks immediately and reduce the amount of downtime for the asset in need of attention. It notifies the manager as soon as the task is complete, so production can start again with the smallest amount of downtime.
5. Inventory management
Manufacturing equipment is typically costly to acquire, and parts for it are often expensive to replace. Additionally, ordering replacement parts for specialized equipment might call for lead times of 60 or even 90 days.
The best EAM software offers inventory management capabilities that account for the dynamic nature of manufacturing. The platform should be more than a data repository. It should anticipate upcoming needs and display information on low inventory as well as parts and materials to order.
As manufacturing becomes more tech-enabled, plants are now relying on Internet of Things, using a network of remote data collection devices such as sensors that track the health of assets or GPS devices that help find the locations of your assets.
EAM solutions should be able to integrate with all your critical monitoring systems. Look for one that has an open API—programming that allows you customize it and connect to other applications. This type of integration eliminates the need to switch back and forth between programs to move and share data.
7. Custom reporting
Efficient manufacturers track their asset data using EAM software because it’s the most reliable way to get an accurate gauge of equipment downtime, return on investment, operational efficiency and total costs. Detailed reports should be able to reveal these metrics, providing you with insight into your company’s operations.
Look for EAM software that provides insight on key metrics such as:
- Daily, weekly or monthly maintenance workloads
- Average response times
- Total cost of ownership of each asset
- Preventive maintenance completion rates
- Planned maintenance percentages
- Mean time to repair
- Asset utilization rates
- Inventory total value
These are just the basics. A modern EAM software solution should also offer custom reports that uncover discrete data points that are important to your unique business and uptime goals. The reports should be able to answer your questions, and the reporting interface should be intuitive enough that reporting becomes a regular part of everyday operations—not a once-a-year chore.
EAM software is often a prerequisite for many prospective customers looking to sign contracts with manufacturing firms. Your potential customers need assurance that your production is reliable and not prone to breakdowns, delays, or poor product quality. The best EAM software provides the proof you need to demonstrate that you’re the best firm for the job.
ManagerPlus Lightning is a modern enterprise asset management platform that helps manufacturing plants of all sizes enable their uptime strategies. See it in action in this short Lightning demonstration video.