Maintenance software goes mobile. What benefits can it offer?

Have you ever heard about CMMS? Well, I hadn’t either. Not until I recently moved jobs. It stands for “Computerized Maintenance Management System”, or sometimes “Computerized Maintenance Management Software” and is basically a way to replace the classic pen and paper documentation.

Back in the “old days”, if your hardware went wrong, it was a matter of waiting for someone to call you. Then you’d attend site, have a look at the broken fan, aircon-unit or heater and write down what was wrong. Then you’d have to get clearance to order the parts, place an order to buy them, then head back to site to fit the thing. Maintenance was only ever performed when something went wrong.

In the 1990’s things started to become a bit more techy, with work orders being tracked digitally and reports, assets, parts, locations and trends being performed through a computer.

Whether it was a broken window or a routine inspection, the system would tell you and you’d have less paperwork.

The problem was though, that workers, engineers, maintenance staff and managers are and always have been ultra-mobile. So now, with mobile technology use soaring rapidly throughout organizations and industries, the phone has a big part to play. The Pew Research Center now says that 92% of American adults own a mobile phone, with 58% currently classed as smartphones. That’s rising all the time.

So now maintenance management has to jump on the mobile bandwagon too. Companies can’t do without a preventative maintenance plan, especially those that have multiple assets and inventory. For me, it was about the benefits..

Real-time data access

Everyone has a smartphone and they’ll be checking it regularly. All phones are easily connected to the internet too, so staff can get real-time visibility to the state of operations and maintenance, irrespective of where they are located. With real-time access, things get easier…

Response time is reduced

You will be notified immediately when anything happens, and staff can be tasked depending on their geographical location. This means that repairs are completed quicker and more efficiently.

Staffs can go remote and ditch their office desks

Why have your engineers sitting at desks, checking their daily task list on a computer? They can work remotely, reducing the need to another desk and another chair. With office space expensive and at a premium, this is ideal for companies who don’t want to spend extra, plus it means that you’re making better use of those maintenance engineers – they’ll spend more time working and less time travelling.

Less paperwork leads to less stress

Who likes traditional paperwork? Not me, and that’s why it’s been my first priority since joining this new company. If I don’t like it, then those engineers won’t like it either. No print-outs, no filing cabinets, all details will be stored in a CMMS database, so knowledge-base articles, job details, asset tags and support information is much easier to find.

Collaboration gets easier and effortless

Managers, colleagues and fellow engineers can assist and be updated on jobs thanks to your instant and online reports, with staff in the office able to access your current job details from their machines or smartphones too. Having everything on one page, with everyone working from the same data, means that there’s less chance of mistakes.

Now I can view all work orders, problem reports and a full calendar showing me what’s coming up. I can see who’s assigned to the task and, as a manager, I can prioritise it or change dates easily. You can also view KPI’s such as actual time spent and planned vs unplanned work and there’s full access to a reporting system.

Meanwhile, out in the field and thanks to smartphone tech, the software will let technicians access asset information, view what needs to be done, complete work orders, diagnose problems and better communicate that they have done it.