Common PM Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them

Margeaux Girardin | June 16, 2015

pitfallPreventive maintenance, otherwise known as scheduled maintenance, is arguably one of the most important features that a CMMS system provides its users. Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to maintenance management, ensuring that assets and equipment are routinely inspected to avoid downtime and increase their reliability. With all the benefits of a PM system, it's surprising to learn how many pitfalls await account admin's and system users both before account setup and after. What's even more surprising is the amount of clients we see who fall into one or more of these common pitfalls and who become complacent with system inefficiency.

That's why our team of Hippo experts wants to give you the facts about PM. Read on to learn more about common PM pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Pitfall #1: Your database is overwhelmed.

THE CHALLENGE: “Cluttered” and “chaotic” are two words that you never want to use when describing your database. Unfortunately many of us fall into this category by being too ambitious, either scheduling way too many PMs or scheduling them much too frequently. We also overwhelm our database by not utilizing simple features built into the system to alleviate this very issue.Talk about system overload!

TIP #1: Work as a team, select the right equipment/ assets

We recommend getting all organizational stakeholders, from maintenance techs to healthcare workers, involved in determining the equipment or processes that should receive routine maintenance checkups and extra care. With advice from multiple team members, you can create a robust system that works on multiple levels and covers all processes.

TIP #2: Schedule thoughtfully

It's important to schedule each PM at the right frequency level. Work with your staff to understand the timelines of each task and assign reasonable frequencies to each. It’s great to strive for ambitious goals, but a dose of reality can really help a system stay on track and give accurate information. If you’re still unclear about the correct frequency of a task, a more standardized approach may be needed. In large organizations such as hospitals and manufacturing complex's, one of those approaches is to utilize a risk ranking system. The system assigns a risk score to each piece of equipment based on a specific criteria set. In healthcare this set usually includes equipment function, failure risk and past maintenance history. Take time to determine your own additional criteria so that you have an accurate risk score. Equipment with higher scores will be scheduled more frequently (daily or weekly), while equipment with lower scores will be scheduled less frequently (monthly or semiannually).

TIP #3: Make it easy on yourself, close it out!

Make sure your team is closing out their work orders when completed. We often find the biggest reason why clients have copious amounts of overdue PMs is not that their staff hasn’t done the work, but because they have forgotten to tell the system the task is completed. Make sure each person who interacts with the system is properly trained and comfortable with the CMMS. A little knowledge can go a long way in maintaining an accurate system.

Pitfall #2: Your processes aren’t as efficient as they could be.

THE CHALLENGE: A good CMMS has some simple features that, when utilized, become huge time savers for both the administrators who set up the system and the maintenance techs who complete the work. We often see inefficiencies such as an uneven distribution of workload and too much time spent on creating multiple PMs. Prevent your system from becoming more of a burden than a blessing by following the tips below.

TIP #1: Know your software, utilize basic PM functions

For starters, the “generate multiple” feature has several nifty functions to make a system more efficient. If you have hundreds of pieces of the same type of equipment, they probably need to be serviced the exact same way. It would be tedious and a waste of valuable administrative time to create a separate PM for each piece of the same equipment, as each would contain the exact same task checklist and parts associated with the particular model. If you use the “generate multiple” feature, you need only create one PM associated with all equipment. This robust feature also lets you track all equipment information separately, such as maintenance history, work order progress, additional comments, etc., allowing you to leverage the time-saving benefits without compromising detailed tracking and accurate reporting.

So as not to overwhelm one resource while under utilizing another, “generate multiple” lets you reassign each piece of equipment to a different maintenance tech. This is particularly helpful if the equipment is multifaceted and requires different vendors to service its different components.

“Floating” or “shadowing” is a feature that prevents another PM from generating before the first one is completed. Without it, there are huge implications if a PM is set to generate each day but hasn’t been closed out in a long time. Make sure to check off these boxes to easily gain the benefits of these simple tools.

Pitfall #3: Your data analysis falls short.

THE CHALLENGE: Once you get over the initial hurdles of generating timely and efficient PM schedules, the next step is to ensure adequate tracking of information and accurate data reporting. One of the main reasons large-scale organizations implement a CMMS in the first place is to gain detailed analytical insight into their operations. Although you would be hard-pressed to find a manager who doesn’t believe in the benefits of data reporting, you might be surprised how many do not report on the right data.

TIP #1: Reporting is key, but targeted reports are better

Since a CMMS can report on all of your asset information, it is important to use a targeted approach to provide you with an in-depth analysis instead of a general overview. To do this, one must first set measurable objectives — things the organization wishes to achieve or better understand about its processes. It is important to work with key players in different departments to determine goal priorities. From this point, determine your key performance indicators to track these objectives and run your reports accordingly. Monitoring the progress of your objectives is critical in achieving success. It can also highlight potential pitfalls, allowing you to correct a process before it becomes an issue.

When we spoke with one of our clients, Armtec Infrastructure Inc, they told us about the importance of their PM system. Leo Logashov, the National Operations Excellence Manager at Armtec during this process, explained, “Seeing if something is overdue gets management’s attention. We run current work order reports to see open PM’s, overdue PM’s and how many days overdue they are. It tells us what each plant is doing, which is what management really cares about.” To learn more about Armtec's client success story, click here!

TIP #2: All good things take time, so give it some

Finally, it is important to leave enough time to perform thoughtful analysis and gather the right data. Administrators can be so busy fulfilling their maintenance responsibilities that higher-level performance analysis is left behind. Make sure that you carve out adequate time to analyze data and pull good information from your CMMS. To make this a little easier, utilize the scheduling function that automatically generates and sends reports at a predetermined frequency. You’ll definitely get brownie points from management when they open their emails on Monday morning to find a simple PM report on last week’s activities.

With any sophisticated software, potential pitfalls may exist that make your work routine more difficult than it has to be. By giving a little love to your system during the setup process, utilizing helpful features to organize your PM scheduling and creating objectives ahead of time to analyze the right data, you can not only avoid these pitfalls but also optimize your system and truly increase maintenance efficiency.

For more information about preventive maintenance (PM) software scheduling contact our friendly training team at support@hippocmms.com.

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