Inspections are an important part of keeping workers safe and companies in compliance. When done with the help of maintenance management software, organizations can avoid mistakes, ensure quick follow-up, leverage data for better decision-making, and not only be in compliance but also easily prove it.
Before backing up all those claims, let's start by defining inspections. What exactly are they, and what role do they play at facilities?
Inspections, a quick explanation
There's a bunch of different kinds, including spot, pre-operation, critical parts, new equipment, and routine.
But let's narrow the topic down to only cover routine inspections. And just to be clear, we're not inspecting routines. We're talking about the inspections we do routinely. They're done at all work areas, and cover all working conditions, including hazards, equipment, processes, and practices. Basically, an inspection is a chance to systematically double-check that everything is as safe as possible and being used correctly.
Inspections are not the same as the classic walk-through, where someone from the maintenance department walks around looking for early signs of problems. Steam where there shouldn't be. Oil stains on the floor under assets. Inspections happen a lot less frequently, but they are a lot more involved. Also, they're done by a team, which according to current best practices, should be some combination of the workplace manager, the floor supervisor, an employee with a good knowledge of the various processes and procedures, and an employee on the workplace committee, or the workplace union representative. Quick note here: not everyone on the team needs access to the maintenance management software. And no one on the team needs to be an expert power user. If one of them has access and can do basic tasks, that's enough to see real benefits.
So that's what they are. But how does a computer maintenance management software help with inspections?
1. Inspections not slipping through the cracks
First, good CMMS software makes inspections easier by making them harder to forget. All you have to do is schedule the inspections as recurring, time-based preventive maintenance work orders in the software. Every time one is coming up, the software sends out email reminders to everyone on the inspection team. Everything is automated. Instead of having to remember to send out an email with everyone CC'd, the CMMS software takes care of it for you.
once scheduled, never forgotten
It's hard enough for one person to remember something, let alone a team of people who likely don't usually work together. Maintenance management software makes sure the whole team shows up on time and ready.
2. Steps always in the right direction, never skipped
Once you've got the team assembled, it's time to get to work. The challenge with inspections is that they need to be thorough, which means they involve a lot of steps. Luckily, you can pack a lot of information into a preventive maintenance work order, including:
- Digital images and schematics
- Interactive floor plans
- Customizable step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
With digital images and interactive floor plans, the team knows exactly where to go and what they're looking for when they get there. Interactive floor plans are especially helpful when making sure everything is where it should be. For example, a lot of workstations require fire suppression, and the team can use the floor plans to compare where extinguishers should be to where they actually are.
every workstation quickly found
And with clear instructions and checklists, nothing gets overlooked. Even when the members of the team change over time, inspections remain consistent.
and then thoroughly checked
Even better than being consistent, inspections can steadily improve. Remember, the instructions and lists are customizable, so you can add and adjust after each inspection.
3. Follow-up is direct, quick
The goal of inspections is not to find problems. It's to find them and then fix them. With maintenance management software, as soon as the team finds an issue that can be fixed by the maintenance department, they can create an on-demand work order.
The team can do this one of two ways. They can use the request portal to submit a work order ticket, which is then sent to the maintenance department, where the work order software generates a work order, prioritizes, delegates, and tracks it. It's a perfectly good solution. Or, the team can go in and generate their own work order. In both cases, the on-demand work order can be associated with the existing inspection preventive maintenance work order. That way, the on-demand work order has some context, and because it's connected to the inspection PM, the maintenance department can see right away why it was generated. Every time the team finds a problem, a new on-demand work order can be generated and associated with the original PM.
associated on-demand work orders generated on the spot
With maintenance management software, the maintenance department knows right away about any problems discovered during inspections.
Remember, inspections cover all kinds of territory, and not every solution is going to involve the maintenance department. But the ones that do are systematically addressed with on-demand work orders.
4. Inspection data fuels long-term planning, fine-tuning
Associating on-demand work orders with the original inspection PM ensures quick follow-up. Right away, the maintenance department knows what needs to get done.
Inspection-related work orders are also useful down the road when the department is doing a maintenance audit. By looking at failure history, corrective maintenance, spare parts, and labor costs for each asset, the department takes the guesswork out of the decision-making process.
data-driven decision-making, fine-tuning
No more relying on gut feelings. Departments know which assets to keep repairing and which to replace. Instead of buying from vendors with a track record of low-quality parts and materials, they can find new suppliers. Maintenance audits also help departments fine-tune their preventive maintenance programs. Remember, maintenance departments aren't looking at just the inspection-related work orders. They look at everything. The data from the inspections is added to a large pile.
5. Proof of compliance is easy to find, impossible to lose
There's always two parts to being in compliance. First, you have to do the work. Second, you have to prove you did it. We've already seen how maintenance management software helps with the first part. Now, let's look at how it helps with the second.
Once all your data is inside the CMMS, it's easily accessible. With a few clicks, you can bring up every preventive maintenance and on-demand work order. A few more clicks and all the numbers have been crunched into KPI-packed, graphically-rich reports. Everything you need to prove you did the work is right there, easily accessible, searchable, and readable.
Not only is the data accessible, but it's also safe. And that's great because traditionally there's always been a trade-off between the two. Take money, for example. If you hide it under your mattress, you can get to it right away. If you keep it at the bank, it's safer, but it takes more time to get your hands on it. With modern maintenance management software backed by cloud computing, there's no trade-off. You can always get your data and it's also always safe. Best of all, your provider takes care of everything for you. They update and upgrade the software, back up and secure your data.
Ready to learn more about how maintenance management software gets your data working for you? Check out Why is Work Order Software So Important?