Technology has turned the world on its side; and for the most part, this has been a good thing. However, a problem that arises from the ongoing changes associated with these advancements is the need to adapt. A growing number of businesses across all industry and service sectors are finding that it’s not just a matter of keeping pace with evolving technological changes. For them, it’s also keeping up with changing industry trends and economic demands; and at the same time, having to remain cognizant of profit margins and returns on investments (ROI). It is for these reasons, companies are increasingly choosing to incorporate an automated facility management system into their operations. But making the shift is not that easy, as this too comes with its own set of problems. On the top of the list is determining which type of product is best suited to a company.
Learning What’s Out There
For those who have begun to explore the world of automated facility management, the task may seem a bit daunting; not just because of the number of vendors out there, but also because of the different formats available. To simplify the process, it is best to start by becoming aware of the two basic system categories; similar in a number of ways but also different in the way they fulfill company objectives.
Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS)
Computerized Maintenance Management Software systems are highly sophisticated and robust systems that utilize thousands of data points that at any given time can provide a user with an overview of a facility’s operation or alternatively, the status of an individual piece of equipment. These systems have the ability to monitor inventory levels, track work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and instantly determine which of their assets required preventive maintenance (PM). These systems are geared toward extending the lifespan of assets and improving operations efficiency by reducing equipment downtime, resource utilization and supply costs.
The benefits of CMMSs include the following:
- Simplification - Maintenance management software automates business operations by having all facility processes and information available through its system dashboard. The systems replace data previously stored on paper or spreadsheets formats.
- Powerful Data Capabilities – CMMS software can import asset manuals, pictures and other information for easy access, store route maps and drawings for improved fleet management, build custom screens to suit business needs, view interactive work order summaries, and coordinate all asset and equipment information with integrative floor plans
- Access to Real Time Data –As information is entered into the CMMS system, it is immediately available to facility managers and all employees with access to it. Work orders can be submitted as soon as an issue is discovered and dispatched to relevant technicians immediately.
- Mobile Access – Facility managers can access the CMMS system from where ever they may be and accessed on multiple devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.
- Integration with Other Software - CMMSs have the ability to interface with other software such as email, barcodes and cameras.
- Preventative Maintenance (PM) Schedules – The software systems provide a checklist of all tasks involved in maintaining each piece of equipment as well as create routine schedules, send notifications and reminders and generate reports.
- Making Business Projections – By reviewing operational data, CMMSs make it possible for businesses to make informed evaluations of company goals and make projections about future endeavors.
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems provide comprehensive management of the physical assets of an organization including buildings, installations, infrastructure and real estate assets. It is an all-encompassing system that covers the design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance, replacement, and demolishment of all assets, equipment and facilities. The systems also manage all related documentation, processes, operating models, management, economics, and any other workable aspects of assets. The purpose of EAMs is to identify the location of assets within space and who is utilizing them as well as evaluate their financial impact. While EAMs include a maintenance component, the systems operate more holistically with the objective of optimizing how each asset is used within the greater context of the total facility operations.
The benefits of EAMs include the following:
- Optimize asset related processes – EAMs strive to keep facilities functioning at maximum efficiency by analyzing production data and other asset related variables.
- Lower operating and maintenance costs for assets – By analyzing operations data, EAMs can determine how asset operations can become more cost effective.
- Increase continuity, reliability, and security of assets – Using routine checks, EAMs strive to reduce downtime by maintaining assets.
- Compliance with health and safety legislation – EAMs ensure that inspections are conducted as needed.
- Replacement of non-performing assets – EAMs have the capability to determining the cost/benefit of retaining an asset v. replacing it.
Determining What You Need
There is considerable overlap between the two categories of automated facilities management systems. Each is powerful and has maintenance capabilities. However, EAMs’ scope is much broader by covering a wider range of asset variables and utilizing a macro view of an entire enterprise. If a company is interested in optimal maintenance alone, then CMMS systems are an excellent choice. On the other hand, if a company is large with a maintenance staff of more than 100 technicians, then the appropriate choice may be an EAM. When trying to determine which automated system is the right fit for your company, a good starting point is to first identify company needs. To do this, it would be wise to assess your company’s business objectives and then perform a needs analysis. The results will likely point you in the right direction.