- Category: Maintenance
- Created: 2016-10-03
How CMMS consulting guides manufacturers through unpredictability and global changes
by Paul Lachance, president, Smartware Group
It’s natural to fear the unexpected. In the manufacturing industry in particular, unpredictability from many sources can incite major financial and reputational losses.
Take Brexit, for example. Changes such as the United Kingdom leaving the European Union could cause unforeseen ripple effects on manufacturers worldwide. In light of economic instability, funding by major investors may be harder to come by, and the negotiating strength of the European Union may cause manufacturers to reduce their presence in the United Kingdom.
The manufacturing industry will always have a place in local economies (in 2012, the industry accounted for 68.9 percent of all R&D expenditures by U.S. businesses). However, no manufacturer – whether vested in oil and gas, infrastructural work, food and beverage, or any other industry for that matter – is immune to the repercussions of unexpected events like Brexit.
While external events can create volatility, proper asset management is one of the best strategies to generate internal stability and offset other budgetary and operational variables. Maintenance can be expensive, but when done correctly, it can actually improve the revenue-generating capacity of companies.
Turning to CMMS
Rather than suffering major downtime, broken equipment or similar issues, or having to replace assets entirely – sophisticated laser cutting equipment doesn’t come cheap – fabricators and manufacturers can stay on top of maintenance needs and prevent errors from escalating. In moments of economic downturn, top-notch maintenance systems are the safety net they can fall back on.
In the search for reliable maintenance solutions, many companies are turning to cloud-based computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) for their preventive and predictive maintenance needs. A user-friendly CMMS with a native mobile app allows fabricators and manufacturers to digitize maintenance efforts and house all maintenance records in one place. Likewise, a CMMS can make maintenance more efficient and accessible by streamlining workflows and positioning maintenance as a shared responsibility and mindset.
Although it’s a start, a well-designed CMMS alone isn’t enough. Manufacturers should also seek out industry-experienced CMMS providers with senior consulting capabilities to help optimize system usage and incorporate best practices in an effort to shore up processes during a state of flux.
In addition to implementation projects, CMMS consulting is often employed to apply new initiatives – such as a lean or total productive maintenance strategy – within a CMMS.
The only thing that’s predictable is that the world is anything but. In times of major change, however, CMMS professional services offer companies the security to minimize this guaranteed uncertainty.
From day one, consultants, as the service end of CMMS investments, are there to help companies implement a CMMS with ease and efficiency. While some fabricators and manufacturers may have limited experience with digital solutions and automation processes, CMMS consultants can help them understand how the technology works in action.
For example, through a series of kick-off meetings, virtual training sessions and planning meetings, consultants can serve as a project manager to assist a company through its CMMS implementation. This leads to faster deployment, quicker return on investment and greater employee adoption rates.
What’s more, when consultants are there from the very beginning, they have the insight and exposure to configure CMMS solutions around existing or future processes. In addition to basing decisions on industry best practices, CMMS consultants can alter the maintenance system to match a company’s specific needs. Training programs are great for teaching employees how to use software and features, for example, but consulting teams can shape this knowledge to meet and exceed unique company requirements.
It’s important to note that the strongest consulting programs are those offered directly by a CMMS provider. CMMS consulting services are armed with the specific software knowledge and industry experience to provide more targeted guidance. These consultants also have ample understanding of the CMMS itself, which enables them to navigate the technology with greater expertise and ultimately make more effective CMMS implementations.
Over time and in the face of unanticipated changes, CMMS consultants serve as a consistent resource to help fabricators and manufacturers update their maintenance management capabilities. For instance, if an acquisition occurs or an industry standard changes based on updated legislation, CMMS consultants can step in to help manufacturers rework their CMMS instance and adapt to these changes. And again, consultants are available to act as project managers to help companies hit deadlines as necessary.
Through a series of kick-off meetings, virtual training sessions and planning meetings, consultants can serve as a project manager to assist a company through its CMMS implementation.
Most CMMS providers offer some sort of training and implementation package, but quality professional services tend to be overlooked or considered irrelevant – whether these services are beyond the capabilities of the provider or the price point of a company. Few CMMS providers have dedicated consultants who are capable of combining project management, training, software modeling and data migrations in one fluid plan. These consultants stand alone in their abilities to support user adoption and goal achievement with industry experience and insights.
The most beneficial CMMS consultants are distinct in two ways. First, they are often equipped with experience particular to a client’s industry. For example, consultants must be fluent in the common issues, accountabilities and processes affecting a variety of maintenance organizations, such as those in the metalworking industry.
This degree of knowledge enables them to make educated suggestions and serve as a sounding board for reinforcing existing processes or instituting new ones. Likewise, this kind of micro experience helps fabricators and manufacturers at the granular and macro level to better future-proof their maintenance program against unforeseen changes. What’s more, industry-specific consultants direct from a CMMS provider are often available on a one-on-one basis, which means that companies receive undivided attention.
CMMS consulting projects should typically involve all key personnel impacted by the business processes managed within the CMMS, including safety, purchasing, supply chain and other departments.
Second, these CMMS consultants tend to have the know-how to recommend a prudent maintenance plan with all the right players involved. As many companies move toward a total productive maintenance environment, in which maintenance is a responsibility shared by many employees, it is important to know who should be involved in the maintenance process and when. A maintenance team can include anyone from safety officers to supply chain personnel to sales teams to the C-suite.
Seasoned CMMS consultants are better able to judge who comprises the right team. Similarly, during implementation, these consultants understand when key players should be brought into the process and ensure that all voices are heard. This degree of upfront awareness reduces adoption issues, helps tailor solutions to company needs and assists with the development of a flexible, well-rounded maintenance plan capable of handling change.
In many respects, CMMS solutions are only as good as the consultants available to support them. No matter where future changes come from – whether a country’s secession, a global shift or something else entirely – fabricators and manufacturers should turn to highly-qualified CMMS consultants to help ensure a solid CMMS program is in place to weather any potential challenges.