Focus on Reliability

CMMS Friend or Foe (Part 2)


We left off  the last post talking about the value of measuring PM Compliance in our CMMS. Many organizations use the +/- 10 % rule, whereby if they complete the PM within 10% of the frequency it is considered to be compliant. Now this is a good measure if you are looking to determine whether you get the PMs issued and completed on time but what else does it tell you about the PM – what does it tell you about how the PM was completed or whether we have prevented or mitigated a failure (the purpose of PMs)? The answer is – next to nothing and over the years I have seen many a PM completed from the comfort of the lunchroom and PMs that don’t really explain what it is they are there for.

I have seen some really smart tradespeople who know their PM routes backwards – and rarely walk them forward! Now we may condemn these people as being irresponsible but this type of behavior quite often what management deserve. We give out PMs that ask our trades people to ‘Check the pump’ and get very upset when the PM comes back with ’Yes it’s still there!’ written on the work order. As much as this might seem to be disrespectful, it actually provides a little bit more information than a page full of checkmarks or ‘OK’s – you can be confident that the pump is still there! When we go to the trouble of setting up PMs in our CMMS with the frequency and the hours and the trades etc. why don’t we ask for something more than ‘Check the pump’?

When we ask our people to check on the condition of our equipment and processes we should explain what they should be looking for. Wherever possible we should require them to enter a value – a pressure, a temperature, a thickness, a vibration level  - something quantifiable is what we need. Now, when we ask organizations if they do this, then some feel proud to tell us yes they do - but they looked perturbed when we ask they do anything else around the measurement. When we ask about the flow of the work order after it’s completed, we get a variety of answers – ‘they hand it to the planner’ ‘they put it in the completed box’ and sometimes  they add the comment ‘they close out the work order in the CMMS’ and they see nothing wrong with this.

So let’s look at these options –‘ they hand it to the planner’ – well now we depend upon the planner to read the work order , review the recorded values, understand the relevance of the value and then do something about it if necessary or at least pass the info up the ladder for guidance.

‘They put it in the completed box’ – how long it stays in the box is anyone’s guess and what happens to it after that depends on how many other work orders end up in the box but it’s safe to assume that when it  does leave the box it starts out on the ‘handed to the planner’ journey

‘They close out the work order in the CMMS’ – whereas this is a good sign of involvement and empowerment, it needs to accompanied by something or it’s a recipe for disaster. What’s the ‘the something’? It’s a place in the work order flow through the CMMS that requires someone in a leadership role where they review the work order.

Why are these options less than ideal? Let’s assume that the reading that they have taken is for the pressure in part of the process and what they’ve seen is that it was 110 P.S.I. Now the design pressure for this part of the process is 95-105 P.S.I. and having it run above design for extended time is likely to cause problems in the system. Depending on the planner’s work schedule or the availability of a supervisor to react - then this problem of extended high pressure might go unnoticed for some time or in the worse case where the work order is closed out and no check in the process – ignored completely. If you’re lucky the tradespeople don’t know that the 110P.S.I. is outside of the design specification because if they do, and they have noted that it is that high on the work order they will feel totally ignored and the chance of them continuing to give you meaningful information is very slim. If they don’t know it is above spec then there is really something missing in your education and training program!

So how can we use the CMMS through the work order to drive our maintenance efforts instead of having people doing PMs for the sake of it? How about if wherever we ask for a quantifiable (everywhere?) result – then we give some acceptance criteria or a range that we deem OK? Then if it is out of spec, how about we ask them to do something – something like “if the pressure on gauge 101 is above the range please check and record the pressure on gauge 102. If the reading on gauge 101 is below the range please check and record the pressure on gauge 100 - inform supervisor of results immediately.” Even better is taking this as far as you can – in essence guiding them through troubleshooting a possible problem. Many times we are looking for rate of change in a condition and I’m not too sure how you can ever determine this or trend such things as check marks or ‘OK’s.

Many CMMS allow for you to designate that a corrective work order is raised from a PM or PdM inspection and this can provide value………… if you relate it back to the inspection that it came from. This would allow you to trend where the corrective work is necessary and would hopefully drive you towards understanding why the failures keep on happening and do something about it.

Next time we’ll talk about process flow in your CMMS and perhaps the most important function that most people forget about!

Comments and questions are welcomed her or you can e-mail me at

Topics: Maintenance Management CMMS/ EAM