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The current economic recession has increased the visibility and importance of maintenance management. Saving money and operating more efficiently are always good ideas. However, when choosing a system to accomplish these goals how do you know if you need a Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) or an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system? The answer is dependent upon where your facilities pain is.

Identifying your pain.

If the following sounds a little like strategic planning or change management then you are on the right track. Selecting a CMMS or EAM should start with a review of your workflow, weaknesses and competitive situation at a company level. This analysis starts as a corporate function to ascertain how serious the issues are, their impact, and who needs to be involved in order to correct the problems. Best practices call for a formal team to be established.

Choosing a CMMS

CMMS capabilities have developed over time but their main functions are to automate work scheduling, control inventory and materials used as well as create and develop an asset tracking database that can be used to provide management reports on maintenance expenses. When combined with handheld technologies, auditing and maintenance scheduling become far more efficient as well as help reduce paper flow. When implemented correctly, a CMMS will help increase efficiencies and reduce costs.

Not all corporate objectives can be addressed with a CMMS. It should be noted that a CMMS is part of an EAM system. The difference is an EAM can typically do much more than a CMMS.

Choosing an EAM

“Historically, maintenance has been viewed as a liability and a cost center, and manufacturers were largely apprehensive in terms of making the initial investment of time and money to implement proactive programs, however, when companies begin to view their maintenance activities in the context of a continuous improvement strategy, (instead of simply a repair strategy) they’ll be able to more easily connect these activities to improvements in productivity, competitiveness and the overall bottom line.”

Source: Houghton LeRoy, director of consulting enterprise applications for ARC Advisory Group

EAM capabilities include those of a CMMS but also include bigger picture views starting with initial asset planning and ending with the retirement/replacement of an asset. Some areas that an EAM differs from a CMMS are:

  • Lifecycle planning and analysis. An EAM by definition, incorporates the entire lifecycle of an asset. Tracking lifecycle history, such as repair costs, vendor information, how many times serviced or repaired, expected replacement date and so on will allow for greater expertise in budgeting and capital replacement projections. This will free up much needed monies for other uses.
  • An EAM allows for multiple maintenance methods to be used and tracked. This is very important for equipment heavy facilities that make use of preventive maintenance in conjunction with predictive and reliability centered practices.
  • Strategic planning is enhanced. An EAM supports workflow analysis from beginning to end and not just for maintenance purposes. Understanding your workflow is critical in discovering problems and opportunities for improvement.
  • An EAM recognizes maintenance as more than just a cost center and treats maintenance operations as a business unit that is managed from top to bottom.
  • When used with handheld devices, efficiency is increased, costs and paper flow are reduced, real time reporting allows preventive maintenance, inspections, rounds and work orders to be scheduled or performed on the spot. Firefighting is reduced resulting in increased schedule flexibility and lower overtime.

Obviously, there is overlap between the two types of systems. The question always returns to what is your pain and are you looking for a long term expandable solution (EAM) or just trying to get a handle on maintenance (CMMS)?

Tell us what were the factors in your decision to purchase either a CMMS or EAM.If you liked this article you may also like