IMMP means Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform, and it’s the latest technology available to maintenance managers.
Like the name itself suggests, these platforms combine maintenance management with artificial intelligence (AI) to collect equipment data and turn it into valuable insights. As to why they’re called platforms rather than maintenance software, it’s because they can integrate other tools and even hardware, making it a vibrant, live maintenance system instead of a static bubble.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, we must understand how intelligent maintenance management platforms came to be. We’ll take a stroll down memory lane to understand how maintenance evolved through the years, explore how IMMPs are an answer to a new era, and explain their benefits. Glad to have you on board!
The lessons of history
You would imagine industrial maintenance started with the Industrial Revolution. But you’d be wrong. Back then, maintenance was virtually non-existent. Nope, not even reactive maintenance! The mindset was pretty much “use it until it breaks” and replace it in the end. Then again, those were simpler times, without the tight deadlines or schedules of today.
Things started to change at the beginning of the 20th century. Henry Ford’s assembly line came together in 1913. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, there was a new-found need to repair rather than replace. By the 30s and 40s, some parts were replaced at given time intervals whether they need to be or not, creating a time-based maintenance of sorts for the first time.
The turning point was World War II. The US army even employed technicians from big manufacturers to perform aircraft and vehicle maintenance at the height of the war. Soon after, the competitive, consumer economy of the post-war years also started to recognise the value of maintenance to keep up with increasing demands. But, until the 80s, it was still mainly “run-to-failure” and, of course, pen to paper.
Starting in the 80s, companies began to develop “downtime intolerance”. There were significant efforts to achieve more reliability, quality and safety, which paved the way for reliability-centred maintenance. At the same time, in the West there was a growing interest about the Japanese Economic Miracle of the previous decades, which was attributed, among other things, to lean manufacturing.
At this point and till the 2000s, maintenance managers started to rely heavily on Excel sheets. The love affair with corrective maintenance was effectively over, and what followed was a long-standing, happy marriage with preventive maintenance. Competitiveness required greater control and less downtime, and new ISOs were released. The famous ISO 9000 dates from 1987.
Afterwards, Excel was slowly replaced with Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (thankfully shortened to CMMS). They were definitely an improvement and enabled businesses to track more data to control their operations. However, with the dawn of Industry 4.0 (and Maintenance 4.0!), this technology began to feel somewhat lacking. Cue in: Intelligent Maintenance Management Platforms (IMMP).
CMMS vs. IMMP, or Systems of Records vs. Systems of Intelligence
Like all other technology before it, intelligent platforms emerged out of need. The expression “Industry 4.0” was coined in 2011, and it’s a broad reference to the undeniable automation and data exchange trend. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, we started tracking much more data than before – so much so that we don’t always know what to do with it.
The analysis and extraction of sets of data that are too complex for regular software – “Big Data”, as it is colloquially known – matured as a field throughout the 2010s. Obviously, there’s still a lot of uncharted territory. Yet, slowly but surely, we’ve made some progress. For the first time, the software takes in data, runs with it, and turns it into actionable insights.
Don’t take this the wrong way. When CMMS first appeared, it was a revolution. They stored data, which made it easier to register logs and asset history, even if the Microsoft Access-based CMMS of the early 90s were incredibly hard to update. Towards the end of the decade, they transitioned to local servers, and in the early 2000s browser-hosted versions became available.
Finally, in the 2010s, cloud-based CMMSes went mainstream. This was a more adequate and mobile-friendly solution for the modern world. And most generated reports automatically, which put maintenance managers on the right track with data-driven decisions. However, at the end of the day, they weren’t much more than a system of records. At their core, they never stopped being a database.
IMMPs go one step ahead because they go beyond recording data; they convert it into intelligent suggestions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is useful to automate tasks and workflows, find patterns, and bring your attention to things that you might have missed otherwise. Your inputs are still very much needed, but AI learns from them and gets more and more accurate with the data you feed it.
⚙️ Learn more about an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform vs. a CMMS.
Besides, with the rise of IoT in the last few years, managers need a system that truly is, well, a system. Why should maintenance or asset management be an isolated system within your operation? Isn’t that counter-intuitive and counter-productive? Any maintenance software should integrate with other tools, which is why we like to say platforms are akin to an “ecosystem”.
When you take these two factors in – processing data and connectivity – it becomes clear IMMPs emerge as maintenance’s way of advancing further into Maintenance 4.0 and responding to the challenges in the short and medium-term.
Who can use an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform?
Generally speaking, any company whose operation improved with a CMMS or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) can also benefit from an IMMP. That includes those with large infrastructures, such as factories, plants, office buildings, hotels, chain stores, shopping centres, and hospitals. Intelligent suggestions and integrations improve control and eliminate “blind spots” for managers.
IMMPs are also useful for technical assistance, namely third-party providers with an extensive asset portfolio spread across different locations. In this case, mobile apps are especially helpful to connect field teams, give technicians access to all the support data and documents they need, and even monitor location through GPS coordinates.
To make sure an IMMP would be right for you, answer these questions:
- Are you responsible for large facilities or infrastructures?
- Do you need to comply with quality, safety, and hygiene standards?
- Are you having trouble complying with all the SLAs you agreed to?
- Do you think it’s hard to make data-driven decisions?
- Do you manage a large field team that needs to act fast 24/7?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should definitely proceed and learn more about IMMPs. On the other hand, if you’re not having trouble managing your assets, complying with regulations, or communicating with your team, maybe you already found something that’s a good fit for you.
Benefits of an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform
No two operations are the same. In other words, the benefits you’ll reap from any maintenance system vary according to the challenges you face. The good thing is that, unlike a CMMS, an IMMP acknowledges this. Instead of “one solution fits all”, you’ll get a flexible platform that can take any shape you need it to. That is why we feel comfortable saying everyone will enjoy these six benefits:
It saves time
Arguably, one of the biggest benefits is saving time. Because AI automates workflows, you’ll spend much less time planning maintenance schedules. Also, managers only need to validate intelligent suggestions (such as specific suppliers, material, or assets for certain failures) to set everything in motion and start repairs. If you’re curious about how this works, check out our own Infraspeak Gear™.
It adapts to your operations
We already mentioned this above. Unlike regular CMMS, IMMPs can integrate different native apps, other tools or software, and hardware. This means you can choose the features that best suit your operations, and finally integrate maintenance and facility management with the whole operation. Plus, the more you integrate, the more data you’ll collect for the system to process.
It improves control
When you’re busy browsing through all of the data and keeping an eye on two or three different dashboards, you’re bound to miss something. That’s why IMMP’s increased connectivity and automation provides more control over operations. You can monitor schedules, where your team members are, sort tasks, assign tasks and suppliers, keep track of your maintenance spending, etc, all in one place.
It avoids non-compliances
Also related to improved control, an IMMP makes it easier to track standards, regulations, and SLAs. The platform will notify you when a deadline is coming up and provide intelligent alerts when there isn’t a plan assigned to an asset. If you’re struggling with meeting standards and avoiding non-compliance, an IMMP will make you feel like you’re operating on steroids.
It sets priorities
Maintenance managers struggle with the trade-off between cost and risk: performing preventive maintenance or waiting for a failure to happen, whether to repair or replace, where to invest in. But when intelligent maintenance systems become the one source of information and data, it’s easier to keep track of criticality and real-time conditions, which leads to continuous cost-based prioritisation.
It enables predictive maintenance
Predictive and condition-based maintenance are at the heart of Industry 4.0 and lean, but it’s only efficient if the equipment is connected to a central system. Otherwise, technicians will spend too much time monitoring equipment and registering data – and that’s the opposite of what we’re looking for. The flexibility of IMMPs, combined with intelligent suggestions, is one step forward.
So, should you take a chance on an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform?
The history of maintenance has a clear takeaway: the importance of maintenance rose with each industrial revolution. Every time companies felt they had to improve their service, maintenance was up to the challenge.
In the competitive world of today, with calls for even greater control of production times and more pressure to get return on investment, maintenance managers find themselves in a jigsaw puzzle to achieve near-zero downtime. And, as always, progress requires innovation, ingenious technology, and willingness to take risks.
An Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform gives managers a chance to do more with practically the same. Automation and smart suggestions make it possible to be “everywhere at once”, while data collection, connectivity, and centralised systems enable improved control over equipment, maintenance teams, and costs.