Maintenance operations management is a daily challenge. Managers and technicians must respond to new requests while complying with thorough preventive maintenance plans. It’s a constant compromise. But, with the right technology, you’ll revamp your maintenance ops. Tech improves preventive maintenance, reduces reactive maintenance, and lowers your stress levels. Maintenance geeks’ honour!
How technology shapes maintenance
Maintenance went from a “necessary evil” to an activity that creates value. We’re preaching to the choir here, but without maintenance, there’s no reliability. Reliability, in turn, provides uninterrupted service, profitability, and safety. When maintenance fails, the domino effect can be dangerous.
World-class companies realise this, and the pressure is on. Maintenance managers must avoid downtime, expand asset lifetime, guarantee return on investment, and generate the least amount of waste possible in the process. It’s almost superhuman… In fact, we’d say it’s impossible to achieve without the superpowers of modern maintenance management technology.
Maintenance management software has always evolved with the times. In the beginning, it was pen and paper. Then, spreadsheets. Afterwards, one CMMS appeared after the other. Microsoft Access databases were followed in quick succession by server-hosted CMMS, browser-based, and finally cloud-based systems.
All of these systems had one thing in common, which was organising data. Newer systems, such as intelligent platforms, give managers an edge. Artificial Intelligence can spot patterns and automate workflows, and managers don’t need a third eye to keep track of everything. It’s a new dawn for maintenance operations management.
Perhaps equally revolutionary, these platforms also engage the whole team. Anyone can report failures and communicate with the maintenance team, which decreases MTTR. General managers or clients (if you’re in technical assistance) can see progress in real-time on their dashboard. Maintenance is finally getting the spotlight it deserves, and that’s a welcome change.
Targeting corrective and preventive maintenance
We’ve come a long way from “you can’t fix what isn’t broken”. Corrective (or reactive) maintenance is unpredictable, increases downtime, and shortens lifespans. That’s incompatible with today’s fast-paced world. Fortunately, there are alternatives, including preventive maintenance, condition-based maintenance, and predictive maintenance.
For most managers, preventive maintenance is the most viable option. Despite being labour-intensive and risking over-maintenance, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. The advantages are indisputable: cost savings, fewer breakdowns and large-scale repairs, and longer asset lifespans. And the cherry on top? It’s less expensive than predictive maintenance.
As for reactive maintenance, that’s the necessary evil. But there are antidotes. As we’ve said, maintenance managers can avoid large breakdowns with preventive maintenance plans. They can also improve response times with faster reporting, efficient task assignment, and stock management. Overall, only 10% of your time should be spent on repairs.
It’s not surprising, then, that most maintenance managers have two concerns. The first is how to decrease reactive maintenance. The second, which is their answer to the first, is how to improve preventive maintenance. Our answer to both questions is the same, and it has never changed: technology. And technology, right now, is code for an intelligent maintenance management platform (IMMP).
When it comes to maintenance operations, there are three types of organisations nowadays:
- those that still rely on pen and paper to organise work orders, which means field teams have only a minimal connection with the back office;
- companies that are already using mobile apps which connect field teams to the back office, with gains in productivity and better reaction times;
- organisations that are moving towards automation with AI, looking to streamline operations and delivering a flawless field service to clients.
How intelligent technology reduces corrective maintenance and boosts preventive maintenance
No matter how “shiny and new” software looks, managers want to get down to business. And business is less downtime. “Will it help me plan better? How can my clients warn me if something’s wrong? Will technicians respond faster?” The answer is yes. An intelligent CMMS or IMMP centralises all the information about your assets, which streamlines all your maintenance operations.
Creating a Preventive Maintenance Plan (PMP)
As we’ve said before, preventive maintenance is labour-intensive. You may not have enough technicians or resources for every asset. So you’ve got to prioritise. Instead of splitting your screen into several spreadsheets, compile everything on your software. List your assets and tasks, check your resources, schedule work orders, and track KPIs to keep improving.
The ability to schedule is one of the major improvements with software. In the past, you might have had trouble estimating execution times, for example. But, as long as your technicians are diligent with closing their orders, you’ll gain powerful insights into your maintenance operations. Plus, you can create recurring tasks and work order templates to be even faster next time.
⚙️ Check this straightforward 5 step preventive maintenance plan.
If you leave your PMP on a piece of paper, how do you keep track of your maintenance operations? With an intelligent system, managers link plans to assets, check the status of work orders, and receive notifications if something is missing. You can see if technicians are complying with the PMP, and with AI you won’t overlook anything.
The software also enhances compliance with safety regulations, legislation, ISO 550001, and SLAs. Relevant information can be attached to assets, so technicians become more risk-aware as well. Again, automated work orders and intelligent suggestions ensure you’ll never forget an inspection or miss a deadline. Your customers will love you for it!
And if you don’t comply… you’ll be ready to tackle the issue. Since software records data, you don’t have to do any guesswork. Look at your KPIs to find out where and when you’re failing, and talk to your team to find out why.
Faster and easier failure reporting
There are two things maintenance operations managers know for certain. One, the sun comes up every day. Two, failures happen. And, when they do, companies need to solve them as quickly as possible. The sooner you know, the faster you’ll be there to save the day. Failure reporting needs to be swift, user-friendly, and agile.
Luckily, long are the days of faxes and phone calls. The software itself opens a new line of communication. Clients can report it on the platform, AI assigns it to the right technician, and managers only need to validate the suggestion. The team is already on the move, and there was hardly any administrative paperwork. Faster repairs, lower MTTR, fewer service disruptions.
If you’re curious about how software matches a failure with a technician, you’ll enjoy this. With intelligent software, you can match failure types with a list of technicians (i.e., electrical failures to electricians, and so on). And, because it also tracks the status of their work orders, you can see which one is available for the job.
If your team is working in more than one location, you can use GPS tracking to locate users and find out which one is closer. All of these features save time when time is precious, and you’ll reduce downtime. Besides, you’ll avoid unnecessary motion, making these unexpected stops less disruptive of your own preventive maintenance plan.
Staff and clients can report failures, but that’s not the only way you’re changing communication. As explained before, maintenance and supervisors can monitor what’s happening on the field. They don’t need to wait for a written report and may communicate with technicians as needed through the platform. The back office can really provide remote support.
The other side of the coin is that technicians can also request materials and resources. Answering them quickly decreases delays and assists the field team when it’s most urgent. Technicians no longer need to waste time going back to the office or waiting for validation. Everyone stays connected: management, technicians and, if that’s the case, clients too.
And yes, increasing asset availability
Availability is a complex problem with a simple equation. When you perform preventive maintenance, equipment is less likely to fail. This turns into a longer time between failures (MTBF), less unexpected downtime, and higher availability. Then there’s the MTTR, which reflects your reactive maintenance strategy.
As we’ve explained above, you can improve both with an intelligent maintenance management platform. On one hand, it’s easier to comply with a PMP. On the other hand, it’s all hands on deck when it comes to failure reporting. If you’re doing it right, asset availability and OEE will increase. Besides, data and AI help you find more and more opportunities for improvement.
Infraspeak helps maintenance managers and technicians, but how?
More than 40 thousand teams around the world use Infraspeak. That’s a lot of work orders every day. Apart from our preventive and reactive maintenance native apps, there’s a lot more you can add to the platform. Here’s how we’re helping teams be the best they can be:
First, Infraspeak Direct enables failure reporting by staff or clients. Then, you can use it to monitor the status of each task and track progress. Last but not least, direct messaging between users improves communication between field teams and supervisors. This is our client’s – and our clients’ clients – reactive maintenance best friend.
You probably got the hint, but Infraspeak Operations is our go-to app for smart maintenance operations management. If there aren’t clients or a lot of assets involved, you can streamline work orders, housekeeping tasks and failures in one place. Facility managers in the hospitality industry, retail and manufacturing are amongst its biggest fans.
Infraspeak was the world’s first NFC-powered maintenance management system. What’s not to love? NFC tags allow technicians to clock in and out, are easy to read, and last a long time. All the info you need about an asset fits in a single tag – and a single swipe is enough to register new data. For paper, it’s hasta la vista, baby.
Maintenance operations management is not a work order list. Our clients need to integrate their maintenance ops with the rest of their business. That’s why we provide dozens of integrations with calendars, project and task management property management software, ERPs, etc. The list is always growing.
We’ve talked extensively about using AI to improve preventive maintenance plans and compliance. Our Infraspeak Gear™ takes in all the data (you know, from the NFC tags and integrations) and turns it into actionable insights. You can automate workflows, validate intelligent suggestions, receive alerts and, of course, enhance your maintenance ops.
The case for technology in Maintenance Operations Management
We live in an unforgiving era. There’s no room for delays in manufacturing. Businesses must be at the top of their game to preserve customer loyalty, or they’ll look for an alternative on their phones. And all of it requires reliable equipment. Maintenance operations are now a big part of the day to day in hotels, retailers, manufacturers, and any business with a large infrastructure.
This brings about different hurdles. But, come to think of it, they all have one thing in common: organising information. Storing asset data, planning, scheduling, grouping teams, figuring out which technician is available. How do you connect the dots? When it becomes too much for a human brain, or even an Excel sheet, remember that every era brings progress too.
The 21st century has given us unprecedented connectivity. There’s no question that software, IoT, AI, and mobile-friendly apps enable intelligent maintenance operations. Planning takes less time, failures are reported right away, and you can make data-driven decisions. The result is better management, more efficiency, and improved performance.
Whether you need to manage a small number of assets or thousands of clients, there’s an Infraspeak for you. Schedule a call with one of our specialists to see which of our native apps and integrations suit your maintenance operations.