Wondering how to procure or order a CMMS / EAS system?
So you’re using spreadsheets to track assets?
And it takes days to gather maintenance budgets?
Maintenance department got a call from NERC? EPA? Internal Audit Department?
Probably time to consider an easier way to track assets with a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).
“A computerized maintenance management system or CMMS is software that centralizes maintenance information and facilitates the processes of maintenance operations.” In essence, it’s a dynamic database that allows the user to easily obtain, and sort information about important assets that may have either high value or compliance needs. This would include, but not be limited to, electrical equipment, water systems, HVAC units and similar “utility”-type equipment. The good news is a CMMS system makes organizing maintenance wonderfully efficient and easy, including the headaches of budget projections and audits. The bad news is that getting one feels like the Wild West; you could be buying fools gold.
How Does CMMS Software Work?
CMMS software works by streamlining and automating all the operations related to maintenance and management of equipment. It works in three major points.
Point 1 – Data Gathering and Organization
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a great way of stating the ultimate purpose of a CMMS; that is, to have all information, from circuit breaker nameplates to compliance/maintenance records. The basic principle behind CMMS software is that it provides a central repository for all relevant data related to an organization’s maintenance operations.
This data can come from a variety of sources, including asset management systems, work order tracking systems, inventory management systems, and asset management systems. It should also be easily accessible.
Point 2 – Integrating and Streamlining Maintenance Operations
Once the data is entered into CMMS system, it helps with the coordination and management of all aspects of maintenance by ramping up information flow. This includes work order tracking, preventive maintenance scheduling, inventory management, and more.
By automating these processes, CMMS software helps organizations save time and resources while improving communication and coordination among different departments. This would include compliance needs, such as NETA, NERC, EPA, etc and being able to easily compile reports necessary for such compliance.
Point 3 – Reporting and Analytics
Finally, the CMMIS generates reports and analytics related to productivity, repairing, replacing, parts, cost, timing and more. These reports can be used to assess the performance of individual assets, identify maintenance issues, and track the progress of ongoing projects.
The goal is to provide managers with the information they need to make informed decisions about preventive maintenance, repair/replacement projects, and other aspects of their operations. How does one know if any spare transformers are in the network without it?
What to Ask For
The following points are extremely important and will avoid a lot of error in the future, as well as having to explain why a system that cost $20,000 with a completion of 3 months is now three-times that cost and in its fourth year. Therefore, please consider asking the following questions (and “your welcome” in advance).
Who is entering the data into the system (legacy format, field photos, digital files) and what is the cost?
Any technology can build a CMMS, but few deliver a working system with the data in it. If you plan on having your field team or internal technicians do the data entry/validation/gathering, remember that they too have a cost that should be considered. A typical qualified person to gather data/enter data for electrical systems can be anywhere between $65/hr to $200/hr. Gimba is one of the few that does this service and has strategic relationships with NETA companies throughout North America.
What are the hourly rates being charged for various activities?
Every technology company knows what their billings are, but few offer the information. Ask for a rate sheet. If they don’t have one, then don’t work with them. Quite often technology companies will show a price that is off the shelf (OTS), but then configuration of that system may have a consultants hourly rate of $150 or more. Additionally, changes that may be needed in the future may have to be done as source code programming, and a software engineer can be as much as $250/hr. Even the local plumber provides a rate sheet; so should your IT company.
What are the total costs over a 5-year period and what is the break-down?
Some companies, like IBM Maximo, will herald that the software is practically free. But the configurations required will be $524,000 and $300 per user. Therefore, be sure to ask for an NTE (Not-To-Exceed) figure that encompasses all that you need it to do. This would include data gathering, data entry, periodic data validation (someone coming and testing the system), training, support, and all activities related to maintaining that system. Technology companies tend to obtain margins from the questions that are not asked. Gimba is a company (www.gimba.io) that always offers pricing on an NTE-basis.
The vast majority of Maximo integrations are done by third parties. As a result, TRM (example third party company) will be billing you $1,500 per month as a distributor of IBM products that is paid to IBM. This is an additional fee above the normal “per user” fees charged. The whole point of having a CMMS is to make life more organized and less complicated, therefore, be wary of the firm that has fees that are less transparent and more complicated.
Onsite verses Remote?
Don’t be shy about asking if onsite configuration will be done. It should be. Remote meetings and offsite configuration is the main reason why technology integrations take longer than they should. Find a company that says “we can be there Monday”; not “start a chat log with our team in another state”. Additionally, ask what is the make-up of any maintenance fees; that is, are you coming onsite and how often/what is the cost if not included. Gimba is a company that is onsite every six months to validate the system and this is included in the maintenance fees.