CMMS Software Helps Keep Maintenance On Track And Facilities In Compliance.

CMMS software helps water and wastewater operators keep maintenance on track and facilities in compliance. Here’s some advice on using the technology to greatest effect.
CMMS Software Helps Keep Maintenance On Track And Facilities In Compliance.
An equipment history report from the FastMaint CMMS package shows maintenance costs.

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Water and wastewater operators face strict regulations and unique challenges that often can seem overwhelming. To meet the regulations, equipment and facilities must operate properly and within specifications. Making that happen continuously requires effective maintenance management.

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can be an important tool in the quest to get the job done as problem-free and cost-efficiently as possible. CMMS helps improve maintenance at many municipal wastewater and water treatment plants. Operators can save hours of work time and significant ratepayer dollars by knowing how to use a CMMS system properly.

Powerful tools

CMMS gives utility managers and their operating teams a broad set of tools that can help keep maintenance on schedule and enhance compliance.

First and foremost, CMMS helps in scheduling preventive maintenance and calibration activities.

In a typical facility, multiple tasks need to be scheduled and completed each year, on time. CMMS makes it easier for the managers and planners to organize and complete the work that needs doing. They can schedule planned maintenance by day or month, schedule meter readings, set alarm conditions and more.

A properly programmed CMMS can also help a team identify problems with equipment that needs to be replaced or overhauled. A quality software package offers a variety of reports that operators can use to effectively review maintenance costs, labor costs and equipment problems over time. This information makes it easier to identify equipment that is responsible for a disproportionate share of maintenance issues and thus justify replacement or overhauls. Other benefits include:

Catch missed or delayed maintenance. CMMS software makes sure reports are provided on a regular basis. Even the most mundane of tasks are rarely missed with a CMMS in place.

Work request management. Users can easily report problems or request maintenance checks. Everything is tracked, and status checks on the work requested can be easily performed.

Integrated asset management. Users can easily create a database of all equipment and facilities and how they relate to each other. If one unit is malfunctioning, users will know immediately what other parts of the process will be affected. This keeps one small problem from taking out several vital pieces of equipment.

Statistics and useful reports. CMMS programs typically offer a variety of reports that can provide a view of how the maintenance program is doing. An example is a one-page statistics report that shows the health of the entire maintenance program at a glance.

Success in deployment

Just having a CMMS is not a maintenance solution. It is essential to deploy the system in a way that makes the most of its capabilities.

Different CMMS packages use different systems to store and sort data. Ideally, the database should be built on a well-supported platform, such as Microsoft Access or Oracle. This ensures that team members have access to troubleshooting assistance and third-party tools. Backup is essential: No system is invulnerable, and there is always a risk of files becoming damaged or corrupted.

Software as a Service (SaaS) or Cloud-based systems can have advantages but come with cautions. Here again, backup is critical. Users should also be aware of regulatory issues that could emerge if the systems cannot be accessed due to Internet outage or other problems.

Data transfer must be made easy. Most CMMS packages allow users to import or export data in comma-delimited formats. This is useful for organizations that need the data in a separate system or decide to move to a new maintenance software package in the future.

The system should also allow easy addition of users. CMMS packages vary in their requirement and pricing for upgrade from a single user to multiple users. In addition, the staff should have in-house technical skills, or access to outside assistance, for managing any special hardware or software the CMMS requires. It’s important to keep close track of installation disks, downloads and passwords.

Making a sound choice

Maintenance management is a broad field as a variety of equipment and facilities need ongoing maintenance. Many CMMS software programs are targeted for specific industries or have specialized features. However, a package of this kind may not be an optimum choice if you use the same system to handle different types of maintenance – as in a treatment plant that requires maintenance of equipment as well as facilities such as pipelines.

Specialized offerings may also be more expensive, more complex to deploy and more restrictive in the features they support, as compared with more general-purpose packages.

Some other software suites, such as ERP systems, include maintenance modules. However, these usually do not have all the features and advantages that go with a CMMS package. CMMS can be integrated with some other systems, but that may require the assistance of consultants.

Many maintenance software packages advertise smartphone features and compatibility. Some of these features can be useful, while others have potential to be dangerous. For example, suppose a maintenance technician is modifying system information via smartphone but the transaction drops out midway because of a bad connection.

A better approach is to be able to email or text message work orders to technicians in the field. After completing the work, the technicians should be able to email or text back work order updates that the system can pick up. This allows a disconnected mode that will still work if technicians cannot connect to the network for some period of time.

Besides these considerations, a variety of other items need to be considered when selecting a CMMS software package. CMMS providers should be able to offer guidance. One supplier offers a CMMS Selection Guide on its website with information and checklists that help in selecting the best CMMS for a specific set of needs.

About the author

Sanjay Murthi is sales manager at SMGlobal, a provider of CMMS software for plant, utility and building maintenance based in Apex, N.C. He can be reached at or 919/647-9440, ext. 105.


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