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What Is CMMS Software: The Willy Wonka Guide

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What is CMMS software? CMMS (computerized maintenance management system/software) is software that helps you schedule, organize, and record maintenance tasks. Everything you do as a maintenance manager is made easier with CMMS software, from dispatching technicians to maintaining inventory.

Any factory or plant can benefit from CMMS software, no matter how big or small the operation.

I could answer “what is CMMS software?” in a dry fashion, but I think I’ll instead leave that to one of the most ambitious and coordinated maintenance teams of all time:  

I’m talking, of course, about the oompa-loompas.

This letter from Ed the Oompa Loompa, Wonka Factory Maintenance Manager, will show you what a CMMS really is: the key to efficiency.


TO: Willy Wonka

Congrats on the factory opening, and on last weekend’s successful tour! With only four children maimed/mutated/possibly mixed into the candy, it feels just like the old days. We’ll have to reset our “x days since the last accident” sign, but still. Little victories.

The guys and I have been talking, and we think there are a few problems that need to be addressed. We’re overwhelmed by our assets. We’ve got too many tasks, and no good scheduling system. We don’t have any way to measure when our machines are likely to break down.

We think computerized maintenance management software (or CMMS) could really help us with some of these key issues. What is CMMS software? It’s a lot of things…

CMMS Software Makes Mobile Devices Efficiency Machines

I know you’ve got nothing against technology, what with being able to send people over the airwaves. But we’re missing out on an easy opportunity. A CMMS with a native mobile app could make my team 15-30% more productive.

My technicians could check on work orders from anywhere in the factory. They could take photos of assets in the field on their phone, so any future work orders will have pics for reference. They can even geo-tag work sites, so the next technician will know the best route to take to the job.

Your earlier idea about tv transmitting ourselves around the factory to decrease travel time was an intriguing suggestion, but we lost too many Oompa Loompas. Like, literally, they’re still dematerialized up there, Star Trek-style. And I’m pretty sure some are still stuck in the tv in the break room, unless they hired an orange dwarf to host The Price is Right. Yeah, that’s what happened to Lenny. He’s stuck in there, and he doesn’t look too happy about it. Nor does Drew Carey.

A CMMS Sends Maintenance Notifications

The Wonka Factory’s what, 20,000 square feet? We’ve got thousands of assets, and keeping track of preventive maintenance on a whiteboard isn’t cutting it anymore. With a CMMS, though, we could set up the software to notify us, by email, when we need to check up on a machine. We’ll be moving from reactive to proactive maintenance.

Some CMMS companies are even using the IoT to make notifications even more useful. For example, over at Upkeep, they’ve got a smart monitoring program that links sensors to the CMMS. We could put a sensor in the goose room, and if the temperature gets too high for them to lay eggs, voila: I get a notification and send an Oompa Loompa that way. And trust me, we need sensor-based maintenance.

Sensors and notifications would have helped with that obese German kid we had to scoop out of the chocolate pipes. Do you know what happens if we hadn’t been there to catch the little Deutsch drain clog? We could have had an entire shipment marinating in Augustus Gloop. That pipe he was in goes directly to the mixing room, and, by the way, we weren’t able to prevent all of that chocolate from distro.

I was walking by a candy store the other day, and I swear I heard a kid say his Wonka Bar had a “sauerkraut-esque tang and notes of pork sausage earthiness.” Admittedly, I was more disturbed by the relish with which he finished it off, but still… We get clogs and mistakes like that periodically. With CMMS notifications, we’ll know when it happens.

A CMMS Is An Inventory Management Solution

Sure, candy forests and marshmallow carriages look cute, but the reality of their maintenance? Staggering. Do you know how often we replace the filters on the marshmallow carriage? About 19 times a week. That’s why a CMMS with an inventory management feature would really help us. We’ll know what we need, and what needs to go. Good inventory management can also save us money: according to Doug Wallace of Life Cycle Engineering, “after five years of holding an item,” a plant has “basically bought it all over again.”

What’s more, some CMMS programs integrate with barcode scanners to make inventory as easy as checking out at the grocery store. Just scan an item when you take it from the storeroom, and the CMMS updates itself. Which reminds me, we’re going to need to order an industrial pressure washer. That bratty kid who went down the goose chute’s ok, but she got a little singed (let’s just say she makes us look pale), and yeah… time to clean the ducts.

Hey guys, it’s like a campfire!” “Earl, please. Be an adult.

A CMMS Is An Easy Way To Schedule And Track Work Orders

CMMS software is a great way to manage work orders. With a CMMS, we’d be able to issue work orders, and technicians could mark jobs as completed, and enter information into the CMMS program, all from their mobile device. I’d be able to review incoming orders, prioritize in order of importance, and match the right order to the right technician.

I know you love the oompa-loompa songs, but face it, they’re not an efficient way to do work orders. They’re time consuming, demeaning, and can you say “earworm?” You want to give us scrum-diddly-umptious bars instead of health insurance, fine, but don’t expect us to get past twenty Oompa-Loompa songs a day without therapy.

A CMMS also makes it easy for technicians to sign off on orders once they’re done. Since the whole system’s linked, I’ll know, almost instantaneously, once a technician has signed off. That’s efficiency.

Right now? We have to close out work orders with a song. AND a dance. It helps with the whole whimsy factor, but having to spend two minutes on a musical number when an asset’s in the red is a safety risk. We had a boiler explode mid-song last week. Took out nine guys, and, of course, required another song, dirge-tempo, about cleaning up bits of your co-workers.

With a CMMS, you can also prioritize work orders. It took Carl and Ronny about four hours to get that gum-chewing kid de-juiced because they weren’t clear it was more important than than restocking the toilet paper. Which, I mean, it wasn’t, but still, what if…

And there’s no easy work-order history. With a CMMS, it’s easy to reference past work orders, check on what happened last time, how we fixed it, and how that particular piece of machinery works. That sort of thing makes a CMMS great for institutional memory, especially once the Baby Boomperloompas start retiring.

Point is, boss, we think that a CMMS could make this good factory great. With all the work we just put into the big reopening, we want to keep up this great momentum. With a new CMMS, and you leading us, I know we’ll keep that up. I mean, it’s not like you’re handing over control to an eleven-year-old or anything.

What Is CMMS? Ask Below!

Still interested in what a CMMS is? Though it can do everything you read about above, that’s hardly the limit of what you can do with a computerized maintenance management system. Post questions in the comments below. Of, if you already use a CMMS, and can’t stop singing its praises, let us hear about your world of pure imagination down in the comments.

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About the Author

Geoff Hoppe

Geoff Hoppe writes about business intelligence and field service management for Capterra. His background is in education and higher ed, but he’s interested these days in how small businesses can use software to be more agile and efficient. When he’s not reading and writing about software, he’s probably reading and writing about history, music and comic books, finding new hikes throughout Virginia, or following the Fighting Irish.


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