Should we connect our CMMS to our IIoT platform? Would that effort provide us with valuable results? Yes…only if you keep a few points in mind. These points are honestly a reminder to stick to the basics.
Note: Computerized Maintenance Management System are software systems used by Maintenance & Reliability teams to, among other things, manage machine health using work orders and other data.)
Back to the question, should we connect the CMMS with the IIoT system?
Connecting these kinds of systems can be really valuable. It enables Maintenance and Reliability teams to monitor more equipment, attain better uptime, with fewer resources (“do more with the same”). However, there’s a balance to strike….Goldilocks strikes again (I reference “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” often).
1) Not in the Pilot Project, Keep it Simple: We recommend not doing it as part of your IIoT pilot project where you’re connecting 1-5 machines for the very first time to get maintenance and production related data.
Integrating an ERP or CMMS with an IIoT / Manufacturing Analytics platform isn’t rocket science, far from it. Though it does make that first pilot project a little more complicated. Pilot projects are supposed to be simple. Adding another big moving part like getting two software/data systems to talk with one another adds a bit more complex and is best done after the pilot project. KISS…Keep it Simple Silly.
2) Are the Maintenance Culture and Practices Ready? Are your Maintenance & Reliability guys and gals ready for it? Many companies are still in the Reactive Maintenance mindset, no matter the cause. If you connect a CMMS with the IIoT system, set the IIoT system to start creating work orders in the CMMS when certain conditions are met, the guys and gals in maintenance might be overwhelmed with work orders and not see the value. “Last time I fixed this machine it was smoking and whining. Why should I fix it now if it’s not smoking and whining?”
Changing the culture and mindset around Maintenance & Reliability to move to Preventative and better yet, Proactive Maintenance or Condition-Based Monitoring, would be optimal. Companies that are already on this path, as many are, are well suited for this type of integration.
For those that aren’t on the path forward, this doesn’t mean you can’t and never should setup this integration of IIoT and CMMS platforms. It simply means there’s a little more thought that goes into it.
3) Start Small, Less is Better…Incremental Approach: A thought…maybe hold off trying to track a lot of data and various conditions of many machines all at once at the outset of getting IIoT setup. If you try to track a whole bunch of data points on each machine you connect with, with no approach for solving a specific challenge with the machines, then you’ll be drinking from a fire hose and it won’t taste very good. You’ll get a whole bunch of data, and it potentially won’t be terribly useful.
Instead, as part of the Pilot Project, look to solve a specific, common, valuable problem with a limited set of data. Also, do that on one specific type of machine or small set of machines that are very similar.
However, if you’ve already done that and the value of the solution is proven…then keep going…add more data to solve additional, narrow challenges.Work the problem step-by-step, incrementally.
These are simple reminders of key ideas that many of us often forget when we get into the fray of or workdays. A lot of life and work is about getting back to the basics.