A maintenance system is an important part of a company’s asset management

The task of the maintenance system is to keep the equipment and production assets of a company in good working order, in order to ensure reliability, usability, efficiency and flexibility of the production process. However, human resources in maintenance are always limited. Therefore, maintenance has to be carried out with the optimal level of expenses, without disrupting production, efficiently and safely. The best way to achieve this is to use a modern maintenance system.

Typically, the matters handled by a maintenance system are the equipment pool, critical spare parts, fault recordings, servicing and maintenance operations, maintenance history, and maintenance documents. When a company’s business is expensive and it needs to run a larger pool of production assets or several production facilities, the need for personnel and equipment increases inevitably.

‘In such cases a company often faces the need to outsource maintenance to external partners. It is also accompanied by the need to get a more versatile maintenance system, which is designed for more challenging use. Such increase in users and involvement of partners brings along requirements set to different user roles and user privileges management, for more multi-faceted work management, design and resourcing,’ ads Niko Pahkala of ALMA.

More reliable data transfer between systems

A larger number of staff in maintenance requires planning and control. At the same time, it means more accurate recording and reporting. The role of cost management will rise as well, in order to get a better overview of e.g. working hours, spare parts and their costs attributable to a project.

‘Control of spare parts, nomenclatures and warehouses, as well as purchases need to be optimised. This creates challenges to the maintenance system, as well as the company’s operation processes. Whether stocks and purchases are handled with an ERP system or by a maintenance system, there has to be a functioning integration between data systems. This is the only way to ensure that essential data related to costs, purchases and stocks are synchronised between different systems,’ Pahkala notes.

Maintenance as well as management of property and life cycle

Challenges faced by older maintenance systems are often a weak overall view, equipment and system relations, usability, faulty integrations and flawed deployment. For these reasons the systems have been in limited use, and their coverage is likely to have been narrow.

‘In maintenance systems major development steps have been taken to tackle these very weaknesses. Moreover, the understanding of companies about the nature of system projects has changed. Today they realise that these processes, as any other processes involving change, need managing,’ reminds Pahkala.

Nowadays maintenance systems are mostly seen as a part of the wider property management system. In addition to the control of traditional production equipment and mechanical equipment register, this also includes other technical sub-areas, such as properties, pipelines, electrical and automation assets, networks, data systems, as well as outsourced sub-areas.

‘Systems often function at the boundary layer of projects and designs, and they are widely used in life cycle management.’

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If you wish to learn more about maintenance and property management systems, please contact ALMA Consulting and Niko Pahkala at niko.pahkala(at)alma.fi.