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What is a CMMS

A computerized maintenance management system is typically just called a CMMS, but you may hear people use many different descritpions; maintenance management system and maintenance management solution are a couple of the more common terms, along with CMMS. 

CMMS assists maintenance professionals in planning, monitoring, and optimizing maintenance activities; making sure of an organized approach to managing assets and the scheduling of maintenance.  Companies use a CMMS to  save time, streamline their work, improve the reliability of their assets, reduce downtime and maintenance costs,.  


Major components of a CMMS are work order management, request management, asset management, material management and analytics.  Many times a CMMS is integrated wtih other corporate systems, have a mobile component and an integral part of IoT strategies.


CMMS platforms provide critical insights into equipment performance.  Important to the overall success of a CMMS are the analytics, which includes dashboards and widgets.  It's important to be able to visualize information on asset and resource utilizations.  Trends can be recognized and corrective actions generated..


CMMS can also integrate with apps like ERP purchasing software, or tap into production data from SCADA, PLC, and BMS 


CMMS are now tightly tied with the world of IoT (Internet of Things).  Assets can now be monitored 24/7.  Data is collected, analyszed.  Alerts are generated, maintenance planned and continuous improvements made.  A few asset monitoring strategies include; vibration, temperature, lubricantion, acoustic and ultrasound.

How does a CMMS work

A CMMS is a collection of data that provides insights into an organizations asset efficiencies and utilization.  Once a CMMS has been loaded with basic information; locations, assets, inventory and suppliers; the heart of the CMMS is generation of work orders and collecting data that provides information on an assets health.  Work orders include reactive work orders (work orders that are not planned, typically assets are found to have an issue and measures are taken to correct the issue).  Planned maintenance that includes calendar based, meter based and predictive.  A planned maintenance work order is exactly as it's name implies; a work order template of all items necessary to complete the work is prescheduled and generated on a particular week/month/year or on a meter interval ie. every 100 hours.  Predictive maintenance is a bit different in that the planned work is not generated until an "event" happens that triggers the work ie. temperature or vibrations spike.

Our world is a mobile world, it's of the utmost most importance that a CMMS has a mobile solution designed specifically for todays cells phones.  The mobile solution must be taylored for the techncian in the field to faciliate user adoption

Once data has been collected via the work order module and/or the monitoring solution, this data is then fed into an analytic solution that provides information that can be acted on to improve asset efficiencies and utilization.  

In todays world it's vitably important that the CMMS can talk to other corporate systems; ERP, MES, PLC, SCADA to name just a few.  

Benefits of a CMMS

The benefits of a CMMS can be enormous or insignificant; depending on how well the CMMS is accepted, implemented and maintained by all departments across the organization.  The key is ongoing accessment and improving the processes surrrounding the CMMS solution.

Benefits can include:


Reduce maintenance costs by improvements in asset utilization and efficiencies, workforce optimization (working on the right asset at the right time by the right resource). and reduce inventory holding costs. CMMS provides complete insight into all maintenance activities and asset performance.  CMMS also can Incorporate next generation technolgies such as; IIoT and AI. 

Asset Information and Health

Track the entire asset lifecycle from pre-installation, operating to decommisioning.  Centralized information in the CMMS allows the maintenance and engineering departments to instantly access asset data; make, model, serial number, manufacturer. work order history, failure history, downtime history etc.

Workforce Optimization

Work progress can be assess in real time . Maintenance can quickly uncover where an asset is, what needs to be done, what skillset is needed, who should perform the work work and when.  Work orders can readily be viewed and tracked by all departments. 


Managing internal and external resources can be costly. CMMS capabilities can unify and cost-effectively deploy internal and external teams. The latest CMMS solutions offer advances in connectivity to improve operations. 


Implementing a CMMS provides many opportunites to automate processes; saving time, reducing error and increasing asset efficiencies and utilization.  A few operations primed for automation are reordering of parts and manpower scheduling,  

Regulatory Compliance

Many business face manditory regulatory and saftey audits on an ongoing basis from local, state and national agencies.  This can cause undo hardship and burdens in facing these audits.  CMMS solutions makes an audit a much more steamlined and easier to conduct..  All data is electronic and easily accessible for audit information and "proof".  Specific/custom reports are quickly produced without having to go gather all the data necessary; it's simply in the CMMS.

As part of regular compliance are health, saftey and environment audits.  CMMS are used to reduce risk while maintenaning a safe work place.  Accidents are easily recorded and corrective actions taken via the work order processes available in a CMMS solution.

Road to World Class Maintenance

Below are some common examples of world-class performance from a much larger unofficial list that seems to have been developed by consensus over the years:

  • Maintenance schedule compliance is greater than 90 percent.

  • Maintenance overtime is less than 5 percent.

  • Maintenance direct work is greater than 75 percent.

  • Planned maintenance work is greater than 90 percent.

  • PM schedule compliance is 100 percent.

  • The percentage of work covered by a work order is 100 percent.

  • Work order actual hours / work order hours planned is 90 to 110 percent.

  • Equipment availability is at least 90 percent.

  • Equipment productivity is at least 95 percent.

  • Overall equipment effectiveness is at least 77 percent.

Information Obtained From:

Steve Mueller, Daniel Penn Associates /

Knowlege Transfer

With the aging of the workforce accellerating, it is critical to maintenance to reproduce the knowledge of these skilled workers as they retire.  Knowlege includes repair manuals, procedures, asset repair history and maintenance best practices for specific assets.

What is a EAM

Enterprise asset managment (EAM) centers on managing and maintaining an organizations assets throughout the lifecycle of an asset; engineering, purchasing, installation, operations, maintenance, compliance and on to asset retirement.  The goal of an EAM is to optimize the efficiencies and utilization of assets throughout their lifecycle, increase runtime and reduce costs

We are now in the world of  the Internet of Things (IoT).  Everything is monitored by sensors and systems..  Analytics and articial intelligence (AI) help maintenance make better decisions and optimize investments in their assets.


Additional Information:

Ben Lutkevich, Site Editor David Essex, Industry Editor

Features of a CMMS

Asset Management

Location, Nameplate, Life Cycle, Cost of Repairs, Failure Analysis

Work Order Management

WO Requests, Corrective, Standard Job Planning, Checklists, Preventative, Emergency. Labor, Parts, Misc.

Preventative Maintenance

Calendar Based, Meter Based, Event/Sensor Based, Predictive, Fixed or Float Rules, Nested PMs

Material Management

Supplier, Specifications, Reorder, Min/Max, Emergency Stock, Multiple Stock Locations, Cycle Counts


Standard KPIs, Standard Reports, Custom Analytics, Data Blending, Control Limits, WO Triggers


Designed with Techncians in Mind, Receive Work Assignments, Complete Work Order


ERP, MES, Monitoring Solutions, EHS, Accounting, APIs, Data Connector

IIoT/Asset Monitoring

Sensors, Hardware Agnostic, PLCs, SCADA, BAS, GPS, GIS

Artifficial Intellegence (AI)

Anomaly Detection, Pattern Recognition, Forecasting, Trend Analysis, Contextual Data Analysis

History of CMMS

In the beginning, before there was such a thing as a CMMS, everything was on paper and file away.  Virtually impossible to report on or much less analyize anything around asset performance or utilization.   

1950s - 1960s

As computers started to evolve in the 1950s, there was no such thing as a CMMS.  Things started to change just a bit in the 1960s for larger organizations.  Mainframe computers provided some capabilities of a CMMS in gathering data; however, not readily adopted because of how complex they were to use.  The common worker was not involved in utilizing this new tool.   In the late 1960s minicomputers hit the market and the modern CMMS was born.  Although relatively smaller in size, minicomputers (sometimes called greenscreens) they had the same issues as with the mainframe. 


In the late 1970s CMMS access became more accessable with the advent of termanials that could be placed throughout a particular site.  While still difficult to use, maintenance managers started to find some benefits in automating parts of a CMMS; ie. preventative maintenance scheduling.  The 1980s was a turning point in the spread of what is commonly know as todays CMMS.  Personal Computers and LAN networks provided a CMMS that was much more easily deployed, with better user interfaces and some reporting cababilites.  However, CMMS was still a tool mostly used by maintenance management and engineering staff.  Mobile solutions were being offered but were difficult to implement and costly.  Hardware proved to be very expensive.


While the internet was beginning in the 1980s, no real use by the CMMS industry had started to develop.  However, this all changed in the 1990s with the advent of IBM personal computers and Microsoft Windows.  While still difficult to deploy a CMMS solution, things were beginning to move forward quickly.  Use of the CMMS was now starting to be pushed down to the supervisors and technician level.  In the lated 1990s a huge development took place; the advent of cloud computing.  "The Cloud" provided the means to quickly and easily deploy a CMMS.  While not on the level of todays user interfaces; the advent of windows along with cloud networks were the beginnings of the modern CMMS.   During the 2000s the major event was the wide release of cell phones.  While CMMS applications were not yet completely moble, the evolution was started.


From 2010 till today and still ongoing; cell phones, worldwide web, easy accessible, CMMS have made improvement after improvement after improvement.  It's is extremely easy today to deploy and maintenance a CMMS.  All personnel have easy assess to the CMMS; secretaries submitting requests, technicians being assigned and completing work orders, maintenance managers schedule work and information pouring into syficistcated analytics and business intellengence applications.   We live in a mobile world and CMMS solutions have kept up with this trend.  The next evolution of a CMMS will be indorporating artificial intellengence (AI).   AI is at the beginning stages, however, the benefits look to be expotential and the next evolution of CMMS has begun.

CMMS Implementation

CMMS implementations can vary greatly; mostly do to the size of the organization.  The larger the number of locations and/or users, greatly influences the implementation design.  Integrations to other corporate systems also adds to the complexity of any implemenation.  The following chart is an implementation process that a larger implementation might follow.  Smaller projects might only require a few hours training.  However, the key across any implementation is that someone is responsible for getting the CMMS up and running.  

-Click to Enlarge-

Implementation Flowchart

CMMS Future

Technology advances provide a promising future for CMMS,  IIoT, PdM, AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, Automation and Robotics to name just a few.  These technologies will continue to drive vast effiencies in maintenance operations.

Big Data / Industrial Internet of Thins (IIoT)

Big data is data that is too large and/or complex to be dealt with by traditional methods.  The IIoT/asset monitioring systems can drive vast amounts of data.  Big data includes capturing, storing, analyzing, searching, sharingtransfering, visualizationquerying large amounts of data.   Data can then be utilized by AI and ML solutions to gain insights into asset health, predict problems before they happen, all driving toward the goal of continuoes improvment.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI and ML provide the ability to analyze complex data patterns, detect anomalies and perform advanced diagnostics..  Gone are the days of too much or too little preventive maintenance, gone are the days of guessing the failure analyis, gone are the days of performing the wrong "fix".  Everything about the asset will be known and maintenances teams will execute the stratgies of their AI and ML outputs.



Robotics will play an increasingly important position in the future of CMMS.  Robots will perform inspections and repairs.  Powered by AI, robots will analyze complex data patterns, detect anomalies and conduct diagnostics. The human element will not go away, but rather a close kinship between maintenance personnel and robots will provide more time to address complex problems.

The Push Toward Prescriptive Maintenance (RxM)

RxM is transforming CMMS .  Why just predict asset/equipment issues when you can prescribe a fix for them and then act on the prescriptions.   Predictive maintenance uses information to let you know when the machine may fail.  Prescriptive maintenance uses more data to fixi the problem, not just tell you that there is a problem

Next Steps

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