26 October, 2011
For more than three decades, Micro-Coax has been serving the defense, telecommunications, and test/measurement marketplace with their high-performance, cost-effective solutions to the most challenging microwave cable configuration problems. Facilities Manager, Brian O’Connell, discusses below the challenges, implementation, and benefits of using a CMMS in the Micro-Coax Maintenance Department.
Micro-Coax began searching for a CMMS about 2 years ago. We explored our present CMMS system supplier, trying to get it to communicate with our ERP system, but were dissatisfied with the results. I once found myself in a hour-long conference call with our I.T. director, our ERP in-house person, myself, and our Maintenance Supervisor, speaking to our ERP Consultant, to go over the email I sent previously with a detailed list of questions. At the end of the meeting, it dawned upon me we had spent $250.00 in direct costs to our ERP consultant and wasted several hours of time for each of the individuals listed above in order to get some questions defined that I had already submitted. This was looking like a long and painful road.
I began looking around at other systems from other companies, with the idea of using Excel to import into our ERP. The entire concept of SaaS was new to me, and instantly I saw the benefits as if it were made just for us: low initial cost, no server space to hold the program, ease of use on-site and off and limited involvement by our overstressed I.T. department. We won management approval, and eMaint X3 was turned on in August 2010.
Our past system was a home-grown version of Excel, and while it was a first step, its difficulty made it a roadblock to quantify each and every job performed. The implementation of eMaint was easy. It involved getting the assets entered correctly as documentation revolves around the asset numbers. Once we knew what we wanted to see, we customized the reports desired from the list of available reports and we were on our way. Daily reports of previous day’s activity enables us to see what my direct employees and contractors accomplished.
In the year since, we have completed and documented a staggering number of jobs. Our craftsman and contractors use the system basically to justify the hours they have on their timecards or invoices. When a request is submitted, and approved, it is assigned and from there our craftsman self manage their work.
Once we got over the hump regarding the task of documenting each job, the craftsman were on board. Then when we showed them the job count, and how many jobs each one was doing each month, the increase in self pride was obvious. Now the craftsman ask for work orders for each job they run across, and instead of viewing it as an roadblock, they understand this is a visible validation of their hard work. In addition, having a system as easy to use, and easy to view past history as eMaint is, allows us to look for past clues on how a problem was solved. Additionally, we have a much better PM management system in place, allowing us to do things the same way each time we perform a PM evolution.
If I ran into program problems with eMaint, I kept a logbook with issues to discuss with eMaint and we emailed, or called, to resolve. Response has been good, and most of our issues are resolved quickly, and if not we keep discussing until we come to a resolution. We have not needed enough support to generate an invoice as of yet. My maintenance team is computer savvy, but we still needed to go over some items from time to time.
The past year was exciting, interesting, and revealed a lot about this company’s maintenance department. We always thought we did a good job, but there is a big difference in our upper management’s eyes when we now tell them ‘Let me show you’ instead of ‘I feel’. Now we have documentation showing our strengths and our weaknesses. Using eMaint has brought pride to the department, allowed continuity in job plans and PM performance, and allowed us to work on our areas of concern. These were not goals when I began the search for a CMMS system, but since have eclipsed the system itself and really have made us a more efficient department. We are now exploring how to use eMaint in our engineering department and our tool and die department.