The Future of Maintenance Management, Part 2: Technology Adoption

13th January 2014
13th January 2014

Despite the fact that maintenance management can be highly technical in nature, maintenance teams are often the last in an organization to get new information technology (IT) systems. Whether it’s better management software, mobile devices, networking improvements, or just better desktop computers, other departments are sure to get them before the m­aintenance teams do.   

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The Future of Maintenance Management

The maintenance department’s typical workday includes highly technical and specialized tasks related to a broad range of advanced technologies. Until recently, though, information technology wasn’t considered relevant for maintainers. But the truth is information technology is just as important as any other tool in the maintenance team’s toolbox. The same IT systems that make other departments like finance and marketing more effective are also important for maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) professionals.

Even today, as technology is rapidly integrated elsewhere in organizations, many maintenance departments are just now implementing PCs and related technology, like computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.

And often other forces hamper this process, like when the maintenance folks get hand-me-down computers after other departments get new ones, or when employees are forced to deal with limited, or nonexistent, network and Internet connections.

Yet technology is such a powerful advantage for the maintenance team. So what can you do to ensure your company’s maintenance team gets the tools it need­s? You can start by consciously eradicating these three myths in your own mind, then educating others in your organization.

1. Maintenance People Aren't Smart Enough

Most maintenance employees are highly technical; the first to be called to fix machines and systems that stump everyone else. So why are they perceived as incapable of using PCs and smartphones?

Indeed, there may have been a time when maintenance people, gifted as they were in mechanical operation, didn’t need a computer to help them with their job. But that time has long gone.

If your team maintains fleet vehicles, they are working with computers integrated into all aspects of the vehicles—including the engines, transmissions, air bag systems, and fuel systems. On the shop floor, equipment that once was manually controlled is now automated with process control systems. Far from being not smart enough, the maintenance team usually comprises some of the most tech-savvy folks in the operation.

2. Technology is too complicated

This myth may have begun within the maintenance team itself. And it’s true that at one point in time, integrating technology was a complicated process. But improved user interfaces have made it faster and easier for maintenance teams to get up and running with computers and other IT systems.

For example, gone are the days when you needed high-powered PCs and a complicated internal network to support CMMS software. Today it can be done with a tablet device and a WiFi connection. It’s getting simpler all the time.

3. Computers are for Bean Counters

Technology adoption among organizations often filters down from the top, and usually the top includes more than a few “bean counters.” Yet a computer isn’t just for running numbers and analyzing company stock performance.

CMMS software can serve as the central hub of your maintenance team, holding a vast amount of real-time data that can tell you what’s really going on out there at any given moment. This information helps your team focus on their workload in a productive way. And when your maintenance team is more productive, your whole organization benefits, including the bean counters.

When something breaks, you can be sure maintenance is the first number people will call. So it’s important to make sure your team members aren’t the last on t­he IT department’s list when it comes to purchasing software, computers, and mobile devices to help them manage their own workflow.

Technology adoption in the maintenance management field is growing because the expectations managers have of maintenance personnel are growing too. Today’s maintenance team is expected to plan for preventive maintenance tasks and optimize asset life cycles. Letting go of old myths and advocating for your team’s IT needs leads to good maintenance management and good financial management—two things that benefit your whole organization.

 

Don't miss the rest of this series:

Part 1: 11 Trends Shaping Your Workplace

Part 2: Technology Adoption

Part 3: Enter the "Digital Native"

Part 4: Data-Driven Management

Part 5: Mobile Technology

Part 6: Better, Cheaper, Faster

Part 7: Maintenance Software in the Cloud

Part 8: Systems Integration

Part 9: Insourcing versus Outsourcing Analysis

Part 10: Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Part 11: Regulatory Compliance

Part 12: The Internet of Things

Part 13: Riding the Wave of Change

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