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Is maintenance management software improving industrial safety? (If not, you’re not doing it right!)

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

5 Ways investing in CMMS/EAM tools can help protect your people

Industrial and commercial safety management is hard. With super specific OSHA guidelines on everything from HAZCOM and lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to re-labeling worn markings on forklift controls, you have a ton to monitor. Oh, and of course, if your team works with high-voltage electrical equipment, there’s always the chance of sudden, devastating arc flashes that explode into temperatures hotter than the sun.

The actual sun, friends. Yeah, no pressure.

Fear not, software can help

No doubt, safety is a full-time effort, but there are software solutions that can help. Some of our faves include computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) tools. These two platforms have a lot of overlap and it’s easy to confuse them. The terribly oversimplified answer is that a CMMS is best for managing maintenance tasks, with work order management as a key function. Whereas, an EAM can do all that but is, at its core, a tool designed to extend asset life through equipment data management.

What’s important for this conversation is that CMMS/EAM technology can greatly reduce the time and stress you put into safety and, ultimately, can help protect your team from some pretty serious hazards. Here are some of the most valuable ways maintenance management software can help.

1. Minimize human error

You may be familiar with the statistic that somewhere around 90 percent of serious workplace accidents can be attributed to human error. Your maintenance management system can do a few things to help. First, it stores and tracks all of your safety training information, so you always have an up-to-date record of who needs to complete training or renew certifications and permits. Next, your CMMS/EAM can help standardize your safety training and documentation, which goes a long way in reducing human error. Your maintenance management software can even automate safety checks specific to high-risk equipment so that your team gets triggered reminders any time they work on that asset.

2. Communicate in real time

Related to human error, delayed communication can cause a lot of risks. With manual tracking and reporting, it can be hours, if not days or weeks, before safety alerts are received and communicated. Maintenance management software offers the power to log and alert in real-time. This includes updates on environmental hazards, faulty equipment, work order changes and more. Your CMMS/EAM not only stores an entire catalog of historical data on every single piece of equipment, but it also makes it easy to view information in quick-view charts and graphs. Plus, all of your safety protocols (safety checklists, SOPs, videos, facility diagrams and more) are accessible from any device, anywhere, making it easy for technicians to access whenever they need them.

3. Control logistical challenges

What’s one of the main reasons you fall behind on the preventive maintenance tasks that keep your high-voltage equipment running smoothly? For many managers, the answer is that they simply fall short on people or parts – or both. A CMMS or EAM will create an automatic activity log providing a record of everything needed to complete each task. The software can then analyze your scheduling, ensuring you staff the right amount of labors hours for the tasks you need to complete. This also helps forecast capacity issues and justify the need for new hires. Similarly, inventory management functionality gives you a clear spare parts report so that you can make sure you always have what you need to complete preventive maintenance.

4. Monitor your environment

Safety concerns go beyond your people and your equipment. A CMMS or EAM can assist you in assessing your facility, documenting safety hazards and monitoring them over time. Corrosion, leaks, safety signs and floor markers, fire doors, storage and warehousing issues, the location of machinery within your production area – these are just a few of the things your software can help you stay ahead of. You can create facility inspection lists with customized thresholds that will automatically alert you when something needs attention.

5. Apply big data to your safety program

Some maintenance management tools offer higher value data analysis and AI/ML capabilities, so you can track trends related to safety incidents and prevent them from occurring again. Do you have more accidents at certain times of day? Days of the week? With specific employees? Or, are there certain pieces of equipment that prove to be more dangerous in practice? With data analysis, you can pinpoint problems and troubleshoot more effectively. With AI/ML functionality, you can also predict equipment faults based on previous failures and receive early warnings that keep your people away from risky assets. Ultimately, your crew will be working on safer, more reliable equipment.

Oh, and not that cost is your first concern when you’re trying to improve safety, but it is worth noting that, according to OSHA, occupational injuries cost employers roughly $1 billion a week just in workers’ compensation. That doesn’t begin to account for the cost of lost time, equipment, etc. If you’re interested in learning more about the ROI of CMMS and EAM technology, we have just the article for you.

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