Manufacturing Articles


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Is a Maintenance Management Software System, or MRO, Right For You?
by Bernard Goldband, mfg/erp consultant, NY

Maintenance Management Systems are designed to reduce equipment downtime and costs by organizing and scheduling activities for both repair and preventative maintenance in factories, warehouses, and other high asset manufacturing environments.

Also referred to as MRO systems, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul, these systems can be embedded in ERP and Asset Management Systems or can be used as standalone, best of breed software solution. Whether embedded or best of breed, Maintenance Management Systems have similar core modules which have special features for use in the maintenance and repair environment.

  • Inventory - Equipment breakdowns can place critical demands on inventory of maintenance parts and can result in a long production interruption should there be a stock out. Part inventories for Preventative Maintenance and of critical parts for equipment failures are suggested by the equipment vendor. All Maintenance Management Systems should allow for measuring the frequency of maintenance based on calendar time intervals, the more advanced systems will allow and track preventative maintenance based on actual run time of equipment. Inventory levels for these events can be calculated and the restocking can be triggered using order points or KANBAN methodologies. Complete overalls can be scheduled and special parts ordered as required. Like all inventory systems the objective is to have what is needed, when it is needed, without investing in overstocked parts.
  • Purchasing/Receiving - This module should function similar to an ERP module with one exception, the ability to associate a purchase line item to an equipment/asset number or group of assets. This information would come in handy when evaluating the maintenance costs of a piece of equipment and could be used in analyzing whether the equipment should be replaced.
  • Scheduling - Preventative or predicative maintenance can be scheduled in concert with production demands. An advantage of an integrated ERP system is that the production schedule and the maintenance schedule can be shared. Depending on the type of manufacturing process, scheduled maintenance can be based on the calendar time since last maintenance, the number of units produced, or sensors on the equipment indicating changes in the equipment’s performance. The Maintenance Management Software selected can facilitate the selected preventative management approach.
  • Work Orders - As with all manufacturing activity, Work Orders are the vehicle for initiating scheduling, issuing inventory, as well as accumulating labor and material costs. For judging effectiveness the system needs to record response and down time based on the times and causes associated with the work order. Maintenance Management Systems also need the ability create recurring work orders for preventative maintenance, equipment inspections and to easily create emergency work orders when required.
  • Data Collection - As with most systems operating on the shop floor, data collection is an important function in Maintenance Management Systems. The ability to identify the equipment being maintained, parts issued, who is working on the work order, time spent, and equipment downtime are important data that must be collected. Many Maintenance Management Systems have integrated bar code systems which use hand held devices to update databases and provide for management reporting. Some systems, especially those providing solutions for process manufactures, provide for recording of meter readings to predict required maintenance events. Automated machine monitoring, along with alert notifications, are available on advanced best of breed software packages.
  • Documents - When an equipment vendor ships machinery, documents such as warranty information, mechanical and electrical diagrams, spare parts catalogue, and maintenance instructions are usually part of the package. These documents need to be readily available to maintenance people both in the office and on the shop floor. Many packages contain a Document Management System integrated with the Maintenance Management System. Some even provide the facility to display critical documents on the shop floor using a tablet.


Best of breed solutions for Maintenance Management Systems are more than likely to have all or most of the features described above. Integrated solutions in either an ERP or Asset Management Systems gain in function due to the seamless flow of information with key modules of the hosted system.

The choice between the two will depend on your manufacturing processes and your requirements definition detailing your company’s needs.

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