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The New Generation of
Maintenance Management
man throwing pebble on ocean water

Work execution management (WEM) manages the thousands of details that make up maintenance. Anyone of those details could cause downtime, excessive repair costs or, in the worst case, a death or environmental disaster. The stakes are high and the amount of detail is enormous.

In today’s world, the treasure chest where the details live and are managed is called the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or enterprise asset management (EAM) system. The challenge of WEM is fourfold:

  1. Collecting the details necessary to make decisions about and manage the maintenance effort;
  2. Disseminating the details to the individuals who need them when they need them;
  3. Ensuring the integrity of the details, for example, they are accurate and complete;
  4. Making sure all the details from other parts of the organization find their way to the CMMS/EAM from wherever they are stored or generated.

The fourfold challenge is made even more interesting because there is very little funding to achieve these important goals. So, you must do all these things and, by the way, don’t spend any money!

The primary generator of data within maintenance is the work order. It serves to build, one incident at a time, the maintenance history for each machine, department and the plant as a whole. Typical maintenance departments spend 20 to 30 times more hours with the transaction part of the system than any other part of the system. To help ensure good data comes from the tradespeople, try the following:

  • Be sure each tradesperson is fully trained on what goes in each field, why it is there and how it is used to improve the company’s achievement of its aim.
  • Set up a feedback system that returns incomplete or incorrect work orders to the tradesperson with the deficiencies highlighted. This is done non-punitively.
  • Enroll the tradespeople who have an interest in using the data to improve their maintenance decisions, for example, reviewing a unit history before performing preventive maintenance (PM).

Proper dissemination is essential. People need the right information to make decisions at a particular time and place. Having operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals, drawings, specification sheets, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) maintenance bulletins and such available can avoid mistakes. Ideally, available means as hyperlinks on tablets so the tradesperson or planner can easily and immediately get the details they need.

Often times, it seems like the fixed data in the master file gets infected by “bugs” (data that dilutes the accuracy of the big picture) and becomes less accurate each month. To remedy this, every time someone touches an asset, that person should verify the master file data. You want your tradespeople to check the machine ID and other information in the same manner medical staff check your wrist ID band before giving you medication or performing a procedure.

Campaigns to fill the master files with useful information, such as belt sizes, bills of material and power requirements, are run by the maintenance personnel. Other departments develop data that is essential feed stock for maintenance decisions. One advantage of enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages is they run the whole business, so getting payroll, purchasing, or production data should be relatively straightforward. Other systems, such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) or predictive maintenance (PdM) data, might require custom designed interfaces.

The days of the grizzled old maintenance guy who remembers everything he or she needed to know about all the equipment are gone. Welcome to the new generation of maintenance management.

Joel Levitt

Joel Levitt, CRL, CPMM, CRL, CPMM, is the President of Laser Focused Training. Mr. Levitt has 30 years of experience in many facets of maintenance, including process control design, source equipment inspector, electrician, field service technician, maritime operations and property management. He is a leading trainer of maintenance professionals and has trained more than 17,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in 25 countries in over 500 sessions. Since 1980 he has been the President of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services all sized clients on a wide range of maintenance issues. Prior to that Mr. Levitt worked for a CMMS vendor and in manufacturing management. 

He is also a frequent speaker at maintenance and engineering conferences and has written 6 popular maintenance management texts and chapters of 2 additional reference books. He has also published dozens of articles on the topic. Mr. Levitt has served on the safety board of ANSI, Small Business United, National Family Business Council and on the executive committee of the Miquon School. He can be reached at or visit

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