Anyone who is serious about equipment maintenance is constantly on the lookout on how to improve it.
While predictive maintenance and other advanced techniques can certainly help, there is one simple thing that is right in front of your nose and that is rarely utilized to its full potential – an equipment maintenance log.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of having an accurate equipment maintenance log and discuss the best practices on how to keep it that way.
What is an Equipment maintenance log?
Equipment maintenance log is a simple document that shows all maintenance actions that have been performed on a certain asset.
While the information it contains varies depending on the type of equipment/asset in question, a standard equipment maintenance log is often split into 2 distinct sections:
- General information used to identify the asset
- List of performed maintenance actions on the asset and who performed them
General information usually covers:
- Name of equipment
- Serial Number
In some cases, the general info will also include Purchase date and Purchase price.
List of performed actions usually covers the following information:
- Date (when a certain action was performed)
- Action description (what was done)
- Person performing said actions (who performed it)
There are various free templates of equipment maintenance logs you can download if you are still using pen and paper to track your maintenance records.
Here are a couple of examples of such equipment maintenance log templates:
As you can see, the tracked information can vary a lot. If you think that your technicians are capable of diligently tracking comprehensive details, nobody can stop you from using complex equipment maintenance logs. That being said, keep in mind that the more info they need to track, the less time they have to perform actual maintenance work.
Detailed logs can speed up the time you spend on overall maintenance, but tracking unnecessary things will lower productivity and lead to frustration. That is why you should always seek to find a balance by identifying the things that are actually useful to track.
How to evaluate if something is useful or not? Ask yourself, is the data you want to track part of any maintenance report and did you actually need to know it to make an important decision in the last 3-6 months.
If the answer is NO, then tracking it is probably a waste of everyone’s’ time.
The advantages of using CMMS to record maintenance work
There are many reasons to use a computerized maintenance management system, and equipment maintenance log is one of them.
When compared with paper records, here are the biggest advantages of using a modern CMMS to track what is happening with your assets:
- Unparalleled data access. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access your equipment maintenance logs at any time, from anywhere.
- Automated data recording. When adding a manual entry, CMMS automatically recognizes when and who is entering the data as you have to be logged in to make the entry. If the performed maintenance action was a part of a preventive maintenance plan, you won’t have to actually spend any time on entering the data in your log. This is because an equipment maintenance log is automatically populated with its completed Work Orders and PMs.
- Better accountability. While you can still do some shenanigans as entering data at a later time, all tasks are interconnected with the maintenance calendar so it is easier to notice who has done what, how long did it take, and which parts have been used. This makes it much easier to solve a potential dispute and see if some team members are pulling more weight than others.
- Less room for human error. Since CMMS automates part of the recording process, there’s simply less chance for technicians to enter wrong data (Disclaimer: Some CMMS software is complicated and not very user-friendly which has a negative effect on the accuracy of your maintenance records. This is why we worked extra hard to make our CMMS as intuitive as possible.)
- Vastly superior maintenance history overview. Can you perform a search or filter the maintenance actions by source, date or technician using paper records? Can you look at asset history while you’re on the road? Can you look up info for any asset in just a few seconds? If you have a mobile CMMS, you can.
- The logs are almost impossible to “get lost” or damaged. Records have been lost and misplaced from the day we started using it. Additionally, paper is not the most durable material out there so it is not rare it gets damaged. The data is much safer when it is stored in the cloud.
- Less paperwork. Nobody likes carrying a stack of paper around wherever they go. With modern CMMS, you only need a mobile phone. Additionally, you cut some costs on paper and help the environment – a win-win situation.
- Ability to attach pictures/videos. Some things are just way easier to describe with a picture or a short video – and we’d like to see someone attach a video to a paper. It is time to put all those megapixels on our mobile phones to do some useful work.
On the picture below, you can see how an equipment maintenance log looks like in Limble:
How equipment maintenance benefits from accurate maintenance history
Let’s first tackle the word “accurate”. If you aren’t willing to invest some effort to ensure that the data in your equipment maintenance logs is correct and available when needed, then why bother keeping the record at all? What good is it to base your decisions on incorrect data?
If you are going to do something, do it right.
Here are a few benefits of having accurate maintenance history:
- Easier time scheduling preventive maintenance work. You can compare the list of specific breakdowns an asset has experienced with how often you are doing preventive maintenance tasks that are aimed to prevent those breakdowns.
- Faster failure diagnosing and repair process. Equipment maintenance log gives you a quick insight into all of the documentation and work that has already been done on that asset. This is especially useful for newer technicians that are not intimately familiar with all assets yet so they know for which causes of failures should they check first.
- Easier time deciding when the asset should be replaced. A part of equipment maintenance is evaluating if an asset is still worth repairing. Aside from looking at full repair cost and the exposure from potential downtime, equipment maintenance log can give you useful info in the form of an overview of the type and frequency of all breakdowns the asset has experienced.
- Reduced inventory and operational costs. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about an unexpected breakdown or planned downtime, needing less time to repair a critical asset can save you a ton of money you would otherwise lose by not being able to reach your production numbers. In addition, equipment maintenance logs can be helpful in deciding which and how many spare parts should you order and keep in stock.
For example, if you have a weekly PM to grease the bearings and you still need to replace them more often than it is recommended in OEM guidelines, you probably have to schedule that task every 5 days instead of once a week.
If you are using a modern CMMS, spare parts inventory is tracked automatically. In this case, you can use the equipment maintenance log to follow up on any anomalies. For instance, if you notice that you started ordering an unusually high number of oil filters, you can check equipment maintenance logs to see which asset(s) are burning through them so fast and why.
As long as you don’t go overboard with things you want to track, having clean maintenance records will go a long way in helping you develop an efficient maintenance department.
How to keep your equipment maintenance log up to date?
If you are using a CMMS, you need to make sure that every knows how the tool works and to whom they can come to if they need to enter something that is not covered by standard procedures.
In a modern CMMS, your data is interconnected, which means that, while you only need to enter the data once, that data is used in multiple places. To make sure the filtering and search functions provide you with the most accurate results, it is a good idea to always enter data in the same format.
If you’re using pen and paper, here are some things you might want to define to keep your equipment maintenance log as accurate as possible:
- make a standardized template for each asset you want to track and try to keep these templates as similar as possible
- have a designated place for where the records are kept
- define how equipment maintenance logs should exchange hands during shift switch
The last thing we want to mention here, that is important regardless of the aforementioned approaches, is the need to communicate the importance of accurate data entry to your technicians.
Maintenance technicians often work in less than ideal conditions. Spending hours on your feet while being hot/cold/wet can be physically and mentally draining. In such situations, being extra careful about writing detailed and accurate reports on your performed work is not a priority. To change that, you need to take some extra time to double down on the importance of these records. Explain how false information can impact their day-to-day workflow, as well as the organization as a whole.
Learn from history so you do not repeat it
It isn’t said for nothing that history is the best teacher.
We hope that we were able to show you that benefits of having an equipment maintenance log outweigh the additional time you need to spend on writing down the required data.
With a CMMS, almost all of the work is done for you, so in this scenario, your focus should be on having accurate data in your equipment maintenance log and actually using it to improve different aspects of equipment maintenance.
If you’re interested in learning about other ways in which Limble CMMS can simplify your maintenance operations, don’t hesitate to reach out.