The 3 Biggest Workspace Management Challenges Of 2021

The status quo of how industries and organisations conduct business is being upended – and office space management is a clear example. Two years ago, most employees expected to work in their dedicated place of business. Then last year, companies with no previous plans to enable employees to work from home were forced into making that a reality almost overnight. And this year, a significant new trend has emerged. People don’t want to give up the flexibility and freedom of working from home, with at least 60% of employees preferring a hybrid work model. This has left many wondering: What will our new office environment look like? As it becomes safer for employees to be back in the office and the landscape shifts yet again, companies are exploring how to best manage space while accommodating employee expectations, keeping workers safe, cultivating efficiency, enabling collaboration, nurturing deep thinking and making the most of expensive real estate. It’s an endeavour that requires significant planning and effort on multiple fronts, including office managers, HR and higher management. As your organisation works to achieve a successful return to the office, tackling these three key challenges at the outset will help smooth that path.

Challenge #1: Determining Optimal Office Space

Should you reduce your office space? At first glance, the answer is a resounding “yes.” It seems intuitive. After switching to a working-from-home model, fewer employees will want to spend time in the office, so there is no reason to invest as much of your budget as you previously did into office space. However, there could be some severe drawbacks in cutting down on office space prematurely. Health And Safety First and foremost, consider health and safety. We have all gained an increased appreciation for social distancing over the past year. We had enough space to continue applying that precaution – even while at work – which will be an important factor in creating a safe work environment. You might want to use workspace management software to help you estimate exactly how much office space is necessary to allow your employees to come into the office while keeping a safe distance. Employee Preference It’s also important to remember that you are now competing not simply with other companies for top talent but also with your employees’ own homes. Suppose you want to encourage employees to come back into the office, allowing for increased teamwork and tight-knit culture. In that case, you must make the office environment an inviting one. Cutting down on space might save you some budget, but it could mean losing employees who don’t want to be cooped up in small spaces. So instead of making any big decisions about your office space based on arbitrary guesses, use a data-powered workspace management software to help guide you. For example, by utilising a tool such as EMS, you can monitor how much your employees use space and make informed decisions about reducing your office footprint. Room Utilisation How is space being used? Without looking at the correct data, it is possible to jump to the wrong conclusions. For example, suppose you rely solely on Outlook to understand how frequently your conference rooms are being reserved. This can tell you when rooms are reserved, but it doesn’t indicate the actual space usage. To determine this, you will need a room reservation software that measures when people are using a particular space, perhaps by requiring them to check-in or through sensors that detect their presence. Flexible Workspaces For those planning to implement a flexible workspace, in which employees can choose to either come to the office or work from home, there will most likely be days when the office might be mostly empty and other days when the office will be over capacity. So how can you make sure there is enough space for everyone on peak days? Many of our clients have solved this problem by grouping their employees into various segments with designated days for working in the office. Making sure that everyone abides by this model of work can be easily achieved through workspace management software, which will also help you maximise the number of people you can have in the office at any given time.

#2 Using The Workspace To Attract New Talent

What does your workforce want? On the one hand, it seems like it should be easier for companies to attract new talent these days. 42% of people are willing to change jobs for 10 percent less pay if it meant getting flexible work hours. The obvious conclusion seems to be, that if you offer a flexible work model, you will be an attractive employer. But millennials have high expectations for new job offers. 75% of millennials consider an engaging and fun workplace, including work perks like social events, important or very important. In addition, they expect the office space to be dynamic, social and engaging. This means that many companies need to move away from the old school “cubicle” workspace and create a modern environment beyond an open floor plan. Today’s talent likes variety: hot desks, desk hoteling, cosy communal areas, and easy-to-book conference rooms. But non-purpose-built room booking tools such as Outlook aren’t equipped with the necessary functionality to turn this into reality. Also, with an increasingly dynamic workforce constantly on the go, sometimes switching between different offices in various locations, you need a room booking system that can keep up with them. Tools For The Modern Workforce A platform like EMS can help your new employees immediately feel at home in all your offices with features like:
  • Interactive kiosks. Kiosks can help them navigate the layout of the office and track down where their colleagues are sitting on any given day.
  • Support of various types of space. EMS has the functionality to connect your employees to the different types of office space you have set up. So, for example, they can check into their hot desks, so their colleagues know where to find them.
  • Space usage visibility. Employees can see how much office space is being booked and used on any given day to assess whether they feel comfortable going into the office.
  • Collaboration tools. Employees can plan to sit in the same area as their team to work together, and they can make sure they have all the equipment they need.
Not only will EMS help you create the kind of environment which will attract new talent, but EMS itself is the kind of modern tool that can catch a millennial’s attention. With an easy-to-use mobile interface, your employees can interact with their new office space without ever having to seek assistance. This is a surprisingly important aspect, as 59% of people do not feel comfortable reaching out to someone for assistance at the office.

#3: Ensuring Buy-In For Your Space Management Model

How can you help employees adapt to your space management model? As the office space keeps modernizing, and the traditional personal desks are being replaced by hot desks, desk hoteling, communal areas, etc., employees can feel overwhelmed by these changes. The NHS reports that 11% of all mental issues connected to work are due to changes at the workplace. One of those changes lies in office space “ownership.” Until recently, a personal desk was an important bonus and something that people had come to expect from their workplace. It provided employees with storage space for personal belongings, a permanent area they could personalise with photos and souvenirs, an implied social circle formed by the people who occupied the surrounding desks, and sometimes even a nice view. The new workplace model takes away a lot of that comfort and familiarity. Hot desking can make people nervous. Some people might forget to book a hotel desk ahead of time. Others might feel uncomfortable in communal working spaces and need a quieter area to focus on their work. And let’s not forget the importance of having your team close by, which can be tricky if your hot desks are spread across a large open space. To help your employees navigate this changing environment, you can give them tools that empower them with a sense of control and afford them a sense of ownership over the spaces in which they work. Giving Employees Control Over Their Workspace Room booking systems such as EMS go far beyond just booking rooms. Not only can your employee’s reserve, check-in, request equipment, etc., for all the different areas of your office, but even their lack of activity is a way of communicating. For instance, if they consistently avoid using certain spaces, their usage data will show you which spaces they like and avoid, so you can offer them more of what they need. Empowering Employers With Data And EMS is a two-way street. While your employees feel that they have regained ownership of their workspace thanks to an interactive tool, you as the employer can also benefit from our workspace management software by regulating how people interact with the new space:
  • You can restrict your employees’ access to the office to certain days of the week.
  • You can set and enforce policies if employees book meeting rooms and don’t show up repeatedly.
  • You can require your employees to sign in when using a desk to ensure that the space isn’t being wasted.
Software such as EMS can bridge the gap between employer and employee by allowing employees to interact with their space, express their needs, and feel empowered. At the same time, the employer can seamlessly regulate the use of the space, enforce certain rules, and make data-driven decisions to improve the employee experience. Contact us today to find out more.

2021 Document Management Trends And How Meridian Can Help

In the long wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations in asset-heavy industries continue to evaluate the short-term solutions they put together to “get through” lockdown while working to establish their long-term strategies and technological stack. In this context, certain things are a given – like the fact that digital transformation is a “have-to-have” and technological agility is more important than ever. 

That said, there are still many lingering questions, like which “COVID necessities” have become long-term shifts in operations and philosophy, and where should organisations focus their energies moving forward? 

Here are all the workforce, industry, and document management trends to keep top of mind as you answer these and other pressing industry questions. 

Top Manufacturing Industry Trends For 2021 And Beyond 

When looking at the most critical trends and best practices, it’s helpful to separate them into three buckets: workforce, industry, and document management. 

Manufacturing Workforce Trends To Look Out For In 2021 

There are a few trends that have been brewing in the manufacturing workforce for several years. For one, there is a growing skills gap as over 2.6 million skilled workers – most of whom are Baby Boomers – age out of the workforce, and 81% of UK manufacturers struggle to replace them. This will only become more prominent in years to come, and organisations will have to face this skills gap head-on and: 

  • Focus on recruiting highly skilled talent, including automation skills, critical thinking skills and experience working with the latest technology. 
  • Adopt AI to execute low-level, repetitive tasks. 
  • Deploy effective knowledge management to make both structured and unstructured data easily accessible and readily available. 
  • Use technology and modernisation to attract top talent, most of whom are uninterested in the manufacturing industry as it exists today. 

Here, it’s important to emphasise that technology will not replace the manufacturing workforce in the coming years. Instead, occupations will shift as technology takes over easily automated tasks, while employees take on more advanced, skilled roles. 

Manufacturing Industry Trends To Look Out For In 2021 

Looking more broadly at the manufacturing and asset management industry, expect to see an increased focus in: 

  • Predictive maintenance: The idea of predictive maintenance is nothing new – and many organisations have been working toward creating a more predictive manufacturing environment for several years. That said, current technology — like equipment readers, comprehensive historical data and smart manufacturing tools powered by AI – have made predictive efforts more attainable than ever. The key here, though, will be to focus efforts and budget on your most important assets or manufacturing tasks. 
  • Green manufacturing efforts: In recent years, lean manufacturing strategies and improvements are driven by AI, and the IIoT has made green manufacturing efforts more attainable – and expectations have risen. So if you’re not already going green, you will likely have to be soon. 
  • The Internet of Things (IoT): If there is one thing that was made painfully obvious for many businesses during the pandemic, they were woefully behind when it came to IoT developments like remote monitoring and control of devices and systems. To prevent this issue from arising in the future, remote communications and IoT technologies were deployed much more effectively throughout 2020, and this trend will continue to increase in 2021 and beyond. 

Document Management Trends To Look Out For In 2021 And Beyond 

With mobile operations, cloud technology, AI and digital transformation, manufacturing organisations today have more data coming in than ever before. Those that capitalise on this data and utilise it to make informed decisions and drive revenue will find themselves at the head of the pack. 

This will call for: 

  • A move toward cloud-based document management 
  • Well-connected document management systems 
  • Increased emphasis on sound document management security 
  • Scalable and customisable document management solutions 

The Right Engineering Document Management System Can Help 

A robust engineering document management system (EDMS) like Meridian can help your organisation stay on track with these trends and best practices. More specifically, by providing a single source of truth for engineering documents, facilitating concurrent engineering, offering SaaS deployment options, and allowing for easy access to documents on mobile devices, Meridian can facilitate: 

  • Increased agility 
  • Improved health and safety 
  • Predictive maintenance strategies 
  • Cloud operations 
  • Scalability, and more. 

Contact us to learn more about trends and best practices – and what you can do to improve your operations today.

Why Good Data Structure Is Critical For Your Digital Transformation

Effective digital transformation is essential for continued operations in the remote, multi-site, digitally dependent, post-COVID world we live in today. Even before the pandemic, the IDC predicted that worldwide spending on digital transformation would reach $2,3 trillion by 2023 – and that number is only increasing as time goes on.

At the core of any effective digital transformation effort is good data structure, which requires effective data governance and data strategy. Heres everything you need to know about data structure, common roadblocks to attaining a clear data structure, and how to get it right.

What Is Digital Transformation And Why Is It Inescapable Today?

What Is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of moving operations, tools, and processes from a traditionally offline or siloed environment to a digital environment to offer a better understanding, increased alignment and greater business value. 

Ultimately, digital transformation can:

  • Create insights and data points that will measurably improve the customer experience with the intent of increasing sales, consumer loyalty, and brand advocacy.
  • Enable and unlock intelligence across an organisation to highlight how and where you can take time and cost out of the process, with the intent of reducing waste and lowering the expense of doing business.

Furthermore, its shown to work: according to McKinsey, data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable as a result. Whats more, Forrester notes that insights-driven businesses are growing at an average of more than 30 percent each year and they were expected to take $1,8 trillion annually from their less-informed peers starting in 2020. We suspect that, in the wake of the pandemic, the actual number was even higher.

Yet, despite the years of research, for years digital transformation has been seen as a nice-to-have’ for businesses. This is particularly true for businesses in asset-intensive industries, many of whom have been hesitant to move to the cloud or overhaul their technological infrastructure. Instead, these organisations have continued to favour their legacy systems or take a patchwork approach to modernise their systems, processes, and operations.

For a while, that mindset worked: legacy on-premises systems functioned well enough. The offered security, existing processes felt comfortable, and – by ignoring the call to digitise –  organisations sidestepped any risk associated with investing in unproven and expensive new technology.

COVID-19 Has Accelerated Digital Transformation Initiatives

That all changed with COVID-19. Suddenly, organisations needed to run remote operations, facilitate social distancing, remain compliant and manage assets in multiple sites and locations to stay alive – which meant that effective digital transformation became vital to staying afloat.

Most organisations reacted by erecting a decent technological infrastructure as quickly as possible. For asset-intensive organisations, this included cloud-based tools, mobile features, and a more digitised data repository.

But its been an uphill battle, particularly for organisations that did not have the most important part figured out: their data integrity, and more broadly, their data and asset structure.

Here is why data structure is the key to effective, long-lasting digital transformation – and how to get it right for long-term operations.

Digital Transformation Starts With Strong Data Structure

The Broader Context: Data Here, Data There, Data Everywhere

At the heart of data structure is the data itself. After all, the goal of digital transformation is to align all your data to inform and transform operations –that is only possible if the tools, data strategy, data management, processes and analytics are all connected and properly aligned. All of which, in turn, is only feasible if your data is well structured and well-governed.

Todays asset-intensive organisations live under mountains of data coming in from various sources, not limited to, but including:

  • Work orders and related documentation.
  • Asset data, including historical maintenance records, and related documentation.
  • Network Asset data from systems like ESRI and Smallworld GIS.
  • MRO inventory data.
  • Data coming in from various other mission-critical tools – things like an electronic document management system (EDMS) or a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS).
  • Other enterprise business tools (i.e., manufacturing, quality, accounting, and marketing systems).
  • Pen and paper data.
  • Data that lives in the heads of skilled employees, otherwise known as tribal knowledge.

Unstructured Data Is A Huge Pain Point For Many Businesses

The challenges most organisations face are that this data is siloed, fragmented and unstructured. By unstructured, we mean the data is inaccessible and/or incompatible across locations and departments. There are many reasons for this:

  • Knowledge is often spread by word-of-mouth from tenured, skilled employees with no documentation, standardisation or information governance.
  • Platforms and systems are purchased independently of one another and do not properly integrate. Accounting data, for example, lives separately from asset data, so big picture financial insight across departments is not possible.
  • Organisations have a mix of pen-and-paper, on-prem and cloud-based SaaS tools. This inconsistency leads to incomplete information, poor document version control and more.
  • Technology and strategies are implemented without universal buy-in, cultural shifts, training, and adoption from technicians and other primary users.
  • Processes and documentation are not standardised, or universally available, and good data governance is not in play.

Bad Data Leads To Poor Asset Structure

For asset-intensive organisations, this can snowball into poor asset structure. Think about it: for each asset, an organisation should have a repository of accessible related information, including blueprints, maintenance history, parts information, compliance data and warranty information. This is the information thats required not only to maintain assets but also to allocate resources, make capital plans and justify an assets place on the balance sheet.

But if for example, inventory data is siloed or data is not inputted uniformly, that same information becomes difficult to access. More broadly, there will not be comprehensive asset insights or automation that can streamline maintenance tasks or drive big-picture money-saving decisions.

Ultimately this can lead to:

  • Incomplete information.
  • Out-of-date information.
  • Failed digital transformation efforts.
  • Complicated system validations.
  • Difficulty maintaining continuous compliance.
  • A higher total cost of ownership.
  • Cybersecurity concerns.

This lack of structured data also guarantees that broader digital transformation efforts and more advanced tools – those powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – will fail. AI, IoT, and data-driven automation and insights are only possible when theyre powered by rich, expansive, comprehensive data. That is the only way they exist. And such applications are at the heart of any comprehensive digital transformation effort. 

Therefore, bad data means no advanced tools or transformation efforts will ever yield the results youre looking for. It is imperative that you get your data structure right.

How To Improve Your Data And Asset Structure

So how do you sidestep these concerns and get your data structure right? There are three things to consider here: the data itself, your broader structure, and ongoing data governance.

  1. Get Your Data In Order

First, you need to cleanse, review, and consolidate the mission-critical data that lives in your various business systems into one coherent, standardised system. This requires that you answer key questions about your data, including:

  • What data do you have?
  • What data are you collecting regularly?
  • How is that data used and how does it inform broader strategies?
  • What does that data tell you about your customers, your KPIs and your business?
  • What data are you missing? Where are there currently gaps in your data needs?
  • What data do you want that youre not already collecting?

You need to know what you have before you can understand what to do with it. By starting at the data layer, you will truly understand your online and offline information, so you can glean actionable insights and make any technological investment worth your while.

2. Get That Data Organised Using The Right Tools

Next, you need to migrate that data, error-free, into a well-structured tool that meets your business’ needs. The right tool can help with data structure, data governance and the generation of data insight. More specifically, it will help:

  • Ensure your data initiatives are standardised and repeatable.
  • Automate manual processes of analytics, which become difficult to manage as companies gather more data. AI automation can also increase your teams internal bandwidth while eliminating human error and biases.
  • Ensure that your organisation can easily manage the flow, quality and governance of your information, which is key to any effective insights or transformation efforts.
  • Your team continue to generate high-quality, actionable data and insights at a fast pace.

So, what does that tool – or suite of tools – look like? It will vary depending on your industry, data sources and broader goals, but the right tool will facilitate a holistic data understanding and strategic approach. 

This will require technology that can:

  • Collect and orchestrate your data.
  • Use that data intelligently to inform your team and add value to your broader strategies.
  • Combine tech and data insight to deliver superior, actionable, and data-driven business insights.

What Are The Right Tools For Asset-Intensive Organisations?

For organisations in asset-intensive industries, there are a number of important solutions. For instance: Water Distribution companies can make big strides when planning and documenting their network assets and water resources using Optimised Water Industry Solutions. 

Two tools that check all these boxes are a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) and an electronic document management system (EDMS). Ideally, they should be used together if you want to make the most out of each tool and truly modernise your operation functionality.

If you run an asset-heavy organisation, its likely you make use of a CMMS or an EAM. A CMMS is an enterprise business system used to manage work orders, track inventory parts, and execute preventive maintenance. 

The goal? To digitise and automate maintenance operations to better deploy preventative maintenance strategies, develop better maintenance practices, stay organised, and ultimately save time and money. And a CMMS already has a certain degree of document management and data structuring built-in, so you may think that you have the structural foundation you need to modernise with a CMMS alone. This simply is not the case. 

The built-in data structuring is not robust, and it will not be adequate as you try to take your next steps to modernise. Moving into Industry 4.0 and truly undergoing digital transformation in the manufacturing industry means deploying things such as machine learning, sensors, and the digital twin to move toward a more predictive state. These innovations require both next-level, advanced data structure and, more broadly, a truly connected technological environment. The document management functionality that exists within a CMMS is not powerful enough to structure and connect your data in this way – which is where the EDMS comes into play.

Using an EDMS along with your CMMS provides that advanced, nuanced, comprehensive data structure and moves you one step closer to that predictive, truly connected digitally transformed environment. In other words, it gives your CMMS the horsepower it needs to connect your systems, demystify your data, and propel your business into Industry 4.0.

And this is a technology stack that far too few businesses are currently taking into consideration.

3. Get Your Team On Board

Finally, you need to make sure your team is on board. Enterprise-wide buy-in and clear, consistent governance are essential to the long-term success of any tool or broader digital transformation initiative. To this end, it is important that you:

  • Have conversations to align objectives and make sure that your team sees the business value of the tool you choose.
  • Make your broader team responsible for key metrics. This will help foster a culture of cooperation.
  • Share your broader roadmap to transformation with your team. Big initiatives take time, and the more you share about your objectives, goals, drivers and timetables, the less friction youre likely to encounter.
  • Establish guidelines on how interactions with various departments within your organisation should be defined, maintained, and scaled to achieve business goals.
  • Establish processes and procedures needed to manage data and solution life cycles in your company, including the roles and responsibilities of each team member.

This will not only help you achieve digital transformation but also increase the utility of your data, support compliance efforts, strengthen your company culture and increase your technological agility over time. And, if theres one thing any modern company needs, its the ability to remain flexible in the face of adversity.

Final Thoughts

The world is moving fast and companies that digitally transform their businesses and modernise their operations will lead the pack and outpace their competition, particularly in a post-COVID world. But getting this right requires sound data structure and asset structure – so that is where you must start.

Want to find out more about how to optimise your operations and lead your industry? Contact us today.

12 Practical Ways EMS can help you adapt to the ‘New Normal ’

From remote working and Zoom meetings, to office hygiene routines, COVID-19 has turned the way business is done on its head. The idea of the “office” has changed significantly since the beginning of last year, and at each stage of the pandemic, companies have used and EMS platform to manage their workspaces and resources to achieve greater efficiency and gain insights to drive value.  Now, as we enter the next phase, EMS is helping organisations return to some degree to the life we once knew. For many companies, this includes bringing employees and visitors back into office buildings en masse. But the picture often looks different than life pre-COVID, with reconfigured desk spaces, changed cleaning procedures, new reservation policies and more.  For a successful transition, your organisation needs to make sure you’re flexible and prepare your environment as needed. Technology from EMS can be an important tool in achieving those goals. These practical tips for using EMS should help you, whatever your office’s new normal may be. 

12 Tips for effective workspace management

Extend your use of available space 

Gone are the days when you didn’t know how every single room in your building was being used. Businesses have been looking for ways to get the most out of expensive real estate investments since long before the pandemic, but in the last 18 months, they’ve focused on understanding formerly unmanaged spaces and determining how best to use them. Phone rooms, meeting rooms, “dead” hall areas and more, are being transformed into managed spaces to enable companies to maximise space effectiveness and create an efficient workplace.  With EMS, it’s easy to add and track such spaces. You can add virtually any type of space to the scheduling platform, whether it’s a desk area, a couch in the hallway, an outdoor patio – or even a piece of exercise equipment in the company gym. By adding these managed spaces to your system, you can ensure that the right spaces are available to the right people at the right time. 

Disable spaces to achieve social distancing goals

A long-standing office trend that has recently seen a reversal is square footage per on-site employee. Instead of decreasing this number, as they have in the past, companies have had to quickly increase it to meet social distancing targets. Now that employees are returning to the office, the situation is changing again. In some regions, organisations are dropping social distancing requirements – but in others, they are more important than ever, as employees shy away from relatively close contact.  With EMS, you can use the Room Configuration Wizard to make changes such as: 
  • Disable rooms completely. 
  • Restrict the arrangement of furniture in a room. 
  • Offset available desk space. 
  • Create neighbourhoods for staggered schedules. 
  • Alternate available rooms. 
  • Assign groups of rooms for different groups of hybrid employees. 

Schedule cleaning time 

More employees and visitors in the office also mean more cleaning. Make sure the rooms are usable by scheduling set-up and tear-down time for deep cleaning and other sanitising processes, and perhaps allow buffer time as people leave and enter the meeting rooms to avoid congestion in the hallways. EMS offers several options for accommodating additional cleaning or safe bridging time between meetings. From the desktop client, you can use the Room Configuration Wizard to add a default buffer time for set-up and tear-down before and after each booking.  You can also apply this to the daily user applications by using a set of parameters that either override the default room setup or enforce what you have set up in the room configuration. In the template itself, you can specify what set-up and tear-down times you want for each reservation that has been created from that template.  

Reopening spaces to different capacity limits 

If your buildings were closed and you are now reopening them, you may need to enforce new occupancy limits. Or if you have reduced occupancy limits globally, or per room, you may need to restore those limits to full capacity as soon as it is safe to do so.  In EMS, you can use the Room Configuration Wizard to enforce new, lower capacities by creating a new facility type and using that as the default. For example, let’s say you want to ensure that no more than ten people can gather in a room at a time. You could create a setup with a maximum capacity of ten people and then apply it to the rooms of your choice. Once your organisation no longer needs to adhere to these capacities, you can simply switch back to the original setup type.  

Communicate and enforce new guidelines 

As your organisation is implementing new policies – for example, allowing 50 percent capacity in your conference rooms – a useful feature in EMS may be the ability to add an approval process that allows you to review each reservation to ensure that all new policies are enforced. For example, you can use room alerts that appear as popups in the web app and other everyday user apps. The process does not prevent users from selecting a room, but you can force information on them. You can also use EMS to communicate policies in other ways, such as:   
  • Updating messages included in confirmations and acknowledgements. You can edit existing headers and footers, or even create your own new messages that reference the new policies you want to enforce. 
  • Use group notification rules to communicate with your employees about existing reservations associated with their accounts. For example, you can send a reminder email the day before a table booking is due and enable a cancellation link directly in that email. 
  • Include reconfirmation links in notifications so that when you have requirements related to tracking your employees’ well-being, you can prompt them to check off that they are healthy enough to return to work. 
  • Enable help texts in the web app. This will help guide employees through any new policies and procedures and workflows you may have in place in response to your reopening policies. 

Enable automatic, no-touch check-ins  

No-touch technology took centre stage last year as people limited their contact with common areas to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, but companies also discovered that it’s simply good business practice to keep employees healthy in general through better disinfected spaces. At Realworld Systems, we have been working to make it easier for our customers to enable automated, touchless check-ins through a variety of methods, including email, the web app, the mobile app, the EMS kiosk and the EMS room sign app.   We are also working with additional technologies to reduce and eliminate touching of digital devices such as room signs: 
  • QR codes so that, instead of entering a username, the EMS mobile app can force QR codes. 
  • Bluetooth sensors that identify people based on their cell phone usage. 
  • Badge readers allow users to identify themselves by simply swiping their badge to use a room to check-in. 

Update catering options 

When we talk to clients about how they can use EMS to adapt to their changing business environments, one topic that comes up, again and again, is that of catering. When planning events, businesses find that they need to remove all buffet or self-serve options while adding individually packaged items, such as box lunches, to their menus.  Customising catering options is easy in EMS. You can make these changes to your offerings through the wizard by removing items or disabling them completely. To add catering options to the system, you can use the import feature to create a tab-delimited text file with the new service offerings. You can also use the browser to search for catering items that are no longer available so you can make additional changes to existing reservations. 

Streamline equipment rentals 

As with catering, you may need to limit your options or remove options that cannot be cleaned between uses. In EMS, you can do this through the Service Order Schedule, which gives you a quick overview of all service orders so you can review them in advance to make sure they are still available. You can also view individual items via the resource plan. For example, you can search for a requested projector, see the times on a particular day that it was requested, and then schedule its cleaning based on that information. 

Understand your needs through automated reports

Companies are using EMS to gain better insight into their space usage, thanks to its reporting and analytics tools that allow companies to comprehensively collect and interpret data. In the new normal, these reports can help show compliance with capacity policies, help track contacts, and enforce social distancing bans. And the better the data, the more useful the report will be.  Take contact tracking, for example. In EMS, you can track where your employees are sitting, who is booking a seat, or who is attending a particular meeting. Neighbourhood activity maps can show who sat next to a person in each time frame and mine that data for possible contact tracking. 

Track cleaning time 

Several types of reports deserve special attention here; reports that allow you to track cleaning time are one such category. In addition to scheduling cleaning time, you will probably want to track it to demonstrate compliance with company policies or local or regional regulations. With automated room usage reports from EMS, you can verify when a room has been cleaned after use.  You can also automate how and when the reports are generated. Once you have saved a specific report setup, you can use the “Automate” button to set the schedule and frequency of your reports by specifying when the report should be sent and what reporting period it covers. 

Visitor management report 

Another quick workflow you may want to consider is visitor management, which allows you to track external visitors, both scheduled and ad-hoc. EMS has several pre-built reports to help you monitor and record as needed. In the Visitor Management module, you can use the Attendee Visitor Report to search past visitors in case you need to contact them for contact tracking or other purposes. 

Easily reschedule 

Finally, keep in mind that while many organisations reopen dormant spaces and increase capacity, there are bound to be a few potholes along the way. EMS makes it easy to move events and rooms one at a time or en masse. If you need to reschedule an event or cancel it altogether – and even add a new status for tracking purposes that details why the change is necessary – EMS has several options. The Change Status Wizard, Reservation Book, and Reservation Navigator are all tools that allow you to change the date and time or booking status of a reservation.  Do you want to learn more about how your organisation can use EMS as you adapt to the new normal? Get in touch with one of our specialists today.

Four Considerations For Supporting The “Great Return” To The Office

The great return” to work is upon us, and subsequently, businesses everywhere are recognising that the process is not as simple as flipping a switch. Offices may have shut down seemingly overnight when the pandemic hit, but returning to work requires a planned, careful, and gradual process. Workforces will likely operate on a hybrid model for some time, and companies are figuring out how to best support their employees while meeting their business goals and missions.  Although this situation presents numerous challenges; it is also an unprecedented opportunity to reflect upon what an ideal workplace experience might look like. As businesses strive to create optimal environments – one where employees feel valued and safe, where communication flows freely, and where efficiency and performance flourish – they are re-evaluating how to best transition to the next stage. To this end, four big areas of consideration for longer-term changes are paramount in ensuring long-term support towards the new normal. 

Collecting Data For The Future 

One way to address how to best use your space is to rethink your approach regarding how and what data you are collecting (while ensuring the collection is in line with your companys guidelines, of course). This data can help you make sure that not only are your work areas clean and safe but that you are also optimising the use of available workspaces. 

Health And Safety Concerns 

As a result of the pandemic, we are all acutely aware of how important it is to have visibility into situations that could lead to potential health outbreaks in the workplace. If an employee or office visitor tests positive for a highly transmissible disease like COVID, your company can expect to be asking questions such as: 
  • What spaces did that person occupy throughout the day? 
  • Who else may have been in those same locations and when? 
  • Who met with that person during the day? 
  • What information can be shared for the purpose of contact tracing? 
You can answer these and other questions with data collected through a space and resource scheduling solution. Systems like EMS space management platforms not only allow users to reserve spaces, but they can provide data after the fact about who occupied which areas. For example, EMS can tell you when someone booked and subsequently used a hotel desk space, when someone authenticated into a walk-up conference room with a badge swipe, or when a visitor entered the premises. You can use that data to determine what steps must then be taken to comply with health and safety policies and regulations. 

Optimising Cleaning Processes 

Workspace sanitisation is another area that has seen heightened attention over the past year. Extensive cleaning is costly, so organisations want to limit it to the spaces that have been used. Space scheduling software that allows you to utilise workspace check-ins ensures you clean only what needs to be cleaned – say, spaces occupied in the previous 24 hours – thereby keeping sanitation costs low. In addition, you can build notification workflows so that cleaning staff know when and where they should be operating, and track when those tasks are performed. 

Underutilisation Of Space 

Unused or underutilised space was a significant issue before the pandemic, but it took on even greater importance when organisations were rapidly required to comply with new local and regional regulations regarding occupancy limits. Organisations made the endeavour to shift from making the most of their real estate investment by increasing utilisation to decreasing workspace density to meet COVID-related occupancy restrictions, as laid out by government mandates and corporate policies. As organisations go through various reopening stages, they must balance both concerns.  Before this can happen, however, companies must have the data that enables them to answer certain questions:  
  • How busy was your space in the past? If your office has been collecting accurate historical data, you have this data at your fingertips. You can report that information from prior to the pandemic and compare it to more recent data. This will give you some insight into: 
  • How busy will your space be in the future? Gathering accurate utilisation statistics from the past can help organisations predict their future needs. 
  • How are users spread out in your space? If only 30 percent of your employees are in the office on a given day but they are all assembled in that welcoming corner space next to the kitchen, you are unlikely to meet social distancing goals. Data that helps you understand how users are congregating can help you make decisions about which spaces to close or open. 
Space scheduling software offers a variety of reports to help you gather this information. Room type utilisation reports, for example, are excellent sources for tracking overall space utilisation levels, especially if you can limit by room, building, campus, or another space type. Seat occupancy reports, which record how many people are booked in a particular space, allow you to analyse average seat fill percentages so that you can adjust your percentage goals as more employees return to the office. And space utilisation reports help you understand when one meeting room has utilisation of, say, 70 percent, while another one has only 30 percent – so you can then determine when you might want to guide employees to use alternative spaces. 

Going No Touch 

Technology made it much easier for segments of the population to work from home, and it will also play a huge role in keeping employees and campus visitors safe as we make our way back into our shared physical spaces. But it promises to look a bit different from before. Previously, technology encouraged physical contact – touch screens for kiosks and room signs, for example – but this activity may not be as preferable moving forward.   Your return-to-work plan should therefore consider ways to book and use spaces with as little physical contact as possible. For example, space reservation software like EMS allows for badge swipes for no-touch room booking. This was implemented before COVID because it is simple and straightforward for users, but it has become more of a priority in the new workplace experience. RFID-enabled cards or swipes can create a reservation and check an employee into a space, while some digital room signs also offer badge authentication.  In addition, the EMS mobile application allows for check-ins on the fly, enabling your workforce to use their personal devices rather than a shared surface. Proximity geofencing can also check employees into workspaces or meetings for the day, or they can use their mobile devices to take pictures of QR codes and enter spaces without needing to touch anything.  There are plenty of other practical, no-touch applications for limiting surface contact in your office, including: 
  • Room sensors for automated check-ins. 
  • SMS notifications that eliminate the need to scroll room signs. 
  • Integrated building intelligence systems and badge swipe data for check-ins. 
  • HVAC and lighting integrations based on meeting room data so theres no manual turning on or off lights, heating or cooling. 
  • Automated door unlocking based on pre-existing reservations. 

Solving The Real Estate Conundrum 

In an environment where real estate costs are rising and square footage per employee is decreasing, companies are rethinking their real estate needs. The great return to work” may look like masses of employees and visitors flocking back to the office, but for many organisations, a large segment of the workforce will continue to work from home, at least for some, if not most, of the time.  Companies can enable continued work from home in numerous ways, including reimbursement of home office equipment like monitors, keyboards, headsets, ergonomic chairs and more. And when remote employees want to come into the office for meetings, workshops or other in-person activities, a desk hotel reservation system ensures they will adhere to company space guidelines.  The following can help organisations support their hybrid or remote workforce: 
  • Seamless VC integrations. The days of A/V technicians having to be present in conference rooms to facilitate meetings are long gone. Instead, you can simply click a button on videoconferencing equipment. A mera-friendly environment means cameras are turned on so remote staff feel included, connections are automated as much as possible (no more Can you hear me?), and all locations are connected to the system so both, say, the Leeds office and the London office are connected. 
  • Evaluating hidden space.” If you were already tight on space before the pandemic and have trouble meeting social distancing and other requirements without expanding, look for hidden spaces like huddle rooms, sofa seating, lingering areas, alternative offices, phone booths, study rooms, library rooms, board-only rooms, etc. Ask yourself if it makes sense to include those spaces in your considerations for reservable spaces. 

Rethinking Organisational Policies 

Lastly, we have spent a lot of time talking about how technology can help during the transition to our next stage of work, but not everything can or should be solved solely with technology. Here at Realworld Systems, we often receive questions around what sorts of policies should be implemented on an organisational level. For example, you might not want to create booking rules for every single case but instead, consider the broader picture and then focus on training and communication. But as a tech company, we see ways in which hybrid workforce policies can be assisted with space and resource scheduling software: 
  • Visitor management screening. Organisation policies around health symptom checks, travel behaviour, providing protection like hand sanitiser, and more, can be aided by software that adds this type of information into your confirmations and notifications and makes sure that employees and visitors are aware of your requirements for them entering your premises.  
  • Work from home phased rotation. A large majority of organisations are offering a phased return, where employees return to the office for two to three days per week. Software can assist with enforcing self-directed or assigned rotation policies. For example, with assigned rotation, the same group of users is at the office at the same time, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. 
  • Workplace amenities. Do not forget to think about policies for gyms, cafeterias, casual hang-out spots, and the like. The CDC has identified these spaces as higher-risk areas, so you must consider how you want to handle them. 

Staying Flexible 

We hope the above considerations have been useful as you consider how to best accommodate the great return” to work. We know that returning to work may not always be a straightforward journey. It will likely entail moving back and forth between phases, postponing some plans, and rolling out different procedures as locations and geographical areas are affected differently. As you move forward, staying flexible will help you change direction when necessary.   Need some guidance on how to transition your workspace and systems into a safe environment? Get in touch with us today   

5 Steps To Establishing A Reliability And Maintenance Policy

When it comes to your preventive maintenance program, you can experience substantial gains early on by simply becoming less focused on reactive issues and more focused on preventing breakdowns from happening. For instance, its no secret that a strong preventive maintenance program can nearly eliminate unscheduled downtime and improve the quality of work from your team.

Without a long-term vision, you may be selling your team short. Understanding where you want your maintenance organisation to be in the next three to five years can ensure that you are aligned with the broader goals and objectives of the organisation, as well as ensuring that your maintenance activities are contributing to that success.

Developing a reliability and maintenance policy can help you drive this vision forward and cement your success within the organisation.

What Is A Reliability And Maintenance Policy? 

A reliability and maintenance policy serves as an internal communication document for the entire organisation to understand the goals of your preventive maintenance program and how you measure success.

A reliability and maintenance policy includes essential details, such as:

  • Current state vs. future state goals.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • Importance of KPIs and organisational value.
  • Improvement plan and tactics.
  • Timeline and key internal stakeholders.
  • How employees can submit comments and feedback.

Steps To Establishing A Reliability And Maintenance Policy

Creating and implementing a reliability and maintenance policy will take time, as there are several key stakeholders that will have to be involved throughout the process. However, once in place, it provides clear objectives and KPIs to measure your teams success.

1. Outline current state vs. future state

Understanding exactly how you are conducting preventive maintenance and where you may have gaps in your process can help you determine where you want to be in one year, three years or even five years. Having a clear outline of this will help drive the direction of your reliability and maintenance policy. As part of this, you should have an understanding of preventive maintenance processes already in place and their current performance.

2. Establish your goals and KPIs to measure success

Once you understand where you are, you will know where you want to go. In doing so, you can clearly see where you need to measure your team and your preventive maintenance program to gauge success. Understanding your KPIs early on can help you use benchmarks so that you have a consistent way of evaluating progress along the way.

Potential KPIs that your team can manage:

  • Service-level agreement adherence.
  • Time spent on reactive vs. preventive maintenance.
  • Adherence to the 10% rule of preventive maintenance.

3. Create an improvement plan

An improvement plan serves as the crux of your reliability and maintenance policy. It can also be the most difficult part of the policy to create, as it requires you to take an honest look at where your team can improve.

When you are putting together your improvement plan, involve stakeholders across the organisation to understand where they see gaps in your processes and areas for improvement.

4. Develop a timeline

Most reliability and maintenance policies address a finite period of time. Common timelines include one, three and five years. Understanding internal processes and what is preferred by your organisation can determine the appropriate timeline. In addition, knowing where your gaps are and your expectations for improvement can drive your timeline as well.

5. Gain internal approval

Unlike other programs within the maintenance team, this type of policy works best when you have buy-in from other stakeholders within the organisation. It can help give the organisation more visibility into your team and their contributions towards the business’ goals. Because of this, bringing external stakeholders into the policy development process can ensure that you are in line with expectations and able to contribute to the broader objectives of the organisation.

Final Thoughts

Developing a reliability and maintenance policy can help you drive this vision forward and cement your success within the organisation. Do you need help setting up your policy? Get in touch with us today: https://realworld-systems.com/contact/.

What is Preventative Maintenance? The Ultimate Guide to Preventative Maintenance Concepts and Tools

Preventive Maintenance (PM) is the routine maintenance of assets and equipment to reduce equipment failure, maximise uptime and optimise long-term asset management. Effective facility and asset management today requires great preventive maintenance. But what is preventive maintenance, what are its benefits, and how can organisations effectively execute preventive maintenance strategies? This comprehensive guide to PM concepts and tools will cover everything you need to know.

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance is systematic and planned asset and facilities maintenance that is performed to reduce equipment failure, cut costs, and maximise efficiency over time. When it comes to the broader range of maintenance practices, preventive maintenance falls in complexity between reactive maintenance (whereby organisations perform maintenance after an asset has failed) and predictive maintenance, whereby maintenance needs are fully predicted and automated using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). While it’s more forward-thinking than reactive maintenance, preventive maintenance can’t magically predict problems before they happen. Instead, it uses data to develop effective maintenance schedules and correct issues before they become equipment failures. In this way, PM can slow down failures, depreciation, and the rate of malfunction over time.

What Does Preventive Maintenance Include?

To get it right, preventive maintenance efforts must include:
  • The right preventive maintenance strategy, which can include cleaning, adjustments, repairs, replacement of parts, lubrication, oil changes and asset overhauls. That said, the exact strategy will vary depending on your industry and the types of assets you have running. You can use the standards from the American National Standards Institute to help determine what inspections you need and how frequently they should be performed.
  • Comprehensive records of past service reports and inspections, along with ongoing condition monitoring. This contextual information can be used to understand the lifespan of each asset and part, as well as to help technicians determine replacement and maintenance frequency.
  • The right preventive maintenance software, which is usually a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system (although these can ultimately be the same tool).
  • The right software can help organisations automate, access and organise their PM tasks, which is particularly important for organisations with many assets or complex maintenance schedules.

What Is the Difference Between Preventive Maintenance, Reactive Maintenance and Corrective Maintenance?

There are many differences between preventive maintenance, reactive maintenance and predictive maintenance. Preventive Maintenance versus Corrective/Reactive Maintenance While preventive maintenance practices dictate that users must address maintenance concerns before they become issues, reactive or corrective maintenance strategies encourage users to wait until the problem or malfunction is already present before action is taken. This is also known as the “run-to-failure” method, and it comes with significant drawbacks like:
  • High asset downtime and emergency breakdowns, which cost Industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion annually.
  • Unplanned expenses.
  • Low productivity.
  • High labour costs.
  • Difficulty meeting deadlines.
  • High costs for parts, storage and shipping.
  • Time lost waiting for diagnoses and emergency resolution.
In the modern maintenance world, these reactive/corrective/run-to-failure strategies just don’t cut it, and organisations that deploy reactive maintenance practices will find it difficult to remain competitive in their industry. Preventive Maintenance Vs Predictive Maintenance Predictive Maintenance (PdM), on the other hand, is essentially advanced preventive maintenance powered by AI, the IIoT and other smart manufacturing tools. More specifically, predictive maintenance utilises equipment readers, historical data, and industry data to automate and predict maintenance needs. When compared directly to preventive maintenance, PdM is:
  • More complex, requiring more data and IoT.
  • More costly, with higher setup cost and higher variable cost over time.
  • Riskier, with higher possibility of initial errors
Overall, though, predictive strategies can reduce the number of necessary planned tasks and maximise efficiency – and the more data you have, the more effective your PdM efforts will be. Many modern organisations are moving ever closer toward a predictive environment, though it’s complex, expensive, time-consuming and extremely difficult to achieve.

What Are the Benefits of Preventive Maintenance?

There are many benefits to effective preventive maintenance, particularly related to ROI, safety, and efficiency. Namely, preventive maintenance can lead to:
  • Improved asset life and reliability: By addressing asset maintenance needs proactively, preventive maintenance can increase asset life and reduce the number of failures that require equipment repair and replacement.
  • Increased safety: Maintaining assets before they reach failure can mitigate the risk of injury. What’s more, a CMMS can help you stay on top of compliance and training over time.
  • Fewer costly repairs and unexpected downtime associated with equipment failure: Running equipment to failure can cost ten times more than running regular maintenance. Preventive maintenance drastically reduces these costs as well as costs associated with lower technician productivity, poor inventory maintenance and lack of insight.
  • Fewer employee errors: With comprehensive work order information and centralised, comprehensive documentation, employees will make fewer mistakes on the floor.
  • Simplified compliance: PM automations, triggers and documentation can streamline compliance efforts.
  • Sustainable operations: Well-maintained assets utilise less energy over time, so optimising your asset maintenance can lead to lower energy bills and more sustainable operations over time.
  • Improved employee productivity: High downtime or disconnected information can impact productivity and production capacity. A CMMS can resolve these concerns.
  • Faster repairs: Using PM, teams can make sure that maintenance coincides with planned downtime. They can also ensure that they have all the parts, personnel and supplies they need to effectively complete maintenance tasks, which can decrease the total time and costs of maintenance.

When is it Suitable to Use Preventive Maintenance Strategies?

Preventive maintenance may not always be the most necessary or appropriate approach, but it is suitable to use preventive maintenance when assets have:
  • Critical operational functions.
  • Failure modes that can be prevented with routine maintenance.
  • An increased likelihood of failure over time or with increased use.
Conversely, preventive maintenance may not be suitable for assets that:
  • Have random or unpredictable failures.
  • Don’t have a mission-critical function.
  • Have a cost of maintenance that is higher than the cost of failure.

What are Possible Disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance?

There are a few disadvantages – or, more accurately, challenges – associated with preventive maintenance, including:
  • Time and bandwidth: Preventive maintenance requires time and strategising, both of which aren’t really required for reactive maintenance practices (and both of which are lessened by predictive maintenance automations). What’s more, effective PM requires routine inspections of complex assets, which can be time-consuming and frustrating, particularly for technicians that aren’t used to the investment.
  • Resources: Preventive maintenance generally requires that more tasks are completed on a regular basis, which means that it can require more time, staff and spare parts. This can be limiting, particularly for smaller and more constrained organisations.
  • Budget concerns: A great maintenance management software will require up-front investment. Plus, organisations that want to execute effective PM need to hire experts if they want to get it right – and this can strain budgets.
  • Organisational limitations: For organisations that are currently practising reactive maintenance (or those who are running on disparate legacy systems), it can be difficult getting preventive maintenance efforts up and running.

What Does a Preventive Maintenance Program Look Like?

Effective preventive maintenance requires the right program or strategy, which will help determine maintenance tasks and frequency. Getting this right is important. If you maintain assets too infrequently, you risk breakdowns. Maintain them too frequently and it’ll cost too much time and money. Perform the wrong maintenance on an asset and you miss the point altogether. The strategy, then, is all-important. To get it right, there are a few things you can do: Follow the PDCA Model The PDCA model is as follows:
  • Plan: Use data, industry expertise repair histories and usage patterns to come up with a baseline PM plan.
  • Do: Execute your plan consistently and effectively.
  • Check: Check how it’s going by looking at failure metrics and seeing if your PM strategy is effective.
  • Act: Adjust accordingly.
This, of course, can be simplified using the right CMMS software for your business, which can help you organise work orders, trigger maintenance requests, keep technicians accountable and update maintenance plans for critical equipment.

What are the Types of Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance can be divided into many categories and organisation types, including:
  • Time-based maintenance: Otherwise known as periodic maintenance, time-based maintenance is when a maintenance task is performed at scheduled intervals (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.).
  • Usage-based preventive maintenance: Also known as meter-based maintenance, usage-based maintenance triggers an action based on equipment usage variables like hours or number of production cycles.
The type of maintenance trigger you set will vary based on the asset, manufacturer recommendations and other key data. You can also prioritise preventive maintenance based on task importance and prioritisation. This includes:
  • Mandatory vs nonmandatory tasks: Mandatory tasks include any actions that must be completed immediately, including anything related to safety. Nonmandatory maintenance can be delayed without risking equipment failure or lower productivity. It will be helpful to distinguish between the two, particularly if you have a tight budget or limited internal bandwidth.
  • Inspection tasks: These tasks require physical checks of the asset before a work order can be created and a task can be completed. If you want to save time, you can complete minor repairs or maintenance while conducting an inspection.

What are Examples of Preventive Maintenance?

Examples of preventive maintenance tasks include:
  • Cleaning of assets or parts.
  • Lubrication of equipment.
  • Parts replacement or repair.
  • Partial or complete asset overhauls.
  • Ensuring that production line equipment is working.
  • Inspection of heating, ventilation, HVAC systems or air conditioning elements.
  • Inspection and repair of electrical systems.
  • Checking doors, flooring and lighting.
  • Checking water supplies.

How Can You Create a Preventive Maintenance Checklist?

You can create a preventive maintenance checklist to ensure that your workflow runs smoothly and that you have a clear roadmap outlining how and when to maintain your assets. There are many approaches to making this checklist – and no one-size-fits-all approach – but here are some general steps to getting started.
  1. Choose a format for your checklist. The right CMMS will offer checklists for individual work orders and larger workflows. That way, users always have accountability and clarity about next steps. Inputting this data into a CMMS will also help save time and effort that would be wasted sorting through email trails, paper checklists and other legacy solutions.
  2. Make sure your logic and plans are complete. Have a comprehensive understanding of what tasks should be prioritised, how to maintain accountability, how often tasks should happen, which workers will be assigned to work orders, what parts are needed and other key data points. Here, it’s important that the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY are crystal clear. This will guard against inconsistency and confusion amongst team members.
  3. Clarify schedules. Your workflow will likely include many checklists based on daily, weekly, or monthly intervals. It will be important to maintain complete clarity when it comes to time-dependent tasks, so everything is completed correctly and on time.
  4. Update your procedures. At least bi-annually, you should update your manufacturing schedules and guidelines based on performance. Review data like asset age, equipment efficiency, breakdown statistics and make informed changes and find areas of improvement.
  5. Clearly determine goals and KPIs. These are the backbone of any effective preventive maintenance strategy – you need to know where you’re going to know how you’re doing. That’s why it’ll be important to establish SMART goals and maintain transparency across departments and verticals, so everyone knows what they’re working towards.

What Industries Can Benefit from Preventive Maintenance?

Maintenance management software can help organisations in many asset-heavy industries streamline their asset management, maximise productivity and ultimately increase uptime and ROI. This includes:
  • Industrial & Manufacturing: The right CMMS can help industrial teams and plant technicians manage their plant’s health comprehensively, thereby decreasing equipment downtime and effectively managing assets across devices and locations.
  • Hospitality: An excellent guest experience in resorts and hotels requires that everything is running smoothly behind the scenes. A robust maintenance management software can facilitate these efforts by helping users track and schedule service requests, reduce maintenance costs, keep important equipment (like swimming pools, fitness equipment, elevators and dining equipment) running and more.
  • Healthcare: Asset maintenance in the healthcare industry isn’t just about increasing effectiveness and lowering costs – it’s about patient safety. The right maintenance management software can help professionals in the healthcare industry to reduce downtime on critical assets, minimise inventory stockouts and overages, improve efficiency and ultimately facilitate patient care.
  • Education: In higher education, facility and asset management involves preventive maintenance schedules and procedures for a facility and equipment like theatres, libraries, labs, classrooms, dorms, administrative offices and athletic facilities. A CMMS can facilitate this maintenance, helping to establish a preventive maintenance schedule and ensuring that maintenance requests are completed quickly and proactively.
  • Government: Government operations face many ongoing maintenance pain points, including disparate records, high downtime, out of control budgets and poor asset management. Maintenance management software and reports can help resolve these concerns by automating maintenance requests, generating data-driven reports and more.
  • Retail: A maintenance management system can help retail outlets and chains develop preventive maintenance schedules for all their assets, including POS systems, signs, pipes, ceiling fans, HVAC units, computers, lighting and more. This can ultimately help stores deliver a consistently excellent customer experience.

What Is a Preventive Maintenance Software?

Preventive maintenance software, as we’ve mentioned, is a tool that helps users execute preventive maintenance and effectively maintain, analyse and manage their physical assets and infrastructure. Whether your preventive maintenance software classifies itself as a CMMS or an EAM doesn’t matter too much these days. What does matter is that your software includes key features like:
  • Preventive maintenance scheduling.
  • Planned maintenance work order management.
  • Planned maintenance inspection schedules.
  • A mobile-friendly preventive maintenance app
  • MRO inventory management.
  • Comprehensive, historical asset information.
  • Real-time reporting and dashboards.
  • Labour management.
  • Asset tracking and history information.
  • Escalation protocols.
That said, these features will generally help you reap the benefits of your preventive maintenance software, which include:
  • Maximised equipment and staff safety.
  • Under control budgets and maintenance costs.
  • Long-lasting, effective preventive maintenance plans.
  • Increased repair efficiency.
  • Actionable, strategy-changing transparency.
  • Improved technician and manager satisfaction.
  • Increased revenue due to lower asset downtime.
  • Simplified asset tracking and maintenance.
  • On-the-go asset management and maintenance.
  • Fewer recurring pain points.
Be sure that you choose the right CMMS software for your business. In general, this will be a system that your team is on board with, that integrates with your existing technological ecosystem and that is user-friendly and intuitive.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line? Preventive maintenance is routine, systematic and planned asset and facilities maintenance that is performed to reduce equipment failure, cut costs, and maximise efficiency over time – and effective preventive maintenance is key to asset and facility management. Do you want to know how to choose the right CMMS software for your business? Get in touch with one of our CMMS experts today: https://realworld-systems.com/contact/

Why Your Business Needs An Effective Mobile CMMS

Over the past several months, remote capabilities have gone from a “nice-to-have” digital transformation feature to a foundational part of effective asset and facilities management. Modern manufacturing organisations have a lot to juggle as they move forward into the “new normal”: their technological infrastructure, the physical safety of their employees, cybersecurity and the day-to-day asset management tasks that will lead to more predictive operations, higher revenue, and maximised return on investment (ROI). It’s a lot to master – and it’ll be impossible without mobile and remote tools. That’s why it’s essential that your business-critical technologies, including your computerised maintenance management system (CMMS), have robust mobile capabilities. Here’s everything you need to know about the present and future of remote operations in the manufacturing space, as well as what features to look for in your mobile CMMS tool.

The Evolution of Facility And Asset Management Due To COVID-19

Before COVID: Inconsistent Digital Transformation in The Manufacturing Space

The world of asset management has changed dramatically over the last decade, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and emerging trends like artificial intelligence (AI), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), advanced robotics and automations widening the possibilities – and increasing expectations – for companies in asset-heavy industries. For years, though, deployments of these new technologies have been inconsistent and varied, with many organisations preferring their “tried-and-true” legacy systems and finding their decision-makers unwilling to invest in expensive new technology that may not yield a strong ROI.

During COVID: The Changes That Came With COVID-19

The above all changed with COVID-19. Organisations suddenly had to maintain operations in a largely (if not completely) remote environment: their technicians couldn’t be on the floor, they had to implement social distancing, they needed full transparency into their data and operations from multiple locations and they had to move to the cloud and integrate their technologies for all this to work. This was bad news for all the businesses relying on standalone legacy or on-premise systems. That said, although this change certainly fast-forwarded digital transformation for those dragging their feet, the truth is that it was a long time coming. COVID-19 simply forced a coming-to-terms with changes in tools, strategy and processes that needed to happen to achieve the transparency, ease-of-use, and data-driven insight necessary to optimise operations, cut costs, reduce inefficiencies, and move ever-closer toward a more reliable and predictable maintenance environment.

After COVID: Now What?

Now, the initial shock of COVID – and the ensuing rush to implement anything to survive – has subsided, and companies are looking toward future-proofing their operations and their technological ecosystem. Here, two questions remain: what will asset management operations look like in the future, and does your business have the right tools and strategies in place to thrive in the “new normal”? In short, now what?

Moving Forward: Remote Capabilities Will Be Essential to Asset And Facility Management

Now that the world has largely settled into the post-coronavirus “new normal,” there are a few asset management trends that are here to stay. One of them? Remote work and the implementation of a robust remote tool like a mobile CMMS.

Remote Work Will Remain Important

Remote work is here to stay, even after the pandemic is over. Statistics show that:
  • 83% of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company.
  • 70% of employees have asserted that they will still want to work remotely after the pandemic is over.
  • 52% of employers believe that their employees have been more productive since working from home.
So, although many have returned to the office in some capacity (and others will continue to trickle in), the professional landscape will look different moving forward. For most organisations, it’ll be a hybrid workspace, and there will be necessary shifts in company culture, engagement, the way work gets done and how physical spaces are utilised. For asset management professionals, in particular, a few concerns will remain top of mind moving into this hybrid environment:
  • IT capabilities: Companies will need the IT resources and technological infrastructure to continue to work across locations and devices – without the frustration and glitches that come with a poorly integrated patchwork of solutions.
  • Cybersecurity: With a wider technological ecosystem and broader use of personal devices – along with run-of-the-mill asset compliance and security concerns – cybersecurity will remain a real concern and a top priority.
  • Physical safety: Post-coronavirus, the health, safety and comfort of team members will remain a top concern.
  • Asset and facility maintenance: Effective asset and facility maintenance is, and will continue to be, all about creating a more predictable environment so organisations can achieve the associated improvements in revenue, up-time, and ROI.
A mobile-friendly, device-agnostic CMMS system will help asset management organisations address all these concerns – which is why it’ll be a have-to-have looking forward.

Benefits Of a Mobile CMMS

Even before COVID-19, mobile CMMS systems were becoming key solutions for companies looking to improve their efficiency, productivity, and ROI. The right mobile CMMS solution can, among other things, offer:
  • Reduced paper consumption, thereby decreasing supply costs, and supporting green initiatives.
  • Fast, streamlined access to critical information, including asset maintenance history, warranty documentation, inventory information and all critical work order details.
  • Improved productivity and less human error as technicians can easily find the information they need to complete a service or maintenance request on the spot and communicate effectively with the CMMS workstation back in the office.
  • Decreased labour costs and increased employee satisfaction over time.
  • Increased visibility into assets and physical equipment on the floor.
  • Increased transparency when it comes to compliance and audit preparedness.
  • More accurate data across locations and devices, which can help decision-makers make cost-saving decisions.
  • Improved inventory management with less over-ordering and improved ability to locate parts quickly and effectively for repairs.
All of this will help organisations maximise their technological infrastructure, enhance their cybersecurity, improve the physical safety of employees, and streamline their asset and facility maintenance tasks. That said, there are key features and functionalities of a mobile CMMS to keep top of mind.

Key Mobile CMMS Features to Look Out For

Single Sign-On

Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication feature that simplifies the login process, allowing employees to access various business-critical tools using one login and password. Investing in a mobile CMMS with SSO capabilities can have many benefits, helping to:
  • Improve the user login experience.
  • Increase employee efficiency by allowing team members to focus on the task at hand, not login concerns.
  • Increase security across systems and devices.
  • Simplify password recovery.

Device-Agnostic User Interface

One of the biggest benefits of a responsive mobile tool is the ability to improve transparency, consistency, and communication across sites or between employees and departments. A device-agnostic mobile app can help your team sidestep these concerns, accessing the functionality and the data they need on any smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

QR and Barcode-Enabled Tracking

If your mobile CMMS allows you to generate QR codes or barcode-enabled tracking, it can make it easier for your team members to:
  • Quickly get key information about a part or asset.
  • Create work requests and update work orders on the go.
  • Access related inventory information, including vendor information, the in-stock quantities, and the parts costs.
  • Access maintenance history information, including downtime history and work order information.
These capabilities, in turn, can improve labour efficiency, increase employee satisfaction and reduce wrench time and labour-related costs.

A Robust CMMS Infrastructure

Of course, it’s all ultimately about the CMMS system behind the mobile app. A robust CMMS will provide comprehensive functionalities like complete work order management, inventory management, labour scheduling and project-based work order management capabilities. It will also provide mission-critical, real-time insight along with service history tracking and robust reporting and analytics.

Integrations With Other Business-Critical Solutions

AI, analytics, automation – all these tools will need to be deployed effectively and strategically over the next few years if they are to increase flexibility, decrease costs, maximise transparency and support strategic growth. This will require the adoption of business-wide solutions rather than stand-alone software. This tech must be well-integrated with your broader technological ecosystem, agile and focused on personalising the customer experience. It will also require that many asset-focused businesses upgrade their infrastructure controls to enable digital management. For any of this to work, though, the tools must be widely adopted and informed by strong strategies. This may require that organisations rethink their facility management playbook to include remote, data-first operations. In any case, it’s important to consider your broader technological infrastructure and to choose mobile tools that will integrate well.

IoT And Remote Monitoring

If there’s one capability that COVID-19 shone a bright light on, it’s remote monitoring via sensor technology. HVAC systems, asset tagging, inventory management, equipment monitoring – it can all be done remotely using sensor technology, and more companies than ever are deploying IoT to remain operational in the face of the pandemic. Even better? This remote monitoring technology has a wide range of applications: it can not only help with asset management but also improve things like sanitation, health, and safety. Once again, though, effective use of these tools will depend on interoperability, integrations, and effective implementation.

Final Thoughts

Remote and mobile CMMS tools will be critical moving forward into the “new normal.” The key is to get it right and find the most effective tool – with the right functionalities – for your organisation and your technological infrastructure. Want to learn more? Contact us today

Meet Meridian, the evolution in Engineering Document Management

There is no doubt that, over the years, technology has pivoted management procedures in a significant way. With profit margins slimming down in the wake of competitive markets and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic, streamlining business processes can mean the difference between failure and success. Using technology and software to handle administrative-heavy jobs doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out the human factor. However, it does mean that your employees and teams will have the time freed up to do what they do best – make your business a success. One such technology that falls into the time and money-saving innovation category is Meridian’s Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).

The digitisation of the manufacturing industry

Technology has rapidly evolved from simple programming to ground-breaking Artificial Intelligence (AI). The result of this is the transformation of processes and upgrading of the way in which goods and services are produced and distributed. Historically, most major technological evolutions have happened in response to a significant world event. Queue Covid-19. According to McKinsey, “In the immediate response to the [Covid-19] crisis […] Industry leaders are leveraging Industry 4.0 solutions, with 39% having implemented a nerve-centre, or control-tower, approach to increase end-to-end supply-chain transparency, and around a quarter fast-tracking automation programs to stem worker shortages arising from Covid-19.” This will replace long-outdated communication processes and tools, including paper-based work order and never-ending spreadsheets, and this shift is long overdue.

What this means for Manufacturing Organisations

Manufacturing organisations are now under pressure to increase labour efficiency, improve personnel safety, eliminate siloes and save money and time. And comprehensive digitisation might be the answer. But, of course, it goes without saying that manufacturing companies equipped with the right tools are more resilient and capable of working smarter. And this can bring major business value.

An Engineering Document Management System Can Help

An engineering document management system like Meridian can be the answer that manufacturers need to adjust to demanding times. Meridian enterprise information management solution transforms engineering data into actionable plant information, keeping users in control, compliant, aligned and informed throughout the asset lifecycle. Some of the benefits include:
  • Creating a single source of truth.
  • Collecting all technical documents, images, and drawings in one place.
  • Configurable workflows to streamline information and improve communication within all internal departments.
  • Standard systems to ensure every document change is versioned and audited to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

Meridian can replace your ECMS

Additionally, thanks to its range of features and configurability, Meridian can also serve as an asset information management solution for owner-operators. Finally, it can also act as an ECMS solution for contractors and equipment suppliers to replace underperforming ECMS systems. Specifically, Meridian provides users with the following features, which a standard ECMS cannot provide:
  • Connectivity – Departments are connected through the integration of maintenance management, facilities management, or ERP systems.
  • Compliance – Work and display drawings in PDF renditions that comply with your organisation’s regulatory requirements.
  • Integrations – Robust integration with authoring engineering applications, such as AutoCAD, Revit, MicroStation, Inventor and Solidworks; and office applications that synchronise data between documents and the Meridian database to keep data accurate, reduce errors and improve accuracy.
  • Data structure – Manage references and assembly structures correctly within the application. Most ECMS solutions are not built to manage the multiple file types and relationships required with these highly complex files.
  • Workflows – Ad hoc workflow requirements in an engineering environment to support work processes, including concurrent engineering practices, batch plotting, created work packages and hybrid files.

Final Thoughts

Meridian is designed to support, manage, and enable engineering changes. It has been purpose-built to facilitate productivity when working with critical documents through complicated and exacting workflows. In a world where time can affect your profits, wasting it searching for the correct documents across multiple systems can be the difference between bottom-line success and business failure. A single-software solution to house and share all critical engineering documentation can help organisations dramatically improve cross-team communication and transform cross-functional efficiency. Is your company looking to improve cross-team communication and transform cross-functional efficiency? Don’t lose any more time. Get in touch with us today to find out how Meridian EDMS can help you.

How to build up your medical device cybersecurity: principles and best practices

Strong cybersecurity is critically important when it comes to your medical devices. These devices not only house sensitive patient data, but they also connect to your broader systems, which means that a breach on any device could compromise your whole organisation. What’s worse, hackers know this, and they’re exploiting medical device vulnerabilities at every chance they get. According to a survey in Black Book Market Research’s 2020 State of Healthcare Cybersecurity Industry report, it is estimated that more than 1,500 healthcare providers are vulnerable to data breaches of 500 or more records in 2021, representing a 300% increase over 2020. That means that breaches are expected to triple – and 75% of healthcare providers don’t feel prepared for what’s to come. Here’s how to build up your medical device cybersecurity so you don’t become one of these statistics.

Cybersecurity In 2021

Today’s medical devices and software applications are more advanced and technologically interconnected than ever before. As BSI explains, “What once existed as non-networked and isolated equipment now exists as fully networked equipment with bi-directional communications, remote access, wireless connectivity and software.” What’s more, the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the healthcare space allows for more integration between Hospital Enterprise Systems/Information Technology (IT), Clinical Engineering (CE) and suppliers through remote connectivity. In many cases, this creates new opportunities for things like remote monitoring and diagnostics, making patient care faster, safer, and more convenient. Patients with implanted heart devices, for example, can be monitored remotely so they don’t have to visit their cardiologist regularly. Similarly, patients with diabetes can manage their blood sugar autonomously using glucose meters and insulin pumps. However, this interconnectivity also presents new and ever-increasing cybersecurity risks. After all, these medical devices (and the sensitive data they house) are connected to the Internet and broader hospital networks via wired or wireless connection — and this interconnectivity makes them vulnerable to cyber threats. This concern is even more pressing when you also consider the presence of legacy technology, security vulnerabilities and inadequate device management, all of which make medical devices even more vulnerable to developing huge security gaps. The good news? Many of these cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities can be reduced if regulators, manufacturers, and healthcare organisations understand how to effectively manage and reduce cybersecurity risks. Here are some best practices to follow.

Best practices to improve medical device cybersecurity

Remember that cybersecurity is a multi-level process

Cybersecurity protection does not simply fall on the shoulders of healthcare delivery organisations (HDOs). Instead, it’s a multi-pronged effort that requires cooperation from medical device manufacturers (MDMs) and healthcare organisations. Manufacturers, on one hand, must identify risks during production and take the necessary steps to mitigate those risks. Similarly, healthcare organisations must consistently evaluate their network security and make sure that no vulnerabilities go unnoticed. Only when both entities do their part can cybersecurity threats be effectively avoided.

Hold your medical device manufacturers (MDMs) accountable

When it comes to maintaining cybersecurity, your medical device manufacturers must proactively identify and reduce risks when they are building these devices. They should, at a minimum:
  • Understand where vulnerabilities can be introduced during development (i.e., during design, implementation, and through third-party software components) and how to prevent those vulnerabilities.
  • Offer a contract that guarantees the cybersecurity of the device.
  • Offer secure installation.
  • Provide ongoing cybersecurity support throughout the asset’s lifecycle.
There should also be a degree of on-site liability for devices that do not follow current cybersecurity best practices.

Understand what vulnerabilities cybersecurity attackers will target

If you know what attackers are after, you know what you’re trying to stop and what those proactive measures might entail. Attackers primarily target medical devices to access the broader hospital network and the sensitive data therein – and they’re extra motivated because hospitals have shown that they’re willing to pay to get their information and systems freed. Keep in mind, though, that these attacks don’t always happen in the most obvious way. There are many go-to vulnerabilities that attackers actively target because they’re things that developers or hospitals may overlook. These will be their first attempted points of entry. They include:
  • Unsecure firmware updates: Many software updates are implemented incorrectly, making it easy for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities.
  • Physical attacks: Physical attacks, where malware is installed through a physical point of entry, can be carried out through ports, flash drives and other points of entry.
  • Manufacturing support left enabled: During manufacturing, the manufacturers have access to a lot of commands and functionalities that they use to test and calibrate devices. If these capabilities are left enabled, it can be easy for attackers to find the commands and gain access to functionality.
  • Points of communication: Things that connect devices, like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are inherently insecure – and an unsecured pairing to one of these systems can open your devices up to vulnerabilities. These pairings must be checked pre-emptively to confirm that the device is pairing to the right place and that there are no security risks.
  • Personal devices: In the wake of COVID-19, many doctors and medical professionals have worked remotely – and most healthcare organisations haven’t taken the necessary steps to secure personal devices or train employees on security measures. What’s more, 40% of all clinical hospital employees claimed to receive little to no cybersecurity training in 2020, which can only make things worse.

Understand what attacks may look like

There are many kinds of active threats that your employees and systems may face. These include:
  • Crypto ransomware attacks: There has been a dramatic increase in crypto-ransomware attacks in recent years, whereby criminals use malware to encrypt important information (like patient data or even logins to systems) and then demand payment to recover that information or restore operations. These kinds of attacks have started to happen all over the world, and they’ve made the news for being widespread and a high cost to healthcare providers.
  • SQL injection: During this type of attack, hackers use malicious code to attack a database’s back end and gain access to sensitive information.
  • Spoofing/impersonation: During a spoofing attack, hackers trick hardware or software into thinking that a request is coming from a legitimate source so they can be let in.
  • Phishing: Phishing attacks use fake emails or websites that encourage people to click to give attackers access to their information.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks: A denial of service attack, as the name suggests, makes operating systems, hard drives, or applications unavailable. The goal here is to prevent legitimate users from getting in, thereby disrupting operations and costing businesses money.
  • Physical destruction: Physical destruction of devices and components can be a part of a cyberattack.
  • Intellectual property threat: This is expected to rise in 2021 as attackers go after valuable intellectual property like COVID-19 research.

Understand who the attackers are

Cybersecurity threats can come from a variety of different sources. It is important to understand the possibilities, motives, technological capabilities and resources of each source:
  • “Hacktivists”: These are thrill-seeking attackers that can go after your software for fun, for money, or with a specific plan in mind. The problem with “hacktivists” is that the tools they use are getting more sophisticated and easier to use, which means that they can try their hand at hacking without having a robust technical background.
  • Crime groups: Organised crime syndicates attack healthcare devices for monetary gain via phishing schemes, spyware, malware, or spam. The goals? To commit identity theft, to extort organisations and to sell access to networked systems, or to commit industrial espionage.
  • Inside hackers: Employees can easily (and often unwittingly) introduce malware or access sensitive information – usually either for personal gain or if they are disgruntled.
  • Individual phishers, spammers, or malware authors: All these individuals can attack your systems or trick employees for monetary gain.
  • Industrial spies: Attackers in the industry may seek to gain intellectual knowledge via hacking or malware.
  • Bots: Hackers can often use networks of bots to control multiple systems and perform multiple attacks at once. These attacks will usually take the form of denial-of-service attacks or phishing.
In many instances, these attackers are after one thing: money. And there’s a lot of money to be made by attacking the healthcare system. That’s why hospitals have been the targets of cyberattacks ever since the advent of electronic health records. And this has become even more prevalent during the pandemic. Reuters reports that ransomware attacks have seen an increase of 50% over the last few months of 2020, with nearly twice the number of health care organisations impacted in the third quarter of 2020. Attackers have gotten millions of dollars from these attacks, all to say that you should stay alert and always be prepared for these types of threats.

Looking for the principles and best practices for medical device cybersecurity? We have the answer.

Realworld Systems’ healthcare computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS) can help your organisation identify and resolve any medical device and security risks. To mitigate cybersecurity risks, the right CMMS system will:
  • Analyse and report against all medical devices, network data and software.
  • Reconcile MDS2 data and other security attributes against inventory.
  • Automate workflows that are unique to your organisation when potential security risks or gaps are found.
  • Integrate with network monitoring tools.
  • These features can ultimately help you identify security gaps, automate mitigation steps and track those fixes as they happen.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how a CMMS can streamline your operations and maximize your security. Get in touch with us today to see how a healthcare CMMS can benefit your organisation.
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