Everyone knows that poorly maintained assets can lead to breakdowns and stoppages that impact production. Less obvious is the impact it can have in terms of quality issues; spoilage, rejects and waste; delivery commitments; morale; and the extra strain on Maintenance resources. All of which are losses that can be minimised.

The challenge for the Engineering/Maintenance department in today’s climate is to work smarter and leaner, holding less inventory and still maintaining plant up-time. The task is more difficult where no data is available to analyse history, visualise progress or evaluate performance.

More and more manufacturers are increasing the responsibilities of operatives, so that they are responsible for their workspace and assets, including routine maintenance checks and procedures. Making maintenance information available to production in real-time not only assists them with their goals in terms of output, quality and waste, but also reminds them of their maintenance commitments and helps them plan tasks opportunistically like during job changeovers to minimise downtime.

Most maintenance packages provide asset management, inventory controls, maintenance task scheduling etc. but when implemented as part of an MES, the solution can provide additional functionality and benefits because it can be better integrated within the overall manufacturing operations environment.


The Maintenance module of Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition provides a solution that supports the following:

  • Create and manage a set of planned maintenance procedures. The procedures allow you to define:
    • The set of steps that have to be done. Steps can be simple check lists or measurements that need to be recorded e.g. clearances.
    • Skills/personnel required to do each step
    • The spare parts that will be needed or may need to be replaced
  • Procedures can be planned against an asset based on:
    • Period based – a specified frequency, for example every 3 months, year
    • Counter based – when Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition is tracking counters with other modules the maintenance activities can be planned on things like reaching thresholds for machine cycles, production counts, for example every 10,000th part
    • Run hours based – when Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition is tracking run-hours with other modules the maintenance activities can be planned on attaining run hours (which is good if certain assets are not used all the time).
    • Event based – with other modules in Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition a range of events can be configured to trigger maintenance activities, for example critical defects detected, tool changes due to damaged tools, process capability deterioration
  • Maintenance checks can range from simple checks to be done by operators on the line (every shift, day, week) through to big complex jobs
  • The maintenance system can be used by all users, not just maintenance personnel – so operators can record the frequent checks that they are doing
  • A maintenance calendar is automatically maintained, based on all events relevant to maintenance. Forward workloads can be projected including forward spare part usage anticipated
  • Maintenance work orders are generated for all work, they are scheduled, assigned to personnel or teams, and released
  • Maintenance engineers work through prioritised lists of maintenance orders
  • As maintenance orders are carried out, engineers record every step, including spare parts used and man-hours
  • Dashboards can be built to aid visualisation and help everyone see where the problems in the factory are
  • Powerful reports to show all aspects of maintenance costs: spare parts used, man-hours
  • Build up a detailed asset history to make better decisions about the asset in future

In some cases Maintenance Management has been implemented as part of an ERP system: the synergies with managing spare part inventory and maintenance cost is obvious. However, all too often the ERP systems are used well by factory floor users. Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition on the other hand offers an operator friendly environment to record all maintenance activities and can interface back to ERP to inform about spare parts booked, issued, used or returned.

Improve usability issue takes a step up when Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition maintenance activities is deployed using hand held devices. Engineers can follow work to lists, record activities, parts and hours without having to move away from the place of work.

When Used with Other Modules

The Maintenance module builds upon the Asset Register module in order to layer on planned maintenance procedures. Additionally

  • With the Inventory module: manage all the spare part inventory
  • With the Production Counting module: take advantage of counts collected in production, for example real-time counts via OPC, to count things like cycles, parts made. These can be used as life time counts and also used to trigger maintenance procedures
  • With the Downtime module: take advantage of downtime monitoring to derive actual run hours and schedule maintenance activities based on actual run hours
  • With the Repairs module: record breakdowns, schedule repair works orders, track repair work and spare parts used on each asset
  • With the Links to Document module: link in all documentation related to each asset for easy access. Alternatively take photographs at various stages of maintenance activities to aid future work.


  • Improved planning – plan your maintenance activities well in advance to predict spare part and labour requirements
  • Workloads and priorities – improve the day to day management of maintenance workloads, create maintenance works orders, authorise for release, prioritise, assign to individuals or teams
  • Develop best practice – define maintenance work as a set of steps to follow
  • Improve visibility – everyone can see what is being done, what is waiting and why
  • Lower the cost of maintenance – by arranging schedules based on usage not just fixed calendar periods
  • Avoid problems – stop issues before they become major problems with event-based maintenance
  • History – develop a detailed history of all assets and use it to make more informed decisions
  • Usability – improve the use of the system with deployment on mobile devices