Dedicated software streamlines the task of performing

preventative maintenance on sophisticated welding


by Paul Lachance,

president and chief technology officer, Smartware Group Inc.


Preventive maintenance is a necessity

– not a luxury – for keeping sensitive

robotic welding equipment operational

and profitable. And preventive

maintenance (PM) is the very

heartbeat of a modern computerized

maintenance management system


That fact, alone, makes a CMMS a

worthwhile investment for companies

using robotic technology. While senior

managers in the executive suite as well

as owners of mom-and-pop enterprises

may accept this fact, they also need to

look at the big picture to see the full

scope of benefits a CMMS offers and

to understand what kind of return on

investment to expect from purchasing

one of these systems.

Preventive maintenance,

the “heartbeat” of a CMMS,

is a necessity for keeping

sensitive robotic welding

equipment operational

and profitable.

September | October 2015


Data-driven decision-making

A CMMS is well known for enhancing

business operations by producing

PM alerts and automating work

orders (WOs) to reduce downtime

and increase productivity – especially

with today’s easy-to-use, cloudbased

systems that can be accessed

anywhere, even from a mobile device.

Beyond those basic functions,

however, executives and business

owners too often overlook the rich

store of data in a CMMS that can be

easily mined for making decisions

about asset purchases, capital budgets,

new hires, outsourced repairs and spare

parts inventory – and to ease regulatory

compliance efforts, as well.

An old-fashioned air conditioner

illustrates how a CMMS helps take the

guesswork out of setting priorities

for one of the more costly items in a

company’s budget: asset replacement.

Suppose it’s time to consider retiring

a 10-year-old AC unit in one area of a

Trend analyses, like this one generated from a

CMMS, can show a forecast of future maintenance

events, the likelihood of such an event as well as

historical details.

September | October 2015


facility. But the WO history in the CMMS

shows fewer repairs were made to

that unit in the last five years than to a

newer unit in another location in the

facility. Keeping the older unit allows

the money that would have been spent

on its replacement to be used for other,

more productive purposes.

And if this logic works for making

decisions about relatively simple

devices such as AC units, imagine

how it applies to analyzing more

sophisticated – and expensive – assets

like robotic welding cells. For instance,

manufacturers’ service manuals provide

initial templates for preventive care

of robotic equipment. But guesswork

can come into play if technicians are

not familiar with all the subtle steps

involved in ongoing maintenance.

By contrast, the CMMS solution

can clearly document every repair in

the WO history along with showing

the ratio between PMs and corrective

maintenance work. Managers can

pull up reports with key performance

indicators, including age, frequency

of failures and rising/falling repair

cost factors on a robotic asset. They

can also analyze the performance of

similar pieces of equipment, such as

comparing a robotic device with a

nozzle cleaning station to a device

without one. All of this hard data from

the CMMS can be used for a host of

business decisions.

Outsourcing maintenance

Some companies may choose to

outsource maintenance of robotic

equipment rather than manage

intricate work on MIG guns, contact

nozzles, guard doors and reamers inhouse.

The CMMS proves value in this

case because it not only produces PMs

for other traditional assets (like HVAC

systems), but also provides data on the

performance of outside vendors.

CMMS reports on the activities of

these external contractors will show

the frequency, quality and cost of

actual work completed in a specific

timeframe, such as a 12-month period.

Those reports can be used for making

informed decisions about whether

to negotiate, replace or renew the

maintenance contracts with various

vendors – or to stop outsourcing

maintenance altogether.

Savvy staffing and safety measures

By some estimates, 75 percent of the

cost in a semi-automatic welding

operation is labor – which means

staffing practices must be as efficient

as possible. Pursuing the PM strategies

innate in a CMMS not only lowers

equipment downtime, but employee

overtime, as well.

In addition, analyzing staff labor

resources through the lens of the PM

calendar ensures that team members

are neither over nor underutilized.

For example, a CMMS equipped with

job planning capabilities enables

managers to move less urgent WOs

to different times of the day or week

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or registered trademarks of Praxair Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. 09/15

so team members can be assigned

according to their workloads, reducing

the burden on key staffers. This is also

where the importance of CMMS design

comes into play – drag-and-drop

functionality makes tasks such as job

planning far easier for users, regardless

of technological aptitudes.

The level of employee skills and

training plays a critical role in operating

robotic welding cells. PM notices can

be set up to schedule and inform

employees about participating in

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September | October 2015


training sessions or the need to update

skills, and a CMMS can maintain data

on staff training and certifications.

By helping managers stay abreast

of employee capabilities, the CMMS

contributes to the bottom line.

Besides maintaining a cache of

information on employee skills and

performance, a CMMS provides the

basic tools to implement a safety

program and to schedule and perform

most safety-related tasks, including job

safety analyses, fire alarms, drills and


A CMMS also connects material

safety data sheets and lockout/tagout

information to WOs and equipment.


The safety program should also link all M


safety tasks to PMs, WOs, assets and


equipment – and the CMMS should


have safety checklists specifically



for fire inspection purposes. Using


the CMMS to promote safety helps

prevent accidents that exact a toll on

the business and the lives of valued


In addition to these capabilities, a

CMMS helps companies save money

by simplifying the tedious work

of maintaining a parts inventory

and complying with government

regulations and audits. When all aspects

of a robust CMMS are taken into

account, it becomes clear that these

systems are worth the investment.

Smartware Group Inc.

September | October 2015

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