Last Updated: September 13, 2021

The CMMS Buyer's Guide for Food and Beverage Manufacturers

There are many factors to take into account when choosing a CMMS, especially in the food and beverage manufacturing industry. The goal of this Buyer’s Guide is to help food and beverage manufacturers navigate the process of selecting a CMMS for their organization. We'll cover the key areas of evaluation that you should consider.

Introduction

Despite being incredibly innovative when it comes to using technology to create value-added products and services, food and beverage manufacturers are frequently stuck in paper-based, manual maintenance processes. For these companies, it’s time to make the switch to digital, which will make compliance with government and industry regulations easier and more efficient. This is where a CMMS comes in.

Selecting a CMMS for your team can be overwhelming. There are many considerations to take into account, especially in the food and beverage manufacturing industry. Thus, the goal of this Buyer’s Guide is to help food and beverage manufacturers navigate the process of selecting a CMMS for their organization. 

The first CMMS appeared around 1965 and was used by large manufacturers that owned IBM mainframe computers (the beastly kinds that are not used anymore). Technicians would log data on punch cards that were fed to the computer. Years later, they would log data on paper that was given to data entry specialists. Only in the 1980s, when computers became more usable, did technicians log data themselves directly into the system.

Accessibility is now less of an issue in the 21st century with personal computers. And a CMMS is not reserved for large manufacturers that have high maintenance budgets. Today, a CMMS is used by companies that simply have internet in their facility and even the smallest maintenance budgets. This is because CMMS solutions are web-based and relatively affordable. It’s important to balance affordability with value for money as part of the evaluation process. We’ll cover how to evaluate the value of a CMMS later on. 

Accessibility and affordability aside, today, a CMMS is judged mainly on functionality and ease of use. Usability is still an important factor because as more features are added, CMMS solutions can become increasingly complex, which decreases any chance for successful implementation.

How to Select the Best CMMS for Your Team

What Should You Look for in a CMMS?

When it’s time to select your CMMS, be sure to consider fit with your business, resources required, and the system’s growth potential.

Company Fit

First, be sure your solution fits the needs of your business. If you’re a small organization, you may need a simple software solution without all the bells and whistles. On the other hand, if you expect rapid growth, you’ll want a CMMS solution that can scale quickly and easily. Larger companies with multiple facilities may require a more sophisticated, proven solution that can easily integrate with other business systems.

Resources Required

Second, match the resources required with the resources available. The initial cost of a CMMS is important; however, it’s critical to consider the ongoing costs such as training, upgrades, or subscription costs. Be sure your organization can follow through with not only purchasing and implementation but the ongoing tasks necessary to maximize the features of the chosen CMMS.

Potential for Growth

Finally, evaluate the CMMS for its ability to grow with your organization. Cloud-based technology is the future of this software as well as mobile functionality. Be sure your chosen solution provider is ready to help keep you up-to-date in terms of the technology itself.

Must-Have Features of a CMMS

The most important feature of a CMMS is the effective management of work orders, inventory, vendors, and assets as well as the ability to provide analytics, mobility, and scanning capabilities.

Work Order Process Management

By using a CMMS, food manufacturing companies can plan, schedule, and execute the work orders required to keep all equipment in good working order. Work orders can be automatically scheduled, accessed, and tracked through a CMMS, providing both technicians and management a comprehensive record of maintenance work completed and scheduled. Having a CMMS automatically generate recurring work orders at set intervals can help ease the administrative burdens of handling maintenance work in such a complex, fast-paced environment.

Reporting

You’ll want to make sure your chosen CMMS provides easy-to-read analytics reports, so you can periodically evaluate key performance indicators 
(KPIs). In addition, food manufacturing companies that have CMMS solutions in place can often generate data quickly to meet audit information requirements. Ideally, the data from a CMMS assists a company in completing regular internal audits as well. 

Mobility

Your CMMS should be accessible with mobile technology, so your service technicians have the same information when they’re out in the field and can easily record their work and findings right back into the centralized system. Integration of barcoding or RFID scanning technology is also an important CMMS feature, allowing you to quickly and accurately tag and scan assets and inventory data.

CMMS Use Cases for Food and Beverage Manufacturers

Does a CMMS Serve Your Use Case? 

Here are some examples of how a CMMS can make a difference in reducing costs, improving productivity, and increasing efficiency for food and beverage manufacturers. 

Preventive Maintenance

Creating an efficient and effective maintenance program in any manufacturing company is important to its overall success. However, for food and beverage producers, there’s an extra layer of importance due to food safety concerns and regulations. 

When you start a preventive maintenance program, you should consider reliable forms of storing data, such as in a CMMS. With a CMMS, you are able to track critical information in one place, as well as limit permissions and access to records to ensure their integrity. In order to implement a preventive maintenance program, a food or beverage manufacturer should take inventory of all its critical equipment, including things like identification or model numbers, descriptions, maintenance schedules, and checklists or procedures required. 

Many food and beverage companies start off with simple preventive maintenance checks using checklists on a clipboard, but these often can go missing when important audits come up. Switching over from pen and paper to a CMMS might seem scary or overwhelming at first, but the shift can only increase team accountability and make peoples’ lives easier. 

Establishing Procedures to Document Maintenance Processes 

Related to preventive maintenance, but also encompassing all maintenance activities, documented processes and procedures are critical to a well-running program. Food and beverage manufacturers should gather equipment manuals and suggested schedules, along with company-specific processes and requirements, to compile a comprehensive set of maintenance procedures.

Typical documentation may include procedures for lubrication, tool reconciliation, repairs, emergencies, training, and audits. Ideally, all this documentation is consistently and readily available through a CMMS, so that every technician has access when needed, especially for completing work orders.

MRO Inventory Management

Another key area of a comprehensive maintenance program is managing maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory. This may include tools required for service and repair, disposable items such as janitorial supplies, and spare parts needed to maintain critical assets. Companies must find a way to balance keeping enough MRO inventory on hand so that repairs can be made swiftly, yet not keep too many items, which increases cost and organization requirements.

A CMMS can easily integrate purchasing requirements into work orders. For example, if a critical spare part reaches a low level, a purchase order can be immediately initiated. This helps a company ensure that key parts are on hand, as well as avoid high rush shipping charges.

Sanitation After Maintenance

After maintenance tasks are performed, it’s particularly important for food manufacturers to engage in a thorough sanitation program to ensure that equipment will not contaminate products.

Manufacturers may want to establish a sanitation-after-maintenance or red-tag program in its operations. The information available should include the type of repair performed, parts and tools used, sanitation completed, and documentation and inspection record. Ideally, this program is integrated with a preventive maintenance work order system, which ensures that the tasks are completed before the work order is closed. A CMMS should then contain all historic documentation on this process as well.

Asset Management

A CMMS doubles as an asset management software and can help a facility better manage its maintenance assets. Some companies may use expensive testing equipment or put together service tool kits for maintenance technicians to take out during service calls. By tagging these kits or assets, a company can keep track of which technician is using what tools, where the equipment is located, and when they might need to be inspected or serviced.

Inventory Management

By keeping track of materials and items from the moment they enter your facility, throughout 
their journey in your company, and to their final consumption, you can minimize the labor spent in searching for items as well as the cost of replacing lost items. Scanning technology works in tandem with a CMMS to give you an inventory management software, showing accurate and complete information on your inventory.

How Food and Beverage Industry Benefits From a CMMS

With the food and beverage industry becoming more and more data-driven, a CMMS can help organizations log data and improve the efficiency of MRO processes. To be effective, you’ll need to make sure you track and use your KPIs and benchmarks effectively. Essentially, KPIs give you insight into the effectiveness of your processes in terms of reaching strategic goals, whereas benchmarks help you set realistic goals. There are a number of reasons why you’d want to track both, which include the following. 

Target Important Objectives

First of all, KPIs and benchmarks help you to zero in on important business objectives. Benchmarking in particular helps you determine where certain metrics and practices should be, whether you’re looking at customer satisfaction, streamlining costs, improving product safety, or eliminating waste from your production processes.

By comparing relevant benchmarks to your current KPIs, you’ll be able to identify areas where your company is lacking, and set goals that are targeted to help you attain the highest level of improvement.

Track Progress

KPIs and benchmarks also help you track progress. They give you visibility over your processes, finances, consumer satisfaction, etc. and therefore help you see how you’re doing in terms of reaching strategic objectives. This way, you can see how changes in your processes and practices impact your progress and make adjustments as you go. If something isn’t working, monitoring your progress with KPIs should enable you to correct your course with minimal waste.

Provide Insight Into Problems

If there are problem areas in any section of your company, tracking the right KPIs can help you become aware of them. In addition, some metrics can help you gain insight into how to best solve those problems. For instance, if financial data shows comparatively high maintenance spend in one of your production facilities, along with high unplanned downtime hours compared to similar facilities in the food and beverage sector, that could point you toward improving maintenance management in that facility.

Keep Tabs on Your Company’s Vitals

By closely monitoring KPIs, you essentially track your company’s vital signs. If something dips, it will be a sign that something has happened to diminish your organization’s health, providing a cue to start tracking down potential issues and solving them. By looking at benchmark data alongside those KPIs, you’ll be able to see whether it’s an internal problem or an issue affecting the food and beverage industry in general, giving you some idea of where to focus improvement efforts.

Ultimately, problems don’t creep up on you as easily if you keep a close eye on KPIs.

11 of the Best KPIs and Benchmarks for Food and Beverage Manufacturers

While most people in the food and beverage industry are well aware of the importance of benchmarking and KPI tracking, it can be difficult to determine which metrics are truly worth using. Some of the best KPIs to track and benchmark include the following.

  1. Operating margin
  2. Unplanned downtime
  3. Preventive maintenance completion
  4. Throughput
  5. Yield
  6. Inventory turnover
  7. Fill rate
  8. Distribution cost as a percent of revenue
  9. Days sales outstanding
  10. Time to close books
  11. IT spend as a percent of revenue

With a CMMS, you’re able to track these KPIs, benchmarks, and more. Alongside this functionality comes a host of benefits for any organization, ranging from increased manufacturing productivity to higher uptime and customer satisfaction. 

Comparing CMMS Providers

Functionality

Functionality sits at the core of any CMMS system and is what ultimately drives home the benefits you will receive. As previously mentioned, work order process management, reporting, and mobility are the three most important features of a CMMS. It’s important to find a provider that can confidently deliver on all three.

Ease of Use

Ease of use and functionality really go hand in hand. The more features that are added, the more complex the CMMS can become. This can decrease the chance for successful implementation and is the main reason why legacy CMMS systems often see low adoption amongst technicians. It’s important to find a CMMS that has a high rating on both functionality and ease of use. 

Value for Money

It’s important to strike the right balance between cost and value as part of the evaluation process. Choosing the outright cheapest option may leave you lacking key features and put adoption at risk. Choosing the most expensive option may put your potential for a positive return on investment (ROI) at risk if your costs outweigh your potential benefits. We help you break down how to effectively calculate a potential ROI and value of a CMMS in the next section. 

Customer Support

Implementing and onboarding a CMMS costs time and money, so you want to be sure that your CMMS provider will be providing you the ongoing support you need to ensure your implementation is a successful one. 

There are many software review websites out there that can help you compare vendors and browse reviews from current CMMS customers and users. Capterra 
(image shown above), G2, and Software Advice are a few examples of these kinds of websites.

As we mentioned earlier, functionality, ease of use, and value for money are all important aspects to consider when selecting a CMMS provider. Customer support should also play a role in the decision-making process.

How to Sell a CMMS to Your Boss

In business, we always have to justify the cost of every purchase, whether that’s buying a new piece of equipment, hiring that additional headcount, or in this case, purchasing software 
for your maintenance team. It can be one of the most difficult conversations with your boss, but done right, it makes the decision-making process so much easier. 

So, how do you justify the cost of a CMMS to your boss?

How to Calculate CMMS ROI

The formula for CMMS ROI is simple: (CMMS value - CMMS cost) / CMMS cost

According to this equation, you need two numbers to calculate the ROI for a CMMS: the cost of a CMMS and the value of a CMMS.

2 Examples of CMMS Success Stories

If you don’t have time to perform the exercise of determining the full ROI of a CMMS, you can cite findings from the following success stories. 

McCormick Success Story

The maintenance team at McCormick’s facility that handled 
the Gourmet Garden product line was nearly always in reactive maintenance mode. Requests were handled through phone calls and emails, while no information was recorded. “We were just like firefighting every day,” said Jordan Weber, UpKeep administrator. In addition, much of the plant’s equipment was custom-built or retrofitted, which meant that replacement parts were difficult to obtain. When machinery went down, production lines were affected for weeks.

When Jordan took over the maintenance department, he knew the company needed to move toward a more proactive system. McCormick had purchased another software solution, but when Jordan tried to implement it, he found it was too complex for the staff to use. He learned about UpKeep’s mobile-first solution through another McCormick facility in Melbourne that had already implemented it.

“Once our team began to use UpKeep in the first month, we saw email communications drop by 90 percent. Requesters are now entering good information, and our accountability and traceability has improved so much. It’s sort of hard to picture our life without it now.” 
– Jordan Weber, UpKeep administrator

Read more here. 

Brew Dr. Kombucha Success Story

Brew Dr. Kombucha found its growth ballooning over the last several years, and maintenance practices had not been high on the priority list. When Ryan Still joined the management team in November 2019, one of the first things he did was look for and implement a CMMS.

“I realized quickly that we had a very large need for a CMMS,” said Ryan, Maintenance Manager at Brew Dr. Kombucha. “We basically had almost no preventative maintenance tasks that were organized in any way. We had no asset management and no spare parts inventory. Basically, we had a couple of mechanics who would come over from the shop anytime anything would break.”

One area where UpKeep has made a big difference at Brew Dr. Kombucha is in production. Currently, the plant runs two large production lines, a medium one, and two smaller lines. Before UpKeep, Brew Dr. Kombucha asked employees to enter requests into a spreadsheet but had little compliance.

This had an ongoing effect on production levels. “In the past, if we came close to producing 100 pallets a day in product, we would have been celebrating,” Ryan continued. “Today, we’re easily hitting 140 or 150 pallets every day. In fact, we keep setting new records. It’s nice that we’re starting to get to a place where things are feeling more reliable, more stable and more consistent.” 

Read more here.

How a CMMS Increases Technician Productivity

In addition to finding relevant stories to cite, you can quickly calculate the ROI of a CMMS based on how it increases the productivity of technicians.

We conducted a study with 1,000 UpKeep customers that provided data about how productivity increases when an antiquated maintenance system is replaced with a mobile CMMS. Here is what we found:

  • Paper and pencil to mobile CMMS = 21% increase in technician productivity
  • Desktop CMMS to mobile CMMS = 12% increase in technician productivity

To assign a dollar amount to this increase in productivity, you need two more numbers: the average hourly salary of technicians and the amount of technicians on your maintenance team.

When you have these numbers, plug them into this equation:

{[(average hourly salary of technicians) * (working hours per day) * (working days per year) * (# of technicians) *  
(% productivity increase)] – (CMMS annual cost)} / CMMS annual cost = Annual ROI of CMMS based on technician productivity

For example, let’s say you pay your technicians $30 an hour on average and are moving from a paper-based system to a mobile CMMS. In addition, you have eight technicians on your maintenance team and are paying 
$5,000 a year for the CMMS. 

The annual ROI of the CMMS based on technician productivity would be:

{[$30/hour * 8 working hours/day * 261 working days/year *  8 technicians * 21% productivity] – $5,000/year} / $5,000/year = 2,000% ROI

Determine the Value of a CMMS

In addition to calculating the value of increasing the productivity of technicians, you can factor in other areas of value:

Estimate Administrative Productivity

Perform a similar calculation as you did for technicians above. But instead of using the same productivity percentages as you did for technicians, estimate the productivity for admins. When making this estimation, consider the time saved from removing paper and keeping data in a centralized, searchable system. 

Estimate Storeroom Productivity

If you have a storeroom that’s managed by a parts manager, estimate an increase in productivity based on how much easier it will be for them to keep proper stock counts. For instance, when a technician adds a part to a work order in UpKeep, the quantity used is automatically deducted from inventory.

Parts managers can also quickly create purchase orders with a CMMS. And when the PO is fulfilled, the quantity is automatically updated in the system.

Estimate the Cost of Failing Audits

Given the fact that people ingest the products that come out of food factories, there are many strict regulations that manufacturers in this industry must comply with. Failing to comply with those standards results in hefty fines, as well as a lost reputation as a manufacturer.

With a CMMS, you can access preventive maintenance checklists, schedules, and historical maintenance records for assets in a few clicks. You can also generate reports/documentation in PDF format to give to auditors. Having a preventive maintenance program as well as a system for keeping it in order will protect companies from failing government audits.

How to Appeal to Common Stakeholders

Prior to selecting a CMMS, everyone involved in the decision-making process needs to be on board. Having the approval of managers, maintenance teams, and other key stakeholders is essential for a smooth launch. 

Effectively presenting data on how a CMMS can benefit an organization is the first step in getting team support. Here are some common stakeholders, and how they could benefit from a CMMS.

Executive: A CMMS will help you serve your customers better. Better data means faster, smarter business decisions. That results in prompt service, faster shipment, and more responsive problem resolution. All of those things will help you improve your relationships with your customers.

Facility Manager: A CMMS can optimize team performance with live reporting. Facility managers are then able to easily identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, while also making better resource allocation decisions.

Maintenance Director or Manager: One of their major responsibilities is setting overall maintenance department goals, strategies, or procedures to accomplish company objectives. With a CMMS, they’re able to easily track important key performance indicators to achieve objectives.

Maintenance Planner or Scheduler: Because a CMMS collects and manages maintenance information centrally, companies can operate more efficiently. For example, a worker can enter preventive maintenance schedules into a CMMS once. When time or condition requirements are met, the CMMS can automatically trigger a work order, so that maintenance is performed on time.

Maintenance Coordinator: One frustrating thing for workers is not having the correct tools or supplies to complete a job. 
A CMMS not only manages work orders, but also can provide tracking and ordering of tools and supplies. In addition, the system can help you locate and track supplies and tools, minimizing lost items and unnecessary reorders.

Maintenance Technician: Gone are the days of sticky notes, emails, and voicemails to pass along maintenance details. A CMMS helps put all this communication in one place, so that all who require data will have it at their fingertips. 

Conclusion

Food and beverage manufacturers need to embrace CMMS solutions that offer an easy-to-use interface for employees. Today, a CMMS helps food and beverage manufacturers organize maintenance tasks and track maintenance activity. There are also CMMS products available that are free to use; however, many maintenance teams are still using pen and paper, spreadsheets, or no system at all according to an UpKeep survey.

There’s always a positive ROI for a CMMS if your company does two things: 1. Performs a significant amount of maintenance and 2. Takes the time to properly implement the software and onboard staff. But you have to quantify this to prove to yourself and others that the investment is worth it. By following the steps above, you can do this. And after you do this, you’ll start experiencing the incredible ROI of a CMMS.

With CMMS products easier than ever to use and widely available to teams with different budgets, it’s at least worth testing a CMMS.

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Maintenance shouldn’t mean guesswork and paperwork. UpKeep makes it simple to see where everything stands, all in one place. That means less guesswork and more time to focus on what matters.

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