Oct 5, 2018



Give your maintenance guys a brief verbal description of a repair and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. “Which generator unit? The one in the storage room in the sub facility by the tool shelf? Gotcha!” ​ While this kind of informal naming convention works fine for word of mouth, it doesn’t really work when you start putting info into your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Locating that generator unit in the sub facility in your CMMS when all your generator units are called “Generator” can be a nightmare. This is a common problem that organizations have when they start using their CMMS for the first time.


​Asset naming conventions can help you find your stuff way faster

First things first—an asset naming convention is basically just a way to name your assets in your database so they can be quickly identified.

The easiest way to establish a naming convention is to do it right from the beginning, during the CMMS implementation. Even small companies should come up with a standardized naming convention for their assets before they go live with their CMMS. You need to look at the big picture so when your organization grows, or purchases new assets, there won’t be any conflicts and you won’t need to redo any work.

Good asset naming conventions should also have a certain level of logic so that everyone who works with the CMMS can easily find what they’re looking for. For example, adding a location component to a mobile asset makes no sense if the asset needs to be renamed every time it moves.

Keep in mind that numbers have very little meaning so it is important to minimize their use and maximize the use of character instead.

Potential asset labelling convention components:

  1. Location: Country, site, building, floor, room, department etc.

  2. Usage type: Production, development, testing, research, parts cannibalization etc.

  3. Equipment type: Engine, generator, pump, air conditioning unit etc

  4. Make/Manufacturer

  5. Model/Rev

Desirable characteristics:

  1. Logical structure: Your technicians should be able to deconstruct the asset labelling convention for meaning.

  2. Consistent number of characters: Consistency is important for identification. For example, if you pull a list of your assets from the CMMS for asset 1, asset 2 and asset 12 you will get 1,12,2. If you label them asset 01, 02 and 12, your asset list will be in order.

  3. Informational components: Adding characters to the name that help identify the asset means your technicians can locate the assets quickly in the CMMS.

  4. Drill down approach: Each component should be a subset of the previous. For example, country, site, building, floor, room…

Asset naming example

Say we have four plants in four geographical locations around the world. Each plant has multiple buildings. In each building, we have several XLA lasers.


This tells us that XLA laser 001 is in building 1 at my US plant. This structure also comes in handy when we want to search the CMMS for old issues on our XLA lasers–we simply type in XLA into the closed work orders search box and we’ll get all the past issues and fixes for XLA lasers.

We applied this logic to the generator example above. See how easy it now is to identify that generator:


At first glance, technicians might think these asset names look complicated but they will adapt quickly especially if you keep your labels consistent. You will have to define an asset labelling convention that works for your particular facility, but this is a relatively simple task. You’ll be surprised to see how easy it is to abbreviate the identifiers for various assets and create a logical naming convention for your business.

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  • What is a Work Order Priority? The Maintenance Planner faces a daily process of balancing out the resources available based on the demand from Operations and Maintenance on how to achieve the best outcomes in terms of risk to productive output, quality, safety and waste in the daily management of the plant or manufacturing, process facility. The initial action in determining how to establish the priority for each Maintenance Work Order is to establish what is a Work Order Priority? Almost every Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) contains a field where you can set the work order priority, but few define exactly how it is to be used (which in turn determines what it should be). While there are a number of different interpretations of Work Order Priority that are possible, our view is that the Work Order Priority should represent an indication of the level of business risk that relates to the condition, fault or failure that has been raised by a Work order. The higher the overall risk associated with the fault or failure, then the higher the priority. Risk is generally represented as the combination of Consequences and Likelihood, so when assessing the priority of a work order, the following questions should be asked: If we do not perform this work: what is the impact on quality, safety, environmental conditions, energy and waste? what happens if the equipment suffers a functional failure, in what way would this impact on the ability to meet the output or production planned, and how large would that impact be? how likely would the equipment be to suffer that functional failure within the next (predetermined) time period? The first and second of these questions assesses the potential consequences of the likelihood of not performing the work; with absolute consideration of safety, quality, etc. and then the impact on the equipment, and the third question assesses the likelihood of those consequences occurring. While absolute priority must be given to the safety, quality, etc. needs the other conditions can then be evaluated using a risk matrix similar to the one shown in Figure 1. Applying Work Order Priorities in Practice Now we have looked at the principals how do we do this in practice? Assessing Consequences The phrase “functional failure” in the context used above comes from the methods defined in Reliability Centred Maintenance. What this means is that we first need to understand which function(s) are likely to be impacted by the fault or defect. RCM tells us that equipment can have many functions in addition to its primary function. For example, a pump, in addition to its primary function of being able to pump fluid from one location to another at a specified minimum rate, may have secondary functions that relate to Safety, Protection, Control, Containment etc. Further, RCM tells us that equipment can suffer a functional failure, in some cases, not just by failing to operate at all, but by failing in such a way that, although still operating, it fails to meet one or more specified minimum performance standards. So instead of operating at 20 m3/hr it has dropped to 15 m3/h. So careful thought is required when assessing each Work Order to understand which functions and associated functional failures may be impacted by the fault. Second, in order to ensure consistency in prioritisation among different equipment items, we need to understand the impact of the possible functional failure on overall business objectives. Bear in mind here that by “objective” we are using the (ISO 9001:2015) definition of an objective as being a “result to be achieved”. Those objectives could relate to the achievement of target performance levels in the areas of production throughput (failure to meet production targets), costs (failure to meet cost targets), or risk (failure to meet safety, environmental or social responsibility targets). So, when assessing consequences, it is important to be thorough, and it is also important to take a “big picture” view of the nature of these consequences on the overall business. Assessing Likelihood Assessing the likelihood of failure requires you to determine, in advance and in a consistent manner, the time period over which the likelihood of failure is to be assessed. For example, are we assessing the likelihood that the equipment will fail within the next week, within the next month, the next year, or some other time period? The correct answer will depend on your situation, but we would suggest that the time period should be consistent with your work order scheduling horizon. If, for example, you issue a work schedule for the maintenance execution team to complete once per week, then the timeframe for assessment of likelihood should also be weekly. Bear in mind that if the nature of the fault is such that the equipment will continue to degrade, then the likelihood of failure will increase as time passes, and so the work order priority should be reassessed periodically to take account of this. Too many organisations, in our experience, determine the work order priority when the work order is first raised, and then never reassess that priority (at least until, unfortunately, the equipment fails “unexpectedly”). Who Should Set Work Order Priorities? As you can see from the discussion so far, setting the priority for a work order requires knowledge of: The likelihood of impact on the safety, quality, environment, energy usage, etc. The current condition of the asset for which the work order has been raised The likelihood speed of progression from current condition to a functionally failed state The potential impact of this failed state on operational and organisational objectives, given the current situation regarding overall plant status, production plans, stockpile levels, potential workarounds etc. It is unlikely that any one person will have sufficient knowledge of all of these items to make a fully informed decision regarding work order priority. For this reason, we highly recommend that work order priorities be established jointly by maintenance and production/operations personnel, each of whom will bring different knowledge and skills to the decision-making process. Most likely, the production and maintenance representatives will be front-line supervisors, as they have the most intimate knowledge of the plant, but higher-level management supervision and/or involvement is likely also to be of value, in order to ensure that decisions align with overall management priorities. Work Order Priorities and Scheduling Work Orders The next question to ask is how Work Order priorities are applied?. Can we, or should we, always schedule the highest priority work orders for completion first? Regrettably, the answer is “no”. We should, however, as a general rule, start work on the highest priority work orders first, but when the work is actually completed will depend on a number of other factors. For example, if the work order requires spare parts that are not in stock, then there is little point in scheduling the work for completion until such time as the parts are actually available. For long lead-time items, this may be several weeks in the future. High work order priority may, however, indicate that acquisition of these spare parts is expedited with some urgency, which also raises a cost consideration. Similarly, if, to perform the work, the equipment needs shutting down, then the work will need to be scheduled for a time that has minimum overall impact on plant objectives, and performance of this work may be completed at the same time as a number of other work orders that require equipment to be shut down. This then also raises the question of contracting-out some of the work due to insufficient internal resources. Sometimes we may also schedule work for completion that is assessed as “lower” priority using the risk matrix approach. For example, from time to time Work Orders can be raised for Maintenance personnel to execute those that are not directly related to impending equipment failures. These are often proactive tasks that relate either to equipment service or improvement activities which are intended to improve overall equipment reliability. But note, for example, that while fixing machine guards is generally not done to prevent impending failure, however, if assessed using a risk matrix would definitely be rated always as high priority as it impacts on safety which overrides other lower priority tasks. We hope you’ll find the points we’ve raised helpful in your planning and scheduling of Work Orders.
  • 1) Asset hierarchy Assets in your  CMMS are arranged in a hierarchal structure, kind of like folders and files are laid out on your computer. This gives an intuitive, visual layout to the assets in the CMMS, which also corresponds to the way they are laid out in your facility.  This way, even people who aren’t trained on how to use the software are able to find the asset they’re looking for, just by drilling down into the asset hierarchy. 2) Asset categories When equipment (or other assets) are entered into the system, users can identify an asset category for that piece of equipment in addition to a physical location.  This allows the user two ways of filtering assets: 1) by location 2) by the asset category, or what “type” of asset it is. For instance, if you’re trying to locate a piece of HVAC machinery, say “Twin Fan Set”,  you can drill down via Main Facility > Roof > Twin Fan Set. About 3 clicks, and simple to do. Or, you can select “HVAC” from the list of Asset categories, and choose/search the asset this way. 3) Program your own asset tag/code The importance of having a good asset labelling convention is discussed here .  If you have several assets with the same name, you need a quick way to distinguish them from each other that is a) easy to implement and b) easy for your maintenance staff to interpret.  Fiix allows you to add an asset labelling convention that is separate from the Name of the Asset, (you get both: an Asset Name, and an Asset Code).  Asset codes can be added  manually one at a time, or more than one via the import tool. For multiple asset import, set your CSV file up in excel and use the native excel functionality to increment your asset code. You could also program a convention for all assets you enter into the system via our API but this requires some programming experience. 4) All fields are searchable Obviously you would expect some kind of search for a database program.  What makes Fiix’s search function so helpful, is that it lets you query a number of fields at the same time.  For instance, say I’m trying to find a particular CNC machine out of the 40 or so I have scattered around my Asset Hierarchy.  I can start the search by typing “cnc”, but then narrow it down further by adding more info I know about the machine.  I’ll add a bit from the description, the make, even part of the serial number. What this design does is all for a very flexible process for identifying the asset you’re looking for.  You can drill down into the place it is located, filter by the asset category, distinguish it from similarly named assets with the Asset tag/code, and search all these things simultaneously using the live search.

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