Maintenance software, commonly known as CMMS, have been around for years. Important companies have been deploying these programs in facilities. The problem it’s always been the same: those are not developed to facilitate technician’s lives, instead they add a big layer of extra work.
Until very recently a different angle came out with an application called Upkeep, that is really a relief for us at the natural gas industry. I want you to meet Ryan Chan. He is the CEO & Founder at Upkeep Maintenance Management, a company that developed a really amazing Maintenance Application suite that works perfectly for the NGV Industry. You can hear the full interview in this episode of the NGV World Podcast.
Ryan started as a process engineer at a manufacturing facility, but he quickly realized that optimizing uptime and minimize breakdowns and got into the maintenance rabbit-hole. As a result of this he got into the place that many of us faced for many years, where the existing CMMS presented this great desktop-based solutions where the work orders were filled in paper out in the field and then those had to be transcribed and re-entered into these CMMS; instead of making their days easier, they were getting more difficult.
He taught himself to code and started this great journey of developing a unique CMMS that enables mobility as a main feature; mobile-first as they call it. The driver for Ryan is to do unique things and create something that’s never been done before, as well as providing value to the customers and impacting customers lives with the correct support.
When a CMMS gets deployed in big teams, is really interesting how you get groups to buy in the idea and then once they try it, great things start to happen.
But particularly in our industry, safety is key because many teams our staff is sujected to potentially life threatening situations. The basic focus here, is to plan against any kind of situation. The application helps you in this sense also by getting a better audit trail of who’s done what and why. A super useful feature is the Lockout – Tagout (LOTO) enforcement. It has become really critical to safety and a particular way to enforce it is through software.
Having a platform that helps your crew to do the exact things, at the correct times, step by step is also key to increase safety.
We talk in this episode about how our CNG or LNG stations must have an inner culture to submit requests and notify breakdowns immediately in an orderly fashion. This because we can acknowledge exactly and fix accordingly. Not just promote reporting, but increase visibility and proceed to prioritise whats really urgent and reduce downtime finally by simply changing the mindset.
Our industry is filled with requests that need to be solved immediately in order to not affect the sales. Doing all this with paper, retyping, is counter-productive. Compare that with mobilizing and modernizing, with pictures, descriptions, and notifications in real time. It’s all about streamlining communications and speeding up the response from notice to resolution, because the bottomline is that every minute counts.
A good CMMS must bridge the gap between the data and you to analyze and then the tools to create a workflow, to take actions when things happen.
We talk also about unmanned facilities and how Upkeep can be the tool to manage maintenance even in lights-out factories. The recent trends for software is to have very specialized software that generate different datasets, and those different service providers need to have the ability to send out and receive information thus being capable of being an integrated hub.
Upkeep achieves that with their Open API platform:
When you want to get the services of a new CMMS for your company, you have to understand that you already have your vertical software for your niche business, but you need your CMMS to be joint with the other pieces of your business. Also your best CMMS that you can sign up for is the one that lets you opt out any time you want and doesn’t hold your data hostage.
On the other hand, it’s worth to mention that our maintenance workforce presents a generational gap, and when we think about the software that is being developed around so many industries, we often find that the most difficult to use software is given to the most untech-savvy group and users of the world, and weirdly great amounts of venture capital money and all this innovation and ease of use is being fueled towards what is the most tech-savvy users of the world. One of the issues that Upkeep is tackling right now.
There has been amazing experiences with Upkeep where they work with Compressed Natural Gas Transportation companies that move natural gas across the United States and Canada, following maintenance and also using location for tracking with geofences on their units linked to maintenance programs.
Moreover, Upkeep can be used by regulators and government agencies, to keep a record of truth on their inspections, and now it moves even further past only a maintenance tool but a really useful audit application to enforce specific regulations or standards.
Upkeep will surely become the platform to support the collection of data of the physical and digital world. A huge notification and trigger tool to predict maintenance and using machine learning to anticipate jobs and it’s already starting to show up in their ecosystem.