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How can CMMS software benefit the food & drink manufacturing industry?

Food and drink manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to increase efficiency.  

While production costs are easing for the first time since 2016, high material and energy prices are still eating into profit margins. The only way to offset these external pressures is through internal cost savings.  

Many food manufacturers have optimised their operations by investing in digital equipment. But this has increased the workload of maintenance teams, who are looking after more assets than ever before.   

Thankfully, technology exists to help maintenance departments manage their ever-growing estate. Most food companies choose Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) or computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) software to lighten the load. 

What’s the difference between CAFM and CMMS software?  

CAFM software focuses on managing manufacturing facilities, helping companies optimise physical space and resources. In addition to manufacturing equipment, CAFM software can manage general assets like furniture and office equipment.  

CMMS software is a dedicated tool for managing maintenance operations and assets to maximise equipment performance and reduce downtime. It enables in-depth tracking of asset maintenance history, and it can also manage spare parts. CMMS solutions can provide detailed maintenance reports, helping maintenance teams make data-driven decisions about how machinery is maintained and replaced.  

While there are key differences between CAFM and CMMS technology, food and drink manufacturers don’t always need to choose between the two. Combined CMMS/CAFM solutions like ShireSystem give maintenance departments the best of both worlds.  

How can CAFM/CMMS software improve food and drink manufacturing?  

Put simply, well-maintained machinery works better and needs replacing less often, helping food and drink manufacturers to reduce equipment costs. However, there are further, more specific benefits that a combined CMMS/CAFM solution can deliver:  

  • Greater asset visibility: maintenance teams manage a wide range of food manufacturing assets, from processing equipment to refrigeration systems. Storing the data for these assets in a central CAFM/CMMS system enables staff to view critical information in one place. This way, they know when assets were last serviced and planned maintenance work is due. 
  • Smoother workflows: besides capturing asset information, CAFM/CMMS software channels all work requests through a single system. It’s easier to schedule and assign tasks, ensuring essential jobs don’t slip through the cracks.    
  • More productive staff: with a clearly defined workload, maintenance teams can get on with their task list as soon as they clock in. Even better, if their CMMS software has an app, they can refer to schedules and access digital checklists and technical documents on the move. For example, Cambs Farm Growers engineers can be in the field for 2-3 days at a time. They use Mobile Pro, ShireSystem’s mobile app, to make notes on each job as it’s completed, rather than recalling all their data when they return to the workshop. 
  • Less unplanned downtime: machinery breakdowns are disruptive to all companies, but they can be especially harmful to food and drink manufacturers. If critical machinery goes down for too long, ingredients will spoil. CMMS/CAFM software helps to prevent unplanned downtime by ensuring assets are serviced on a regular schedule. It can also help food companies transition from a reactive to a preventative maintenance model. Maintenance leaders can use their CMMS to prioritise repairs if equipment breaks or fails, minimising downtime.  
  • Strict health and safety standards: food and drink manufacturers are subject to stringent regulations, which maintenance work must meet. CAFM/CMMS software can store digital checklists to ensure protocol is followed before, during, and after servicing and repair work. Managing tasks digitally also provides a clear data trail for inspections and audits.    
  • Accurate cost tracking: many CMMS/CAFM systems help maintenance departments manage expenditure by preventing overspending on spare parts. They can also provide valuable information on the total cost of ownership (TCO), assisting teams with deciding when to repair equipment versus when to replace it.  
  • Longer asset lifespans: a consistent maintenance programme is essential for ensuring equipment is in good working order most of the time, rather than falling back on a break/fix approach. CAFM/CMMS software sets clear deadlines for preventative maintenance work, based on a time schedule or conditional monitoring. As a result, machines are under less stress and therefore last longer. Improving maintenance can reduce costs in other areas, too – for example, a malfunctioning oven, fridge or freezer could drive up energy consumption

What CMMS software features should food and drink manufacturers look out for?  

There are many combined CAFM/CMMS systems available, but that’s a double-edged sword. Food manufacturing maintenance teams can struggle to identify the ideal software.  

If this sounds familiar, here are some core features to look out for:  

  • Maintenance management: the best CMMS/CAFM software on the market will include every tool that food and drink companies need to manage resources, control costs, reduce downtime and extend asset life. Key features include task registers, checklist capabilities and digital document storage. Look for: a CMMS system that allows technicians to upload images.
  • Work requester: an intuitive work requester module is essential, as people outside the maintenance department will use this feature. The simpler it is to enter ‘who, where, what’ information for work orders, the quicker the transition to digital maintenance processes. Look for: CMMS/CAFM software that can send automated email messages to colleagues whenever a work request status changes.
  • Inventory management: poor spare parts management can be a significant cost centre for maintenance teams. A CMMS system with a dedicated stock and inventory management module will keep a detailed parts catalogue, track inventory locations, manage returns and reorders, and conduct accurate stocktakes.  Look for: CMMS software with both an inventory module and a purchasing module to manage multi-user purchase requests, multi-supplier quotations and multicurrency orders.
  • Business intelligence (BI): performance data is critical to getting high-level sign-off on new recruitment initiatives and replacement equipment. Selecting CMMS software with a BI module enables KPI tracking across key metrics, including open work orders, mean time to repair, planned maintenance percentage and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Look for: CAFM/CMMS software that can convert data into easy-to-understand dashboards and graphs.  
  • Mobile app: choosing a CMMS system with a mobile app will enable technicians to check their task list, look up asset information and log completed tasks on the move. Look for: a CMMS mobile app with barcode scanning capabilities so technicians can link jobs and updates to specific assets.  
  • Permit to Work: the strict regulations of food production mean maintenance tasks must be carried out to high standards. CMMS software with a Permit to Work module will manage permits for high-risk jobs and document risk assessments to ensure health and safety protocol is followed.  Read more: 5 reasons you need a digital Permit to Work system 

ShireSystem: CMMS/CAFM software for food manufacturing maintenance  

Food and beverage manufacturing companies have realised the importance of technology in solving core industry challenges such as:  

  1. Obtaining 360-degree visibility over an ever-growing number of manufacturing assets.  
  2. Optimising workforce schedules to get the greatest value from maintenance technicians.  
  3. Identifying potential issues to minimise equipment downtime and perform more preventative maintenance.  
  4. Creating an accurate audit trail for compliance with safety regulations and sustainability targets. 
  5. Analysing data to report on asset performance and make evidence-backed decisions.  

Many organisations – including Broxburn Bottlers and Sundown Products – are selecting ShireSystem as their combined CMMS/CAFM solution.   

Our market-leading CMMS software comprehensively manages work requests, optimising planned jobs and urgent repairs to maximise productivity. Every feature is designed to help maintenance teams in the food and drink industry optimise operations, increase efficiency and maximise productivity. 

ShireSystem features a dedicated mobile app, Mobile Pro, a Permit to Work module for compliant working processes, and a BI Connector to analyse performance.  


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