CMMS Naming Convention and Data Configuration Simplified
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In a CMMS implementation process, it is important that your data is correctly configured and that you use a proper naming convention from the outset. If you do not get this right at the start, it will be extremely difficult to change it further down the line. Moreover, even if you do manage to make a change, it is likely that some of your archived report data will be invalidated.
What is a Naming convention / Data Configuration?
In the context of CMMS implementation, data configuration is just the process
of defining and formatting the way that your static assets will be named within
the system. Let's take the basic example of the asset or equipment number for an
air conditioning unit on a site. On a manual maintenance system, you can
probably be as verbose as you like when describing each item. For example, you
may describe the unit as, "No. 4 air conditioning unit, block 5, Final
Assembly area". While this describes very adequately the type and location
of the asset, it does not employ a naming convention suitable for a CMMS. We
should first have a look at the hierarchical structure of the assets. This is
shown in Fig.1.
After defining this structure we can use a naming convention to
get the same information into just a few characters, e.g. 05ACUN04FA
(ten characters). At first glance, this appears to be another meaningless
number, but we have formatted it such that it contains all the information that
was in the previous description. This is shown in Fig.2 below. Note that no
identifier is required for level 1, (company or site), as this can generally be
taken as given.
Let's take another example - Milling machine No11 in the Tool room within number one machine shop. (M1MILL11TR)
At first glance, this does not seem to be very user friendly but your staff will quickly adapt. Very soon, not only will they have adapted; they will also be able to guess an asset number where they don't already know it. If they are searching within the CMMS for information on air conditioning unit number 6, in Block 4 tool room, they will be able to deduce that its number will be 04ACUN06TR. This system has been tried and tested and you can be sure that your maintenance personnel will learn to identify with it very quickly.
Why is this important?
All databases must be configured so that the data stored within them is easily retrievable. With properly named assets, when we need to search for data for the tool room we can find it by specifying that the last two characters of each record must be "TR". Likewise, if we need data for all the air conditioning units we can specify that the four characters from three to six must be "ACUN". Combinations of these searches are also possible. What is important is that all assets are defined using the same convention. This means that they must also have the same number of characters.
Clearly, you will have to define your own naming conventions but this is a simple task. You will be surprised how easy it is to reduce the identifiers for your areas and equipment to two and four letters respectively. In the previous examples, the order of the data was changed so that numerical characters are alternated with alphabetic. This makes the identifier more legible, e.g., 05ACUN04FA is easier to understand than 0504FAACUN. Where possible the chosen codes should be logical; e.g., you should not code an assembly machine as WXYZ when you can code it ASMC. This will be your call and you can increase or reduce the number of characters as you see fit as long as they are all configured the same way. A few examples of typical, four letter equipment numbers most of which have been proven in the past are provided below.
Important Note: It must be recognised that this system may not be suitable where assets are portable or subject to frequent location moves. It can however still be used in these situations where the CMMS system uses an asset number and an equipment number. The asset number will not change but where appropriate the equipment number can be changed to reflect the item's current location.
For assets that are moveable and where only one number is to be used, the
location component of the number is not appropriate. In these situations our air
conditioning unit could become simply ACUN04. Moveable assets tend to be more
numerous, e.g. most companies will have more power tools than they have boilers.
These may lend themselves to the inclusion of asset class or type code. If you
have four types of air conditioning unit it may be wise to add T1, T2, T3 or T4
to the number. T3ACUN04 would indicate that number 4 air conditioning unit was a
The author of this article, Bryan D Weir, is the principal consultant with Perspective CMMS, an independent CMMS consultancy in Scotland, UK.
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