1st Quarter 2014 Newsletter

Note from the Editor

Hello, all. This newsletter brings some exciting news! We are working on….

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CitiTech News

Same report – much, much faster!  User yells, "Hooray!"

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What's New?

The Changing Face of Technology

This is an exciting time to be in the technology field. We started working on Version 9.0 in earnest…

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Coming Soon…

One of the biggest challenges computer users have is linking or sharing information between software programs …

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Guru's Corner

Answered… More of YOUR Frequently-Asked Questions!

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Features & Functionality

Completing the Maintenance Management Cycle; Work Smarter, Not Harder …

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Maintenance Management Nuggets

Here’s what I’ve discovered after thinking about the ways asset management are changing…

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Note from the Editor

Hello! This newsletter brings some exciting news. We are working on the next awesome version of our software! Version 9 will look better, be even easier to use, and also will have faster reports. It’s not coming soon enough to be featured in our “Coming Soon” section; maybe we should create a new section called “Coming This Year!”.

Guru's Corner features MORE of your Frequently-Asked Questions; in this edition we feature Material Inventory.

Version 7 users, make this the year you  upgrade to Version 8.5! Conversion is straightforward, fast, and free – and the functionality will knock your socks off – yet it’s so similar to Version 7 that training isn’t needed (although webinars are offered, free of charge, for “how-to” sessions – did you know?). What do you have to lose? The better question is, what do you have to gain? More and better functionality and reports. What’s not to love? Give us a call and we can show you what you’re missing in Version 8 – and how easy conversion will be. Tell ‘em I sent ya.

Here’s something you may or may not know… in addition to being CitiTech’s newsletter editor, I’m also the senior trainer – AND, first-line tech support. This means that if you call with a question or problem, I’ll be the first in line to help you – but, sometimes the problem is complicated, or results from a snippet of code that pertains to a certain developer. I will do my best – but in the event I don’t know the answer, we’re lucky that there’s a whole team of talented developers that can help!

Something I’ve found out recently is that if you search for terms like “National Maintenance Management Standards”, you get TONS of results… but if you put quotes around those words, there are NO results! Aren't there any national standards?  I learned a lot about the management of maintenance, and hope you enjoy the article on “Maintenance Management Nuggets”. Please enjoy the newsletter, keep the suggestions coming, and continue to let us know what you think; we care!

CitiTech News

Tulsa County, Oklahoma used to dread producing a certain report, because due to its nature, it encompassed records "from the beginning of time" – meaning, from the very first day they began using CMS, back in 1999.

As you can imagine, the more data they had, the slower it became.

CitiTech Systems has recently re-worked this report to become more efficient, and it now runs in a mere fraction of the time it used to take, saving time and patience while eliminating the "dread" factor.

Just another example of how CitiTech is constantly improving performance.

By Tari Muth

What's New?  The Changing Face of Technology

This is an exciting time to be in the technology field. We started working on Version 9.0 in earnest at the beginning of the year and, as we started discussing all the new features and functions we wanted to add to CMS, we saw this as a tremendous opportunity to leverage technology and improve how CMS delivers and uses information.

CMS is getting a facelift. We’re building a new user interface that resizes itself to work on laptops and tablets with touch-screen technology. This revolutionary technology will work on all Android OS, Windows 8 RTM, and iPad tablets, but require a Snap-on keyboard due to on-screen keyboard visual interference. CMS9 uses Microsoft’s latest technology tools that incorporates web browsers with traditional Smart Client applications and delivers a “hybrid” solution that can operate on the Internet and in a traditional network, but isn’t dependent on a consistent network connection.

Now that the Internet and “data plans” offered by cell phone companies are more reliable and ubiquitous, the Internet and “the Cloud” have revolutionized how data is accessed, stored and shared. Version 9 will take advantage of these new wireless capabilities. It will be web-enabled using RemoteApp, an add-on of Windows 2008 R2+, and support cloud managed servers in both user-hosted and third-party hosted environments. CMS Version 9 can be hosted for as little as $30 per user per month (10-user system), with zero footprint and automatic software updates. IT departments love the “low maintenance” aspect of web-based applications.

CMS’s hybrid approach allows users to mix and match how they use the software. It can be deployed using the Internet, using traditional networks (the way it has been) and deployed without a network (CitiTech’s Smart Client disconnected capability). Researching the marketplace revealed the hybrid approach is the most flexible and sustainable method.

We are also porting CMS over to Smart Phones. Because of the smaller screen size, regular CMS forms don’t fit very well. We are developing a new user interface that adapts itself to smaller devices. The Dispatcher, a new CMS module that sends work orders to cell phones and other devices using email or text messages, is our first step into the exciting web/cell/mobile market. Once a field worker receives the email or text message, a hyperlink launches the Internet web services and lists all pending work orders for the crew member. The user can review a work order, complete it and automatically create a work report tracking work costs and accomplishments. This streamlines and improves workflow and simplifies how work is processed and completed.

In the next several months, user interfaces for work orders, work reports, inspections, work scheduling calendars and asset records will be redesigned to fit on Smart Phones and other small devices. With careful engineering, we hope to deploy CMS to the new generation of handheld devices that ensure reliability, security and affordability.

By Brian McKiernan

Coming Soon…

Web APIs – Bridging Data Islands

One of the biggest challenges computer users have is linking or sharing information between software programs. Being able to merge names and addresses from a spreadsheet file into a word document is a great achievement. CMS supports open architecture and provides flexible tools to link data together.

A new set of tools is being developed that will extend CMS data integration even further. Pre-defined WebAPIs serve as gateways between CMS and other systems. For example, CMS pay and leave data can be sent to the Payroll Office, inventory purchases and usages to the Finance Office, equipment costs to the fleet department, etc.

This gateway delivers bi-directional functionality. Using these WebAPIs, the user can develop scripts that can send CMS data to other systems or receive data from other systems to update CMS files.

WebAPIs, combined with CMS’s User-Defined Triggers module, build bridges between data islands and give CMS sophisticated data integration tools that can be scheduled or timed to occur as the result of a specific user-defined event. “This capability has been sorely missing in modern management systems”, said Brian McKiernan, CitiTech President. “We’ve always encouraged open architecture and even built some sophisticated interfaces to share data between CMS and large legacy systems. But, these required our help because our data is normalized. That means it manages data very efficiently, but nobody can figure out how to access the data without help”. WebAPIs provide that help to the user. When WebAPIs are released with Version 9, CMS users can share data between systems on-demand, on-event or on-schedule.

If you would like more information on how WebAPIs and User-Defined Triggers can improve data integration in your systems, please give us a call.

By Cassidy Keyser

Guru's Corner

Answered… More of YOUR Frequently-Asked Questions!

Q: "I have lots of material inventory. This makes inventory functions like my counts and reports so slow! Is there a way to speed these up?"

A: Yes! You can use a new table called "InvAnchor"; the anchor table is designed to host information on in-stock quantities – without going back to the beginning of time – so calculations are faster wherever in-stock quantities are calculated, including reports! It does require some initial setup, but users say it's not complicated to do, and worth the effort! See the HELP for more information; search for "inventory anchor table".

Q: "Is there an easy way to "clean up" my inventory records?"

A: Yes! You can use functions in the "Verify Data" section to identify and delete inventory "orphans", duplicate sites, and more. Other examples include resetting matlog (inventory usage) quantities and deleting unneeded (extra) inventory counts. Check it out!

By Tari Muth

Completing the Maintenance Management Cycle

Also known as a "feedback loop", CMS allows users to not only Plan, Schedule, Perform, Monitor, and Evaluate work… but also analyze that data and affect current and/or future work plans (and the resulting budget)! The result is better planning – so they work smarter, not harder!

The concept is simple – use existing data to update work plans to meet your target levels of service while working efficiently.

This "feedback loop" begins with planning. Plan your activities.

Then, schedule your activities throughout the year.

Work on those activities.

Monitor your progress, using Planned -vs- Actual reports.

Inspect your assets (evaluate their condition/level of service).

Analyze your work in terms of the resulting levels of service of your assets, and update work plans to meet your target levels of service – all at the touch of a button!

"What does that mean to me?", you may ask.

For one user, it meant that they were able to compare the costs for the same activity (Mowing) over many districts, find efficient practices, apply those practices statewide, and save approximately 2.4 million dollars! That's per year. For one activity (Mowing).

How much could YOU save? 

By Tari Muth

Maintenance Management Nuggets

Here’s what I’ve discovered about how ways of thinking about asset management are changing. Following are 15 of the most important areas of change which have occurred in the field of physical asset management over the past 15 years:

OLD – Maintenance is about preserving physical assets
NEW – Maintenance is about preserving the functions of assets

OLD – Routine maintenance is about preventing failures
NEW – Routine maintenance is about avoiding, reducing or eliminating the consequences of failures

OLD – The primary objective of the maintenance function is to optimize plant availability at minimum cost
NEW – Maintenance affects all aspects of business effectiveness and risk – safety, environmental integrity, energy efficiency, product quality and customer service, not just plant availability and cost

OLD – Most equipment becomes more likely to fail as it gets older
NEW – Most failures are not more likely to occur as equipment gets older

OLD- Comprehensive data about failure rates must be available before it is possible to develop a really successful maintenance program
NEW – Decisions about the management of equipment failures will nearly always have to be made with inadequate hard data about failure rates

OLD – There are three basic types of maintenance; predictive, preventive, and corrective
NEW – There are four basic types of maintenance; predictive, preventive, corrective, and detective

OLD – The frequency of condition-based maintenance tasks should be based on the frequency of the failure and/or failure the criticality of the item
NEW – The frequency of condition-based maintenance tasks should be based on the failure period (also known as the “lead time to failure” or “P-F interval”)

OLD – If both are technically appropriate, fixed interval overhauls/replacements are usually both cheaper and more effective than condition-based maintenance
NEW – If both are technically appropriate, condition-based maintenance is nearly always both cheaper and more effective fixed interval overhauls/ replacements throughout the life of the asset

OLD – Serious incidents/catastrophic accidents which involve multiple equipment failures are usually the result of “bad luck” or “acts of God”, and are hence unmanageable
NEW – To a considerable extent, the likelihood of a multiple failure is a manageable variable, especially in protected systems

OLD – The quickest and surest way to improve the performance of an existing “unreliable” asset is to upgrade the design
NEW – It is nearly always more cost-effective to try to improve the performance of an unreliable asset by improving the way it is operated and maintained, and only to review the design if this cannot deliver the required performance

OLD – Generic maintenance policies can be developed for most types of physical asset
NEW – Generic policies should only be applied to identical assets whose operating context, functions and desired standards of performance are also identical

OLD – Maintenance policies should be formulated by managers and maintenance schedules drawn up by suitably qualified specialists or external contractors (a top-down approach)
NEW – Maintenance policies should be formulated by the people closest to the assets. The role of management is to provide the tools to help them make the right decisions, and to ensure that the decisions are sensible and defensible

OLD – The maintenance department on its own can develop a successful, lasting maintenance program
NEW – A successful, lasting maintenance program can only be developed by maintainers and users of the assets working together

OLD – Equipment manufacturers are in the best position to develop maintenance programs for new physical assets
NEW – Equipment manufacturers can only play a limited (but still important) role in developing maintenance programs for new assets

OLD – It is possible to find a quick, one-shot solution to all our maintenance effectiveness problems
NEW – Maintenance problems are best solved in two stages: (1) change the way people think (2) get them to apply their changed thought processes to technical/ process problems – one step at a time

I learned this, and other stuff, from this website:

By Tari Muth