Next uses eMaint CMMS02 August 2023

Next eMaint’smobile CMMS

Next has used eMaint’smobile CMMS (computerised maintenance management system) to streamline operations at 17 warehouses in the UK.

Matt Winter, head of engineering at Next, said: “Each of our warehouses is slightly different, because each manages different products. We do a lot of bedroom furniture out of one particular warehouse. We replenish the retail stores out of another warehouse. We have palletised warehouses, boxed warehouses, hanging garment warehouses. And these are all fully automated.”

Next has an engineering department of 700 employees, largely maintenance technicians. All 700 use eMaint, with about 500 mobile CMMS users and 200 desktop users. Before implementing eMaint, the warehouses were run independently. “A lot of maintenance tasks were done just via spreadsheets and managed locally,” Winter said. “They weren't sharing experiences between them.”

Next’s largest distribution centres are not designed with complete Wi-Fi coverage, meaning that the engineering team need to work online and offline. Through eMaint’s CMMSapp, Fluke Mobile, technicians can work offline from their tablets, and then the mobile CMMS software will save the updates into eMaint once their connection is restored.

“We find that the mobile CMMS system is very stable because it's cloud-based,” Winter said. “Our tablets will be going online and offline, and the actual end user who's got the mobile device in front of them sees very little difference.”

Next tracks multiple key performance indicators (KPI), such as asset uptime, using eMaint. “With eMaint, we can immediately see where the hot spots are,” Winter added. “We refer to it as our top 10 issues. We can immediately see and divert our attention to the top priorities.”

Knowing what is most pressing helps when it comes to optimising the team’s time. “We log what we've referred to as engineer utilisation,” Winter added. “We can see the swing between reactive and proactive work.”

So, in a given week, 25 of an engineer’s 40 working hours should be focused on planned preventive maintenance. “If those 40 hours are made up solely of reactive work, it means we're not doing any preventive work,” Winter said. “We would then expect to see more downtime. So, of course it means we have got to invest more time, maybe even lay on overtime, in order to get back on track.”

“Using eMaint’s KPI dashboard, we know what we need to achieve operationally on a day-to-day basis,” Winter explained. “When something's going to go wrong on your car, an orange light will appear on your dashboard. For us, the eMaint system is the orange light on the dashboard. It tells us when something needs to be done.”

Next has also been able to streamline and improve their inventory management using eMaint. “We can now hold one spare part across several warehouses, whereas before we were holding one spare part in every warehouse because nobody knew what each actually had.”

This level of standardisation and centralised communication has brought benefits in other areas as well. For example, Next’s engineers are typically scheduled to work several days on, then several days off. When those technicians come back to work, they do not necessarily know what's happened over the days that they’ve been off. But by looking at the history in eMaint, they can see what has happened.

“eMaint has now become the heartbeat of the engineering department within the Next business,” Winter concluded. “It's the central focus now, the nucleus of what everybody's working toward. Whereas previously, everybody was sort of trying to do the right thing, but unfortunately pulling in different directions.”

Operations Engineer

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