CMMS: Part 1

Industrial Greenhouse Management – Small Investment, Large Return

Welcome to ALPS’ first installment of our blog series where we will be publishing regular articles focused on high return systems and functionality that can enhace the value of greenhouse and indoor growing facilities, aka Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) operations.

This series will define Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), highlight the value of using ALPS’ APIS experts to design and integrate your CMMS installation, and outline the specific economic and user benefits of deploying a CMMS.

Part one of the series focuses on the functionality and benefits a CMMS can provide to sophisticated greenhouse operators.

What is CMMS?

A CMMS is a reliable, centrally organized repository of maintenance information that allows for maximum effectiveness in planning and executing facility maintenance activities. A CMMS is typically employed in large pharmaceutical and automotive manufacturing environments, but easily translates to CEA operations. A CMMS facilitates both planned and unplanned maintenance activity and cuts costs by ensuring the right parts, tools and knowledge are assembled proactively resulting in reduced downtime.

Further, a CMMS facilitates maintenance requests while tracking work-orders in real time. A robust CMMS eliminates the risk of miscommunication, maintains full documentation and traceability, and generates reports with up-to-date records that can be used to generate KPI-based, at-a-glance dashboards that support the needs of leadership at all levels.

Image of Automated Bottling Line. Critical piece of equipment that packages 28,800 bottles/day of throughput that shouldn't be put on hold due to lack of maintenance.
Economic Benefits of CMMS

CMMS has a reputation of being too complex and too expensive.  The fact is, a good CMMS and implementation can have a significant impact on profitability by reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, as well as optimizing production.  For owners of low margin CEA facilities, this can be an important source of competitive advantage.  Excellent CMMS implementations will save precious capital and reduce the operating expenses over the lifecycle of assets.

Equally important, a CMMS can extend the life of costly, and sometimes difficult to replace, equipment.

Together, the impact of extending the life of equipment at the same time as increasing output allows the cost of assets to be spread over a much larger lifetime production ultimately improving your bottom line.

Part 2 of the series discusses the various benefits CMMS users can expect in greater detail.

These figures are based on real results reported by past ALPS clients
Expert Integration: What to Expect

When it comes to the integration of CMMS, there are two routes that can be taken:

  1. Install CMMS using facility staff – either IT, Maintenance, or whoever is up to the task
  2. Install CMMS using experts

When the latter is chosen, users get the benefit of cumulative knowledge. Each installation done by an expert is added experience drawing from lessons learned. Similarly, each installation that presents an issue contributes to continued learning so if that issue arises again, the experts can recognize, diagnose, and solve the issue. From this perspective, there is constant evolution, and in turn, continuous improvement ensuring the end-product will always be better- this is the heart of ALPS’ philosophy.

An added benefit of having CMMS integrated by a specialist is that greenhouse personnel can focus their efforts on primary duties, rather than using time and resources learning a new software to potentially get a satisfactory outcome. Expert CMMS implementation is usually completed in half the time it would take non-expert personnel and is fully optimized from the start, ensuring a facility runs at maximum efficiency. With the right specialist, integration is always done with the user in mind, deep industry knowledge is applied, and users receive on-going, efficient support when its needed.

To learn more about Industrialized Greenhouse Management and Compliance Integration, visit the APIS website.


David Riseborough, VP of Project Management at ALPS, has been working in maintenance in greenhouses and food processing facilities for 30 years and has a wealth of experience implementing and use CMMS. The following is an example based on his experience integrating CMMS in a greenhouse:

Prior to hiring David, the greenhouse was experiencing 260 hours downtime per year due to machinery break downs. The maintenance processes were not effective and costing the facility owner untold thousands of dollars in new parts and continuous repair.

After David implemented a CMMS, he was able to optimize elements of the existing maintenance program. Most notably, he optimized the simple process of lubricating machinery reducing down time and broken parts.

In addition, instructions for maintenance complete with images and tools required were now available for anyone assigned to the task. This resulted in more consistent, higher quality work regardless of who performed the job.

This shifted their whole work culture – the greenhouse runs far more smoothly, and maintenance is always done properly. After their first year, the facility owners reported an increase in productivity of 416 hours, with zero instances of unplanned downtime. They were truly set up for success.

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