The typical CMMS has a coding system for recording failure modes, and these codes typically are listed on repair report forms.

From an analysis standpoint, how techs record the failure mode (fill out paper forms or enter data via digital device) isn't important. What they record is crucial. If the information isn't accurate, you’ll be analyzing the wrong things rather than solving problems.

If you already have an optimized coding system, great. But let's assume you don't. Where do you start?

A laundry list of all possible failure modes on a repair report almost guarantees inaccuracy. It’s best that people are trained to correctly identify the few problems that matter the most.

To optimize coding on repair reports:

  1. Conduct a training session on how to recognize the five or six most important failure modes.
  2. Add codes for these modes to the repair report form; remove all others.
  3. Add a code for "Other" and provide a line for brief description.
  4. Monitor over time. As "Other" grows, determine what failure mode is most contributing to it. Conduct a training session, and add that code.
Don't let the list of codes take on a life of its own. If you have a code for a specific problem that hasn't shown up lately, drop it from the form and put another in its place. Your goal is to identify and solve the worst problems, not catalog every problem.

Consider a special repair form for motors, with only motor-specific codes.