Midway Streamlines Preventive Maintenance with New Asset Management System

Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 

Midway International Airport (MDW) is upping its game when it comes to tracking and maintaining assets both inside the terminal and on the airfield. Skyline Management Group, the Chicago airport's property management firm, purchased a Web-based system for managing preventive and on-demand maintenance in late 2012; and company officials report that it is saving time and money alike. 

Project: Asset Management/Maintenance 
Location: Midway Int'l Airport (Chicago)
Terminal Maintenance Administrator: Skyline Management Group
Software Product: ProTeus MMX, by Eagle Technology
Purchased: Late 2012
Key Benefits: Streamlines & automates preventive maintenance & inventory management; maintenance personnel can use cellphones or tablets to scan assets' bar codes & connect with system

In addition to helping manage maintenance activities, parts inventory, purchasing needs and labor hours, the new system allows personnel to use cellphones or tablets to scan bar codes on assets and connect with the system from various worksites throughout MDW. Once connected, they can access historic data and create new work orders or update existing orders; and the system automatically tracks/records their labor hours and accounts for parts used. 

The ProTeus MMX program, by Eagle Technology, is also integrated with MDW's building automation systems to generate automated work orders when triggered by alarms or pre-determined runtimes.  

Steve Caruso, chief engineer for Skyline Management Group, explains that the new system brings operations into the 21st century: "The old (preventive maintenance software) system was at the end of its useful life. It kept crashing and didn't encompass everything we needed it to encompass. The new system saves us money and time. It's one more tool to help our engineers and electricians be better at what they do."

The new Windows 2008 platform is also "much more user-friendly" than MDW's old MP2 program, which worked from a Windows 98 platform, adds Caruso. Although the former system generated work orders, maintenance personnel found the process time-consuming and cumbersome. The MP2 was a good system when it was released and still tracked the airport's assets, explains Caruso; it simply was time for updated preventive maintenance software.  

"The new system is much more proactive," he informs. "In addition to documenting preventive/reactive maintenance activities and histories, it tracks our inventory so (for example) we know when we have two belts left and we need to order more. If we have questions, we can pull up supply levels quickly."

The new system also tracks each asset's history, providing field personnel information about previous preventive maintenance services and who performed them. If an asset fails, it explains why and documents whether it is a recurring problem. 

Another aspect Caruso highlights is the system's ability to interface with MDW's building automation system in real-time and generate work orders triggered by sensors within the equipment. For example, if static pressure drops in an air-handling unit, the program can automatically generate a work order and track the cost to rectify the problem, the program will signal an alert, open a work order and track the cost of fixing the problem. 

On the airfield side, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) uses the system's bar coding module for inventory control in its warehouse. "Shortly after the install, we began using the system to issue demand work orders to various trades," explains Felipe Najar, MDW's general manager of Grounds and Facilities. "We are now in the process of developing templates so we can use the system to track ongoing maintenance, set up preventative maintenance schedules and create various inspections. Once the system is fully populated, we will be tracking activities for CDA personnel and subcontractors as well."

How It Works

The system contains several modules that can be customized. 

The Work Order Masters Module creates and maintains a plan for scheduled maintenance of assets that includes specific maintenance parameters and the tasks' associated labor, materials and downtime required. Work orders can be activated based on a predetermined schedule or runtime.

The Work Orders Module allows maintenance personnel to update Work Order Masters and respond to non-routine maintenance activities such as service requests or emergency breakdowns with a demand maintenance work order. In addition to providing information about the job requirements, the work order provides a permanent record of the employee, material and labor costs; cause of failure; asset downtime; and work performed.

The Assets Module presents a complete record of all equipment and related maintenance activity and costs. It also tracks warranty information, location and history of equipment and subassemblies, data essential for lifecycle costing, equipment maintenance, manpower and cost budgeting, and scheduling of downtime.

The Planner Module provides a visual representation of all maintenance activities and allows management to reassign and reschedule resources. Work orders can be sorted by assigned employee or the asset being serviced. A calendar view displays current, overdue and upcoming work orders.

The Time Card Module automatically updates employees' records according to the work orders they participate in, thus eliminating the need to open individual files to enter labor information.

The Inventory/Parts Module tracks information regarding usage, ordering and levels. Displays include quantities on hand, parts allocated, parts on order, inventory location and reorder levels. Vendors can be assigned to each item to facilitate purchasing activities.

Employee, vendor and contractor modules track pertinent information for each population; and a purchasing module automatically creates requisitions for parts equipment and services based on predetermined criteria.

Scan & Service

The Skyline team is particularly pleased with the bar coding capabilities ProTeus MMX provides. "The new system moves us ahead with its ability to interface with mobile devices such as cellphones and tablets," comments engineer Mike Stewart.

By scanning the bar code on an asset, maintenance personnel at MDW can review its service history, create new work orders, record their labor hours and parts used, and update existing work orders (preventive and on-demand). Equipment, inventory, employees and work orders can be labeled and tracked, thus allowing users to collect the history of an asset in the field and freeing them from time-consuming paperwork.

Harry Kohal, vice president of Business Development for Eagle Technology, describes it this way: "From a runway light to a VAV (variable air volume) box, virtually any facility or airfield asset can be bar-coded and tracked. A work order can be sent to or created on a mobile device. Personnel can then scan a bar code on the asset to see the work history and open work orders on that asset. After the work is performed, they can add notes on work performed and close the work order."

According to Caruso, the bar coding feature makes it much easier to distribute work orders. "With the old system, we would get the PMs (preventive maintenance orders) for the day, then sit down and split them up according to the staff we had available for the night. This program performs all that administrative work for us once we assign it electronically. It generates the PM and assigns it to a designated engineer on his or her mobile device. The work order is closed out once the task is performed. Under the old system, the engineer would have to sign the work order, and then we would have to enter the information on the computer to close out the order. The process wasted a lot of time and paper."

With the new system in place, MDW has been able to track call center activity in one database. "From a spill on the floor to a burned out light, everything is tracked within the system," informs Stewart. "At the end of the month, we are able to report to our client in a more seamless fashion - in effect justify our function within the airport. It's a good tool for the CDA in that it allows them to evaluate the job we're doing."

Work in Progress

Jim Oates, Skyline's general manager, notes that the company evaluated several different systems before replacing the property management program it previously used at MDW. "The (new) system is a work in progress," comments Oates. "The team at Eagle has been a great partner thus far in developing the program components that (we) need to maintain our high standards."

While Skyline personnel note that the new Web-based system is saving time and money by automating preventive maintenance at MDW, they still consider it a work in progress.
For example, crews felt that printing bar codes required too many steps; so Eagle is currently developing a process to simplify the process. 

"We are still ironing things out," Stewart reports. "We work with Eagle on a regular basis: We inform them what our goals are, and they respond with program updates. They are constantly developing and improving the program to make sure we're happy."

Any new system requires cooperation between the users and provider, Kohal notes. "It's not just about software; it's about processes and people," he adds. "Midway has been a very good partner with us."   


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