Maintenance History Data Capture and Its Use

Have a clear, strong business improvement purpose for collecting Maintenance Key Performance Indicators (KPI) so that you collect the right maintenance data, at the right time, for the right reason, and you get willing support.



Hi Mike.

I am a young technician working for a power company in Africa who operates a power station and I require information on how I can continuously improve history collection for our maintenance operations.

We use a computerised system with specialised modules to manage all our power production business processes i.e finance, materials management, maintenance, operating, engineering, projects, etc. I have a task to develop a standard on continuous maintenance history improvement to capture the right data in the CMMS module with the focus on Preventative Maintenance compliance, Scheduled Maintenance compliance, Statutories, Backlogs, capacity utilisations, defects, spares, etc—those things that have greater contribution on the production of electricity.

My view, in order to do this, is that I need to put up a document that would be in-line with the business objectives and goals of “sustainable growth in the production of electricity”. For a successful business, with a long technical plan, you need proper management data reporting that will in the future help upcoming engineers, technicians and so forth.



Hello Friend,

I think your intention to collect historic data on your equipment condition and maintenance activities is a sound long-term business improvement strategy. I am not sure that what you intend to put into a procedure will actually be effective in achieving the outcome of collecting useful and valuable maintenance history for the ongoing betterment of the operation.

It is first necessary to know what the data will be used for so you can be sure to collect the right information. Get someone senior in your company to tell you which maintenance and reliability data is to be collected and what the data will be used for in future.

Is data needed in order to confirm scheduled work compliance, in which case you need to only record the work performed and the date it was done. If the information is to confirm the status of equipment health you will need to specify what the equipment health should be, how the equipment’s health is checked and ensure your people record the as-found and as-left conditions (that is the job of Inspection and Test Plans, ITPs). Will the data be used in future to optimise maintenance schedules, in which case you will want to collect in great detail all the equipment condition evidence from scheduled inspections and equipment failures and ensure plentiful pictures are taken of the state of the equipment and its components. Should you want to undertake root cause failure analysis or engineering redesign in future you will want to collect component health and degradation data across the life of the equipment and keep the data safely stored for many years until the reliability engineer does an analysis.

Once you know what data is needed and the purpose of the data you can develop procedures to explain to your people what data to collect on which machines and equipment when they work on them, how to collect the necessary data, how much details to collect so the full amount of information is collected, and how the information is to be handled once collected.

I am also concerned that you are working at the back-end of a long chain of activities and if at the start of the chain there are serious errors in how your maintenance strategies and activities are set-in-place then, once the maintenance work is actually completed and it is time to gather and record history, you will only ever collect useless information, or the wrong information, or insufficient information. The frontend development of your maintenance system must include what is required at the backend of the maintenance and reliability improvement process in the years to come.

I would much rather that you write a set of procedures that makes clear what data the maintenance technicians and contractors needs to collect during every job type (Preventative Maintenance, Scheduled Maintenance, Statutory, Backlogs, capacity utilisations, defects, spares, etc ) as they do the work on an item of plant and equipment than write an ineffective and too general procedure about capturing historical maintenance data in your CMMS to improve future maintenance performance.

First define clearly what is the valuable data that your operation needs about its machines, its power production operation and the performance of its maintenance processes that must be recorded for posterity. Once you know what needs to be recorded then your procedures will explain how that information is collected, when it is collected and how it must be stored in the CMMS so that it is available to those people that need it in future.

By default your company seems to have mistakenly adopted the maintenance processes in-built into the CMMS. It is much better to develop the correct maintenance processes your business needs and only use the CMMS as a database. To use the maintenance processes implied in the CMMS modules is folly because those adopted processes will most likely be wrong for your operation. This is what I mean by being “very concerned that you are working at the back-end of a long chain of activities” without giving sufficient due consideration and study of the frontend requirements—first you must know what the business needs and then you design your standards and procedures to suit those needs and outcomes.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


PS. If you require advice on industrial asset management, industrial equipment maintenance strategy, defect elimination and failure prevention or plant and equipment maintenance and reliability, please feel free to contact me by email at