OpenAPI: Enabling seamless systems integration with CMMS
Integrating a CMMS or Maintenance Management System with inventory, accounting, purchasing systems and other enterprise management systems is essential for many organisations. Smart Futures reports.
For smaller companies that don’t have the luxury of sophisticated EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) systems with built-in CMMS modules, integration with other systems may be complex, time-consuming, and expensive, and may not be easy to accomplish without skilled IT people. This is where an OpenAPI can be extremely beneficial.
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules that allows programs to talk to each other. An API Gateway is a secure and encrypted public-facing HTTPS API, based on the OpenAPI standard, that allows external systems to automatically interface with, and programmatically perform operations on a CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System).
The OpenAPI Initiative (OAI) was created by a consortium of forward-looking industry experts who recognise the immense value of standardising on how APIs are described.
Stephen Davis, Marketing Director at PEMAC (an Irish and UK-based CMMS solutions provider) explains that his company, for example, uses a REST API, (also known as RESTful API) which conforms to the constraints of REST architectural style and allows for interaction with RESTful web services. REST stands for representational state transfer and provides a set of guidelines that can be implemented as needed, making REST APIs faster and more lightweight, with increased scalability—perfect for Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile app development
Maintenance managers can use an API gateway to develop a CMMS interface to:
- Seamlessly integrate data between a CMMS and 3rd party software in real-time.
- Reduce the setup time associated with systems integration.
- Significantly reduce costs.
- Improve consistency and accuracy.
- Shape integrations according to their own specific business requirements.
Davis highlights that PEMAC, recently launched an OpenAPI gateway to allow its clients to seamlessly integrate CMMS with other systems to perform business operations such as:
- Purchase Order lifecycle management e.g., the approval step being performed using a third-party financial system.
- Mirroring of Spare Part stock levels on external systems.
- Real-time import of Meter Readings and automatic Routine Generation.
API Integration & Industry 4.0
The future of CMMS resides in the drive for IoT/Industry 4.0 and CMMS software integration will be a key differentiator for manufacturing and related industries. An API is essentially like ‘Software Lego’ making it easier to integrate CMMS and leverage data to create a holistic view of a production process.
IoT and Industry 4.0 are also driving companies to Integrate the data they are collecting and leveraging this to create better decisions and outcomes.
A single platform solution rarely meets all Business needs while disparate systems present a data sharing issue. A Best-of-Breed CMMS provides an alternative by meeting the core business requirements but then needs to integrate in with the other Business Applications, sharing data and allowing for overall business KPI reporting.
Technopedia defines best-of-breed software as: “The best system in its referenced niche or category. Although it performs specialised functions better than an integrated system, this type of system is limited by its specialty area.”
So, according to Davis, an OpenAPI allows companies to get the best of both worlds – a top class CMMS that also integrates with other business systems.
- By their very nature, best-of-breed solutions are focused on doing one thing very well. A best-of-breed CMMS is likely to have more frequent updates and greater product innovation. Best of Breed Solutions providers build functionality focused on the specific area or department using the system and so are functionally richer and require less configuration or development to make them work.
- Because Best of Breed Solutions have more depth of functionality there is less need for development, less cost, faster implementation, and more flexibility around how to implement.
- Because they involve fewer stakeholders and are highly specialised, best-of-breed systems will have less training and implementation requirements, making them an excellent fit for maintenance teams that need immediate return on investment, without having to wait for a lengthy implementation.
- Because they are narrower in scope, best-of-breed solutions generally deliver a user experience that is tailored to primary user needs and preferences, making them intuitive to learn and easy to use.
- Best-of-breed solutions have much lower implementation and start-up costs, meaning the risk of getting locked into a system that doesn’t work is much lower.
A fully integrated ‘smart manufacturing’ solution gives manufacturing organisations the ability to gain more efficiency, utilisation, returns on Capex investments and improved product quality from their manufacturing facilities, enabling key operations to communicate in real-time and exchange relevant information.
Using the PEMAC REST API, several of PEMAC’s client have already successfully implemented integrated “smart manufacturing” solutions to deliver real-time, accurate, and actionable information.
CMMS and ERP is one of the more typical systems integrations, maximising the Financial and Budget Control in the ERP Solution but provide Engineering with a Tool to manage Engineering Spares and Demand based on Preventative Maintenance programme.
Many of PEMAC’s clients, says Davis, have integrated CMMS with their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution to maximise the Financial and Budget Control in the ERP Solution but also provide Engineering with a Tool to manage Engineering Spares and Demand based on a Preventative Maintenance programme.
MES (Manufacturing Executions System) is another typical CMMS integration. Rottapharm (now Viatris), was able to adopt a usage-based maintenance programme by feeding machine run-time data from the PEMAC Assets CMMS through to its Barco MES. At the end of each shift, every Rottapharm machine sent PEMAC it’s run time hours allowing work to be scheduled efficiently. By linking its machine data to PEMAC’s CMMS in this way, Rottapharm ensured that all issues were logged and investigated, creating a true understanding of machine performance. This in turn, reduced data handling and administration, eliminating 54% of Rottapharm’s preventative maintenance routines, 75% of its engineering time, and 50% of its maintenance cost.
Another example is an IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) integration. Leveraging the PEMAC API, Smurfit Kappa, retrospectively added PLC monitoring to their Equipment bridging the gap between their physical plant and CMMS. Through PEMAC’s API, the client could quickly and seamlessly integrate its PEMAC CMMS with its Siemens Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). This created critical alarms to trigger maintenance intervention, the result being a complete understanding of all Machine Faults, and Instant Reporting.