Animal production is critical to our country's economy and food supply. Agricultural businesses, like all for-profit companies, must find ways to run their operations efficiently and effectively. Businesses that are involved in animal production have the added responsibility of managing regulation and compliance as it relates to food safety.
One significant tool that can be used by companies involved in animal production is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Although CMMS solutions are common within the manufacturing and distribution industries, they can also be better utilized within animal production to improve efficiency.
Even a general CMMS solution can be adapted to help animal production companies ensure that their stock is free from diseases, to assist businesses that raise meat to check rationing and feeding schedules, and to support breeders in tracking heat cycles and insemination schedules.
What Is a CMMS?
In general, a CMMS solution is software that stores data about maintenance performed on equipment, machinery, and other assets. A CMMS eliminates the need for manual spreadsheets, consolidating all maintenance in one place. These solutions also frequently help manage inventory, schedule preventive maintenance tasks, and provide data-rich analytics and reports to facilitate better decision making for organizations.
Within animal production, a CMMS can provide companies with the automation necessary to plan and schedule maintenance tasks related to the breeding, feeding, health care, movement, and shipping of animals. These solutions can not only help manage the maintenance of farm-related equipment but can also be used to handle animal production tasks in a more efficient and effective manner.
For example, mobile-first CMMS solutions allow farm employees to access the powerful back-end software from their smartphones or other mobile devices. Instead of relying on disorganized paper instructions that may be incomplete and are easily misplaced, farm employees simply log in to the CMMS and pull up their task list for the day. Animal producers can populate their CMMS software with appropriate instructions, checklists, and images, so that everything the employee needs is essentially at their fingertips, which eliminates the need to return to a file cabinet or search for additional instructions or materials.
In addition, as farm employees complete their tasks, they have an easy way to record the work they have done, to take pictures for documentation or questions, and to directly communicate with their supervisors or other team members
Benefits of Using a CMMS Solution for Animal Production
Any animal-producing organization may have operations, processes, and procedures that can benefit from an automated maintenance solution. By using an automated maintenance solution like a CMMS, animal producers can reap many benefits in their daily operations, processes, and procedures. Here are some typical benefits:
Eliminate Cumbersome Paper Records
Managing, filing, and retrieving paper records can be incredibly time-consuming and wrought with possible errors. Not only do companies need to rely on employees to complete paperwork correctly, but the information needs to be in an easily usable form for future reference.
Manage and Collect Data, Such as Cattle Tagging, Weights, and Locations
For large animal producers, tracking identification, health issues, breeding cycles, and locations of animals can be a significant task. A CMMS can help ease that process and provide a way to sort and filter the data to distill the information needed for future decisions.
Schedule Routine Animal Health Checks and Vaccines to Reduce Disease
With all the concern about food safety, food producers have a large responsibility to ensure the health of their animals. Managing routine health checks as well as vaccination schedules can be done much more easily through a CMMS solution.
Automate Feed Schedules and Rationing Program
Animal producers must be able to grow out their stock as quickly and efficiently as possible. Feed rationing is a key component of that process, and a CMMS can help better manage that system.
Pull Accurate Data to Submit to the Regulatory and Compliance Agencies as Needed
In order to comply with food safety regulations, many processes and procedures need to be documented on a regular basis. Often, this information can be difficult to collect unless a system has been documenting maintenance tasks consistently. A CMMS can help do just that.
CMMS Features That Can Assist with Animal Production
Animal producers can customize the features of a CMMS so the system can meet their particular business requirements. Here are some of the key functions available as well as how they might be used by animal producers:
Work Order Management
A CMMS allows animal producers to easily create work orders, which permits the automation of maintenance tasks as well as provides a tool to record things such as improvement suggestions.
Tasks that need to be regularly scheduled such as pharmaceutical treatments, vaccines, and regular health checks can be entered into a CMMS, so that those tasks appear on an employee work schedule regularly.
Many automation tools are available today such as sensors that can monitor a wide variety of equipment conditions. These tools can be set up to automatically alert animal producers if parameters are exceeded or particular preset rules are broken. This allows the team to manage maintenance issues before major problems occur.
By understanding what materials are available in stock, animal producers are better able to initiate purchase orders as soon as parts or supplies reach preset low levels. These records can also organize the location of inventory. By streamlining inventory management, animal producers can reduce emergency overnight deliveries as well as avoid out-of-stock items when they are most needed.
A CMMS solution also allows animal producers to extend the life of their valuable assets. By automating the work that needs to be completed, as well as tracking ongoing maintenance problems and issues, the company’s management is better armed to make smarter decisions about repair and replacement.
Reporting and Analytics
Animal producers can easily establish key performance indicators (KPI) related to productivity, backlogs, regulatory compliance, and service levels. A CMMS solution can help track these KPIs regularly and report on progress.
Gone are the days of messy and cumbersome clipboards with outdated task lists. By allowing real-time access to a CMMS solution, animal producers can put all relevant information at the fingertips of their employees, as well as collect progress, purchasing information, and labor performance in real-time.
Animal Production Safety and Compliance Issues
Although all manufacturing and distribution companies may have some level of safety and regulatory compliance required, animal producers usually have an even greater need for managing this information well and often, due to food safety concerns.
Compliance managers within animal production companies need to work together to share the information necessary for meeting regulations. Here are some examples of applications:
Food Quality and Safety
Animal producers often use different equipment that needs to be serviced or inspected regularly. For example, scales should be calibrated on a regular basis. Work orders can document not only when calibration was last performed but also who calibrated the equipment. This data can be important if violations arise.
Food producers involved in industries such as dairy production have stringent sanitation requirements. In order to maintain their equipment to safety standards, these producers must generate work orders that detail sanitation tasks. These records can be critical during compliance inspections and checks.
Farm employees that work with different animals must follow safety procedures and processes. Ideas for improvement or issues related to incidents can be easily recorded in a CMMS, which can ultimately improve compliance as well as minimize accidents and reduce hazards.
Tagging and Security
In order to better track foodborne illnesses, many regulatory issues revolve around tracking animals from breeding through processing. By using RFID technology, animal producers can comply with these requirements much more cost-effectively.
If animal producers have disposal or emissions issues with their equipment, this information may need to be tracked for compliance reports to environmental agencies. In addition, this information can also be used to measure a company's progress against sustainability goals.
The bottom line is that a CMMS solution can be an incredibly powerful tool for animal production businesses. The automation tools available within such a system can allow these organizations to better schedule and manage work orders, handle health-related issues, manage the complex processes involved in animal production, and more efficiently meet the requirements set forth by regulatory agencies.
In addition, a CMMS can help animal production businesses work more efficiently, reduce downtime, better manage inventory, and reduce costs. In the end, this means a higher profit margin and greater long-term success.