CMMS Software: The Growing Need for Software Partnerships for Machine Tool Builders and What MaintainX Is Doing Right

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By James Prestwood | 3Q 2023 | IN-7050

Machine tools builders need to incorporate greater digitalization into their solutions as customers increasingly look to build out comprehensive connected and digitally-enabled plants, something that, realistically, few companies have the capacity or technical skill to do in-house. Thus, partnering with software companies can help create effective turnkey solutions. A critical software that is often deployed alongside machine tools is a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). MaintainX is an excellent example of such a solution that is embracing a simple to use mobile-based approach. The company has seen strong success from strategies like being part of the SAP ecosystem, partnering with large machine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Konecranes, and ensuring scalable development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions.

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Machine Tool Builders Need to Supply Software-Supported Solutions


The machine tool market is undergoing a significant shift, moving from simply supplying manufacturers with an asset and performing maintenance when it breaks, and instead now being expected to supply connected, digitally-enabled solutions. It is critical that these hardware suppliers recognize that just providing hardware will not retain competitive market shares, investing in supplying customers with a comprehensive suite of supporting software products to create truly turnkey solutions that can integrate into the digital threads constructed by manufacturers.

The most effective way to supply these digitally-enabled solutions is for machine tool manufacturers to partner with software developers. Machine tool builders are not inherently familiar with software design, and attempting to create proprietary solutions is often more of a strategic headache than an effective business plan. Software developers, on the other hand, have a deep understanding of developing these products and provide best-of-breed solutions for singular use cases. Partnerships also represent effective go-to-market strategies for less established software providers.

The MaintainX CMMS Is a Prime Example of a Solution That Should Be Packaged with Machine Tools


A key software solution that drives significant efficiency for manufacturers that use machine tools is a computerized maintenance management solution. At some point in the machine tool’s lifecycle, it will require maintenance, and if not addressed promptly and efficiently, represents incredibly costly downtime. A CMMS solution centralizes maintenance data to aid with managing a plant’s maintenance activities, with an excellent example being MaintainX, which provides more than 6,000 global manufacturers with a flexible, mobile-based offering to support this process. As of June 2021, MaintainX has raised US$50 million in Series A and B funding rounds. The solution’s primary competitors in the CMMS market include Rockwell Automation’s Fiix, Siemens’ Brightly, Limble CMMS, UpKeep, and IBM’s Maximo.

MaintainX is a “single pane of glass” solution that is a cloud-based tool, allowing for rapid adoption, with the company enabling organizations to self-serve for pilot programs and full deployments. The offering already has more than 2.7 million assets preloaded into the solution, providing an Out of the Box (OOTB) solution for manufacturers using common machine tool hardware. It provides operational teams with a deep global procedure library, with more than 8000 unique procedures across maintenance, safety, and compliance that spell out exactly what actions need to be performed. The simplicity of the interface for admins and end users supports a significant increase in the scope of personnel who can engage with maintenance operations, lowered even further by the lack of training required to use the MaintainX mobile app and chat functionality across operation teams supported on all work orders.

The company worked extensively with battery manufacturer Duracell, with plant maintenance teams facing the challenge of maintaining parts inventories, and having to walk to storerooms to find out the given stock for a part. Duracell deployed MaintainX, connecting the platform’s parts inventory module to SAP and enabling frontline teams to access real-time inventory records, with the company now tracking 1,000 work order per month with cost savings of around US$50,000 per site per year due to reduced stock variability, ensuring better evaluation of parts and equipment requirements, all achieved within less than 6 months.

What Strategy Successes Can Competitors Identify from MaintainX?


The MaintainX platform has seen success due to the following key strategies that competitors should aim to emulate:

  • Being Part of an Overarching Ecosystem: MaintainX has recently been listed on the SAP store with its strong integration with SAP allowing for easy implementation by customers using one of the largest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions globally. MaintainX’s partnership-enabled integration with SAP allows the solution to be easily implemented by customers using one of the largest ERP solutions globally. Comprehensive ecosystems surrounding software products are becoming far more prevalent in manufacturing markets, with customers wanting to identify best-of-breed solutions and deploy comprehensive connected end-to-end architecture, and vendors recognizing that they cannot be everything to everyone. Prime examples are the growth of large online software marketplaces underpinned by a single large vendor, such as AWS Marketplace, SAP Store, and PTC Marketplace. SAP is recognizing the need to support its solutions with best-of-breed frontline enabling software, such as CMMS, inviting MaintainX to be part of SAP Foundry, where SAP itself is investing technical resources in MaintainX to build out deeper integration between the two platforms.
  • Integrating Their Solution into an OEM’s Solution Offerings: Konecranes is a close Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partner of MaintainX, with the sale of any new crane deploying with MaintainX, which includes pre-built in-app asset packages to support the easy deployment of the CMMS software. This closed-loop feedback about maintenance on the machine actively informs machine design and ongoing service, supporting machine builders to be proactive and not just adapt designs to react to order failures, shortening innovation cycles—an attractive proposition for any OEM.
  • Developing AI: The MaintainX team is considering new ways to use data to improve the functionality of its product, with applications from improved condition-based maintenance to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The company has recently shipped a new anomaly detection feature that minimizes downtime by detecting irregularities in equipment performance. New AI functionality needs to actually move the needle for manufacturers and be designed to solve a specific challenge, not just thrown at a customer as a functionality without a clear use case, an attitude that technology vendors seem to be taking following the explosion of the generative AI zeitgeist.

To continue to effectively compete in the CMMS market, vendors must ensure that their solutions represent a best-of-breed software that neatly fits into the overarching connected ecosystem architecture that manufacturers are looking to deploy. Designing solutions with new generative AI functionality that can effectively scale with the software as vendors develop their product offering is essential to maintain best-of-breed status. Finally, close partnerships with machine tool OEMs not only helps vendors build out their installed base, but also provides a closed feedback loop to improve software design.