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CMMS Setup Series Part One: Getting Started

Maintenance man checking equipment

Setting up a CMMS system can be an overwhelming task. To make setup easier, it is important that you have a plan in place and that your CMMS has tools available to help you gather initial data.

The first step in the process is usually deciding on how you will identify equipment, and entering equipment information into the system.  The debate over using an intelligent number system or sequential numbering system is as old as the first CMMS, and there is no real right or wrong answer to this. The important thing is pick a method and stick with it. Remember, be consistent!

 If you choose an intelligent number system, keep it simple. Something like Equipment type and number works great. Let’s say you have six HVAC units you want to enter into the system. The equipment IDs for these units would be HVAC-001, HVAC-002 and so on. Notice we gave 2 leading zeros for the equipment number. You generally want to make sure you have plenty of room for growth in your system. 

If you choose a sequential numbering system, leave room for growth with leading zeros. If you think that you would someday have over 1000 pieces of equipment in your database, use one more leading zero than you think you would ever need (00001) so that you have a factor of 10 above your highest estimate.

Some other tips for identifying equipment:

  • All ID`s should consist only of Alpha Characters A-Z and Numeric Characters 0-9.

  • ID`s should NEVER contain Spaces. Dashes are acceptable.

  • ID`s should never contain special Characters such as:

~ ` ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) + = { } [ ] | \ : ; “ ‘ < , > . ? /

The reason for these rules are simple. They keep your data clean, consistent and easily searchable. Also if you’re ever going to generate bar code labels for assets containing the equipment ID, these rules must be followed. For example, if you have a space in an equipment ID, two bar codes on each side of the space will be generated. Use a dash in place of a space to avoid this issue. Also, special characters such as !, #, and so on are triggers that send barcode scanners into a programming mode. If you use these characters, barcodes will not be reliable.

After you have created an equipment ID you will need to identify the name of the equipment. At SOMAX, we suggest you use a consistent format and always go from broad to specific. As an example, a Hobart 140qt Mixer would be named “Mixer, Hobart, 140qt”. This way if you sort your equipment by name you will see all Mixers together, All Hobart together and then all 140qt together. This makes navigation and reporting much simpler.

The best CMMS systems will have mobile tools and apps to help you collect this information quickly and efficiently. SOMAX has mobile apps for Android and iOS that enable users to walk through facilities with a smartphone or tablet and take pictures of equipment, enter all name plate information and generate equipment IDs for you. Tools like these enable customers to enter their equipment in a matter of hours instead of the weeks it could when using a clipboard and pen. Entering all the equipment information you can is important for lots of tasks later on, so make sure you get everything you can the first time.  This concludes part 1 of this web series. Visit to learn more, or sign up to receive our blog updates for this and all our other articles.