OpenMAINT- VERY Time consuming setting up

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Summary

openMAINT is an open source software for Asset & Facilities Management. Being open source you get what you pay for.

  • The Free option requires a lot of your time an effort.
  • The support option I have not tried, but quote for cost seems high (refer beginning of this blog ). With this you do get the mobile app that is very useful for site surveying and is an integral part of modern data capture.

The issues with setting up the free option.

Challenges

  • Don’t even go near this programme unless you have a lot of time on your hands. A steep learning curve and you need a variety of skills. FM data structure, programming, database understanding, server understanding, interlinking programme tracking.
  • Information is hard to find for the product and can be misleading for setting up.
  • Having multiple instances of servers (openMAINT, Shark, Alfresco, BimServer, GIS, Email) all on the same machine is messy and a challenge and document support challenging. This is a major issue with interface between different servers. It seems that free server instances of different programmes have been cobbled together to do specific tasks. Because they are independent servers they need to pass information between different servers and this is where failures happen. Having them all up and running simultaneously and working together is very very time consuming. Also they are fragile.
  • Tailoring the data structure to your specific needs has to be well thought out. Have a few setups to explore variations on what works and what doesn’t before going with a specific arrangement. There are some smart things in the system but they do need to be tailored to your own needs.
  • It is a little bit delicate. An example of this is the importing data through the CSV system. You can only seem to do it once, so if you have only partially filled in data and you want to add the rest later, it creates a whole new set of data with all the naming the same.
  • Using the Jaspersoft reporting tool is a steep learning curve too. The basic report templates are a start but realistically you will need to develop your own reports and this, from previous experience with report tools is not easy.
  • I think that after a month I should have been a lot further down the road to using it.

Positives

( this part is what I have found with the basic setup and my exploration to date, Space & Asset Inventory & Facility Maintenance tabs, I have yet to do Financial, Logistics and Environment & Energy tabs)

  • A comprehensive AM/FM system that does all the processes that you need to run multi-site facilities
  • Good interconnection between the different components (assets/workorders)
  • All in one place with access for all different user groups. Users of facilities, FM team, Contractors etc with different

Other comments

  • Predictive data analysis. I have seen an AM package that does budget scenarios with adjusting when work is carried out on assets and consequences. OpenMAINT does not seem to do this. That particular package did not do work orders though. Mabe a KNIME process could be developed for this?
  • Site Survey tool.  Some method is required (maybe a CSV drop and edit tool) for doing surveys on site. Using a web connection to openMAINT would be tedious as the cards are fiddly to edit. Or maybe using the report function for an Excel file and then uploading updated data later to system (you would then need data inputters to do his work). I have been working on the SCRUD tools for remote accessing data on Databases, but this would require some time to setup too.
  • Cross reference to Drawings & Data. I have used some work around so far for some of the other add ons. 1. Make Text Field to give URL links to maps, also to drawings, also to 3D PDFs and 360 panorama pictures of site. so visual data can be added. Using external links to hold data. I would like to get the Alfresco link working though, that would tie everything together with linked attachments, and photos archives

Has it been worth it?

  • I have the time to explore at present, being unemployed, and the data I a inputting is for testing process. If I was asked to implement it in an office I would need some programming support to get more than the basics up and running.
  • It has great potential, but they make it bloody difficult to implement on your own.
  • I have workarounds for most addons. BimServer , Map, Access to Drawings/photos etc
  • My current frustration is not having the work order process running on the VPS. Without that it is basically a space and asset inventory that you could just as easily do in a database or excel setup.

After 4 weeks this should be up and running, I am still feeling my way through work orders, and have yet to work through Finance, Energy/Environment. (Not sure that logistics is that relevant).

What is great is being able to explore the AM/FM tool for free, as these systems are usually not accessible unless you spend a lot of money on them or are given special access to explore them.

Background

I have been looking to set up openMaint on a couple of occasions.

I initially had it setup on my local server where I had the basic setup running. I only tinkered with it but did not look to test its capabilities in any real way, but purely to explore.I then tried setting it up on a VPS using Amazon AWS EC2 instance but had problems connecting to the remote server. I dropped it at that time to focus on other more productive things

I have been focused in looking to see how useful and practical openMAINT is.

The thing I have noticed is the time I have been spending on setting it up.

I have spent about 4 weeks setting up different versions of it and doing basic configuration inside the programme.

  • Local host (PC) Running basic mode + workorders working
  • Attempted an Ubantu Linux  setup-FAIL
  • Attempted a Centos Linux  setup-FAIL
  • Setup Remote Server VPS in Windows 2008 – basic setup (workorders not working)
  • Setup on Remote Server VPS in Windows 2012 AWS – basic setup (workorders not working)
  • Setup on Remote Server VPS in Windows 2016 CONTABO – basic setup (workorders not working)
  • Local host on 2nd PC Running basic mode + workorders working.
  • I attempted to get Alfresco setup on Local PC working twice  but no success so far
  • I haven’t attempted to  do the GIS or BIM connectors yet.

Utilising the programme I was quite surprised that the configuration on the Demo & Empty Databases were limited in their configuration. This has pros and cons.

  • The cons are there are not setup configurations that you can follow to see how the inter-relations work
  • The pros are that you can  develop your own structures to suit your own setup

Within openMAINT:

  • I changed the  condition setup from names (excellent/good/fair/poor to a numeric ranking, 1 to 5.
  • I set up a house example with data for Complex/building/unit/floor/rooms

I have also looked at adding the following so I could have individual condition to each item:

  • Floor coverings
  • Wall Surface types
  • Wall finishes
  • Ceiling Surface types
  • Ceiling Finishes
  • Doors
  • Windows (split away from Doors)
  • Fans

I have started to practice doing work orders to see how they are supposed to operate

I have allowed individual logins to others so they can explore the system.

This time around I have been blogging the process so that I have a record on how the process works and to assist others.

This is not particularly god results for 4 weeks work.  The documentation is obscure at best and downright confusing at other times.

Resources for setting up

I get the feeling that TecnoTeca almost resent anyone setting up the open source version without paying for their assistance. They definitely make the documentation obscure and vague. I think their mobile app is a great thing and they can get a lot of funding setting that up for people rather than locking them into their support contracts, but that is their choice of  business  model.

The overview document from openMAINT . A good birds eye view of what it does.

The website FAQ on setup- helpful but vague but mainly poit you to the CMDBuild Technical Manual (without page referencing)

The videos give you a good overview on how the programme should work and from that you need to figure out how the setup should be for your own setup.

The CMDBuild  website and documents is more comprehensive.

The CMDBUILD forum  is a little bit helpful, although you can see how terse and vague the responses are from the TecnoTeca team, still they are not being paid for their assistance, but you see far better support on other community software sites such as KNIME, Tableau, and I feel their is not the same spirit on this one to help people who genuinely have an interest in trying to understand the tool. I believe this will limit the uptake of it.

Would I recommend it to others? NO.

I do not think I would, it is far to fragile and takes a lot of time to start up and maintain and documentation and support is minimal. I would not trust this for an operational system.

The more simple option, which does not really do work orders, but is free, is Asset Tiger. Not too much time setting it up and pretty robust cloud service and also a mobile app for site surveys.  Once you have this up and running quickly you can look at other methods of doing work orders. This does have a check in/check out part for assets.

Feature image from this website:  https://www.123rf.com/photo_34785248_infinity-time-spiral-clock-abstract-background.html

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