CMMS Equipment Problem-Failure Codes

"The best way to predict the future
is to study the past."
Robert Kiyosaki

This is especially true when it comes to preventing equipment failures. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of corrective maintenance happens again. History repeats itself, so why not learn from it?


Studying equipment failure histories to improve asset reliability is a best practice; partnering it with Problem-Failure Codes takes asset reliability to the stratosphere.  


Problem-Failure Codes are EAM/CMMS codes tied to equipment classes. The codes get associated with work orders and identify common problems and failures for a given equipment class.


Problem-Failure Codes allow maintenance to capture specific details about equipment failures. This includes the initial problem with the equipment and what caused it. This data can then be aggregated, reported, and analyzed. Problem-Failure codes make it possible to look under the hood, so to speak, providing granularity, visibility, and transparency into equipment issues.


Problem-Failure Codes:

  • Can be used to build targeted reliability programs (e.g., PMs, APM, real-time and periodic condition monitoring, etc.) to prevent equipment issues from reoccurring.
  • Can be aggregated to know where the operation is spending its time and money and which problems to tackle first.
  • Can be used for capital planning and budgeting purposes. Failure data can reveal what equipment to replace first.

Associating Problem-Failure codes with corrective maintenance work orders can supercharge EAM/CMMS reporting and analysis, helping organizations make better asset management business decisions. Let’s see how to do it.

Equipment Master

Getting insightful equipment problem-failure information begins with your EAM/CMMS equipment master.

The equipment master contains all of the organization’s physical, maintainable assets. The equipment master data should be complete, accurate, and timely.

Each equipment record should be assigned a classification code. Equipment class codes group together equipment that shares similarities. For example, pumps, motors, chillers, and compressors are examples of equipment classes. See equipment class assignments below:

Equipment classes play a big part in failure reporting. See the Top 10 Bad Actor Classes and Mean Time Between Failure reporting examples below. This type of information can tell you where to focus your maintenance and reliability efforts. 

Equipment Problem-Failure Codes

As I mentioned earlier, Problem-Failure Codes are assigned to equipment classes. Problem-Failure Codes are tied to the class of equipment on the work order.


Problem Codes define the initial problem the equipment is having. The Maintenance Technician typically keys in the Problem Code during the work order completion process.

The following are examples of Problem Codes associated with the equipment class HEAT EXCHANGER:


Failure Codes designate “what” failed on the asset, and this code allows further analysis to be performed on the part or component that failed. The Maintenance Technician typically enters the Failure Code during the work order completion process.

The following are examples of Failure Codes associated with the HEAT EXCHANGER equipment class:

Equipment problem-failure data can be rolled up and aggregated by frequency and costs. See the cost rollup example below. This information allows maintenance to zero in on the areas that impact the organization most.
More transparency leads to better reporting and a better understanding of the equipment. Equipment classifications and Problem-Failure Codes provide organizations with the information to supercharge asset reliability.


Implementing equipment problem-failure codes can:

  • Help us better understand our equipment.
  • Identify the most common problems with equipment and the most common causes of failure.
  • Predict when that failure will happen again and take corrective action to catch it before it’s too late.
  • Determine trends and help us make informed decisions about how those trends are likely to continue.

Complete, accurate, and timely problem-failure data can help the organization reduce unplanned downtime and lower MRO costs, guaranteed.

We can gain valuable insight into corrective maintenance issues by analyzing historical equipment failure data and leveraging problem-failure codes. We better understand the present and can use this data to help predict and shape a more reliable future.

If your asset reliability program needs a jumpstart, please let us know. We offer the industry’s most comprehensive equipment failure code registryContact us for a complimentary set of problem-failure codes.