What are the Most Common CMMS Failure Codes?

Mechanic maintenance worker

The most common CMMS failure codes include user mistakes and calibration problems. When you’re responsible for maintaining critical assets, it can be difficult to keep them all in good working order. Failure codes generated by a CMMS system provide important diagnostic information. This data can help maintenance managers make smarter, faster business decisions that directly impact the bottom line.

What are CMMS Failure Codes?

CMMS failure codes are usually alphanumeric codes that provide detailed information on why an asset failed. Common failure reasons include operator errors, maintenance mistakes, asset defects, and calibration problems. When you look at failure code trends over time, you can better identify systemic issues that need to be addressed.

What is a CMMS?

CMMS is a software solution that stores, tracks, and manages maintenance data on multiple pieces of equipment or assets.

What are Failure Codes Used for?

Failure codes are a great tool for any maintenance team. Companies and organizations can easily track recurring problems, create detailed work orders, and improve overall maintenance efforts.

Improve Maintenance Efficiency

Failure codes help facilities become more efficient because they bring problematic trends to light. For example, the same operator error failure code repeats itself several times over the course of a few months. A manager may correct the technician or revise the instructions for the task to prevent that error from occurring again.

Track and Identify Issues Over Time

The more quality information you collect, the stronger your CMMS becomes. Failure codes can be recorded over time, allowing management to generate analytical reports. These reports can serve as the foundation for an ongoing continuous improvement program. For instance, action items can be tied to the highest priority failure code items and re-measured for improvement over time.

Create In-Depth Work Orders

Most CMMS solutions will allow management to sort by time, date, location, or asset. This ability gives you a great deal of flexibility to examine where and when failure codes are occurring. As a result, you can create detailed work orders to address both the core and consequence of the failure code.

Ten Failure Codes to Look for in Your CMMS

Many typical reasons exist for asset and equipment failure. As a result, most CMMS solutions will offer common failure codes to employ. Here are the top 10 to look for when you’re planning on investing in a CMMS:

#1 Maintenance Codes

Maintenance failure codes are triggered by any poor maintenance practice. This may include poorly performed maintenance procedures, over-lubrication of components, or failure to attend to details.

#2 User Mistakes

User failure codes occur when an operator, technician, or other person has done something to damage the asset or machine. This can include vandalism, as well as untrained or unintentional service mistakes.

#3 Calibration Problems

If a machine or asset falls out of a given range, it may indicate a calibration issue. A machine may be improperly aligned, or an asset may need to be calibrated to reduce vibration.

#4 Asset Defects

If equipment has problems with its bearings, motors, gearboxes, or other components, an asset defect failure code will be triggered. This allows a technician to understand and address the defect quickly and efficiently.

#5 Contamination

Keeping equipment and assets clean can be a challenge, especially if they operate in harsh environments. If dirt, debris, or other contamination begins interfering with the asset’s performance, this failure code will be triggered.

#6 Computer Issues

If a particular piece of equipment requires a microprocessor to operate, this failure code may be helpful. Perhaps the machine is operating fine, but the computer controls are hung up. This failure code can alert the maintenance team that IS support is required.

#7 Overheating Code

Certain failure codes, such as overheating or smoking triggers, can result in near-emergencies. When a maintenance manager has real-time access to this data, significant damage can be prevented.

#8 Leak Alerts

General leak failure codes can be incorporated into a CMMS, one can input leaks that are specific to liquid or air. On some assets, leakage can result in equipment malfunction, while in others, it can be a drain on energy usage.

#9 Failure to Start Code

If an asset simply fails to start, the maintenance problem may reside with the power, starter components, or ignition switches. These failure codes can better direct technicians to appropriate equipment components to resolve the issue.

#10 Equipment Jams

When a machine or equipment jams, there may be a foreign object blocking its operation. This failure code helps technicians inspect the areas where a machine is most likely to jam and clear them.

How a CMMS Simplifies Failure Reporting

Simply generating failure codes is not enough. If companies cannot address failure codes in a timely manner, they will continue to operate damaged equipment. As a result, you want a CMMS that can put those failure codes to work.

By using a system like UpKeep, you can route failure codes to the right individuals in your organization. For example, certain codes may go to particular technicians with a specialty, or to managers for urgent action.


Failure codes play an invaluable role in a CMMS. They operate as an extra set of eyes on your critical assets and help diagnose problems as soon as they occur. In a sophisticated CMMS, failure codes are automatically sent to the appropriate staff for fast, efficient resolution. That means saving your business time, and money, and preventing larger problems in the long run.

Want to keep reading?

Failure Code

A failure code is an alphanumeric code that provides detailed information on why an asset failed. This information is then stored in a system, such as a CMMS.
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Failure Codes in Maintenance | What is a Failure Code?

The most simple answer is that a failure code is a marker in a CMMS that indicates why an asset has failed.
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What is the best way to use failure codes for root cause analysis?

Use failure codes systematically: start with analyzing the reasons for failures, code this information in a consistent way, and make it accessible.
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