Maintenance is about the life cycle of facilities. Let’s say a building was under construction for six months. That building may remain in service in some capacity for 30, 60, even 100 or more years. Even a building with a short life of thirty years, the maintenance life is sixty times longer than the construction life.
Facility maintenance is important because it occurs over a long period of time and it directly affects the health and safety of all visitors, the productivity of employees, and the company or agency’s image. Poor maintenance can harm people, increase costs, and decrease staff effectiveness. Poor maintenance can increase insurance costs and increase the likelihood of costly and embarrassing litigation. One of the best way to ensure facilities are maintained in a professional manner, avoiding needless costs, and maximizing return on maintenance investments, is by employing rigorous systems and procedures. Today, that translates into deploying great software to support your maintenance staff and contractors.
Elements of Facilities Maintenance
Generally, when it comes to maintaining facilities, there are three approaches:
- Reactive Maintenance – aka Break/Fix
- Preventive Maintenance
- Predictive Maintenance
While some organizations simply react by fixing things when they break, most modern organizations will use a mix of reactive, preventive and predictive methods. Determining the most appropropriate and cost effective mix requires judgment supported by facts. Facts are derived from information, which is derived from data. Facilities maintenance software helps collect data for analysis. It can’t make the decisions, but the best systems present the data in ways that compliment human intelligence.
Reactive Maintenance – Power to the People
Even the best facilities staff can’t have their eyes and ears on every component of facilities at all times. That’s why a cornerstone of reactive maintenance is the Service Request. Give power to the people that work and use your facilities to report issues they see, and you magnify your sensory capabilities.
eSSETS provides two Service Request portals: WebQ and SmartQ. WebQ is a web form that can be linked to from the company intranet or website allowing anyone that observes an issue to report it. SmartQ provides a login for frequent requesters which speeds up issue reporting and improves accuracy through context awareness: based upon who is logged-in, the system knows who they are, where they are, and what they have previously reported.
Preventive Maintenance – Power to Facility Managers
Some facility components are big enough, and important enough to justify regularly scheduled actions to lubricate, change oil, charge refrigerant, check pressure readings, check temperature ranges, inspect for safety compliance, and the list goes on. Maintenance software can help identify and define facility and equipment, create electronic checklists, define frequency of recurrence (aka PM Schedules), send email reminder notifications to staff and/or contractors, provide equipment reference materials (operation and maintenance manuals), and provide relevant maintenance history. PM software tools put the facility manager and his or her administrators in control with systematic processes. Predefined actions combined with supporting information improves the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance operations.
Predictive Maintenance – Climbing the Power Ladder
Maintenance software tools allow systematic and structured data collection. The great thing about collecting lots of data about facilities is that it enables software to help identify patterns and trends. Management reports, such as the multidimensional slicing and dicing of historical data provided in eSSETS, allows facility managers to move into the realm facility analytics. This, in turn, enables smarter, more effective actions by the facility team.
Today, most data is collected as a by product of work orders. The clear trend is to collect more and more data automatically when assets self-report key operating metrics. Some call this the Internet of Things (IoT), or the Industrial Internet of Things (see my blog post, “Winning Combo: IoT And Web-based Asset Tracking Software”).
Maintenance Cost Analysis
Tracking costs associated with facilities and equipment is critical in selecting and refining the mix of reactive, planned and predictive maintenance programs. In general, higher cost assets justify more efforts in preventive and predictive actions. Knowing initial acquisition cost, historical maintenance costs, and replacement costs provide a basis for decision making.
Asset Criticality Trumps Cost
While the cost basis of assets are always important, those assets that are critical to on-going operations of the enterprise, or are critical for mitigating health and safety risks, will also justify more preventive measures. These can be as simple as periodic inspections of facilities using electronic checklists. These regularly scheduled self-inspections cannot only help reduce the risk of adverse events, but can also reduce insurance costs and provide compliance documentation for regulatory agencies.