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  • Joe Bleasdale

Facilities Management: Taking A Proactive Approach

Whether you run a business or own a property, you will know of the necessary evil of dealing with maintenance of your building’s assets, fabric, systems and equipment. Prince Krofa & Sons specialises in facilities and maintenance management, not just in private residential property, but also in commercial, education and ecclesiastical sectors. Split into two parts, first, we will explore the optimum maintenance strategy for a business, and in Part 2, we will look at the roles and responsibilities of a facilities manager.

Preventive Maintenance

This is a proactive maintenance strategy that involves taking precautions to prevent potential future system and equipment failures on your property. This may involve replacing or upgrading outdated assets, minor works to adjust and clean equipment and regular internal inspections.

If a business’ equipment fails or the building becomes unsafe through poor upkeep, this can cause unexpected closures and serious financial loss, both in missed income and repair costs. Preventative maintenance can ensure you maximise the the lifespan of the building and its assets, and reduce utility bills when systems work efficiently and use less energy.

One industry that is very familiar with preventive maintenance is the restaurant industry, who are advised to regularly inspect refrigerators and ovens, defrost freezers, clean condenser coils and air conditioning systems and empty grease traps. This makes sure that assets do not suddenly break down, drains do not become clogged and costly HVAC inspections are not needed.

Preventive maintenance is highly recommended for industries that use heavy industry-specific machinery, such as manufacturing, but can also be implemented by education facilities, particularly ones with maths and science labs that present immediate danger if assets are not handled properly, as well as gyms, hospitals and office spaces, particularly if a building is older and is at risk of leaking roofs, damp and natural degradation of brickwork. All of this depends on the size, needs and scope of the business, as hiring on-site inspectors will increase labour costs, and planning could take time out of running your business.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is possibly the most costly form of proactive maintenance in the short-term, as in many cases, it requires the installation of advanced technological inspection systems, as well as the presence of people able to interpret data. As such, it is not generally recommended simply for maintaining a building's structure.

However, it may be the most effective, and is highly recommended, for industries that use continuous flow production techniques, such as manufacturing plants with 24/7 machinery or industrial ovens, or that deal with complex IT and time-accurate monetary transactions, where malfunctions could back up entire production supplies and result in loss of profits instantly.

Condition-monitoring technology is often used to measure how equipment is performing, made possible by the IoT (Internet of Things), which connects electronic devices to mechanical and digital machines to provide you with information about present and future defects without prompt.

With predictive maintenance, you will not have to pay a penny for repairs until the moment they are required, but this will usually happen before entire systems shut down and repair costs spiral out of control. A study by Coast Engineers ltd. [link] suggests that predictive maintenance can result in as much as a tenfold increase in return on investments, and reduces the possibility of equipment crashes by up to three quarters.

Planned Maintenance

This type of maintenance is often confused with preventive maintenance as they both involve fairly similar strategies. However, planned maintenance covers both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, and often stems from building equipment and system failures and structural dilapidations that have taken place in the past, with a business coming up with a set plan to anticipate such failures in the future.

Planned maintenance involves acquiring backup supplies of certain equipment parts, i.e. spare ventilation filters for air conditioning systems, or formulating a plan of action in the event of assets breaking down. It also includes regular renovations and rebuilding of certain structural elements that are decaying beyond repair, such as conservatories and lean-tos. However, some of it may be as simple as following manufacturer recommendations for equipment inspections, and can heavily reduce the likelihood of having to pay to deal with major system failures.

This type of maintenance is recommended in every industry in the private and public sector, where we can also help you. Our surveyors are able to identify and analyse where future inspections and repairs may be needed, assess risk and assist you in establishing the best plan of action, to reduce costs and maximise your assets’ present and future performance.

Optimum Maintenance Strategy

Of course, there is always the option to prioritise a plan of “reactive maintenance”, which means intervention only occurs once systems have failed. While this requires less staff, lower prevention costs and no planning time, there is a risk, particularly if sensitive machinery is involved, that repair costs could be very high.

For home owners, however, this may be a preferred strategy, and may involve only acquiring the help of a technician once a system, such as a radiator or boiler, has stopped working. However, home owners may not realise that small steps, such as regular energy meter readings and installation of a smart meter, cleaning sanitary spaces, replacing showerheads, descaling taps and damp-proofing outside walls, as well as replacing old fitted spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, also counts as preventive maintenance, and a lot of it does not run up steep costs.

PKS recommends an optimal strategy for maintenance of your assets and property, whether you are a homeowner or a business owner. Note the purple dot on the graph (right), which weighs up the costs of preventive, predictive and reactive maintenance. However, the strategy your business or property owner takes is ultimately dependant on each specific case, and what works best for each asset.

Current RICS guidance for surveyors and clients on planned preventative maintenance can be found here.

Next time, we will explore how a facilities manager can help you make the most of your property.

For more information about our facilities management and planned maintenance services, visit our website, and to contact us, visit this page.

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