Before a facility manager makes headway with planned maintenance, they need to lay the groundwork for their maintenance program to do what it does best — reduce the risk of equipment and facility downtime. If that person is you, there are some fundamental steps to ensure your program hits its goals.
Most of this groundwork is intended to get rid of bad habits, such as cutting down on “reactive” maintenance, that can be tempting because of time investment and upfront costs. Planned maintenance is possible for any facility manager, even though budget constraints vary from facility to facility. So long as you accurately forecast and stick to your budgets (which is a tall task in itself), you can create a maintenance plan that isn’t rife with ad hoc activities.
This blog outlines some preparation steps for your risk evaluation and maintenance strategy that will be ongoing, providing the framework for all the work orders you, your team, and any third-party (like TD) would execute.
No matter the size of your maintenance budget, how you prioritize planned maintenance will have an impact on your overall ability to reduce risk of unplanned equipment downtime. A planned maintenance strategy will be less expensive per unit than a consistently reactionary one, but will also help ensure that your most critical equipment is safeguarded from unexpected downtime.
In your 6-month and annual budget, identify and rank the equipment and systems that would cause the most facility disruption if unexpected downtime were to happen. Some equipment might even be deemed as “run-to-failure,” since its downtime might not disrupt facility activities at all. While you should budget and plan for 20% or less “reactionary” work, you can start trending towards that goal by setting your priorities for maintenance well in advance. Hit all of your critical equipment if you can, or at least as much as your current budget will allow.
Even if you inherit a facility, do the due diligence to know the life cycles of all of your operating equipment so you can start budget planning for replacements 5 years down the road. While 5 years might sound excessive, you don’t want to risk unexpected costs to slam you — or worse — have to replace the system in an emergency because the equipment is at or over its life expectancy. Emergency replacements will cost a heck of a lot more than the ones you plan in your budget.
Even if those emergency costs hit you in a worst-case scenario, you will at least have accounted for the cost in the year if not the quarter. This will also give you time to evaluate which equipment replacements would be best suited for your facility and your planned maintenance strategy. Sometimes a higher upfront investment on more reliable equipment is worth the payback on the long-term maintenance end.
While you take equipment life cycle into account for capital planning and budgeting, you can also use it to help you set priorities for maintenance. It’s highly unlikely, for instance, that a brand new, modern HVAC system will immediately require the same maintenance attention as a system dated 6 or 7 years. Though the HVAC system (perhaps a split system) would still be critical to facility operations, you can still use life-cycles to better refine your maintenance plan.
By tracking the time spent per maintenance task as well as the amount of unplanned downtime, you can get an idea of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. If you are seeing major reworks and unplanned downtime of electrical equipment post-maintenance, that could be an opportunity for you to budget in training to shore up your team’s skills in that area. Even if budgeting for training isn’t practical in your circumstance, you can at least determine if you should invest in a third-party partner with the proper expertise to assist you.
The further you can get away from a highly reactionary maintenance program, the lower the risk of unexpected facility downtime and the higher the safety for tenants.
We’re passionate about helping ensure proper facilities maintenance, so we created this guide to help you identify the main risks in your facility and how to prioritize maintenance of those items.
We encourage you to download and use today!