Keeping your building well-maintained is critical to workplace efficiency
For building managers, there are few priorities higher than facility maintenance. Without the right practices, systems may be more prone to failure, lighting and HVAC may be less efficient, and the structure may be less comfortable for workers.
Certain best practices for facility maintenance will help keep systems in top shape and potentially improve the efficiency of building systems. Here are some things building managers can do to ensure operations run smoothly and glitches are kept to a minimum.
1. Review the Maintenance Plan
It’s best to begin with the maintenance plan, which is typically part of the facilities operation plan (FOP). This plan should include the maintenance strategy for all major building systems — including plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems. It should also detail all other facility upkeep tasks, what resources they require and the staff who will complete them.
Organizing building maintenance in this way ensures that all building system maintenance schedules are in one place and easily accessible. The plan also helps make sure responsibilities are accounted for and assigned to team members properly.
There should also be action plans for failures of critical facility systems — like central heating and cooling, boilers and generators.
Regularly reviewing the plan will help ensure that any major changes made to building facilities are being tracked, allowing for proper maintenance.
2. Conduct Energy and Resource Audits
Often, a major barrier to effective facility maintenance is cost. Regular upkeep and major repairs can be expensive, and a proper schedule is hard to keep with resources that don’t seem to be available.
Reviewing current energy and resource spending can help companies uncover waste and identify where new practices may help reduce energy consumption. For example, significant amounts of energy spent on lighting can signal that upgrading to high-efficiency LEDs may free up resources.
Other problems may require renovations or rework of building systems but offer even greater savings. Custom ductwork can improve HVAC system performance, reducing the energy it needs to keep a building comfortable. This audit will also uncover any unexpectedly high levels of resource use that could indicate leaks, damage or other building issues.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) describes three levels of audits, with one being the least in-depth and three being the most thorough.
Beginning with preliminary energy audits before moving into those that thoroughly investigate building systems is a good strategy to identify low- or no-cost energy savings possibilities, like improvements to lighting, before searching for higher-cost options.
3. Use the Right Technology
Often, managers will centralize facility maintenance with some kind of digital tool, like a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform.
These tools will coordinate and record major facility upkeep, making it easier to track upcoming maintenance and budget accordingly. The right HVAC software can help improve the invoice and payment process as well. This can ensure managers won’t be caught off-guard by infrequent building maintenance expenses, like annual inspections or part replacements that only need to occur every few years.
These platforms will also organize the data collected from any facility sensors and smart technology — like monitors on building boilers or information from intelligent thermostats.
4. Automate Facility Processes
It’s also possible to drive down the long-term costs of facility management with new technology.
Building automation can be a powerful tool for building managers. The right system can automate several management tasks — like support ticketing, lighting and climate control.
Often, building automation is accomplished with networked monitoring solutions or modern platforms that use IoT technology to control systems remotely and automatically. Smart thermostats and lighting can ensure lights and climate control run only when needed. These systems can turn things on in areas of the facility where work is actively being done by using technology like motion sensors.
These investments can reduce regular facility costs, freeing up resources for additional cleaning, new filters and similar upgrades that improve facility efficiency and comfort.
Smart technology can also enable operational monitoring of essential systems, as well as a predictive maintenance approach that can provide significant savings over a preventive maintenance strategy.
Smart sensors on a facility boiler can remotely track temperature, fluid pressure and vibration. Unusual readings can be instantly reported, giving the facility maintenance team advance notice of potential problems. This can allow for faster response times when issues arise and less risk of unplanned downtime when systems need repairs.
Essential Considerations for Facility Maintenance
Effective building maintenance is essential for managers who want to keep their facilities in top operating conditions and performance at a high level. A maintenance plan, regular system audits, upkeep platforms and building automation can help companies improve building efficiency and run smoothly. Any problems can be dealt with quickly and effectively, or better yet, avoided altogether.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, a magazine exploring how innovations change our world. She has over 3 years experience writing articles in the industrial and tech sectors.