Mastering the Art of Facilities Maintenance

managing time and resources effectively

Preventive Maintenance Database

Preventive maintenance is work that is done to equipment and machinery on a regular, recurring basis. A common example would be getting the oil changed in your car. In order to keep most  machines working properly, companies and people create programs based on the manufacturers recommendations for the specific tasks, checks, and adjustments necessary. For a given facility or company, all of the preventive maintenance tasks, scheduling, and tracking is managed through a preventive maintenance program. Some companies use photocopied task sheets, others use spreadsheet programs, and still others use a computer-based program.

I have worked with several preventive maintenance database projects, several commercial products for preventive maintenance, and have even used the old manual programs- but I think that there is much room for improvement in how PM is performed, managed, and tracked.

First, I think a PM database should be easy to load. The supervisor or technician who initially sets up the database should not have to wade through lines and lines of similar tasks in order to set up a PM for a specific machine or piece of equiment. I think that there should be a se of generic preventive maintenance programs pre-loaded, and then the user should be able to add a few custom tasks as needed.

Next, I think the person performing the PM should be able to enter the data into the tracking system live, instead of writing on a printout. I also think that the person performing the PM should be able to make adjustments to the program on the fly. If the system says “change belts” and the unit has been converted to a direct drive system, then the person performing the PM should be able to remove “change belts” from the program.

Finally, system reporting should done through a console, showing tasks completed, tasks modified, tasks pending with percentages. The console should be configurable for administrators, supervisors, and maintenance techs, and you should be able to drill down and view more specific data as needed. PMs should be able to be sorted by category- like location, machine type, person performing the PM, etc.

A good preventive maintenance program supports the equipment and the people who service this equipment- but for all of the PM programs I have seen, the priority seems to be reversed. I think that the people performing the PM end up supporting the people who manage the program, and it becomes more about the tracking and the administration than it is about the actual work that needs to be done. It seems to me that a simple, elegant program that is easy to use and administer would capture the market.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Conducting a Building Walkthrough

Community Managers, Property Managers and HOA Representatives have a lot on their plate when it comes to the general maintenance and upkeep of a commercial or residential property. One of the ways you can keep up with what’s going on in your property is to conduct regular walkthroughs of your facility. A good walkthrough gives you a fresh perspective to recognize things like: cosmetic and general appearance issues, safety violations, lighting, and mechanical systems. It is also a very good way to build a structure and timeframe around ongoing projects and to-do lists.

When considering cosmetic and general appearance issues, you want to think about how the property might have looked when it was first built. Was that wallpaper peeling in that corner? Was the fabric on that chair in the lobby frayed on the arms like it is now? Was that back door scuffed up from the delivery guy like it is now? These are all obvious examples, but a good walkthrough helps you to see some of the smaller things because it’s the details that customers, unit owners and future prospects notice when they first visit your building.

Safety is a big part of facilities maintenance these days, and we all want to be compliant with local, state, and federal laws concerning public safety. However, even without a lot of training there are actions you can take to keep your building compliant. Some active measures will be to make sure that: ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) entrances and doors are working and in proper order, hallways are free from debris and storage, fire exits are well marked and signs are lit. You also want to know how your emergency systems work, and know what your emergency plan is. No one can know all of the codes and regulations, but common sense can many times keep your building safe.

Lighting plays a key part in many areas of facility operation, including cosmetics and general appearance, safety, as well as energy efficiency. Are all the areas of your building well lit? Do all the buttons on your elevator light up when you push them? Do you have equipment in place to save energy by automatically turning lights off when rooms are not in use? You might want to visit your site in the evening to see if entrances are well lit, or if trees or shrubs obscure lighting.

The mechanical systems in your building deserve attention from your walkthrough as well. Even though you might not be an expert plumber, electrician, or tradesperson, there are still things that you can train yourself to look for. Do you have a written maintenance program? Are mechanical rooms clean and well lit? Are utility closets clean, well lit and secure? What is the difference between your summer operations and winter operations (outside hose bibs, fountain pumps, etc.)? Knowing a little bit about how your building’s mechanical systems work will help circumvent problems in the future.

Finally, you want to have a format for your building walkthrough that provides: the date of the walkthrough, personnel present on the walkthrough, and a detailed list of action items that need to be addressed. You will want to record who is responsible to see that the particular item is addressed, and what your deadline is for determining when the action item will be addressed. Ongoing projects can be updated as you do the walk, and to-do lists should be updated and followed-up frequently. Regular walkthroughs will keep you updated and knowledgeable about the state of your building systems.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | facilities maintenance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment