Most facilities managers spend too much time managing equipment, wasting valuable time trouble shooting. This is one of worrying discoveries noticed in my personal observation of many facilities.
Of course, we all know managing equipment is a de-facto part of a facilities manager’s job, but even so, should equipment-related issues really consume this much management resource?
A major aspect to the facilities manager’s responsibilities is ensuring equipment are delivered effectively and efficiently, with smart solutions in place to reduce the financial and management burden of facilities management. Yet productivity, service, and commercial issues continue to dog facilities management.
Delivering complex portfolio of services relies upon the availability of vast assortments of equipment from ladders to leaf blowers and scissors lifts to floor scrubbers.
Ensuring timely access to the most appropriate tools and equipment, making sure they are properly maintained, and used in accordance with safety guidelines are key responsibilities for facility management providers.
A survey among facilities managers was undertaken in a bid to understand the current range of pressure of work, and trends in this current economic climate. The survey provided an invaluable insight into the practical experiences of people on ground, which is essential for people like us who wish to be successful in adding value and introducing useful service innovation. The findings revealed a troubled picture of the relationship between the facilities managers and the equipment they use. This relationship leads to escalating issues of finance, logistics, safety and maintenance that require constant and ever more skilful juggling.
Of major concern is how the economic environment is impacting on capital decision for new equipment versus squeezing value from existing ones. According to the survey, most admit their equipment is not maintained to industry standards or internationally acceptable or recognised level.
A large number admit to using equipment that should have been retired or ageing thereby losing productivity as a result. Continued use of such equipment is motivated by pressure to avoid capital outlay and damage bottom line.
Another major problem is that despite the colossal time drain involved in managing their equipment, some facility managers are simply uncomfortable outsourcing to a support services partner. The reason cited was the potential loss of security and ownership. A small number felt that they had specialist equipment needs that an outsourced partner could not satisfy. Others didn’t know that outsourcing was an option.
To add value to equipment management, there are three types of maintenance namely, preventive maintenance where equipment is maintained before break down occurs, corrective maintenance where equipment is repaired after breakdown (This is often more expensive because a worn equipment can damage other parts and cause more damage) and the reliability centered maintenance – a process that ensures assets continue to be fit for purpose in its current operating context.
Proper training and expertise are required to ensure that facilities managers know when and how these types of maintenance are applied. Preventive maintenance is clearly the area of serious concern as equipment are not regularly maintained as required.
In developed countries, there are standards to achieve, of which failing may lead to prosecution for criminal negligence or fines for breach.
Some of the benefits of equipment management include asset performance to its optimal level, cost control which is balancing maintenance cost against replacement cost, and reduced operational risk which is ensuring maintenance practices meet corporate and regulatory requirements including health and safety.
The most desirable approach to prudent equipment management will be for facilities managers to engage with leading equipment providers to develop new strategies in support of corporate objectives. Getting equipment providers to understand their needs will allow for investment in the right products and develop services that drive up productivity, so that much of the burden can be taken over from the facilities manager.