Maintenance problems are not always clear and never easy. It explains the reason FM mature countries are always researching ways to improve the mechanism of maintenance. However, for less FM mature countries, it is still generally a struggle to sustain an acceptable level of maintenance despite huge expenditure on infrastructure.
In today’s global economic climate, facilities managers have to constantly justify their spending as senior management attempts to cut cost.
The starting point to develop any plan of action for maintenance that will be fit for purpose is to understand the need for maintenance. It is, therefore, crucial for FM practitioners to be aware of the basic elements of an infrastructure or facility and its components, and how they behave individually and collectively with other materials to cause specific maintenance problems to occur.
Having understood the behaviour and properties of materials, the next step is to evaluate the extent of any deterioration and determine whether to abandon, replace or repair the particular material in question.
Maintenance is required for many reasons. One reason is to extend the life of the facility and its support system. Another reason is to ensure the facility and its users are free from health and safety issues likely to result in damage or injury.
Therefore, maintenance is a necessary aspect in the day-to-day life of a building or infrastructure and there are essentially three stages:
1) Planning and design stage:
This stage provides an opportunity to save a lot of money by planning and designing the building or infrastructure to be maintenance efficient. Considerations relative to the scope of maintenance should always to be present in the design process. The yearly cost associated with maintenance of facilities due to improper design and planning is phenomenal.
2) Construction stage:
The meticulous process and additional expenditure of designing maintenance efficient buildings or infrastructure are of no value if the materials and equipment are not assembled and installed properly. For this reason, the construction stage must be performed with the highest quality of workmanship to create a facility requiring the minimum level of maintenance.
Once construction begins, every pipe line, valve, floor tile and electrical outlet should continually be observed as construction progresses so as to ensure proper location and the highest quality of material. Best quality control and inspection process should be implemented to monitor construction progress.
3) Maintenance stage:
This is the maintenance of the built environment itself. This covers every aspect of the building or infrastructure including items that are, for instance, auxiliary to the building such as sidewalks and landscaping, the structural elements supporting the building and other equipment which allow the building to be functional.
It is common practice to implement only the maintenance stage, making FM unnecessarily expensive. Incorporating the planning and design, and construction stages will surely make a difference to the life of the facility.
My belief is that the maintenance culture in our country will change for the better as all stakeholders in the FM sector strive to make it happen.