With so many areas of concentration involved in to ensure the smooth running of facilities, efforts need to be focused on avoiding disruption to clients and building users wherever possible.
PFM received a fascinating variety of responses when asking experts for the opinion on how to avoid this, including the thoughts of Calbarrie Compliance Services commercial director Tim Beardsmore, who said the overarching relationship between client, FM and service provider is the key to avoiding disruption to services. “FMs should look to work with contractors who can provide dynamic scheduling and full services out-of-hours, and a site survey will identify scheduling specifics where clients require evening or weekend working. “Some clients such as schools and colleges prefer testing during holiday periods and we’ve found that electrical safety testing outside of term-time is at least 20% more productive,” he says. Better understanding of the client’s requirements will enable dynamic scheduling, with options including the holding of a ‘compliance week’ when all statutory compliance visits take place. This focuses attention on the statutory compliance requirements enabling the natural synergies to be maximised between the complementary services. Critical systems can be tested at the same time whilst the power is off.
Everyone is prepared for that period and will benefit from the increased efficiencies that are experienced with combining compliance visits. On-site time of test remedial work will further reduce the need for multiple engineer visits. Advanced technology with application programme interfaces enables all parties to access management information quickly so that programme variances can be responded to before they escalate, thus avoiding minor faults becoming costly complex problems. “With careful planning and collaboration between service provider, FM and site representatives any disruption in service during maintenance programmes should be avoided whilst achieving common objectives to improve performance, increase control and reduce costs,” says Mr Beardsmore. Hamworthy Heating service engineer Dave Ward says: “When it comes to maintaining the components of a heating system, it is a matter of looking at boilers, pumps, water heaters, pressurisation units, pressure vessels and pipework to see the state they are in.”
Signs of leakage are an early warning sign for future problems, he continues. Listening for changes in the sounds of pumps, gas valves, fans or burner combustion can give clues to issues in the system. Catching them early can make a real difference to the outcome of problems. It helps to regularly check the system, every three-to-six months. Even new boilers can break down after just a few months of operation if, for example, the water quality affects the components inside the heating equipment (scale build-up in hard water areas, corrosion, sludge, etc). This is especially a problem when they have been installed on old heating systems without a system cleanse/water treatment and no form of hydraulic separation fitted between the old and new circuits. “With 12-monthly checks, problems can be stored up and a system failure can occur which results in downtime of the plant when you need it most. “Planned preventative maintenance can seem ‘pointless’ at times when nothing is wrong, but nips small problems in the bud saving time and money all round,” says Mr Ward. Horbury Property Services general manager Richard Sutton agrees that FM’s can use quieter periods of occupancy to carry out essential compliance and maintenance works. Early morning/later evening can be a quieter period when alarm systems and emergency lighting systems can be tested. “Major PPM to heating and cooling systems should be planned seasonally so any downtime will be less noticeable,” he continues.
“Holiday periods are useful for larger PPM activities, such as fixed wire testing and intrusive fire compartmentation inspections, where whole buildings tend to shut down for a few days or weeks and combined with weekends can present an opportunity for good levels of unrestricted free access. Just make sure you involve the IT team!”
Some activities need to be carried out when occupants are present, so FM’s should build these activities into the regular schedule of how the building operates. Occupiers soon relate to routine and the regular visits will become less disruptive. “PAT testing is often carried out in unoccupied buildings, but has a higher appliance capture rate if occupiers are involved as part of the process and can allow access to equipment stored in cupboards and desks. “When disruption is unavoidable FM’s should always have a clear communication plan with the occupiers. The element of surprise is not a recognised technique in PPM planning,” says Mr Sutton. Brakel Airvent UK business development and marketing manager Bob Gate says compliance officers, FMs and building owners all have a job to do: “They have to ensure the buildings for which they’re responsible – and the people inside them – are fire-safe, and that means adhering to legislative requirements including the RRO – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.” In some instances, this can be a case of checking a fire risk assessment is up to date or that an alarm system is still operational, but the picture gets more complicated when considering the role of smoke control systems or fire and smoke dampers in keeping structures safe. Ideally, all fire safety systems will be kept in full working order, with proper records and evidence of compliance. “However, what we frequently see in reality is situations where an FM doesn’t have proper records of exactly where their dampers are in the building, making maintenance tricky. “Likewise we find that the maintenance contractor may not understand the intricacies of a smoke control system and how each element relies on the next in order to properly work when called upon,” Mr Gate continues. In these instances, the real risk is that of a surprising bill – a poorly or irregularly maintained system, with low-quality records and no proof of compliance, will require updating at some point which will often incur expense. “Far better to manage the costs, reduce the risk and ensure compliance with regular testing and routine maintenance of all fire safety systems,” Mr Gate advises. Bellrock managing director Mike Smart says it has become commonplace to use the manufacturers recommended maintenance parameters to inform a PPM schedule, taking in to consideration specifics such as climate and loading. “Although effective, PPMs are not a panacea or indeed as efficient as they could be. Technology extends the possibilities to improve up-time performance and avoid service disruptions. “The shift change has come not just with more reliable products, but with the advancements in multi-sensor technology. Easily retrofitted and interconnected, a condition-based approach to maintenance is more easily adopted,” Mr Smart continues.
Automated messages are sent when an asset is failing outside its set parameters. Known as condition-based maintenance (CBM), maintenance requests are initiated when deterioration in machine condition occurs. “The component or equipment is usually replaced or repaired as soon as the monitoring level value exceeds the normal,” he says. CBM combines the advantages of other strategies, with some unique benefits: Better planning of repairs is possible, reducing impact on the organisation’s core function; Inconvenient breakdowns and expensive consequential damage are avoided; The failure rate is reduced, improving plant or equipment availability; A reduction in the spares inventory; Unnecessary work is avoided, keeping the repair team small and time spent on maintenance to a minimum. “CBM enables the true lifecycle costs to be understood, adding the data needed to develop accurate investment decisions,” Mr Smart concludes. Julius Rutherfoord & Co operations director, Chris Parkes states that the old adage “Prevention is better than cure” not only applies to the wellbeing of people – but is equally applicable to maintaining buildings and everyone within them. “FMs working tirelessly to ensure their working environment is fit for purpose need to be secure in the knowledge that the service providers they outsource to will provide exceptional standards. “The best service providers will provide regular training for their operatives, not just at induction but as an ongoing process,” he continues.
This ensures staff are up-to-date with the latest best practice and product innovation and use the right equipment and techniques. Operatives should also be empowered to report potential hazards – the client may not be aware there is an issue and will welcome help in reducing accidents. Very few elements of business activity remain static in the modern commercial environment, so any PPM programme should be adaptable and pre-emptive to reflect this. No two scenarios are ever the same, so a ‘one size fits all’ approach will be of limited value. “When the unforeseen happens, the service provider needs to be flexible and responsive. As technology advances, service providers should be moving towards a more systems’ based approach to ensure the safe delivery of services provided,” says Mr Parkes. The priority for most FMs at this time of year will be to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency, says HSS Hire Group marketing and ecommerce director Dave Raywood. Having the right equipment available on demand minimises down time and ensures productivity is maximised. “When it comes to PPM, knowing the kit needed is always there means that FMs can optimise maintenance schedule planning to best meet business needs, without having to factor in resource availability,” he says. Owning enough equipment to guarantee its availability at peak times comes at a cost. In addition to purchase and depreciation costs, the equipment needs its own planned and condition-based maintenance programme. Breakdowns, worn out or faulty kit and expired certifications can all send productivity into a downward spiral very quickly. “The simple solution is to rent rather than buy equipment. By renting, FMs can be confident their equipment complies with regulations, is properly tested, certified and correctly maintained. “This means less time spent on asset management, greater choice of kit and higher productivity. And of course equipment is only paid for while it is actually in use,” says Mr Raywood. De-Ice founder and director Vicky Lopez says that with warnings of some harsh weather conditions ahead, we all know that ice, snow and cold temperatures have the ability to disrupt services in all areas. She therefore provides tips on how to manage the tumbling temperatures ahead, and ensure a continued smooth service: Be prepared, and make a disaster recovery plan; This should be designed to see you through the entire winter – leaving no stones unturned; Keep an eye on temperatures and the forecast, by keeping up to speed with the news; Work with the maintenance partner you can rely on, which is 100% focused on helping to minimise disruption in service; Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast, or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below, freezing, before the frost settles, allowing the salt time to dissolve into the moisture; Communicate with customers and staff. Ensuring their safety and wellbeing remains paramount at all times. If access is unsafe, they need to be forewarned and provided options for remote working.
“Keeping out of the headlines, and keeping Britain moving during winter 2017-18 will rely on effective planning and execution,” says Ms Lopez.
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