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Overcoming Facility Maintenance Challenges With Technology

Overcoming Facility Maintenance Challenges With Technology

The world of facility maintenance systems has been transformed over the last couple of years, particularly through rapidly growing digitalization. However, many companies still rely on manual systems. Monitoring facilities using pen-and-paper solutions—or their slightly upgraded counterpart, the spreadsheet—is still a common approach to taking care of facility needs and requirements.

There is a substantial gap between facility maintenance requirements and the level of services companies can provide. However, innovations in technology can help make facility maintenance more effective and efficient.

Without a forward-looking approach, many companies are unaware of the potential of the technical branch of the industry. Lacking the proper tools capable of gathering and organizing data, facility managers will need to put in a huge effort for only a fraction of the success.

Let’s dive into each of the traditional facility maintenance challenges and see if technology can offer a solution.

 Controlling facility conditions

Adaptability can make or break the success of a company. As the demands of a business grow, facilities need to keep up. Scaling operations can pose a challenge in maintaining control over an entire enterprise.

Monitoring the conditions of a dedicated space might be a straightforward task for a small-sized operation. Maintaining healthy ventilation levels, along with efficient energy consumption, is not an issue. However, the same level of service becomes exponentially more challenging with multiple facilities, varying standards, and a continued focus on improving efficiency.

When faced with such challenges, using the Cloud and IoT devices opens opportunities for improvement. By installing sensors that can communicate over a network, maintenance staff can easily activate devices like HVAC systems through automation. Instead of running equipment throughout the day, companies can meet facility requirements by allocating resources as needed.

The same technology can be applied to safety and for developing (or maintaining) optimal working conditions. In response to a heightened focus on air quality, facilities can install devices that measure particulate matter and volatile compounds. This gives facility managers greater visibility into the conditions inside their buildings and helps them make smarter maintenance decisions.

Switching from a reactive to a proactive approach

Reactive maintenance is still, unfortunately, one of the more popular options for facility maintenance. This method addresses issues as they rear their ugly head, with little to no effort invested into proactive measures.

While this approach can work for noncritical areas and equipment, it can be devastating when applied to potentially hazardous zones or locations with a high business impact. Maintenance software that provides advanced analytics and granular maintenance history data enables maintenance teams to act before an issue arises.

For example, the effects of seasonal weather trends provide valuable data in planning maintenance procedures. Weather effects can damage building materials or flooring covers, while season changes increase the risk of certain pests. Having a baseline for historical reactive solutions, and software that tracks these trends, helps managers develop a more strategic approach.

Avoiding high maintenance costs

Another facility maintenance challenge is the significant cost associated with servicing the whole building.

With a reactive approach mentioned above, the problem with maintenance costs is bound to worsen with time. Extensive property damage or resulting losses in operations become more apparent the longer a concern remains unsolved.

Again, the solution to the problem is having better data. By that, we mean having more data points, which are as accurate and up to date as they can be.

With better data, you can create more effective plans. For instance, if there’s an overstaffing problem in the building, you can pull up a few reports to identify what is causing the issue and make adjustments — such as changing maintenance schedules or segmenting the employees into different sections, based on their roles and availability. This way, the department becomes easier to handle and simpler to maintain.

Similarly, a maintenance team (or their maintenance software solution) can use data to order inventory before the building completely runs out of supplies. Implementing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) enables an end-to-end view of a facility’s maintenance resources, inventory included. With this information, teams can keep operations running more efficiently, and avoid unnecessary charges for rush orders.

Following maintenance standards

Just like legacy systems, modern solutions and processes must adhere to guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Companies with OSHA violations must pay penalties—depending on the severity of the violation. Those with traditional systems tend to have more difficulty achieving and maintaining high compliance with OSHA standards.

Most companies have project management standards and processes in place, which are in line with the traditional way of doing maintenance. While companies document these standards and processes, they still often find it challenging to meet their predefined standards using traditional systems.

Modern equipment maintenance systems, with their increased capability for interaction and connectivity, are a more suitable alternative. These dynamic systems are programmed to follow maintenance standards while they work to ensure that the component responsible for the problem is properly fixed. For instance, many warehouses use automation solutions to eliminate repetitive processes and uniformly maintain the predetermined standards.

Prioritizing tasks

Traditional facility maintenance suffers from task prioritization problems. Since reactive maintenance teams handle problems as they occur, it can be challenging to find a proper sequence for addressing the issues. In an ideal situation, you get one problem at a time; however, facility maintenance never works like that.

Lack of task prioritization can lead to performance and production issues, and incur considerable expenses to your business and facility due to urgency. The worst-case scenario for any facility is to pour out resources out of necessity when more efficient planning would have resulted in higher quality and efficiency with fewer resources used.

To streamline the process of task prioritization, opt for modem maintenance technology like a CMMS, Computer-Aided Facility Management software (CAFM), or even Enterprise Asset Management software (EAM)—the choice, of course, depends on your facility’s needs.

Along with maintenance task prioritization, all three mentioned technologies will also help you with:

  • inventory management
  • performance management
  • vendor management
  •  report creation.

Considering the bottom line

Now that you understand the challenges with traditional facility maintenance systems, don’t discount the benefits that technology-powered solutions could bring to your facility in the foreseeable future.

Consider a CMMS as one of your best options for improved facility and equipment maintenance. Such applications can incorporate massive amounts of data for complete control over an entire facility, saving you time, money, and hassles in the long term.

           
Posted On January 30, 2023

Eric Whitley

Director of Smart Manufacturing, L2L

For over 30 years, Eric Whitley has been a noteworthy leader in the manufacturing space.

After an extensive career as a reliability and business improvement consultant, Whitley joined L2L, where he currently serves as the director of smart manufacturing. His role in this position is to help clients learn and implement L2L’s pragmatic and simple approach to corporate digital transformation.

 

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