April 12, 2018

The Romance of Maintenance

“The romance of maintenance is that it has none.  Its joys are quiet ones.  There is a certain high calling in the steady tending to a ship, a garden or a building.  One is participating physically in a deep long life.” – From the book “How Buildings Learn” by Stewart Brand

FAQ - 8 frequently asked questions about mobile solutions and automation for improved maintenance operations

Many organizations are looking to invest in technology to improve their maintenance operations. Top reasons include reducing operational costs, reducing risk, improving record keeping, and improving maintenance scheduling.

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I have always been intrigued by the work required for the long-term maintenance of buildings. One of the reasons I joined Planon is that the company began with deep roots in this critical area of facility management and have continued to create deep functional applications for it.  For those of us in what I will call “Maintenance Technology,” it all began as Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) was integrated with Space and Real Estate in the Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) era. Then it evolved into one of the star players within the enterprise Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) implementations for medium and large organizations. 

Making maintenance “sexy”

Maintenance became even more relevant when the winds of the Nexus of Forces (mobility, cloud computing, social media and big data/analytics) ruffled complacent technology companies into creating new applications. Now we have advanced mobile capabilities in the field - like Planon’s most recent mobile field services app, which helps to avoid many common issues in your maintenance operations. In addition, possibilities arise to get work orders through social media apps like WhatsApp or to integrate with advanced analytics, like Tableau. Maintenance workers have now taken on the mantle of data scientists, particularly when they are getting real time data from their Internet of Things (IoT) devices to make better decisions. This new role has been dubbed the “sexiest job of the 21st c.” according to Tom Davenport, a well-known analytics and business process innovation author. I do not think that “sexy” and “maintenance” have ever appeared before in the same paragraph, which to me is quite romantic.

Three intellectual constructs around maintenance

I have gained even more respect for maintenance through research I have been conducting on how we in the facility management and real estate industries prepare for the 4th industrial revolution. I have found three exciting new categories of maintenance and theoretical constructs that I never knew existed that I would like to share:

1. Maintenance Architecture
(Hilary Sample) is a classification that was created to enlighten both architects and urban planners on the importance of understanding the maintenance of a building in the entire life-cycle, including the design process, and not just as an afterthought when the structure has been completed. This becomes more important as we consider the concept of ‘buildings as nodes’ (Jeremy Rifkin), which view them as hubs that are part of an ecosystem of alternative energy production in a city. Critical maintenance and building data is imperative to the decisions we make on which buildings we keep and invest in when it comes to these new forms of energy, and new types of functionality to create for the interiors. The Planon Mobile Field Services solution offers the possibility to store detailed maintenance data in one system as a base for future decisions. 

2. Maintenance Environments
(David Gissen) is a location-based category of maintenance architecture that describes a particular social, political, economic, and historical relationship with buildings of a particular era in a specific urban environment. Gissen has created a fascinating thesis on how the maintenance environments in the 60’s and 70’s skyscrapers in New York City were a part of a particular climate of resisting and reworking the urban built environment.

3. Maintenance Art
is embodied in the work of Mierle Laderman Ukelies who was the artist in residence of the NYC Department of Sanitation for 39 years. During that time, she created many art works and performances focused on the relationships between the public, maintenance workers, and art institutions’ conservators and artists. 

The title and opening quote for this blog came from a chapter header from one of my favorite books, How Buildings Learn, which was written by the Stewart Brand, author of the Whole Earth Catalog and futurist. 

When it comes to maintenance, we ARE “participating physically in a deep, long life” of the built environment. The three, new intellectual constructs that I explored in this blog, show how that our “participation” is evolving into something more. And watching, learning, and participating in all the new ideas and technologies (especially those making the maintenance data scientist role “sexy”) that enable our maintenance strategies to evolve and improve is pretty romantic to me.

Is improving your maintenance operations also one of your top priorities for 2018? Then I would definitely recommend to sign up for our live webinar

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