Worker fixing air conditioning on a roof

When basics matter most: Avoiding maintenance disasters for happier building users

When it comes to asset and maintenance management, there may not always be a flashy reward for having the basics in place, but on the day when you need those basics in place the most, you’ll definitely see consequences if your processes aren’t up to scratch.

Let’s take a look at what might happen if the right processes aren’t in place, by looking at a hypothetical, disastrous day. The scene:

‘The business we work for owns a 15-story building. Its offices are located on the 4th to 15th floors with tenants on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The ground floor consists of retail shops and a small food court. Imagine, it is a hot June morning when we arrive at our building. The weather report was for temperatures reaching over 100 degrees, and it was already over 80. We can’t wait to get inside and feel that cool air conditioning. It’s 7:58 am.’

What could go wrong?

Once inside the building, we immediately realized that the air conditioning had not come on earlier in the morning to cool the building to a working level. After some troubleshooting, we soon realized the fix would require the support of our FM service provider, which could not arrive for another 2 hours.

On top of that, the building’s chief engineer called in sick, and the assistant facilities manager had to take his children to school. To add even more chaos to the scenario, our facilities team runs into numerous other issues throughout the day, escalated by the broken air conditioning unit and the extreme heat, including:

  • Trash contamination due to failed pickup from the night before
  • An elevator that got stuck with passengers inside
  • New employee interviews scheduled in a space with no working air conditioning
  • An executive presentation to new investors scheduled in a space with no working air conditioning
  • A health inspector visit
  • Employees calling in sick and others leaving work with illness
  • Worried tenants concerned about the building getting closed

What’s your maintenance strategy and how is it implemented
and communicated?

With each new challenge, it became glaringly obvious to the facilities team that an effective maintenance plan needed to be in place, and it was crucial to have the building’s data readily available. For instance, when was the last time the air conditioning unit or the elevator was inspected? Was there a scheduled maintenance plan in place? Would sensor technology and automated alerts help prevent similar incidents from happening again?

With the chief engineer out sick, how could others get access to the data he was in charge of? With the temperature in the building out of control, who should be alerted? How were we going to pull data on the floors which were affected the most? What about communication with building tenants or employees that had already arrived at work? Effective communication between all stakeholders, as well as access to the building’s data, was necessary to minimize the ensuing chaos.

Luckily, with a collaborative and creative facilities team, a plan can be put in place to prevent the above disaster scenario. A good first step would be to approach each maintenance strategy challenge with three priorities in mind:

  1. Safety
  2. Effective communication
  3. Providing excellent tenant and client satisfaction

Whether you are self-delivering in-house facility services or have an outsourced facility service provider, you must always be prepared and have a plan. Access to building data is critical for implementing an effective maintenance management strategy and being able to communicate what that strategy is to all involved parties. Having the right tools, systems, and processes in place is key to making it through a ‘disaster experience.’

Derrek Clarke, Solution Marketeer at Planon.

Derrek Clarke

Senior Solution Marketer

Derrek has over 15 years of experience in the building industry. Currently, he is a senior solution marketer at Planon responsible for the positioning of solutions for the facility service provider market.

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