When we talk about cost savings in asset management and maintenance, what does that really mean? Some providers will say it’s the bottom-line numbers in a proposal, while others might suggest it’s about fixed-cost programs, which offer financial predictability for budgeting.
Neither answer is necessarily incorrect, but it’s also important to acknowledge the impact an onsite facilities team has in managing day-to-day costs – especially when it comes to maintenance and asset upkeep.
An experienced team will know how to predict and control these costs. This takes experience, good instincts, and the confidence to talk with education clients about the long-term savings of some short-term expenses. Most of all, it requires a well-thought-out plan that accounts for your facilities program’s unique goals and circumstances.
From boilers to leaf blowers, over time your facilities team will maintain, repair, or replace every piece of your building’s equipment. The question is how often and under what circumstances you want those repairs done.
Four kinds of asset maintenance
You may see different terms or slightly different approaches to maintenance programs, but generally speaking, education clients can expect to see four kinds of asset maintenance in their facilities programs: Preventive, planned, responsive, and emergency. Each has its own pros and cons, and we discuss each one briefly below.
Preventive maintenance refers to regularly-scheduled tasks that keeps your building’s equipment in good working order. This is done before equipment is in immediate need of repair and helps prevent more expensive repairs over time.
Preventive programs is are carefully designed to manage long-term costs. Through data-driven decisions, your facilities provider will schedule routine check-ups that can help avoid costly downtime and actually extend the life of your school’s valuable equipment.
Many asset managers in education use a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) for asset management and renewal. With a CMMS contributing to the preventive maintenance process, your facilities team can use data to predict possible service issues.
Remember, though, that it’s more than just running numbers through a software program. It takes a highly experienced team to monitor and analyze data effectively, then make the right choices based on patterns of use, age of equipment, and past repairs for each asset.
The right facilities management team will have a roster of qualified specialists to work with, either on staff or as reliable subcontractors. This means your boiler inspection won’t be delayed while your provider looks for available technicians.
Pros of preventive maintenance
As educational institutions at every level face budgetary constraints, preventive maintenance is one of the best things you can do to avoid unexpected expenses. Scheduled inspections and maintenance of your equipment can save money by reducing unplanned, costly emergency repairs.
One of our primary commitments to our team members is that “everyone goes home healthy and safe.” One way we reduce workplace accidents is by ensuring all equipment is functioning safely and properly. Preventive maintenance, of course, is a key element in a safer work environment.
In a sense, preventive programs let your facilities team see into the future. Regular check-ups help predict how well, and for how long, each piece of equipment will run. More insight equals fewer breakdowns, so you’re allowing your facilities provider to work more efficiently, keeping team members on task and on schedule.
Perceived cons of preventive maintenance
The only perceived downside may be an upfront program price. Still, it’s much preferred to the alternative of cutting corners and hoping costs stay down, which inevitably will not be the case.
Here’s where experience counts: the right facilities provider will be able to explain in detail what your preventive maintenance program will look like, and they’ll be transparent about initial cost versus savings over time. They’ll also be able to build out a schedule that doesn’t over- or under-service your building’s assets.
Corrective maintenance is a larger category encompassing planned, responsive, and emergency maintenance. These repairs are performed as needed, rather than on a set monthly or annual schedule. The goals for all of them, however, are the same: reduce downtime, minimize expenses, and improve efficiency.
Like preventive maintenance, planned maintenance is done before problems arise. But it’s different from preventive maintenance in that it includes tasks with a cycle longer than one year. This can include painting buildings, flood coating of roofs, and seal coating of parking lots, for example.
Pros of planned maintenance
Planned maintenance is a must for any education client looking for cost savings. An experienced provider will know when these longer-term activities typically need to be performed and can work them into the budget accordingly.
You want a comfortable educational environment for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and the community. A planned maintenance program contributes to their comfort by scheduling projects long in advance.
Replacing carpet in an administrative building is a good example. Your facilities team will be able to line up supplies, equipment, and any specialized workers to get the old carpet replaced as quickly as possible. At the same time, administrators can give input on timing, so important events like board meetings or open houses can go on as scheduled.
As with preventive tasks, planned maintenance lets your facilities team do its best work, operating more efficiently and saving time.
Perceived cons of planned maintenance
You might see higher proposal prices for a maintenance program that includes planned maintenance. It’s not really a con, however, because that means the provider is grounded in reality: all equipment and assets need maintenance at least occasionally.
This is one more reason low-price programs often end up being higher cost in the long run. If a provider conveniently overlooks a few planned maintenance activities, they might win your contract based on price – but they’ll inevitably come back to you later for additional funds when those “unexpected” projects pop up.
Responsive maintenance is non-emergency corrective work done as problems arise. It can range from basic, unplanned work that corrects nuisances – a flickering fluorescent light, for example – to non-emergency tasks involving moderate to major repairs that require skilled technicians.
This is the most high-profile kind of maintenance in educational facilities, since issues are often reported by staff or students. Your facilities team should be able to respond quickly, using effective job-routing and staffing to get the job done.
Pros of responsive maintenance
Can be low-cost
Some responsive maintenance will always be necessary, and you should have a well-trained facilities team in place to handle it. However, because responsive work is done only when needed, a strong preventive program (and maybe a little luck) can keep responsive maintenance costs to a minimum.
Can also be expensive
This is more common when a robust preventive plan is not in place. If equipment is allowed to run to failure, rather than having regular check-ups, repairs can be more costly, sometimes even requiring assets to be replaced altogether.
Not as predictable
As we mentioned above, eventually all equipment need repair or replacement. But it won’t break down on a set schedule, and unexpected repairs can disrupt your facilities team’s regular workflow.
The best teams, however, can predict the lifespan of most assets and prepare for breakdowns by having the right replacement parts or technicians on hand when the time comes.
The only pros in emergency maintenance should be the ones on your facilities team. A well-managed program from an experienced provider will make emergency repairs far less common and far less expensive.
Emergency maintenance is, by definition, urgent and unplanned – which makes it costly in terms of dollars spent, the comfort of your staff and students, and the time diverted from your core mission of education.
The goal for administrators is to work with a facilities provider that can reduce the need for emergency repairs through preventive, planned, and responsive maintenance.
Work with the right facilities management team
Want to know more about how HES helps education clients save time and money on maintenance? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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