Operations & Maintenance

Are your buildings living their best life?

Operations management refers to the management of all maintenance activities in an organization. It helps maintenance teams keep asset records, and track and manage all maintenance tasks. It also helps maintain the database for all maintenance- related information, such as past maintenance drives, future maintenance schedules, major repairs, and the life expectancy of facility parts. Moreover, it assists organizations in looking into the true picture, or providing the real assessment of the condition of organizational assets, such as buildings, equipment, and machineries, among others. The top software in maintenance management is the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), which produces status reports and documents on maintenance activities, along with the performance analysis of equipment, assets, and properties.

It goes without saying that if regular maintenance is not carried out on any asset, be it a building, a boiler or delivery vehicle, it is going to start failing, costing more to operate and have a shorter serviceable life. Planned maintenance costs time and money but the returns and the cost avoidances outweigh the loss of valuable assets. However it is often the case that corporate budgets do not plan for 100% preventive maintenance activities, exposing some level of risk to the facilities and operations. Mitigating risks and balancing annual budgets is the art form that extends the useful life of buildings and equipment while keeping in-service costs optimal.

Current Technology

The above calculus has always been the case but the tools to execute have evolved tremendously over the past decades. Today facilities managers, building operators, fleet supervisors and controllerscan have aCMMSthat holds an accurate database of all assets and their respective maintenance schedules.Sophisticated service assignment matrices assemble a collection of work task types with tradespersons skill sets to efficiently and automatically assign work. With the proliferation of mobile devices and wireless Internet access in buildings for technicians, work tasks are now dispatched directly to the field, eliminating paper altogether and greatly increasing productivity.

Thirty-three percent of firms have a CMMS in place. Those companies still considering investing in this technology are going to be further motivated to do so if the implementation has near-term tangible savings. Switching from a paper and spreadsheet-based operation to an integrated system with mobile access can ramp up fairly quickly and be welcomed by employees. Most people are familiar with smart phones and tablets nowadays and are not intimidated or confused as may they have been a few years earlier. The combination of data integrity, task assignment automation and wireless mobility is a productivity trifecta.

Opportunities and Benefits

  • Improved occupant safety and workplace experience
  • Clear maintenance backlogs
  • Use maintenance to defer capital expenditures
  • Reduce risk of interruptions to the business operations
  • Extend asset lifetime

Emerging Technologies

The Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm is turning managed buildings into Smart Buildings with a variety of sensors and fault detection alarms deployed throughout the facilities. Occupancy sensors can detect if a space is unoccupied and thus turn off lighting and reduce HVAC to that space, until it senses an occupant. This goes beyond a ‘motion detector light’ that typically control restrooms, rather these devices are connected to the CMMS, creating data points for analysis. How often is this space being used? Do we need it or can the maintenance routine be reduced?

Fault detection alarms have been around for a while on modern building controls systems but they have been typically on-device meters that are read periodically, and even may keep a database of readings, however modern IoT alarms are “in the cloud”. These devices are ‘talking’ to each other and creating a wholistic health profile of all the building’s systems. With the introduction of nascent Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, action can be taken automatically when the AI determines that energy consumption or other factors are not nominal.

The Research is In

According to Verdantix Research in 2019, thirty percent of firms plan to invest in Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD) technologies. Over a quarter of firms are evaluating IoT for the continuous commissioning of building assets. Thirty-two percent of facilities executives expressed a desire to invest in CMMS software by extending an existing deployment or investing for the first time. The declining cost of IoT technologies are opening up new possibilities in facilities and asset management