Downtime – minor maintenance efficiencies hurting bottom lines

Ineffective maintenance planning and programs lead to long term hurt.

Downtime – minor maintenance efficiencies hurting bottom lines.

Within the facility services industry, we are all too familiar with the grounds for breakdowns, downtime, and bottom-line efficiency. Three key indicators often are the basis of any KPIs. These metrics determine “best practice”, operational efficiency, and adequate asset life cycle management. The idea of effective maintenance planning and programming extends beyond merely statutory planned preventative maintenance of hard facilities infrastructure and assets, but to the often-overlooked minor fixtures, furniture, and equipment.

Leaky Pipe

The idea of effective maintenance planning and programming extends beyond merely statutory planned preventative maintenance of hard facilities infrastructure and assets, but to the often-overlooked minor fixtures, furniture, and equipment.

These overlooked items are often placed into the “run to fail” box. A box that is neither critical nor cost-effective to provide regular attention/servicing too because the consideration is that it is cheaper to replace than maintain. This may be the case in certain circumstances, however, when considering volume, downtime, cost of labour (ever-increasing), and turnover time, there is a question to be asked as to whether a different approach may offer better results. The core question here is which is better in the long term – proactive or reactive?

These minor issues can often snowball beyond a minor inconvenience to major disruption and result in significant downtime. Overlooking a loose door handle, minor window crack, or a leaky faucet can lead to a major egress issue, OHS hazard, and/or major breakdown affecting facilities’ usability and utility. This in turn leads to major downtime of usable facilities and/or assets.

Planned preventative maintenance establishes scheduled servicing to ensure the minimum standards are maintained and are primarily associated with major infrastructure assets such as Mechanical, Electrical, Hydraulic, and Fire. These assets are imperative to the safe operation of any facility. However, it is often the smaller assets, such as fixtures, furniture, and equipment if left to degrade, can accumulate into significant bottom-line costs to maintain, or replace.

Considering the budgetary and operational constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many facility managers and operators have sought or been directed to alleviate bottom-line crunch through downsizing teams, cutting back on minor maintenance, decommissioning assets, and more. These measures consider the changing dynamic of how facilities have, are, and will be used as the facilities sector emerges out of this period of significant upheaval. To compound these facility sector difficulties imposed by the pandemic, new regulations have come into effect creating a new statutory agenda and landscape for facility managers and operators to navigate.

With the above taken into consideration, the question emerges as to how these maintenance issues will be addressed, what priorities are established, and how can servicing be adjusted to meet the new challenges. There is an expected shift in the way facilities are being used, as evidenced through the numerous changes to commercial tenancies, retail outlays and the foot traffic experienced by both. This in turn leads to the notion of succinct and cost-effective servicing, to meet the challenge of downtime, but furthermore the bottom line.

There is, however, an opportunity that presents itself in this new landscape, between facility operators and service providers to audit, analyse and ascertain opportunities for improvement in service delivery. Through discovery to design and ultimately delivery, utilizing a sound understanding of the requirements of tasks, tools, time, and the total benefit, the challenge presenting itself can be overcome.