5 Essential Tools for Facility Management

I’m not one for circuses or even street performers, maybe I’m just too serious.  But I do recall one time sitting slack jawed watching acrobats, trapeze and high wire acts at Cirque du Soleil.  When you see something on such a grand scale, with elaborate sets, skilled acrobats, and careful attention to detail, you really must admit it’s awe inspiring.  Amongst all those acrobats, buried deep in the fray was a juggler.  Not really a remarkable task when compared to the high flyers, acrobats, and other Red Bull-esque intensity.  I guess I really didn’t have an appreciation for the juggler.  That is until recently when I came across the above picture while prepping this article, and had a good chuckle as I drew the similarities between juggling and my years in facility management

Have a quick read, and see if you agree.  It’s my hope that at least what you’re juggling isn’t on fire.

Facility Management also known as Facility Maintenance leans heavily into asset management territory.  Its primary functions are to schedule & record completed maintenance, prioritize maintenance activity, and equipment history.

For the purpose of keeping this article short…we’ll only refer to two types of maintenance activities:

Scheduled Maintenance Unscheduled Maintenance
These are expected maintenance activities, generated from the interpretation of manufacturer’s instructions for equipment, and additional activities derived from technician or operator experience. There are MANY types of unscheduled maintenance, stemming from equipment breakdowns, operator requests, damage, vandalism, complaints etc.

Essential Tool # 1 An Asset Management System:

An Enterprise Asset Management System (EAM) is perhaps the most important tool for a facility management.  What is an “EAM”?  Wikipedia defines it as:

“the optimal lifecycle management of the physical assets of an organization. It covers subjects including the design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning or replacement of plant, equipment, and facilities.” (Wikipedia)

A good EAM (sometimes called a CMMS – Computerized Maintenance Management System) will manage every aspect of your maintenance administration, scheduling, inventory, and customizable reports…like rework percentages.  You can use it to really drill down into where your problems trends lie and then resolve them.

Essential Tool # 2 Work Order Prioritization Policy:

Everyone knows “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease”.  Best laid plans are often waylaid by people that know “the bigger the fuss the faster the service”.  A great strategy to overcome the squeaky wheel is a policy that clearly lays out facility management priorities.  Successful policies, at a minimum, should contain:

  • The organizations’ stance on how emergency work is determined and addressed.
  • Create a hierarchy, with a statement that makes your prioritization process clear IE:

“Work orders will be addressed in order from lowest to highest priority, and will not necessarily be addressed in chronological order.  NO WORK will be undertaken without a work order submission – unless it is an emergency.  Repairs will be addressed the priority sequence below:”

Figure 1

Keep in mind…a policy like this will encourage those “Squeaky Wheels” to make claims that their tasks meet emergency criteria…use good judgement, and be prepared to defend your position.

Essential Tool # 3  A “Service Request” System:

Another significant stumbling block for Facility Managers is the nature of how unscheduled maintenance (Service Requests) are submitted or scheduled.  An excellent method to offset these interactions is to set up a “Request for Service” system.  When set up and managed well a service request system can eliminate all the verbal requests you get in the hallways, break rooms and yes…even the bathroom.

You can use manual requests, like the one pictured to the right (figure 2), or opt for a digital form – that’s accessed through a link on your company’s web page or intranet.  

You should try to capture the following minimum information in your request:

(Figure 2) Service Request

Whether done manually or online, this form will give you some much-needed perspective to assess when and who should complete the work.  Another good idea is to do a little recon, and see if the request is accurate.

Essential Tool # 4  Equipment Criticality Matrix:

This method identifies how critical a piece of equipment or maintenance task is to your business and will ultimately show you where it should land in your prioritization process.  Criticality measurements should be standardized by assessing how seriously a single piece of equipment would disrupt operations in the event of a failure.

Often infrastructure equipment takes on greater importance than production equipment due to significant disruptions and the long lead times for repairs or replacement parts (boilers, structures, and electrical switchgear failure VS. a Production Line).  Thankfully, the maintenance frequency on infrastructure is relatively low.  The table below is an example of a few equipment, and task categories, which can both be applied task and equipment hierarchies.

A good method to figure it out is using a criticality matrix.  Have a look at the 5×4 matrix below to the left (figure 3), and use it to categorize the equipment or task of your choice.  The object is to accurately measure where that task or equipment should fit in the table on the right (figure 4).  Note that we use the probability and severity of the failure to determine a number rank.

Criticality Matrix (Severity of Disruption Due to Equipment Failure)

(Figure 3) Criticality Matrix

Task & Equipment Categories

(Figure 4) Equipment & Task Categories

This is a great tool to establish what equipment or tasks can…or can’t afford to go without service.  A failure ranked 1 would be akin to a printer failure. A failure ranked a 20 would result in an explosion and loss of life.

Essential Tool # 5 Historical Record Keeping:

Remember the old saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Eliminating nuisance repairs, or replacing troublesome equipment requires you to identify what a machine is costing you in labor, parts, downtime, and effect on production targets.

Facility Management - Example Metrics Tale

Due to the nature of facility management, you’ll often be measured in relation to equipment performance, budgetary performance, and operational impact.  So, you’ll want to record as a minimum the activities undertaken on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis, and their nature (the more proactive the better). Each report should detail at minimum the maintenance activity, equipment updates, and labor consumed as per the table above.

A proactive approach to facility management requires upfront investment for long term gain.  Each of the tools mentioned above are designed to remove, reassign or automate a couple of the responsibilities you’ve been “juggling”.  When effectively employed they can help add precious time back into your workdays, and add to your work/life balance.

Good Luck!

Remember to categorize the reason for the task or service.  Pulling a report that can identify how many efficiency improvements you were able to complete vs breakdown repairs can paint a pretty effective picture, and help set the stage to for some new equipment or other capital expenditures.

As a Facility Manager, as with any Maintenance Position it’s important to understand that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  You build the light and carry it with you.

Works Cited

Styles, R. (2014, February 14). Fire Juggling. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from www.flikr.com: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmmmmrob/3278355025/in/photolist-5ZGqJv-5vVyNG-5vRoxP-5vVu8b-5vRaX6-5vUYQy-8JRBbC-2VD3Yp-dQHBPT-e6Uxa-fJxFT-52VfrR-5vV6Jj-525Q53-5vUVC7-5vQRTi-5vQQwK-5vVJas-3d9gN-5vRmcc-5vV7ew-5vVs27-3hyHxZ-5vQTS8-5vV2iu-5vVz1S-5vRnFc-5vQFQF

Bastion Safety Solutions. (2009). Manual Maintenance Request. Edmonton: Bastion Safety Solutions. Retrieved from www.bastionsafe.com.

Bastion Safety Solutions Inc. (2017, July 25). 5×4 Equipment Criticality Matrix. 5 Essential Tools for Facility Management. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Bastion Safety Solutions Inc.

Wikipedia. (2017, July July 24). Predictive maintenance. Retrieved from wikipedia.org: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictive_maintenance

The article is first published at eLearning industry See the original article here.