Physical Maintenance and Preventative Maintenance Programs
Once assets are accounted, evaluated, and funding planned, then comes the task of physical maintenance. To understand the concept of physical maintenance best is first to realize that to achieve excellence within your maintenance program is to implement scheduled and preventative maintenance procedures versus dealing with curative, deferred, and emergency maintenance issues.
For the purpose of this series, the entire physical maintenance process of planning, implementing, maintaining, updating, training and reporting scheduled and preventive maintenance (PM), which may include the use of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) software, is defined as a “preventive maintenance program” (PM program). A PM program includes:
- Regularly scheduled inspections – inspections of buildings, grounds and equipment by experts
- Scheduled maintenance of buildings, grounds and equipment – painting, filter changes, oil changes
- Compliance related work – fire code, life safety
- Seasonal work – lawn care, seasonal start up of equipment, snow removal
- Event setups – setting up for a monthly board meeting, setting up for resident events
- Work orders and repairs – completing in-house repairs or managing repair contractors
- Managing service contractors – monitoring quality of contract services and service providers
PM is essentially any work completed by maintenance on a scheduled basis. A good PM program is actually very simple at its core, consisting of a list of tasks required at certain times throughout the year. Although simple in concept, it does take effort and planning to design, implement, and maintain. Outside of regulatory/compliance related tasks (like elevator inspections, generator tests, smoke detector tests, etc.) what you put into your PM program is up to you; keep in mind that, like many things, what you put into it is what you’ll get out. As discussed in the previous Management of Fixed & Moveable Assets section of this blog series, an accurate and complete listing of assets is a fundamental component of a good PM program.
Establishing a good PM program results in large dividends. Documented studies show emergency/unplanned maintenance costs at least 10X more than PM, in addition to productivity savings and cost savings. An effective PM program extends asset life and reduces operating costs. For example, in the average HUD or CCRC community, a good PM program can reduce energy costs by tens of thousands of dollars a year for HVAC units alone.
There are many options when it comes to managing a PM program. They range from basic paper/card systems, to Excel-based tracking, all the way to fully computerized maintenance software, typically integrated with your asset tracking and work order management. Whichever system chosen, it is important to include the following:
- A list of tasks required
- Procedures for how tasks should be completed
- A recurrence pattern
- Assets addressed by the tasks
Once a system is chosen, next the areas, assets, and tasks must be identified and entered. This is the real meat of the work; this will include the following areas and assets:
- Buildings – the facility structure and envelope including the exterior finish systems, roof systems, doors, windows
- Grounds and maintenance equipment – landscaping and hardscape including sidewalks, drive lanes and driveways, parking lots, exterior lighting, benches, signage, lawn maintenance equipment
- Fixed equipment and controls – air handlers, compressors, cooling towers, boilers, chillers, duct work, piping systems, pumps, elevators, electric doors, trash compactors,
- Moveable equipment (commercial and residential) – kitchen, laundry, sport, AV, music, telephone, communication, office, other amenity related equipment
- Transportation – all vehicles including carts, cars, trucks, vans and buses
- Fixtures, furnishings and specials – common area furnishings including art and accessories, carpet, window treatments, ceiling tile, fireplaces
- Life Safety Equipment – sprinkler control systems, fire extinguishers, fire pumps, smoke detectors, fire alarm panels, emergency generators, emergency transfer switches, and nurse call systems
When building up the task list, include all scheduled tasks whether in-house or contract. Once the task list is built, it is time to define the jobs and schedules within each task. A task can vary significantly in complexity. Many tasks involve a simple preventive maintenance 10-minute inspection or service and review based on a short checklist versus some tasks such as the overhaul of a piece of equipment. There are a number of resources available to help build out your PM program task list, including:
- Existing lists – anything you currently have setup
- Regulatory requirements – NFPA guidelines
- Vendors and manufacturers – contact them directly for suggested maintenance plans, or download programs from their websites
- Service contractors – have them share the details of tasks they are completing for you, and ask for suggestions on PM your staff can perform
Ongoing training is another fundamental of a successful PM program. Regularly send maintenance staff to educational sessions sponsored by associations, vendors, and manufacturers. AASHA has established a relationship with Building Owners and Managers Institute International, www.bomi.org, for training and various levels of certification for maintenance staff. More and more, training is becoming accessible via the internet at little or no cost other than time.
Once your PM program is up and running, review its effectiveness on a regular basis; CMMS software programs provide the reports needed to track your success. Regularly check to see if new tasks need to be added or procedures modified and consider how the PM program affects replacement reserve planning. Issues identified during regular building, grounds, and equipment checks can be used to accurately predict future capital needs due to asset replacement; discussed in the previous section, Replacement Planning and Budgeting.
About the Author:
John zumBrunnen is Founder and CEO of zumBrunnen, Inc., an independent construction and building consulting firm founded in 1989. zumBrunnen has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of North Dakota, completed the US Army Corps of Engineers Training Program in 1972, and is a member of LeadingAge and Community Associations Institute on national and state levels. zumBrunnen has 40+ years of experience in construction, property assessment, development, and reserve budgeting. He is the inventor of the FacilityForecast® software system and a respected author and speaker in the industry.