What is facilities maintenance?
Facility maintenance encompasses all maintenance activities that are taken in and outside of commercial buildings to keep the area safe, presentable, and most importantly, functional. It is often used interchangeably with the term building maintenance.
- Maintenance of equipment inside the building (HVAC, certain office equipment and furniture, building-specific equipment like medical equipment in hospitals…)
- Maintenance of all building systems (plumbing, electrical systems, lighting, fire safety systems, elevator systems…)
- Taking care of the building infrastructure itself (roofing, windows, doors and door locks, exterior and interior painting…)
- Taking care of the space around the building (landscaping and grounds maintenance, pest control, snow removal…)
To pile up on all of those activities, facility managers often operate with limited budgets, but are still expected to deliver initiatives and programs focused on sustainability and energy efficiency. This is a consequence of the research that suggests how buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption in the United States.
Facility maintenance is also occasionally used as a synonym for property maintenance and industrial maintenance. While they have the same purpose and involve many of the same activities, they are applied at different types of buildings.
Property maintenance is used when we talk about residential buildings. Industrial maintenance is used when referring to manufacturing and other industrial facilities. Facility maintenance, on the contrary, is used to take care of all other commercial buildings (we have a more detailed breakdown in one of the sections below).
The role of maintenance in facility management
As we mentioned in the intro, facility maintenance comes as a part of facilities management. Facility management can be broken down in a few different ways. One popular approach is to split it into hard and soft facilities management services:
In this categorization, we see that facility maintenance covers all hard FM services, plus landscaping, cleaning, and pest control from the side of soft FM services. In other words, a big chunk of facility management revolves around maintenance.
Types of buildings that rely on facilities maintenance
Facility maintenance is applied at a huge range of different facilities:
- Schools and university campuses
- Hotels and casinos
- Zoos and aquariums
While the type of equipment at those facilities can differ, the core range of maintenance responsibilities is more or less the same.
Certain businesses might have a highly specialized piece of equipment. If it breaks down, the facility manager will usually outsource the repair to a specialized maintenance vendor that has the necessary tools and knowledge.
In-house vs outsourcing of facilities maintenance work
This is not an either/or question. Most facility managers take a middle-of-the-road approach. In fact, according to our latest research, 82% of facility and maintenance managers have a strong mixed strategy:
Oftentimes, they form a small internal maintenance team to take care of routine maintenance work and perform simple repairs and corrective actions. Other maintenance tasks get outsourced for various reasons. For example:
- Facility managers in hospitals and casinos will often have a dedicated vendor they can call in to repair equipment that requires specialized knowledge.
- Building systems like plumbing, which only need sporadic attention, are cheaper to manage with an outside vendor. It doesn’t make fiscal sense to pay a full salary to a plumber that will work a couple of days each month.
- Tasks like landscaping and pest control are easier to outsource to companies that offer professional grounds maintenance services.
- Janitorial tasks are regularly outsourced to companies providing professional cleaning services, especially since the coronavirus brought additional guidelines.
While those are perfectly valid reasons, outsourcing maintenance work should not be taken for granted. You need to keep track of the vendor’s contact information, invoices, work history, and schedules, not to mention ensure that the required work is properly done. This is why Limble CMMS comes with a vendor management module that seamlessly integrates vendors into your maintenance system.
Before we move on, let’s also mention that maintenance can be outsourced as a part of a larger deal to outsource facility management. In this scenario, everything is outsourced to facility management companies, facilities maintenance included. This is a common arrangement when a business leases a few offices or floors and the building owner has hired a facility management company to manage the whole building.
How to automate and streamline facilities maintenance
Keeping your facility clean, organized, and efficient is not the sole responsibility of the maintenance team. However, the maintenance department does shoulder most of that responsibility.
Below are three bulletproof ways to organize, automate, and streamline maintenance operations at your facility.
1) Use facilities maintenance software
There is no better way to streamline facility maintenance work than to use capable facility maintenance software.
Maintenance just has too many moving interconnected parts to be tracked and managed manually, even for small teams. You need to:
- schedule and track a wide variety of maintenance activities
- adjust schedule and workload based on the number of maintenance technicians, available resources, and incoming maintenance tickets
- ensure you have necessary spare parts in stock to perform needed maintenance work
- manage multiple vendors and contracts
- accurately track maintenance expenses and generate recurring reports
You can try to do it with spreadsheets, but that is a subpar solution when compared with mobile maintenance software. Spreadsheets still require a lot of manual work, which is slower, more prone to human error, hard to use on mobile devices, and severely limits your reporting capabilities.
Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) offers a real-time insight into all maintenance activities, automates a big chunk of the maintenance workflow, and holds a centralized repository of data on your parts and equipment which can be quickly accessed from anywhere. This not only gives you a deep insight into maintenance metrics and other benchmarks of performance of your maintenance team, but it also enormously speeds up the overall maintenance workflow.
Lastly, it is important to mention that CMMS solutions like Limble can often be integrated with IWMS, CAFM and other facility management software.
2) Outline clear procedures and responsibilities
A great way to streamline any type of recurring work is to outline how it is supposed to be executed. This has many benefits, achieving consistent quality of performed work probably being the biggest one.
You can standardize many different aspects of facility maintenance like:
- writing clear standard operating procedures
- creating preventive maintenance checklists
- setting up an onboarding process for new hires and outside contractors
- setting up technician training/mentorship process
- outlining procedures for taking tools and spare parts out of inventory and returning them back
- implementing strong safety guidelines and safety training process for both technicians and employees (when needed)
It is also not a bad idea to review (and update) these procedures on a yearly basis. A lot can be learned in one year. A lot can change in one year too. Updating SOPs based on new information is a prime example of continuous improvement. And it doesn’t hurt to have everything up-to-date.
3) Commit to proactive maintenance
It is much easier to manage maintenance tasks when those tasks are planned ahead. It is easier to manage workloads, it is easier to keep MRO inventory in check, and it is easier to control your maintenance expenses.
If your technicians spend the majority of their time running around the facility responding to emergency work requests, then what is the point of having a maintenance calendar in the first place? Routine tasks you might have scheduled will only get deferred, resulting in more reactive work and emergency repairs later down the road.
It is a vicious cycle. A cycle that can only be stopped by a hard commitment to preventative maintenance and other proactive maintenance programs.
Implement Limble CMMS as your facilities maintenance software
Limble CMMS was designed with a single purpose: to help maintenance and facilities managers streamline their maintenance activities. That can be done only when you have a deep insight into every aspect of your maintenance operations: assets, spare parts inventory, work orders, maintenance schedule, and vendors.
To learn more about each category and associated features Limble offers, click on the links below:
- Asset management
- Work orders
- Maintenance schedule
- Spare parts management
- Vendor management
- Managing reports
If you want to test Limble CMMS, you have three options:
Try a self-demo (a simulated environment where you can test Limble’s features for yourself)