Facility maintenance is the people, processes, and platforms you need to get the most out of a commercial building's physical assets and infrastructure over the longest period possible.
That's what it is, but how can you make sure you're doing it right?
There's a lot to facility maintenance, but your success comes down to the how well you can manage the maintenance team and their workflows. And for most modern operations, that means implementing facility maintenance software.
But before getting ahead of ourselves, let's first build out that basic definition of facility maintenance.
What is facility maintenance?
It's the people and processes that help organizations get maximum utility from their commercial buildings, which can include both the assets and equipment inside and around the structure. The goal is to ensure everything is safe, looks good, and is in working order.
That means facility maintenance covers a lot, including:
- Interior equipment: HVAC and some office equipment
- Building systems: plumbing, fire suppression, electrical, and elevators
- Infrastructure: windows, doors, paint
- Surroundings: grounds, landscaping, snow removal
The average maintenance team takes care of a lot of the work directly, but there are times when they need to bring in vendors. For example, in many areas, only licensed, specialized technicians can work on fire suppression systems and elevators. Although they're not the ones doing the work, the maintenance department is responsible for organizing and overseeing the projects.
Another example is when it doesn't make good financial sense to keep a skilled professional on the team when you only need them every so often. For example, because of their hourly rates, it often makes more sense to call in electricians when you need them instead of having them on the team.
What makes facility maintenance different from other types of maintenance management?
Here we start to get into a strict definition of facility maintenance, where it's only related to commercial buildings. For residential buildings, we call it "property maintenance." And for a facility built for manufacturing or some other industrial use, we call it "industrial maintenance."
Basically, the differences between the three stem from the building's purpose.
What types of buildings need facility maintenance?
There're many different types, including:
- Schools and higher-learning campuses
- Hotels and resorts
- Houses of worship
- Stadiums and concert halls
- Health care facilities (hospitals, clinics, hospices)
Looking back at the definitions, any facility that's neither residential nor industrial likely needs facility maintenance.
Who are facility maintenance workers?
They're the ones that keep everything online, boosting productivity and cutting costs. On most teams, there are generally three types of facility maintenance workers.
Maintenance leads, maintenance managers, facility managers
All different titles for the same job, which is organizing on-demand and preventive maintenance work orders, staying on top of MRO inventory, and tracking every part of the maintenance department's various responsibilities.
The facility manager is responsible for setting up and scheduling inspection and task PMs for assets and equipment. When unscheduled breakdowns pop up, it's their job to assess the problem and prioritize the work orders across the department.
They're in charge of not only what work the team does by also how the team does it. They create, share, and enforce standard operating procedures and best practices.
Depending on the size of the operation, they might also be in charge of purchasing and controlling MRO inventory. In larger organizations, this can be a separate position.
Senior facility maintenance techs
Although there's no set, industry-wide definition of "senior," it's easy enough to understand the terminology and their role. Senior techs are the ones with the most direct experience with the assets and equipment. They are the old hands and the "asset whisperers" of the maintenance department.
Maintenance departments often run the same risk with their senior staff, which is that all the senior tech's hard-won know-how exists only in their heads. Every time a tech moves on through a transfer or retirement, the organization loses all that knowledge.
The best solution is to sit down with the senior staff and have them work out checklists and instructions for critical maintenance processes, which can then be quickly added to work orders using templates.
Junior facility maintenance techs
Here, too, there's no dictionary-approved definition of "junior," but it's easy to understand who they are and what they do. Unlike the senior techs, they have less experience with the assets, which means they sometimes require more help and supervision. This is exactly where templates come in handy. Instead of running around looking for help, junior techs already have what they need inside the work order.
What are the benefits of facility maintenance software?
Now that we know what facility maintenance is and the roles and responsibilities of the people who make it happen, we're in a good spot to appreciate how modern facility maintenance software makes everything more efficient, cheaper, and just plain easier.
Increase asset and equipment useful life with scheduled preventive maintenance inspections and tasks
One of the types of facilities mentioned above is health care, so we can safely borrow an expression related to medicine: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And it's the same with assets and equipment. It's always easier, faster, and cheaper to find and fix a small issue than it is to deal with a big problem.
With modern preventive maintenance software, it's easy to set up, schedule, and track a preventive maintenance program. The facility manager can choose between fixed or floating PMs, and then they can schedule them either based on usage or time. For example, they might have a PM for a press based on cycles, but the PMs for the AC units are based on the season.
Regardless of how you set them up, you can use the software to automatically generate PM inspections and tasks at the right time, send out assignments, and track progress and completion rates.
A bonus is how preventive maintenance makes it easier to control inventory. Instead of never knowing what you need or when you need it, scheduling work in advance gives you enough time to ensure you have the parts and materials on hand.
Prioritize work and minimize unscheduled downtime with on-demand work orders
Preventive maintenance helps keep assets and equipment online longer, with fewer unexpected breakdowns. But even the best PM schedule can't prevent everything, and the maintenance department needs a streamlined process for on-demand work orders.
The first step is the open request portal, where anyone can go online and submit a maintenance request. Instead of having to track down phone numbers and email addresses, anyone in the facility can quickly contact the maintenance department as soon as they see something's wrong. And because the form has required fields, the department knows they're getting the information they need to properly prioritize the work.
From there, the maintenance manager can use the software to generate a data-packed work order. Using templates, the lead can quickly add everything the techs need to work efficiently and close out quickly, including:
- Comprehensive asset data
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
- Associated MRO inventory
- Interactive site plans and floor maps
Thanks to the work order software, the maintenance lead can ensure the right work gets done the right way in the right order.
Optimize workflows and track costs with autogenerated reports
Older paper-based maintenance management systems make it hard to generate, share, and collect data. When you're copying everything out by hand, it's easy to make mistakes, especially when techs have to run back and forth from your office picking up and dropping off paperwork. Later, when you want to use the data to better understand your operations, it's basically impossible. Your missing data means you can't fully trust what you have, and even if you did, it would take forever to run the numbers by hand.
Modern work order software keeps all your data in one central database, where everyone on the team can see it and make updates while on the go. And when you need reports, the software does all the math for you.
You get reports packed with easy-to-understand graphs and insightful maintenance metrics and KPIs that help you find and fix inefficiencies. With reports, you can track costs and finally see where your budget is going.
If you want to do facility maintenance right, you need the right facility maintenance software.
But what if your next step is convincing the boss your department needs a CMMS? Send them the following section, a concise summary written right for them.
Facility maintenance is the people and processes that keep your commercial building running smoothly, from the infrastructure to the assets and equipment in and outside of it. Maintenance leads organize the schedule and the team, with the techs closing out both preventive maintenance and on-demand work orders. For everything to work the way it should, maintenance departments need modern facility maintenance management software. It boosts efficiencies, cuts costs, and ensures everyone in the building is safe and productive.