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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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