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Sat 30 Sep 2006 08:00 PM

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Smarten up

A new maintenance concept is about to hit the Middle East FM market. Becca Wilson explains how smart maintenance can help and benefit the ever-growing market.

Although PPM (planned preventative maintenance) is a great way of keeping track on how often you give the companies assets a health check, it doesn’t let you know when something is going to fail.

This is where smart maintenance comes to the rescue.

Imagine this.

An FM has a planned maintenance check on the HVAC system in four months time.

But two months before the check, an employee calls the help desk and complains the air conditioning is not working properly.

The FM sends an engineer who checks the whole air conditioning system to find the fault before telling the employee it will take two days to fix.

This is turn creates an uncomfortable working environment, staff productivity drops and the FM department receive masses of complaints and questions on the helpdesk about when it will be fixed.

Smart maintenance takes all these complications away.

The fault would automatically be detected before the employee has had a chance to call the helpdesk.

The FM then alerts the engineer to the problem, he/she inspects the air conditioning, finds the problem and fixes it before there is any cause for concern from the employees.

Everyone is happy and the FM department is seen as efficient and helpful.

This concept is a new one that will soon begin to sweep the FM industry.

“It is a smarter process for managing the total facilities lifecycle, its maintenance and operation for the benefit of the facilities owner and its occupants to the agreed quality levels and performance as per the design requirements,” says Ian Roberts, facilities operations manager, Emrill.

 Helping FMs the smart waySmart maintenance will not rule out all the PPM, this will still be needed for certain tasks.

What it will do is make better use of technical staff and resources by deploying them to the critical areas.

It will also reduce the number of equipment failures by detecting problems sooner, decrease the amount of KPI (key performance indicator) penalties as a result of concentrating technical expertise to the critical equipment and cut down the amount of downtime.

All these benefits will improve customer service, cut costs and help keep productivity at its optimum.

With the amount of buildings being designed and constructed within the Middle East, developers face a high level of competition within the region.

“They (the developers) will have to consider smart measures to compete and attract clients in an increasingly large market place,” says Roberts.

It is comforting for the FMs to know the developers now realise the importance of the FM input.

Roberts says: “Costs can be reduced at design stages by appropriate equipment selection.”

Developers have now become conscious of the fact buildings can no longer simply be demolished or facilities closed down due to ‘essential maintenance repair work’.The effectsFrom an FMs perspective, smart maintenance has a number of effects that will need taking into consideration.

For a start, the developers will enforce tougher KPI’s as the facility owners will share all live facility information and apply tougher penalties.

However, because smart maintenance will decrease the amount of penalties incurred, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for them to overcome.

Then there’s response time.

Because all electronic information is shared and open to all parties, FMs will need to make sure they are more efficient in their reaction.

Customer expectations will also rise and FMs will have to strive to meet the demand of the continuous improvements customers will want to see.

And lastly, FMs will need to communicate more closely with suppliers, subcontractors and other service providers to meet these high expectations.

Looking at it through the eyes of the developer, one of the major benefits it will bring is the reduction in services charges.

“Service charge costs can be reduced by the introduction of smart maintenance as capital expenditure can be reduced by increased life cycles of major equipment,” explains Roberts.

Both developers and FMs will be able to analyse historical data that will provide improvement in equipment and systems selection for their future projects.

With Emaar being the first company to use smart maintenance, it seems likely other developers and FMs will soon follow.

“Using smart maintenance can help to reduce costs”

Smart benefits…
- Saves time & money and results in a more efficient building maintenance process & better buildings – concentration of activity on the critical components in a facility

- Better coordination and use of electronic data in the maintenance industry (use of PDAs etc)

- Greater predictability of costs & schedule based on predictive and actual data records

- Avoidance of operational conflicts through simulation in accordance with design parameters

- Higher quality performance with less repeat maintenance/failures

- Shorter time to completion of planned and reactive work

- Ability to electronically capture design & construction data for subsequent use in operations & facilities management use

- Owners will ‘own’ project data that are currently generated by many parties in many formats

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