So, What Is Facility Maintenance?
There is no direct answer to the question ‘What is facility maintenance?’. Rather, this question opens up a conversation about a very broad topic that means different things to different people, locations, and industries. The facility maintenance services that a residential building needs have little in common with commercial facility maintenance beyond the superficial similarities. In order to address the question in full, we need to break down facility maintenance as both a discipline as an occupation.
Defining Facility Maintenance
The simplest definition of facility management as a discipline is that it’s the practice of ensuring a facility, the space within, and its assets are operating at optimal efficiency without compromising safety. In many ways this optimal efficiency is used to enhance safety within the facility. It aims to find the balance between productivity and hazard reduction. Despite being the simplest definition it is also an incredibly vague one, as no two facilities are going to have the same needs regardless of how similar they may be. This is mostly due to the fact that the building’s needs have less to do with the building itself, but rather the organization utilizing the space. Even similar organizations will need different facility maintenance services based on a variety of factors such as industry, location, climate, budget, building size, and maximum occupancy. A school in Texas will not need the same sort of insulating technology that a school in Wisconsin needs to make it through the winter, for example.
As an occupation, facility maintenance encompasses the various tasks and responsibilities that someone has to keep these buildings operating efficiently and its occupants safe. The person who carries out these tasks is called a facility manager, so facility maintenance is sometimes referred to as facility management; however, facility maintenance has more to do with the maintenance aspects of the job while facility management generally refers to the administrative and business side of things.
Facility managers are sometimes confused with property managers. The primary difference is that while facility managers are concerned with how well the building is serving the people inside, a property manager is someone who focuses on the building. They coordinate with landlords and building owners, collect rent, and oversee reinvestments such as remodeling. Due to the wide breadth of duties that a facility manager is expected to carry out they will sometimes perform tasks that fall under property management and maintenance.
Types of Facility Maintenance
The question ‘What is facility maintenance?’ is also difficult to answer because the question can refer to the different types of facility maintenance. While facility managers consider the unique assets and space of a facility and create custom strategies, this is never done by simply stitching all the variables together at random. There is a framework to creating these custom strategies, and facility managers must determine which type of facility maintenance is the most appropriate for their clients.
The most common types of facility maintenance include corrective, preventative (also called preventive), and predictive. There is no ‘superior’ maintenance strategy, as each program has its own pros and cons. Corrective maintenance aims to identify, isolate, and repair an asset to working order on an as-needed basis. This can become expensive over time but it makes sense for an organization with newer assets that are in good condition and less prone to malfunctioning. Preventative maintenance, on the other hand, happens routinely to prevent malfunctions which can lead to disruptions and downtime. An organization with new assets would end up spending more than necessary using this maintenance strategy. Predictive maintenance is a data-driven approach that analyzes the condition of each asset and anticipates when it will need maintenance next. There are bigger upfront costs and predictive maintenance requires a lot more scheduling and planning to gather the necessary data for proper implementation.
Benefits of Facility Maintenance
There are a multitude of benefits to having a facility manager on your team. One such benefit is that organizations will save a lot of money in the long run. A capable facility manager can prevent breakdowns, reduce downtime, decrease overhead costs, extend the lifespan of assets, and know when something needs to be repaired or replaced. Having this information readily available leads to better financial decisions.
Another very important benefit is that they promote workplace safety and compliance with health and safety regulations. This helps an organization stay out of legal trouble as there are fewer accidents on the job that could have been prevented or incidents that harm visitors to the facility. More importantly, of course, is the fact that people stay safe and healthy while on the premises.
A safer and healthier workspace directly lends itself to happier workers. This in turn leads to improvement in productivity, moral engagement, and ultimately retention of key talent. When your employees feel appreciated and taken care of, they are incentivized to work harder and remain committed to the business.
Facility maintenance also leads to a more environmentally friendly workplace, both directly and indirectly. Lower energy consumption is ultimately done for financial benefits but it has an impact on the environment too. Sustainability and green business practices have gained traction in recent years and are starting to become part of the industry standard and best practices. This means that being compliant with industry standards requires you to exercise some degree of environmentally conscious behavior and decision-making.
The Future of Residential and Commercial Facility Maintenance
Facility maintenance and facility managers were once optional or something to be done by oneself. However, changes in technology, public policy, and health initiatives are making them an increasingly vital member of any organization’s success. They are expected to stay ahead of the game and know all about the latest developments in IT, digital communication, management software, and how to leverage these new assets so as to help organizations achieve their growth goals. This is best seen in the emergence of the Internet of Things, or IoT, which refers to a network of physical devices that are integrated so as to share data with each other. Security equipment is often seen utilizing the IoT making it easier for organization leaders, building owners, and facility managers to access security camera feeds or receive alerts whenever a sensor detects an unidentified presence.
Building health is another way in which facility managers are demonstrating their importance. It’s an interdisciplinary approach and part of a new wave of eco-friendly and sustainability practices. Building health considers the ways that a physical space impacts the psychological, physical, and social well-being of the people that come inside. The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health identified the Nine Foundations of a Healthy Building as ventilation, thermal health, air quality, moisture, pests and dust, water quality, noise level, lighting and views, and safety and security. These are essential to any building regardless of whom the occupants are, and maintaining these is a hallmark of facility maintenance services.
SimpleFM’s facility maintenance software and experienced team help organizations manage, monitor, and control maintenance including: equipment, resources, and regulatory compliance. Let us handle your facility and job management needs and help your organization save time and money. Interested to see how easy facilities can be? Sign up for a Demo or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.