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By Dan Hounsell, Editor
March 2013 -
Facility Maintenance Decisions Columnists
Some awards are nearly impossible to win. The Nobel Peace Prize? You'll need to devote your life to bringing peace and harmony to troubled regions of the world. The Vince Lombardi trophy? You'll need to spend years honing and maximizing your athletic prowess, get drafted by the right NFL team, and hope your health holds out.
Then there are the Maintenance Solutions Achievement Awards. Winning one of them requires just a bit less effort than an Oscar or the Lombardi, but like those honors, they bring much-deserved recognition to hard-working people committed to performing an essential mission.
I've had the privilege of presenting these awards since they began in 2010, and I've seen first-hand the way maintenance and engineering departments use intelligence, skill, determination, and resourcefulness to overcome challenges and benefit their organizations. Based on the experiences of past winners, here are insights your department can use to earn a 2013 Maintenance Solutions Achievement Award:
Be original. The challenge for the maintenance department with the Deming (N.M.) Public School District was to accomplish small renovation and maintenance projects with a declining budget and rising construction costs. To achieve these goals, the district became a licensed general contractor. It estimates the move saved the district more than $200,000 in 2009 and nearly $50,000 in the first quarter of 2010.
Be resourceful. A staffing shortage forced the facilities management department with the San Diego International Airport to find a new way to provide trades services without increasing full-time staff. Needing a high-quality, trade-based group of contractors that could deploy forces quickly, the department established a pool of pre-qualified trade contractors that work under an on-call service contract. The contractor team has performed more than $5 million in project work.
Go green. Broward College in Pembroke Pines, Fla., improved its campuses' sustainability by revisiting all of its landscape practices. Now, the grounds department reviews all major renovations and new-construction projects to ensure they blend into the native landscape. The department also upgraded, replaced, and installed new irrigation systems, including electronic controls to more efficiently control watering cycles.
Really go green. Cobleskill N.Y. Regional Hospital undertook a sustainability program that addressed nearly every conceivable area of its operations. From performing energy- and water-saving upgrades of electrical, HVAC, lighting, and plumbing systems and establishing a comprehensive recycling program to revamping its grounds to reduce maintenance and water use, the hospital left no green stone unturned.
Maximize the bottom line. The facilities services department with the University of Texas at Austin had to prioritize capital projects to show it would use every dollar appropriately and effectively. The department conducted campus-wide, detailed, facility condition assessments using a Web-based tool and its own staff to gather data. Armed with the results of these efforts, the department was able to secure a funding increase, from $12 million in 2002 to $18 million in 2010.
Focus on training. Duke Realty in Alexandria Va., needed to develop a training program for a diverse staff at all technician levels to bring workers in line with the company's requirements and vision and mission statements. The facilities department evaluated the staff's education achievements, job descriptions, available training options, and operating procedures. Then it developed an education matrix for core requirements, updated job descriptions, expanded training options, and focused funds in critical areas. As a result, the department met its goals, and it developed a more unified, focused team with a clearer vision.
To enter the 2013 Maintenance Solutions Achievement Awards, visit www.facilitiesnet.com/ms/msaa/msaadefault.asp
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.
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