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By Dan Hounsell, Editor-in-Chief
HVAC Article Use Policy
Maintenance and engineering managers know all too well that they can’t monitor what they don’t measure. Many also know they can’t capitalize on what they don’t control.
For Rachel McCarthy, P.E., and her staff at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, taking control of plant upgrade projects has resulted in a series of HVAC upgrades and installations that have delivered bottom-line benefits to the organization. McCarthy points to one reason she believes the strategy has paid dividends.
“One great lesson has to do with ownership,” says McCarthy, the hospital’s senior director of facilities for building systems, operations and refrigeration. “People really take vested interest when they have ownership. It’s about their equipment and their plant.”
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a 527-bed facility that opened in 1855, is the nation’s first hospital devoted exclusively to the care of children. McCarthy’s 35-person department, supplemented by about 70 part-timers and workers performing outsourced tasks, has made a point of becoming deeply involved in the planning and execution of upgrades and retrofits to the hospital’s physical plant. The strategy has kept upgrade work in house, and has helped ensure that finished projects deliver long-term, bottom-line benefits.
“In our model, the larger projects go to project management, and the smaller ones that are just in the plant go to operations,” McCarthy says. “Those projects go very smoothly, as opposed to getting a project manager who just doesn’t have that background and experience with the equipment, and has less ownership because he’s going from project to project. We want things to last 20 years, so we want things done right, and we them done right the first time. So the lesson is that our model is pretty efficient.
“We do six or seven plant projects a year with a small capital budget of approximately $4 million per year,” McCarthy says. “We utilize the skills from the staff and augment with vendors when we need a project manager or expertise.”
Despite scheduling challenges that could arise from trying to balance front-line technicians’ daily inspection and maintenance tasks with more involved upgrade projects, McCarthy says the department has been able to successfully balance both workloads.
“We have been doing this for a long time and have worked the process such that we can manage the small capital projects and building systems operations and refrigeration simultaneously,” she says. “If we need assistance, we get assistance and factor that into the cost of the job.”
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