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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Dan Hounsell: In-House Intelligence a Valuable Asset

By Dan Hounsell, Editor-in-Chief April 2016 - Maintenance & Operations   Article Use Policy

The answer often is right under your nose. People often ignore that bit of common sense, and facility executives and building owners are no exception. In the search for solutions to problems related to energy efficiency and emergency management, just to name two high-priority challenges, top management tends to rely on outside experts.

The rationale for such a move generally involves the “outsider’s perspective” these people bring. Unfortunately, the approach overlooks the resource often best suited to solve such problems — the organization’s own maintenance and engineering department.

If you don’t believe me that a department’s in-house intelligence can be invaluable to facilities, check out two articles in this issue.

First, read Laurie Gilmer’s Management Insight column in which she lays out the rationale behind building re-tuning. The emerging practice equips building operators — the people who know a facility best — with the means to use data from building automation systems to understand the way a facility operates, identify problems, and address the problems through no- and low-cost solutions.

“The beauty of this methodology is its simplicity,” Gilmer writes. “It puts the emphasis on operations, using the systems that are already in place and the personnel who know the building best.”

Second, read our April cover story on the foresight demonstrated by the facilities management and emergency response departments at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Recognizing the potential threat to the organization’s operations and existence from heavy rains and coastal flooding, department managers convinced the organization to spend $40.5 million in 2014 on a new energy plant to house relocated HVAC, electrical and medical systems.

When historical rainfall and flooding struck the region in 2015, the university remained in operation and was able to avert certain disaster.

The challenge for managers is to build departments their organizations can turn to for answers. Doing that will help top management appreciate the resource that has been there all along.





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