4  FM quick reads on Maintenance

1. Give staff training they need for new equipment


Today's tip is to properly train your maintenance staff to run the sophisticated new technology they may be responsible for. Innovations in building technology often fail to achieve the desired results or performances, according to several studies on the subject. Such poor results are due primarily to the lack of ability and knowledge of the facilities maintenance personnel.

In recent years, institutional and commercial facilities have seen tremendous innovations in technology and equipment. But most facility improvements are not able to deliver the desired results, because the systems that front-line maintenance technicians must run have become so much more complicated. The solution is to give staffers time, labor, and control to achieve the desired outcomes.

Often when contractors install new equipment, nobody from the maintenance staff was included in the design, installment, or start-up. Still, they receive the keys and the owner's manual, and instructions to maintain it. That sets up the maintenance staff to fail. Providing enough time to go through the necessary skills training on equipment will pay dividends to the organizations for years. But time also is relevant to properly maintaining equipment, as well. Facility maintenance must be allowed the time to properly fix equipment, not just work on it.

Help your maintenance and engineering departments develop a sense of control by establishing baseline performance requirements, monitoring that performance, and reacting correctly to any deviation. Managers need to develop policies and procedures, workers need to adhere to maintenance strategies, and properly trained technicians need to capture all activities on work orders.

Changes in facilities are creating new opportunities. Managers can take advantage of advances in technology, the efficiency improvements these advances bring, and the possibilities of improving the sustainability of facilities. With the right approach, they can bring it all together to benefit the department and the organization.


2.  Regular Roof Maintenance Now Can Save Money Later

Today's tip is to be sure to schedule regular maintenance for your membrane roof. Highly reflective single-ply roof membranes have been growing in popularity since the early 1990s due to energy efficiency, sustainability, ease of installation, and cost.

Many of these roof systems are performing well, but many other building owners have spent millions of dollars replacing single-ply roofs that have failed prematurely, most often due to lack of maintenance.

The standard 10-15 year warranty period of a decade ago has become a 20-30 year period today, which can give managers a false sense of security. Many managers forget that while the warranty might cover material and labor, it typically requires the manager to conduct and document roof maintenance — otherwise, the manufacturer can void the warranty. Repairing and maintaining a roof is inexpensive compared to the cost of premature roof failure. Managers need to consider using a life-cycle cost model to evaluate the benefits of roof maintenance.

No matter when a roof maintenance program is implemented, the sooner it can begin, the greater the savings will be. Maintaining files of the roof system's design, as well as its installation method, can make the future diagnosis of a roof deficiency much more efficient.

Conducting a roof survey provides a solid foundation for a maintenance program. A comprehensive survey should include a written report describing roof conditions, specific deficiencies, recommended actions, five-year budget estimates, and supporting photographs and videos.

3.  Money Watch: Restroom Maintenance

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, controlling restroom maintenance costs.

In this age of cost cutting, maintenance and engineering managers are taking a closer look at all aspects of operations, including restrooms. They are examining maintenance, cleaning, energy use, and even supplies to reduce costs without curtailing service. Many managers have been successful by incorporating basic yet often overlooked features.

Sometimes, even the simplest design change can result in major reductions in maintenance costs over the life of a restroom. For example, installing isolation valves on every fixture and faucet will have minimal impact on first costs, but it will have a major impact on operations and maintenance costs. Without enough isolation valves, entire restrooms frequently must be shut down when one component needs replacing, disrupting operations and putting pressure on maintenance personnel to quickly resolve the issue.

Most restrooms are designed with one floor drain. But it is difficult to design and build restroom floors with enough slope to one drain. Installing multiple floor drains and adequately sloped floors can reduce cleaning time.

Stacked restrooms are common in multi-floor facilities. Stacking allows common water supply and waste lines to be installed, reducing costs. If restrooms are stacked, install suspended ceiling tiles to allow easy access to water supply and waste lines.

Every restroom cluster on each floor should include dedicated storage space for equipment and supplies. Too often, one location must serve an entire building. That means workers must haul supplies from that location to individual restrooms as needed, increasing labor costs.

Finally, the types of finishes in restrooms will affect maintenance requirements. For example, installing a vinyl wall covering where it will be exposed to water regularly will result in shorter service life and more frequent replacement. Ceramic tile can be four or five times more expensive than vinyl, but it is not subject to deterioration from exposure to water and typically will not require replacement until it is time to renovate the entire restroom.

4.  LEED: Ensuring Long-Term Performance

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, LEED and long-term performance.

When maintenance and engineering managers are involved in designing, constructing, and operating a new facility, there is a great deal to learn along the way. But when the facility is pursuing never-before-seen green building goals, managers can expect a much steeper learning curve. Perhaps nobody understands that better than Jeff Schorzman, facilities manager with Providence Newberg (Ore.) Medical Center.

In a way, Schorzman went back to school as he helped the 183,000-square-foot facility become the first hospital to earn Gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. But Schorzman's education did not end when the hospital came online in June 2006. Instead, he has kept learning about the building and its state-of-the-art technology.

Despite the advanced technologies Schorzman and his team specified for the new facility, the medical center did not perform as designers intended during its first year of operation. One reason the facility struggled initially was that the project team tried to meet tight deadlines without sufficient vetting of the systems.

"I know you get bumped up against schedules, but folks really need to incorporate into their schedules time to wash the systems out," he says. "We did commission the building, but we were pushed, and we were rushed. You really need to give yourself time to work through the issues and drive the boat."

Another cause of inefficient operation related to oversized equipment.

"Our steam system in the building was sized for humidification for the whole building 24/7, and our sterilization of surgical instrumentation 24/7/365," he says. "The majority of our surgeries are done Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The only areas that require humidification are the surgery areas, so (the system was) oversized."

Schorzman and his staff went through trial and error during the first year of operation, but now, systems are performing as the project team intended. Power use is down 12 percent, compared to the first year, and gas use is down about 30 percent, Schorzman says. Technicians are constantly making tweaks and improvements, but five years after becoming the first LEED Gold hospital, he can look back at this learning experience as a positive one.


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