4  FM quick reads on maintenance management

1. Avoiding Outsourcing Failure

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is avoiding outsourcing failure.

Directly or indirectly, all maintenance and engineering managers have experience with outsourcing. Many have found great success with outsourcing endeavors, but even more have found problems — even serious failures — with outsourcing contracts and contractors, says Michael Cowley, president of CE Maintenance Solutions, who provides maintenance training, coaching, and consulting services.

Outsourcing can be an effective tool to help managers and organizations make progress toward productivity and effectiveness, but outsourcing is not always a less-expensive or even successful alternative. And there is one common mistake managers make most often that is fatal to the process, Cowley says.

An array of problems, from hiring the wrong contractor or setting unrealistic goals to inadequate contract details or inflexible contracts, can ruin the relationship between the contractor and the manager and lead to outsourcing failure.

Good outsourcing contractors perform an autopsy after the death of an outsourcing contract to determine the reasons it failed and steps the parties involved can take to prevent future problems.

But here is the single most common cause of outsourcing failure: Building owners and managers who fail to understand the existing scope of work and do not offer a vision for measurable maintenance performance.

It might seem difficult to believe that most managers or owners are clueless about the details of the scope or statement of work for the existing job or workers, but it's true, Cowley says. Then they hire a contractor to do the work and expect that company to understand the organization's needs or wants, based only on a one-hour bid meeting and a 10-page document.

Energy Savings and Maintenance

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is energy savings and maintenance.

Organizations that undertake substantial renovation or construction projects to supplement an existing, building portfolio always work to ensure the rigors of the development do not affect operations or occupants. But when those projects take place in a health care environment, that focus becomes even more critical.

The challenge of melding existing operations with construction projects has not impeded the unprecedented Vision 2010 expansion by Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. The $1.5 billion expansion coincides with a renewed focus on energy efficiency in the hospital's mechanical and electrical systems.

Two big components of the hospital's energy-management strategy are its building-automation system, or BAS, and its enterprise asset management system, or EAM. Milton spearheaded efforts to upgrade both the BAS and the EAM for the Vision 2010 expansion.

"In the transition, all of the new assets will be loaded into that database, and more information will go in with the asset than with the older system," says Skip Milton, the hospital's assistant director of facilities operations, energy, maintenance and operations. "We'll be able to link that asset tag to an operations and maintenance manual for that asset. We'll be able to link that asset tag to a floor plan on a computer-aided design drawing of where it's sitting."

For example, consider the challenge of maintaining filters on a 40-ton air-handling unit. When the differential pressure across the filter bank reaches a level at which technicians need to replace the filter, the EAM generates a work order so technicians know to perform preventive maintenance on the unit.

Says Milton, "We're saving a lot of money just by optimizing operations. We haven't spent any capital yet for energy management. We reduced energy consumption by $1.2 million."


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