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Putting value into maintenance
What defines value-laden maintenance? The term describes the process of infusing a maintenance organization with value-added components and services so it can better accomplish its mission and effectively compete for limited resources.
Value-laden maintenance practices are standard operating procedure in scores of facilities. Many successful organizations are driven by necessity to focus on constant, innovative improvement, and they embrace Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s concepts of total quality management.
So, what does value-laden maintenance look like? Members of the Plant Operations Support Consortium in Washington offer these insights:
“A trait we commonly see in successful facilities maintenance organizations is their management's willingness to step out of the box and to link their organization with as many networks and resources as possible,” says Dan Moore, senior projects coordinator for the Plant Operations Support Consortium. “They optimize resources, such as the consortium, support their employees’ involvement in professional and trade associations, participate in relevant conferences and make full use of certification and other education courses, all to achieve greater synergy.”
The facilities management organization at University of Washington is considered one of the best in the Northwest.
“We are focused on being cost-effective and efficient,” says Jerri McCray, the university’s associate vice president for facilities services. “We’ve tried to be in a position where we are less costly and more competitive than outside businesses.”
McCray says her organization operates as business units but is predicated on “doing the type of work the campus likes and wants. We know the students’ attitudes, and we train our staff to respond quickly and effectively. We’ve not had to lay anyone off during budget cuts, but we continue to look for quicker and better ways.”
Pattie Williams, manager of facilities support services in the division of capitol facilities, oversees more than 100 custodians on the Washington state capitol campus. She says a state budget shortfall of $2.8 billion is creating anxieties that her work unit soon might face outsourcing.
“It’s critical that we level the playing field and capture and synthesize the actual costs of our varied operations and continue to innovate to better compete with private industry,” Williams says. “We urge employees to think about how they do their work and how we can collectively improve service toward a long-term, unified approach. The final answer will come from our customers because satisfaction is a key variable.”
Value-laden maintenance has different definitions and components in each facility. But, as these insights reveal, one essential component is the ability to recognize opportunities and adapt to changing conditions in facilities.
Bob MacKenzie is manager of the Plant Operations Support Consortium a self-sustaining family of public facilities managers in the Northwest, Alaska and Canada that is administered by Washington state's General Administration in Olympia. (360) 902-7257.