The maintenance staff initially implemented the program in five buildings before expanding to the entire campus, which consists of 55 buildings and athletic facilities covering 5 million square feet. The relamping staff doubled to four employees to accommodate the increased responsibilities. The slow, steady growth of the program was by design.
“That was the angle I wanted to go with,” Sankey says of the gradual increase. “It was new. The custodial team was a little apprehensive about its intent and how this was going to work, so I had to convince them and prove and convince myself to a certain point.”
During the initial pilot program, January to April 2010, the light bulb crew responded to 300 service requests. During the next four months, requests increased to 500. In 2012 and 2013, the crews responded to more than 4,000 requests per year.
“In 2012, a new director for custodial was hired, and one of the first things I did was tell him about this program,” Sankey says. “He understood that custodial was responsible for light bulb changing and at that point in time he made a conscious decision to fully fund and add two additional positions to cover the entire campus.”
The relamping team, while part of the custodial staff according to the university’s classification standards, works closely with the preventive maintenance staff and university electricians. The two-person crews split the campus equally, each taking care of roughly 2.5 million square feet.
“There was a constant communication need for them to interact with the electricians on a daily basis or weekly basis on some of the technical aspects,” Sankey says. “Just asking them for help and sometimes history is so important, because the electricians have the history on a particular fixture. The other thing we did was issue iPads to all our maintenance trades. All (lighting) work orders now are part of the work-order system. They can scroll through and sequence it and look where the issues are and read the request’s comments. And then they decide where they go unless the supervisor tells them something is a high priority for whatever reason.”
The light blub crew’s goal is to answer work orders in 10 days, but the average response time is four or five days, Sankey says.
Western Michigan University Relamping Team Brings Efficiency to Maintenance Department
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