When organizations face tough economic times or experience a loss of business, maintenance and engineering managers often receive one overriding directive: cut department costs.
But as managers know too well, that objective often is a complex endeavor that requires technology upgrades and changes in the way the department carries out its activities. Consider the impact the events of Sept. 11, 2001, had on airports.
Airports dealt with — and still face — higher fuel costs and reduced flights, creating a loss of revenue that affected every department. Pittsburgh International Airport was no exception. Operated by the Allegheny County Airport Authority, the airport experienced a significant decline in the number of flights through the facility when US Airways no longer used the airport as its hub, dropping the number of the airline's daily flights from about 500 to 50. Overall, airport traffic is down to 150 daily flights from about 620.
"That was a tremendous impact on us," says Tom Long, the airport's director of maintenance. "What we were challenged to do is to continue to operate the buildings even though there were a lot of open spaces and gates. Our challenge was to maintain this facility 100 percent.
"It wasn't really closed off until just recently. Our challenge was to maintain it the best we can, and also we had to cut costs because we lost a ton of revenue when US Air kept downsizing."
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