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Measuring, Managing, and Maximizing Facility Data Important for Managers
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"You can't manage what you don't measure."
For decades, maintenance and engineering managers have had that adage drilled into their heads, and many managers have put it into practice by adopting strategies and practices designed to gather performance and reliability measurements and other key pieces of data related to key facility systems and operations.
In the last decade or so, they have been able to make some important headway in their efforts to measure equipment and operations in order to manage it more effectively. Throughout institutional and commercial facilities, important technology — from computerized maintenance management systems and building automation systems to submetering technology and vibration analysis — have become important tools for managers.
But the evolution of these and other technologies, combined with mounting pressure on managers to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of facilities and operations, has given managers an unprecedented opportunity to go beyond measuring performance and managing facilities.
Facilities technology is generating new types of data, and in larger quantities, that enable managers to more easily find waste and weakness — and opportunities — in their facilities and operations. Today, managers are able to go far beyond just casually dipping into maintenance reports and repair histories in the hopes of spotting a problem or an opportunity.
They are hardly alone. In every area of business, this is the era of "big data." Data-driven organizations such as Google and Amazon.com have amassed vast amounts of data about their customers' habits and preferences, and they have demonstrated that it's possible to use this data to greatly improve and streamline processes and operations in ways that had not been possible before.
In much the same way these organizations have embraced the age and the power of data, maintenance and engineering managers can — and in many cases, should — find every way possible to gather, sort and analyze facility data on everything from energy use and repair frequency to technician productivity and inventory costs. By embracing and maximizing the data at their disposal, managers will be in a much better position to make smarter decisions on budgets, staff, and purchasing.
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.
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