Retrofits: Organizations Invest in Maintenance, Engineering Departments
To say the last decade, especially the last few years, has been trying for maintenance and engineering departments is a monumental understatement.
Budget cuts and staffing shortages, coupled with pressures for greater sustainability, are only a few of the factors that have created chaos for many managers and their staffs. Throw in constant technology advances and evolving regulations, and the enormity of the challenge becomes clear.
But amid the chaos might be an opportunity for managers. Increasingly cautious amid a faltering economy, many facility executives have pulled sharply back on new construction projects. Instead, they have devoted more resources to smaller, less expensive options: retrofits of existing buildings and systems.
In the process, executives might have rediscovered the treasures right under their noses: existing buildings, which for decades have suffered a heavy toll from executive decisions that favored building new over maintaining old.
The potential benefits for maintenance from this rediscovery are twofold. First, retrofits have refocused more attention on the state of buildings, something managers have pointed out for years, generally in vain. Second, and maybe more importantly, retrofits are more likely to involve maintenance and engineering departments, both to plan the projects — Who knows facilities better? — and carry them out.
There might even be a third benefit for managers. Successful retrofits — those on time and under budget and deliver intended benefits — might help managers make the case to facility executives that larger investments in maintenance and engineering departments will benefit the organization's bottom line.
All of this not to say the challenging times are past. They might never pass. But for managers who can capitalize on the potential opportunities retrofits are creating, the tough times for their departments might be a little less tough.
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.
Agree? Disagree? Have something to say? We want to hear from you. Visit http://www.myfacilitiesnet.com/members/Dan-Hounsell/default.aspx, and “Start a Conversation.”