Every maintenance team should have an established checklist, or preventive maintenance schedule, to keep a facility in working order. A proper maintenance schedule, especially for commercial buildings, will include plans and practices for nearly every aspect of building upkeep, from regular checkups to disaster preparedness during inclement weather or other unforeseen events.
A maintenance schedule establishes a routine, which everyone can follow and reference, at a given point during their duties. It also helps to properly manage staff, by ensuring everyone has a role to fill, and responsibilities to attend.
Creating a maintenance schedule may seem simple, but there’s a lot that goes into it, and a lot you must consider during the task.
1. Involve the Crew(s)
Step one is to establish the requirements of a maintenance plan and the regular duties of all involved personnel. While it may be easy to put together a surface checklist on your own, many responsibilities will end up overlooked or left out.
That’s why it’s imperative to consult the people who are involved in the day-to-day. You might also incorporate anyone else involved with managing the property, as 80% of property managers are involved in the coordination or performance of maintenance and repairs. Over 70% perform inspections, advertise vacancies, and facilitate leases. They know what’s happening within commercial buildings or facilities.
As for what to ask your crews, where do they spend most of their time? Are there concerns that need to be met? Are there any rare events that need to be addressed or considered?
What’s more, established practices should always have a clear set of rules or procedural steps to follow. Take visual inspections, for example. Crews should always know what to look for, where to look, how often, and what the potential signs of damage or failure are.
Rolling doors are an excellent example because they have so many moving parts that are easy to overlook. During a visual inspection of a rolling door, crews need to know to check guides, brackets and fasteners, operating motors, and much more. After that, what’s next? How do they proceed? There are other critical maintenance steps to take, and a proper plan should incorporate them.
2. Create an Asset Database
What assets are under your care? When it comes to commercial buildings, which are more prone to failures or mishaps? Are there any equipment or systems that need to be handled by an outside party?
Not only you need to identify these things, but you also need to record and track them. The simplest method is to create a spreadsheet, accessible by all maintenance team members, that includes basic information about the assets and service data. Without this information, there’s no way to quantify a proper maintenance schedule. How do you know what needs to be serviced, and when? How do you even know how much there is to include in your plans?
This is another stage of the process where you can involve the rest of the team. It’s even more important to make it a team effort when there are multiple facilities or locations involved because that’s just too much for one person to take on.
3. Incorporate Smarter Monitoring
Many new technologies allow for more nuanced, accurate, and responsive reporting. IoT is the perfect example. Incorporating IoT devices within a facility can make a huge difference, and the insights can help create a more dynamic maintenance routine.
You can proactively monitor equipment, systems, and aspects of the facility that would be difficult to ascertain manually. Maybe a mission-critical machine is experiencing performance issues and a checkup needs to be moved up the pipeline. These data-driven solutions also allow for quick reporting to the necessary parties. You could order a crew member to drop what they’re doing and check the aforementioned piece of equipment, all remotely.
4. Utilize Work Order Software (CMMS)
Writing maintenance and repair needs on sticky notes and leaving them around the office is not an effective strategy. But you probably know that already. Enter work order and computer maintenance management software (CMMS), or what’s sometimes called facility management software (FMS).
From a top-down level, maintenance managers can create, assign, and facilitate work orders for their crew members from within a digital dashboard. Those orders can also bind to other digital information and assets, like performance metrics, historical data, and so on. Through the system, maintenance crews can also accept requests from building occupants from outside the department.
These kinds of solutions vastly improve maintenance scheduling, especially for commercial buildings, by enhancing the management process. It ties directly into the need to direct resources to the right places, at the right time, including workers.
5. Remember Foundational Components
Core elements of any facility should be incorporated into the maintenance routine to ensure the structure and its underpinnings are always in working order. That includes things like doors, windows, gates, and other entrances or openings. The facility’s lighting, plumbing, electrical, heating or cooling, and access controllers are all important as well.
While you do not need to follow many of these things daily, weekly, or even monthly, it’s important to establish a proper routine nonetheless. How often should they be measured, monitored, or reported? What are the signs it’s time to take action or kickstart a repair? What are the policies and practices for doing these repairs?
6. Develop an Accountability System
Once you create the schedule or checklist and everyone knows what they have to do, it becomes about accountability. You need to establish a system that allows you to monitor progress and engage with the rest of your team. How can you be sure someone is doing what they’re supposed to? Have the maintenance schedules been followed and are the assets being checked or repaired promptly?
It should never become a system to blame or punish others. If there are repeated acts of negligence and they are causing problems, that needs to be dealt with. But the accountability system shouldn’t be the primary method for addressing it. Apprenticeships are a healthy way to incorporate accountability, and they’re common in construction and commercial industries.
Digitizing the Maintenance Schedule Is Key
Not everything can be digitized, but incorporating modern technologies where you can make a huge difference. Facility maintenance for commercial buildings and properties is a long, highly complex process that may or may not touch upon hundreds, if not thousands, of different assets and components.
Involving the crew early in the schedule creation process is important. You must also identify and list all assets, including equipment, facility components, and beyond. Incorporating smarter monitoring and work order tools is a must. Finally, there needs to be a system of accountability to ensure the whole team is doing what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to.
Rose Morrison is an AEC industry writer and the managing editor of Renovated. To read more of her work, check out her site.