Transitioning to a High Performance Building

As a facility manger, you have most likely come across the phrase high performance building; but how do you know what constitutes one? The maintenance and operation of high performance buildings call for progressive and practical management methods for energy management and cost effectiveness.

What is a High Performance Building?

There is no single definition for a high performance building as several scholars and researchers in the industry have come up with different and slightly differing definitions. The term is still undergoing refinement and as such has been used almost interchangeably with other building terms.

However, in defining a high performance building, there has been a similarity to the definition of an intelligent building which can be found in documented form from several sources including government, research and industry.

An intelligent building has been defined by the Energy Independence and Securities Act 2007 as “A building that integrates and optimizes on a lifecycle basis all major high performance attributes, including energy [and water] conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations“.

The major focus on intelligent buildings is placed mostly on the integration of the different systems running a building, using technology to achieve the bulk of the work. There is a similarity between the definition of an intelligent building and a high performance building. What needs to be remembered though is that high performance buildings also place a great deal of emphasis on sustainability which was defined by the Brundtland Report in 1987 as development which met the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Maintaining a High Performance Building

When it comes to maintaining high performance buildings, the systems are more complex, driving efficiencies through incremental improvements to all integrated systems.  By their very nature, High Performance Buildings require several dynamic systems which are much more multifaceted than those found in other buildings. The lighting, mechanical and control systems are more intricate. The heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems alone most likely consist of radiant heating and cooling tied into chillers, boilers, split A/C units, and other systems which are all linked to the building automation systems (BAS).

Because of the level of this intricacy, maintaining and managing a high performance building requires dedicated software that has been designed for that purpose. Regardless of how well designed a building of facility is, the true test of performance lies in the maintenance and operation of the building.

In order to maintain a high performance building, benchmarking is an important component that cannot be ignored. This involves using a set standard to compare performance and measurements. Benchmarking helps the facility manager to determine if the building is performing as it ought to and how well and also helps in setting targets or goals for continuous improvement.

If your building makes use of intricate lighting, mechanical and control systems and also incorporates the use of renewable energies such as solar, wind or geothermal systems then you are most likely in charge of a high performance building, and you are likely managing your facility with a CMMS or Enterprise Asset Management software to ensure all assets are performing to expectations.

Asset Optimization with Reliability Centered Maintenance

When it comes to the management of physical assets in large facilities, maintenance is a primary concern.  Maintenance structures have evolved over the years with the advent of Enterprise Asset Management or EAM Systems, several forms of automated maintenance have evolved.  One of these is Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), which deals with the analysis of failures and potential failures of physical assets.

What is Reliability Centered Maintenance?

A brief understanding of RCM is essential in order to get an insight into the way it functions as a maintenance process.

Reliability Centered Maintenance is an automated process to measure when Asset Maintenance will have the most value.  As a maintenance strategy, it has been adopted by more demanding facilities such as the aviation industry and commercial nuclear power industry in the U.S.  In some cases, it has also been incorporated by the U.S. military as a maintenance strategy.

Where RCM is different from predictive or preventive maintenance is that instead of focusing on the physical asset alone or choosing a set schedule for asset maintenance, it directs attention more to the functions of those assets with an effort to preserve the functions for the longest possible period.  The aim is not necessarily to preserve the equipment itself at top capacity; rather it is to preserve the output of the equipment with maximum efficiency.

Reliability Centered Maintenance provides a structured framework where the functions and possible failures of a physical asset can be analyzed.  Maintenance systems are then set up with the aim to not only to reduce maintenance costs, but to enhance the reliability of the asset for the duration of its lifespan.  Proactive methods are utilized to achieve this means.

The Basic Principles of Reliability Centered Maintenance

When creating an RCM plan, there are a few things to remember:

  1. The first thing to note is that RCM focuses on the function of the physical asset.  Unlike most other maintenance methods, such as condition based maintenance and preventive maintenance, Reliability Centered Maintenance is not necessarily about preserving the condition of the asset, but rather of the preservation of output of the asset.
  2. Secondly, it is important to know that RCM does not see only breakdown of an asset as failure; if the performance of an asset is unsatisfactory, RCM considers that a failure as well.
  3. RCM looks to the output of the asset as a whole, rather than the functioning of single units of that asset.  The general performance of a physical asset is more important to RCM than just the performance of one part of the asset.
  4. For Reliability Centered Maintenance to be effective, it has to be able to reduce the probability of failure in a way that is cost efficient.
  5. RCM is a dynamic system, as it relies on continuous data gathering and feedback.  It is more of a process to keep the assets productive versus a plan to keep assets running. This is what makes is a proactive maintenance technique.
  6. Most large facilities include shift or daily tour logs plus a Building Automation System (BAS) to ensure systems are running efficiently. RCM uses this information to evaluate asset performance, along with individual asset Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to optimize asset utilization.

These are just some of the basic principles of RCM. This method enhances the continued function of a facility by addressing it as a whole unit. As important as this form of maintenance is in facility management, it should not be used in exclusion.  The incorporation of an effective CMMS makes it possible to combine the different methods of maintenance into one cohesive whole.

Using CMMS to Make Equipment Last Longer

By now, you probably know about the benefits of having a good Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) in place in your operation, especially if the system includes Preventive Maintenance software.  When used correctly and on a regular basis, those scheduled checks and service to equipment help to prolong the life of the equipment, leading to less breakdowns and downtime.

But what if you could predict when equipment will need to be replaced?  And when a vital piece of your day-to-day operation suddenly—and inevitably—breaks down, wouldn’t it be great if you had anticipated the failure, and already had the necessary replacement on standby, decreasing the time the facility would be without it?

Through the use of predictive maintenance techniques, a company can determine the condition of a part or piece of equipment to predict an estimated time of failure.  Knowing which piece of equipment needs maintenance or replacement ahead of time means the parts, replacement equipment and necessary technicians can be scheduled ahead of time, translating into a smoother transition.

Sounds a lot like preventive maintenance, doesn’t it?  Here’s an example of the differences between the two techniques.  An air conditioning condenser was installed in a facility some years ago, and from the data you have on this piece of equipment, you know it has about a year left before it breaks down.  You schedule a replacement sometime before that year is up.  This is preventive maintenance.

However, through routine inspection, you have some indication that the unit won’t last as long as you thought, so you decide to replace it next month, rather than waiting another year.  You have predicted the unit’s failure, using predictive maintenance.

Most CMMS software can be used to take advantage of predictive maintenance, through the use of these features:

  1. Quality Inspections:  Using mobile technology, your inspector can access a probable breakdown, predict the time of failure and enter it into the system.
  2. Corrective Action:  When a breakdown is predicted, Corrective Action Work Requests are automatically generated, giving your staff ample time to access the situation and schedule the necessary replacement.
  3. Preventive Maintenance: Before the imminent breakdown, preventive maintenance measures can be adjusted and refined to make sure the equipment is safe and running while it’s replacement has been researched and purchased.

As you see, using predictive maintenance with preventive maintenance ensures that breakdowns are kept to a minimum.  And when equipment inevitably fails, the replacement is made quickly, leading to less downtime, and a happier customer.

Facility Management Software Can Save You Money

It is critical for a business to manage its properties efficiently.  One of the best ways to get this done is using web based facility maintenance software.

Automation is a Big Deal

One of the most important cost saving functions of facility maintenance software is automation:

  1. When Preventive Maintenance is due – notifications to assigned workers and scheduling managers.
  2. When Preventive Maintenance is completed – notifications to project and building managers.
  3. When Service is requested – notifications to assigned workers.
  4. When Service is completed – notifications to the initiator, project and building managers.
  5. When Materials are running low – notifications to the project manager.
  6. When Material costs may go over budget – instant notification before an order is placed.

Protect Your Assets

First tough question:  Do you currently have an accurate list of all maintained assets in your facility?  If being totally honest, it is surprising how many facility managers would have to answer “No”.

Detailed cost histories of the maintenance and repairs performed for all facility equipment is vital to your budget.  Facility maintenance software tracks all of the money spent so you can make budgeting or repair/replace decisions without much guess work.

Second tough question:  Do you currently have an accurate list of all supplies, parts, and tools in your facility?  Even more facility managers would have to answer “No”.

Supplies, parts, and tools are valuable assets.  While tracking your maintenance labor and 3rd party contractor costs, you could easily track your supplies, parts, tools, and even rentals with facility maintenance software.  Having this information leads to lowered carrying costs and greater cash flow.

Safety and Security – Job #1

Providing a safe and secure work environment is a top priority for any facility.  Your facility maintenance software could be tracking all of the training provided to every maintenance staff member.  Clear work instructions, with Safety precautions clearly stated at the beginning of the work order, could be automatically provided for each preventive maintenance task you perform.

Any safety concerns that are found during maintenance or repairs can be documented and highlighted so you are made aware of potential hazards before it is too late.

Wasted Time = Wasted Money

Time management is important for any business.  Coordinating all of the activities required to keep your facility running smoothly is another potential savings.

The goal of any maintenance system is to avoid costly downtime due to a lack of labor, supplies, parts, or money.  Preparing an automated schedule in advance helps to spread work load while providing a preview of materials needed and costs estimates for performing work.

The ability to optimize work load to correspond to peak demand can save a considerable amount of overtime while providing greater safety, security, and comfort for the people using your facility every day.

All Facilities Have Custom Needs

Cookie cutter solutions cost you money.  Every facility needs to be managed independently to optimize resource utilization.  Facility maintenance software can help you analyze performance over time, zeroing in on opportunities to make your facility more efficient.  This is especially true for groups of buildings or with buildings that are larger in size.

Throughout your facility, there are dollars waiting to be picked up and put to better use.  Freeing your time to pursue these savings is the primary objective of facility maintenance software.

Preventive Maintenance Accountability

With tighter budgets and today’s economic challenges, it’s more important than ever for any business to watch their bottom line, and that includes proper maintenance of equipment.  The breakdown of one piece of machinery can cripple the work flow, and a downtime for as little as a day can translate to the loss of thousands—even millions—of dollars.  Preventive maintenance, therefore, can mean the success or failure of any given business.

However, scheduling preventive maintenance means little if the actual maintenance is not done properly, or at the recommended time.  It’s important to have everyone on your team on the same page, working to their optimum level, in order to keep business running smoothly.  But providing accountability for such maintenance can be a daunting task.

How can I make sure all employees have the specs on any given equipment?  How can I make sure the maintenance is done correctly by all employees, regardless of their length of time with the company?  Is there a way to send them to the site, confident that they have the necessary tools and equipment needed to perform the maintenance?

Most companies have asked these very questions, and have opted to invest in a quality CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) software, making sure the software they choose includes Preventive Maintenance Software.  The advantages of this type of system are many, including:

Regular Scheduling of Necessary Preventive Maintenance

If you are responsible for ten or twenty pieces of equipment, regular preventive maintenance wouldn’t be much of a problem.  But most successful companies maintain—or would like to maintain—several facilities housing thousands of pieces of equipment.  The scheduling for all of this would be mind-boggling.  Luckily, CMMS software is designed with this scenario in mind.  Some can even balance your work load using Industry Standards and Federal Guidelines as benchmarks to insure that the work is done at the recommended standard.

Employee Management and Training

A Preventive Maintenance system will track each task done by each employee, decreasing the chance of an employee providing maintenance too soon or too late within the schedule.  Also, your managers can easily adjust schedules through an employee scheduling system, insuring that a replacement is made for a worker who is sick, on vacation, or has left the company. And through web-based Preventive Maintenance Systems, your workforce will be constantly up-to-date on maintenance training and other issues.  Whether they are in the office or in the field, as long as they have an Internet connection, they have the answers with them at all times, day or night.

Accurate Preventive Maintenance Records

Once the service is done, the way to guarantee future service is done correctly is proper and timely recording of preventive maintenance.  A quality CMMS makes this fairly easy, and accurate records insure that proper maintenance is done at the proper time.

No matter the software, a Preventive Maintenance System can only work well if used regularly.  Make sure the system you decide on takes all the issues of your specific preventive maintenance into account, and is flexible and intuitive so that it adapts as your business grows.