Time to Tighten Up Your Maintenance Planning?

As spring approaches, this is traditionally the time of year when people’s thoughts turn to getting their properties in order – clearing out clutter, carrying out repairs and generally sprucing the place up following a long, drab winter.

Of course, in facilities management, this kind of general maintenance is front of mind all year round. But one lesson that can be learnt from the Great Spring Spruce Up is the value of planning ahead, and setting aside time for repeat tasks.

A good proportion of maintenance work is always going to reactive – it is in the nature of things that when they break, they need fixing. But reactive maintenance is different to deferred maintenance, which is delaying and delaying until you absolutely have to fix a problem.

In the long term, deferred maintenance makes no sense. Everyone knows, for example, that it costs more to replace a boiler or an a/c system once it has given up the ghost than it does to carry out regular, planned services to keep them in working order.

Better Value

These are obvious examples, but that kind of planned, preventative approach can be applied to all areas of facilities maintenance. It has two key advantages over a purely reactive, deferred strategy:

  • Prevention is nearly always cheaper than full repair or replacement;
  • Regular routine maintenance checks ensure problems are spotted early and action can be taken before an issue gets too serious.

Good maintenance planning therefore allows FM operatives to offer better value and service to clients, by working to avoid high repair or replacement costs wherever possible.

Strategic maintenance planning makes good business sense in other ways, too. Creating a clear schedule means that workers’ time and resources can be allocated more efficiently. It means there is less downtime between jobs while it is decided who does what, so overall productivity increases.

Effective Planning

Being able to schedule and plan maintenance work efficiently and effectively depends on a number of other factors. One is ensuring that there are enough staff to carry out all the planned work, and that they have the right skills for each task. Shortages in personnel and skills are a key cause of maintenance checks being deferred as everything is put on hold for the right person to be available.

Scheduling and planning is not an easy task, especially when considering maintenance on large commercial premises. It takes skill and experience to get right, and is worth investing time and effort in to get the most value out. Work Order Management software is a very handy tool to use, and specialised maintenance management versions are available to the FM trade.

Finally, part of good planning is always assessing and gaining feedback to make sure the system is achieving what was expected. A key part of this is measuring schedule compliance – are tasks being started and finished on time, is the allocation of time and resources correct, can the system be improved? This is also crucial for occasions when routine maintenance discovers a bigger issue which requires attention, meaning scheduling has to be kept fluid and open to revisions.

Maintenance Planning

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