Facility management (FM) has evolved to become much more than a practice for managing buildings and the infrastructure contained therein.
More than ever, today’s facility managers are involved at the strategic level of their employers’ and clients’ businesses. They are expected to recommend, coordinate, and actively implement best practices that impact the success of each organization.
Consequently, FM services are expected to remain in high demand for the foreseeable future.
This article discusses facility operations optimization – one of the practices that FMs can utilize to enable them to make strategic and sustainable improvements in their facilities. We’ll start with a quick clarification about facility operations optimization.
Facility Operations Optimization
Facility operations optimization refers to the process of making a facility run as efficiently as possible using the available resources.
The concept of facility operations optimization initially focused on reducing energy consumption, but it has grown to become applicable in many more areas.
Providing Added Value Through Optimization
While each organization will have its unique FM goals and objectives, facility managers generally share an overarching goal to gain improvements in certain key areas. These areas generally include:
On a global scale, buildings account for about 40% of energy consumption. In a typical facility, energy expenditure alone often represents a considerable part of the budget. Therefore, it’s advisable to manage energy consumption and possibly free up funds for other maintenance needs. Based on the technologies available today, many options exist to help FMs manage energy consumption. However, the optimal option is still energy management via building automation systems (BAS).
The benefits of automation are usually immediately evident. It offers a more centralized and holistic approach that makes energy consumption easier to track, monitor, and control from one platform. No longer do FMs have to waste time and effort constantly checking each of the major energy-consuming components in their facility.
Take HVAC systems as an example – rather than manually checking and adjusting temperature levels daily, they can simply set their BAS to monitor each unit and relay the required information back to them.
Furthermore, they can receive feedback from the BAS remotely, 24/7. By doing so, it becomes significantly easier to detect abnormal usage patterns in power consumption. The affected units can then be corrected accordingly. This same level of insight is applicable to lighting and other electrical systems as well.
Supporting the People
Despite all the demands of facility management, at its core, it’s about supporting people. Facility managers seek to answer the question – how can we deliver the best value to our building users each day?
In any type of facility, operations optimization can ensure that each building user obtains maximum value as they go about their daily business. Operations optimization can provide the following benefits:
All user needs are communicated to the maintenance team and captured effortlessly through a job request and work order management system
Keeping productivity and comfort high through proactive downtime-tracking of all existing systems, minimizing the disruption of essential services (e.g. mechanical and electrical installations.)
Asset Maintenance and Operations
The long-term success and stability of any facility is largely dependent on the upkeep of all its physical assets. The mainstay of that upkeep is an adequate and thoroughly executed, proactive maintenance program.
Still, although proactive asset maintenance is highly beneficial, optimization can further improve the achievable results. It will help to improve the execution of all facility operations, reduce incidents of equipment failure, and reduce unnecessary maintenance expenditure.
Maintenance optimizations involve a number of processes such as:
Monitoring mission-critical assets
Deploying maintenance software
Digitization and automation of maintenance processes
Frequent and relevant maintenance staff training
to mention just a few of the key points.
Furthermore, it’s vital to stress that the maintenance optimization process relies heavily on reliable data. The data collected should comprehensively cover equipment failure history over time.
The end result and value offered by optimization is seen in several areas. For example, the maintenance budget is maximized, and asset reliability and lifespan improve. In addition, facility operations such as inventory management become more cost-efficient.
Technology is inseparable from modern facility management. Several solutions exist that enable facility managers to boost operational efficiency on their premises. When these technologies are applied alongside facility operations optimization, the result is further improvement in resource usage – especially for key resources like time, labor, and money.
Some of the most valuable solutions that FMs can leverage include:
Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS)
Computer-aided facility management (CAFM)
Building automation systems (BAS)
Among other benefits, optimized technologies enable facility managers to reduce downtime, improve workflow automation, and streamline every area of facility management.
Facility managers already know that every day comes with potential challenges. Each challenge needs to be addressed swiftly and optimally. Applying facility operations optimization in the different areas of a facility presents opportunities for long-term improvements while reducing resource usage.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.
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