12 October 2015 | Steve Edgson
Maintenance is a significant cost, which can account for as much as 40 per cent of the operational budget.
As the FM industry has increasingly needed to do more for less, the maintenance culture has changed from the unpredictability of reactive work to a best in class model of using more planning, scheduling and preventive work.
Every penny still counts for UK businesses. And, as companies point the finger at rising energy costs as a major business threat, with HVAC systems in commercial buildings being responsible for almost a half of total energy use, the need to manage assets is moving centre stage once again. As well as the need to keep a building's running costs in check, to maintain compliance and reduce downtime, government targets and the public consciousness around sustainability are also pushing the envelope to maintain key assets in an intelligent way.
The most common approach to predictive maintenance in the UK is based on the industry standard maintenance regime SFG20 (2012). The cyclical approach and traditional intrusive maintenance methods of SFG20 are losing relevance in today's business world. Condition-based monitoring (CBM), assisted by developments in machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, smart assets and real time links to equipment, enables assets to be maintained based on their operational context and performance, rather than 'what the manual says'. Pushing the boundaries beyond the standard SFG20 industry approach, through a flexible, data-driven model, reduces maintenance cycles on non-critical and low usage assets to increase resource capacity. This removes the need to interrupt or shut down service, arranging maintenance around periods of high usage to meet occupants' demands.
Smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming the asset management model. Wi-fi has removed the human-factor and has given assets the power to talk to each other, resulting in the joined-up capturing and sharing of information. More and more building management systems (BMS) and HVAC systems will have an intuitive interface that allows a wide range of monitoring, reporting and diagnostic tools across multiple sites in a single integrated system. Ubiquitous connectivity allows FMs to visualise and manage data, creating detailed analyses and predictions for CBM, which allow for a flexible maintenance model that can be modified for individual assets.
As maintenance techniques become increasingly sophisticated, FMs are presented with an opportunity to take a more positive and proactive approach to asset life-cycle management, viewing it as a profit centre, rather than an expense. FMs need to monitor assets closely to understand what normal performance looks like. Looking at degradation, system alerts and mean time between failures, they can start to predict, through learnt performance data, when assets might falter and service them in advance of that point. The benefits to this approach are numerous and include cost savings, better asset performance and reduced downtime.
It is acknowledged industry-wide that slumping on maintenance is false economy, and now is the time to redefine the conventional setting for maintenance.
The IoT and M2M are set to dominate the FM agenda, enabling FMs to enter a new world of smart strategic maintenance.
Steve Edgson is director at Asset Handling