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04 February 2019 Nick Fox

FM contracts should be simple but planned preventative maintenance (PPM) can cause unnecessary complexity, says Nick Fox.

FM providers and suppliers often bid for PPM without clarity on the requirements – and sometimes accept contractual ambiguity and subjectivity. Most providers are now au fait with SFG20 methodology (standard for building maintenance), however, not many follow it 

in its entirety and only use elements of it.

What does your contract state you should be following? 

Commercial inclusions such as manufacturers recommendations/instructions, good industry practice, industry standards, British standards, European standards start to appear. 

What on earth does this mean in terms of delivering PPM? It makes a huge difference to your P&L, that’s for sure!

SFG20 could be described as the Rolls-Royce of maintenance and is expensive; however, it gives clear maintenance tasks aligned to legislation and standards, task frequencies, skill sets and completion times, which is the reason it is often used as a baseline. 

Understandably, SFG20 doesn’t provide task instructions for every asset type so this adds further issues for agreeing regimes and this is where you need time during tender stage to deal with these commercial clarifications and asset data reviews.

Some in the industry suggest that SFG20 rarely extends the life of an asset or its performance while in operation. A brave statement, but there may be some truth to this; only research will tell.

Don’t forget compliance

Delivering to a contractually agreed PPM standard is one thing, but evidencing it can be equally problematic. If you don’t have an accurate list you can’t maintain your assets – meaning compliance will suffer.

If you don’t have an agreed regime and asset list how can you prove compliance?

Moving forward

There is desire to move away from frequency-based PPM, but this will rely on advances in technology, enhanced knowledge and skill sets in FM staff, flexible systems and increased appetite from clients.

Some suggest that suppliers do not want to move away from frequency-based PPM as this will reduce turnover, but others say clients will demand it. 

Providers using technology and expertise to offer different regimes such as business-focused maintenance (BFM) and condition-based maintenance (CBM) will be in good stead if they can educate clients to move towards this.

A big consideration will be an understanding and agreement of any perceived risk associated by moving away from frequency-based PPM, with the client needing to agree to any impact such regimes may have on their core business. This will be tricky as clients often have a rough understanding of what they want but not necessarily what they need.

To borrow from Andrew Perry at G4S: “A shift change in attitudes and culture is required as a certain level of risk acceptance and management is required – and to achieve this successfully requires an understanding of the assets 

and how sites operate.”

The solution

Devote time at tender stage to clarify beyond doubt what level of PPM is to be delivered to assets and agree frequencies and the method of maintenance at this stage. If clarity is not given, a section on risk should be included to ensure that everyone agrees on future issues.

Of course, you also need accurate asset detail up front and an effective review during mobilisation stage.

Tony Tanswell

Cost is the driver

The industry is indeed changing and the driver is most certainly cost. We have been conducting asset management using CBM, FMCEA, LCA, RCM and some other in-house development tools. It is also important that the client understands the impact of new/replacement equipment in terms of real value over the life cycle and not just upfront cost. However, most budgets are split into maintenance and capital, many times with different management streams. The challenge is to demonstrate the relationship between the two and help steer in the right direction from the outset; this also requires an honest and open relationship with the client. The other issue is technical skills; we are training people to be fitters not technicians – more needs to be done in training. I don’t let my guys quote for replacement parts unless they are sure of the failure cause.

Tony Tanswell, HVAC specialist

Luke Folwell

Tailor to requirements

At ENGIE we have developed relatively comprehensive BFM and CBM techniques and operating models, which we tailor to clients requirements… In a competitive tender it is not always advantageous to let your competition know your thoughts or bid strategy. Asset verification exercises are essential during mobilisation, and are invaluable to the service provider in their due diligence activities, and can also be used to gather specific asset information that can shape PPM innovations in the future.

Luke Folwell, head of technical & authorising engineer at ENGIE

Simon McLaughlin

Seek to clarify

Accurate asset registers are ideal but seldom occur, so good tender processes should have a verification process for the bidder to validate during mobilisation with a mechanism to allow price adjustment against their tendered price... My experience is bidders don’t properly survey buildings during mobilisation, which causes problems. The last point re frequency-based PPM I think is two points: a good spec should get the bidder to propose their maintenance approach which then creates their defined frequencies to be measured against but allows innovation. True variable maintenance tied to live monitoring is probably a few steps away for most contracts. 

Simon McLaughlin, associate director at AECOM

Paul Cullen

Imaginative maintenance

A potential solution is to contract for asset availability SLAs. This leaves the way open for more imaginative and cost-effective maintenance regimes based on predictive analytics. The latest developments in the integration of building management systems with 

CAFM/CMMS systems has made this affordable.

Paul Cullen, engagement manager at Vetasi Ltd

Final thoughts

1. Look at your contract: are you delivering what you’ve signed up to and has it been costed appropriately? Digressing, but making a point – I’ll never forget seeing a tender submission to maintain 25 overhead cranes for a total £500 a year. They won, but guess what? I couldn’t deliver it as the actual cost was 15 times the tendered amount.

2. Are you compliant?

3. Can the FM industry maintain and evidence maintenance in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations/instructions even during warranty periods? There has to be a place for this, especially in technical arenas where specialist kit is maintained. I’ve never worked on a contract where we had the level of asset detail, let alone the O&Ms for it all.

4. Will BFM and CBM methodologies start to change the way that PPM is delivered in the future?  

Nick Fox is chair of IWFM Members Council and an experienced senior professional and consultant