Steve Morren, director of channels – EMEA at iOFFICE, addresses the topic of maintenance as a profit rather than cost centre.
Maintenance – from cost centre to profit centre.
Where are we now?
Despite progress in recent years, too many organisations still view facilities management as a cost centre, a function that doesn’t directly add to profit but costs money to run. As a result, FM is usually the first service to be cut when things go south. Let’s use asset maintenance as an example. It’s ugly and, more than not, a nuisance. Most assets are in the bowels of the building or behind the walls and their presence is only ever felt when they fail. Maintenance doesn’t sell coffee or attract visitors, but it does leave you with a big, fat bill at the end of the month. This view is a failure of imagination and ambition. It underestimates asset maintenance’s scope and influence.
Where do we need to get to next?
The answer is to transform the perception of maintenance from a cost centre to a profit centre, a subtle yet powerful reframing. In many cases, maintenance is mission-critical. Consider an industrial setting where plant failure can result in significant downtime, stopping production lines and putting sales, supply chains and customer relationships in jeopardy. In a healthcare environment, asset failure can endanger people’s health. Even in a corporate office, a heating or lighting breakdown can impede employees from doing their work effectively. But understanding how important maintenance is to mission or business-critical operations is only the first step.
How do we get there?
Digitising the maintenance management process allows organisations to schedule and perform preventative maintenance, reducing downtime and instances when an engineer needs to be called out to deal with a costly repair.
By integrating assets with sensors, computerised maintenance systems and data analytics platforms, you can develop your predictive maintenance capability. This technology enables an organisation to monitor an asset’s condition in real-time and detect abnormalities.
If an HVAC system exceeds the normal range in temperature or vibration, the sensors can trigger a service request for an engineer. Finally, digitising maintenance in this way can also help to identify historical patterns in performance and energy, allowing for strategic forecasting and planning. This accurate data can then be used to build the business case for significant capex investment in areas of strategic importance, such as net zero carbon or employee experience.