Pressured to do more with less, facilities managers are coming up with new approaches. Explore these tactics and other notable developments in the industry:
In the face of mounting cost reduction pressures, facilities managers are finding ways to increase efficiencies. For example, they’re delivering higher-quality maintenance at lower cost through automation. And through outsourcing, they’re improving personnel training and keeping better track of equipment performance. In short, they’re responding to tightening budgets by coming up with new approaches. Here are seven noteworthy developments in the industry:
- 1) Doing more with less. Facilities managers are charged with the task of improving maintenance, accomplishing this objective with reduced capital outlay, less time and fewer people per square foot. As a result, managers are constantly seeking ways to improve efficiency. For instance, they’re getting better at planning and scheduling. Additionally, many are starting to use time-saving products for maintenance tasks. For example, to apply paints and coatings with greater speed and efficiency, they’re turning to airless sprayers, personnel lifts and low-odor coatings. Indeed, in the drive to do more with less, managers are taking both small and big measures.
2) Automation. One big measure is the automation of facilities management projects, leading to changes in the way they’re planned, executed and tracked. For instance, maintenance personnel are relying on wireless devices to monitor activity and to improve responsiveness while managers are using Computer Aided Facilities Maintenance (CAFM) tools to integrate all project aspects from space planning to resource allocation. According to Pat Conroy, president of MicroMain Corp., a Texas-based provider of asset and facility management software and services, the three significant automation developments include: 1) increased reliance on handheld devices to minimize paperwork and boost the accuracy of data collection, 2) integration of facility management and maintenance management functions and departments, and 3) greater focus on integrating facility/maintenance/building control systems (hardware and software).
3) Outsourcing is on the rise as a growing number of businesses are choosing to turn over their facilities management functions to outside contractors. They are outsourcing to better concentrate on core competencies as well as to acquire expertise they would not be able to develop on their own. For example, service providers can teach a company’s maintenance staff how to perform tasks faster and better. Additionally, facilities managers often enjoy fixed costs when they use outside contractors and can ultimately cut overall facilities management expenses. Moreover, by outsourcing, facilities managers can access cutting edge technology. “Outsource service providers have the resources to employ wireless handheld inspection terminals and Web-based portals that make it easy to track equipment performance, plan maintenance, control inventory, inform repair technicians and report results to management,” says Jeffrey Peterson, vice president and chief technology officer at UNICCO Service Co., a Massachusetts-based facilities services provider.
4) Increasing complexity. This trend is related to outsourcing as companies often decide to outsource because of the growing complexity of facilities management. Both the industrial-plant sector and the non-industrial facility segment are employing more sophisticated technology for maintenance. Moreover, in the service industry, facilities managers have to keep track of complex data over long periods of time in order to monitor improvements.
5) Value-driven design. Faced with limited space, managers are squeezing the most functionality out of every square foot. Facilities managers and their designers are creating cost-effective and productivity-enhancing facilities by tailoring spaces to the needs of the organization and its workers. As a result, trendy offices are out while classic designs are in. Additionally, workspaces that are flexible, able to accommodate multiple functions and capable of supporting cutting edge technologies, such as wireless LAN, are much coveted. In short, this value-driven trend is characterized by a renewed emphasis on maximizing usage and practicality.
6) Energy conservation is an enduring goal of facilities managers, and this objective has gained in urgency in the past few years because of rising energy costs. As a result, facilities managers are taking many measures to curb usage, following simple steps such as maximizing daylight as well as undertaking major projects such as integrating chilled water plants. Moreover, they are also performing thorough energy audits. This can reveal where and how a facility is using energy. It will also expose the areas in need of improvement and ways to boost overall energy efficiency.
7) Short-term staffing. Facilities managers are increasingly relying on supplemental labor to help their in-house staff cope with unplanned work and to ensure that their facility runs at full capacity, all the time. Four key advantages are fueling this trend. First of all, short-term staffing prevents productivity losses resulting from emergencies or unscheduled work. Second, supplemental labor mitigates hiring risks and workers’ compensation risks because the company providing the labor takes on and manages the risk. Third, this strategy can help control labor costs. While hiring and training staff for short-term or special projects can be a budget-breaker, relying on supplemental labor allows facilities managers to direct labor resources to the most important projects. Additionally, they remain in control of the project and the quality of each worker. Fourth, short-term staffing helps managers stay focused on core competencies.
Short-Term Staffing: A Long-Term Solution for Facilities Managers
Building Services Management, Nov. 2003
Regina Raiford Babcock
Buildings.com, October 2003
Clear Skies Act
Today’s Facility Manager, Oct. 2003
Today’s Painting Arsenal
Maintenance Solutions, October 2003
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Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, August 2002
Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE) www.afe.org
Building Owners & Managers Association International (BOMA) www.boma.org
International Facility Management Association (IFMA) www.ifma.org
The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) www.werc.org
Building Services Management www.buildingservicesmgt.com
Facility Safety Management www.fsmmag.com
Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation www.impomag.com