AKWIRE for Maximo User Group

Slashing Facilities Maintenance Costs by 50% and More - It’s Possible

by Phil Kendon on September 8, 2016

The arguments for a proactive preventive maintenance program to reduce facility management costs are well documented. It makes sense – just like it makes sense to pay the fees to have your car serviced regularly to avoid a complete engine failure down the road which costs you an arm and a leg.

It is best to maintain a well-used piece of equipment and extend its life as long as possible, rather than abuse it or brush off suggested maintenance. At that point, it will fail and you will need to replace it.

In terms of facilities management, this strategy can literally save—or cost—millions of dollars, depending on how well the preventive maintenance program works.

According to a study outlining university facility management costs, the benefits of a preventive maintenance program are conclusive. Schools that score well in terms of their preventive maintenance initiatives have an average cost per work order that is 28% to 39% lower than their counterparts that function with reactive maintenance strategies.

Two of the highest cost operating and maintenance items for facility management are:

  • Roofing
  • HVAC systems

 Let’s look at some case studies and calculations that quantify the benefits of a preventive maintenance program for these two items.

Saving 55% of commercial roof costs through preventive maintenance 

In a recent article, the authors present a hypothetical case study to demonstrate the significant cost impact of using an already-established facility management budget to prolong the life of a commercial roof. 

Taking a standard commercial roof with an expected life of 20 years and comparing different levels of preventive maintenance yields the following frightening results, as displayed on the graphs in the article:

  • Having no maintenance leads to an actual lifespan of 10 years. Because of the costs to patch the rapidly-deteriorating roof and then to finally replace it, the Net Present Value (NPV) of the expense over 25 years is $801,216.
  • On the other hand, a standard preventive maintenance program extends the lifespan to 25 years and an NPV over 25 years of $359,127.

This translates to a staggering 55% savings on actual costs incurred when preventive maintenance activities are implemented. (Expenses are calculated for a roof size of 20,000 square feet.)

Additionally, the university maintenance study referred to previously quoted resources showing that a typical roof life is recorded at 12 years—even though many have a manufacturing warranty of up to 20 years—if strict preventive maintenance procedures are carried out.

It is also possible to extend the life of a roof by 30% if PM procedures are even only adequately enforced.

In another case study, a school encountered problems with a leaking roof after 15 years of service. As the life expectancy of the original roof was 20 years, there were no funds budgeted for a replacement.

A proactive approach was adopted to perform thermal scanning on the roof and thus to target repairs in the precise locations where leakage was occurring.

A preventive program like that of regular thermal scanning can identify leakage points early, while they are still small and haven’t become significant problems. When this scanning is done, targeted repairs can be conducted. This can significantly extend the life of the roof, thus delaying the major expense of a full replacement.

In an investigation of 3 roofs which had exceeded their original warranty life of 20 years, the evidence gathered revealed some interesting results. At the time of the report, these roofs had been in service between 23 and 29 years. There were three key elements highlighted to extend the life of a roof:

  • Specifying quality materials
  • Vigilant monitoring during installation
  • Long-term preventive maintenance

Roofing issues are cited as one of the biggest problem areas in facility management and are often difficult to resolve once they have developed.

A simple, preventive maintenance approach can literally save millions while reducing maintenance stress and energy to solve complex problems that could be avoided.

Here are some recommended actions to include in your roofing preventive maintenance strategy:

  • Clean gutters and drains
  • Inspect flashings and repair as necessary
  • Monitor vulnerable areas like joints and pipe penetrations
  • Resolve any ponding issues where water remains in pools on the roof surface

Saving big on HVAC maintenance costs

A series of articles, highlighted the radical improvement in facility maintenance costs in the Houston School District. 

Prior to the implementation of a routine preventive maintenance program, the HVAC systems were characterized by constant breakdowns and a cost of 10 to 12 million dollars per year on chillers and boilers.

The initial step was to implement regular filter changes, but this was soon followed by a more extensive program of lube management, belt replacement, fans and coil cleaning.

These maintenance steps culminated in an annual cost reduction from 1 to 2 million dollars per year. Instead of replacing major equipment several times a year, only one boiler has been replaced in 3 years. Additionally, day-to-day chiller maintenance requests have diminished from 20 to 40 per day to 5 to 10 per day

This real-life example of massive scale improvement in maintenance costs serves to underline the value of implementing a rigorous and effective preventive maintenance program.

Numerous studies have also highlighted the energy savings potential of having a well-maintained HVAC system running efficiently. A summary of some of these studies shows the following:

  • The New Buildings Institute study concluded that best practices in maintenance and operations reduce energy consumption by 10 to 20%, while poor practices can increase base costs by 30 to 60%.
  • The Portland Energy Conservation Inc. found that decreasing energy costs by 5% to 20% in commercial buildings was achievable with minimal capital expense.
  • The National Center for Energy Management and Building Technologies concluded that energy costs could be reduced by 15 to 20% in commercial buildings with an effective preventive maintenance plan.

The key preventive maintenance actions for HVAC systems are as follows:

  • Change the filters, oil and belts regularly
  • Clean the coils every 6 months for efficiency
  • Perform flame adjustments of boilers regularly 

Where do we go from here?

By instituting an effective preventive maintenance program, the reduction in maintenance and operating costs is overwhelming.

Consider these steps when implementing a systematic approach to building an effective preventive maintenance program for facilities:

  1. Evaluate where the major costs are being incurred in reactive and breakdown maintenance.
  2. Prioritize your efforts in those areas that have the biggest immediate payback as well as those areas that pose the highest risk for failure and incurring costs.
  3. Implement a preventive maintenance program that actively reduces the number of failures and prolongs the life of the equipment.
  4. Review the process and take steps for continuous improvement.

If your team is using a CMMS to plan, schedule, and assign maintenance, an add-on tool like AKWIRE for your Maximo CMMS could help you accelerate your savings and achieve greater efficiency. For example, the AKWIRE vSheduler offers significant advantages over the Maximo Scheduler for PM forecasting, organizing and prioritizing existing Work Orders, and assigning tasks to your workforce.

Which CMMS and other tools are you using to facilitate and streamline your maintenance activities?

What cost savings have you achieved through your facility’s preventive maintenance program? 

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Phil Kendon

Phil Kendon has an undergraduate degree in engineering along with a masters in vocational practice. He has ten years manufacturing experience in the Oil and Gas sector along with ten years experience with non profits.

Phil lives on the idyllic paradise island of Mauritius with his wife Leigh and 3

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