Planning for reactive maintenance may sound like a contradiction but when it comes to physical security, failure to make contingency arrangements could leave you exposed, as Jimmy Durrance of J Durrance and Company explains.How do you decide what you need when making provision for reactive maintenance?
What are the benefits of a maintenance term contract?
Reactive maintenance can be defined as work that is scheduled in the 24 hours before it is carried out - effectively this covers anything that comes up in daily logging requiring immediate attention and emergencies.
Undeniably, the best way to prevent unexpected failures arising is to implement an ongoing programme of planned maintenance. Regular care and condition monitoring not only keeps equipment operational through scheduling of vital cleaning, lubrication and calibration tasks but also ensures incipient faults are picked up during visual inspections.
Proof of regular servicing is becoming obligatory as the onus for building safety and security shifts back onto property owners and managers. Regular servicing of items such as workplace doors, grilles or shutters is a legally required duty: failure to comply can lead to restriction notices, large fines or even imprisonment. More recently, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order calls for responsibility to be assigned to a named individual, in effect making them personally accountable should a situation arise.
No matter how comprehensive your PM programme, however, the need for ad hoc maintenance will never completely disappear.
Firstly, it is now commonly recognised that age-related equipment issues may make up only 20 per cent of failures, the balance being totally random. Whilst regular visual inspection will tend to pick up major degradations, unless you are looking at specific items daily, sudden failures will still arise.
Second, damage can occur at any point to building entry points or security systems through theft or vandalism.
And what about just plain accidents or random events? For example, where a vehicle collides with external doors or shutters. Fire or severe weather by their very nature can also strike unexpectedly. No amount of pre-planning can avert failures of this kind.
Making provision for reactive maintenance - how do I decide what I need?
Many companies, especially those with multiple sites, prefer to outsource facilities management and maintenance tasks because they judge it not to be core to their business. When it comes to reactive maintenance, companies may still feel that they would prefer to employ a designated individual on-site to oversee or fix everyday issues.
Whether you are a site manager, or contracted to provide an FM service, there is still rarely an economic argument to employ skilled trades people with specialist product knowledge that may be called upon only infrequently - for example locksmiths.
When an emergency occurs, the first priority for those responsible for security or premises management is to ensure the safety of staff and the general public. Equally important is to restore business continuity and to protect your assets from theft. That means getting the problem fixed, fast.
Without a prior-agreed arrangement with local companies, the urgency of the situation may mean you have to compromise on which you use, or worse be forced to select a name at random. The best - and nearest - companies will always be in heavy demand and some may not offer an out of hours service at all. You could have a significant wait before assistance arrives and they may not have the correct equipment or parts with them - cold comfort when you, your staff or your customers are stuck on the pavement waiting to get into a building or holding the fort! 'Have a go' heroes among your employees may be tempted to effect a quick fix, being neither trained nor physically equipped to do so. It is a fact that there is a link between safety incidents, injuries and reactive maintenance events.
Taking the short-term approach to reactive maintenance can affect you in other ways that are less obvious. Being forced to compromise on your service supplier or choose an unknown company - often the case if you are trying to source help for a remote site where you have no local knowledge - can result in work that does not meet your specified standards. Whether you are a manager servicing 'the internal customer' or FM company contracted to deliver to fixed service targets, substandard work can affect your commercial or professional standing, prejudicing an otherwise excellent performance delivery record. If the company you call out does not have the necessary health and safety qualifications you may also find you are falling short of statutory health and safety obligations.
When you consider that as many as 50-60 per cent of maintenance tasks could be reactive, all these issues begin to mount up. In short, when you go to pick up the phone in an emergency next time, you may have to decide....do you feel lucky?
There is a better way
In many instances, there will be a pre-selected 'approved' list of suppliers, which removes the element of risk in relation to quality of work. For companies with a low frequency of call-outs or where just one site is involved, this arrangement may suffice.
Without a formal contractual agreement on rates however, out-of-hours visits could prove expensive and there is no commitment either on availability in busy periods, other than by virtue of a long-standing customer relationship or how much revenue your account delivers.
Whether you are looking for a contractual arrangement or simply short-listing service suppliers, what are the key service factors you should look for? Consider:
Speed of response
- How quickly can they attend?
- Does their geographical coverage provide a good match with your site locations?
- What measures have they got in place to cope with periods of heavy demand?
- Do they have out-of-hours coverage?
- Are their staff all directly employed? If not, what quality control procedures do they have in place?
- What qualifications or professional accreditations do their field personnel hold including health and safety (important where public safety procedures must be followed in relation to containment issues)?
Do they offer fixed rates?
- Are they prepared to agree a fixed tariff for callouts?
- What exclusions are there e.g. out-of-hours visits?
Reliability and consistency
- Ask to see evidence of past performance.
- What reporting mechanisms do they have in place?
- Do they have a permanently manned customer helpdesk? If not, is there a clearly identified route of telephone contact to request an emergency site visit?
- How will they keep you informed if an immediate fix is not possible?
What are the benefits of a term contract?
When considering whether or not to enter into contractual agreements for ad-hoc maintenance, your decision may be largely driven by the number and size of sites you have to provide cover for and their geographical spread.
However, it is worth considering other benefits that may accrue from an ongoing relationship. As well as the comfort of dealing with a known quantity, you will be able to gauge your year-on-year reactive maintenance costs more accurately through the medium of fixed rate agreements.
Once your supplier gets to know your requirements, the likelihood of a 'first time fix' will increase, as they begin to anticipate what parts or tools will be required at a given site.
For the supplier, the financial stability of longer-term relationships enables them to invest in better technology to help speed up response and improve communications e.g. real-time GPS vehicle location and Web-based job status tracking systems.
The key to success in building effective relationships for both parties is in setting clear targets for service delivery at the outset. If significant improvements are to be realised at an early stage, however, it is important that any key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed accurately reflect the expected benefits to the customer's business. If they do not, the focus of measurement over time may shift to transactional processes i.e. the means rather than the desired end, leading to ultimate dissatisfaction.
Equally important is transparency of communications: the more information can be shared on job status and completion, the easier it is to fine-tune the management process and ensure results stay on track. Gathering information on a job-by-job basis can also help to build an asset register, providing valuable information as a feed into the planned maintenance process.
In conclusion, whether you decide that a term agreement or an ad-hoc arrangement suits you best, it pays to think ahead when it comes to making provisions for the unexpected - not least for your peace of mind and to guarantee you an uninterrupted night's sleep!
|< Prev||Next >|
Building & Maintenance
Fire, Health & Safety
Latest News from Facilities Manager
- Preserving documents, preserving business
- DDA legislation - are you affected by these new changes?
- The case for facilities management
- Filling the information gap
- Service solutions - a multitude of options
- Developing FM on an international stage
- Standards in facilities management
- The future of the services sector in Europe
- Service delivery - the 'real' asset
- Believers and cynics