Facility Owners and Managers are Using Inaccurate Building Information.

This article was originally published on the blog at Commercial Property Executive.

Despite the fact that information is readily available through Building Information Modeling (BIM), Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS), facility teams do not fully utilize data to help anticipate potential problems and needs within their department.

Facility managers and owners lose money every day because they do not have a thorough understanding of the current condition of their facility. Although most facility operators view inaccurate building documentation as a major issue, they continue to operate in spite of it because of the difficulty in managing the rapidly changing information associated with remodels, expansions and regular maintenance. If owners or managers do not have a system for updating documents to reflect changes, they are of little use to facility teams. Maintaining documents that reflect the current condition of a facility is crucial for budgeting properly, allocating resources correctly and making data-driven decisions.

A simple system for updating documentation allows a facility operator to guarantee proper budgeting, making facility operations more efficient. Because of the large overhead incurred by FM departments, building managers know that theirs will be one of the first departments to lose funding during tough times. However, facility owners and operators also understand the importance of maintaining their buildings for long-term business continuity. If information and data on the current age, condition and location of facility assets is inaccurate, budgeting plans will be inaccurate.

Traditional budgeting methods—which rely solely on the opinions of a facility maintenance team—were sufficient in the past when facility information and data was not readily accessible and there was no better alternative. However, the days of often-imprecise budget estimation are over. With information readily available through BIM, CMMS and BAS, facility teams now have available data to help anticipate problems and needs within their department over the next twelve months. For example, CMMS software contains valuable information on the maintenance requirements for buildings assets and will be used to determine appropriate staffing levels. BAS software provides facility teams with equipment operating data to help determine replacement and renewal costs for building components. To avoid over or under budgeting for facility management and ensure maximum efficient, building operators must use this data to support their funding needs.

Understanding the current state of a facility is also important for allocating funds and resources to the right areas during daily operations. Without access to accurate space and asset information, facility managers will simply continue to maintain their building in the same static way, rather than properly delegating resources to match the needs of constantly-changing assets.

Just a few months ago, there was a project we worked on with a college that had inaccurate space information. They had delegated twelve custodial staff to clean an area they assumed to be 120,000 square feet. When we assessed the square footage of the area, we found the actual area of the campus was 100,000 square feet. Thus, the college had been improperly allocating two unneeded custodial staff to clean this area for the past several years based on an inaccurate assumption. Additionally, we have observed even more dramatic inefficiencies due to an improper count of the number of mechanical assets in a given facility. During a condition assessment we discovered that certain assets were never maintained because they were never entered into a work-order management system. The implications of not having an accurate inventory of the space and assets in your facility are serious, costing facility teams time and increasing the funding needed for replacing assets.

Once you properly allocate labor and resources within your facility, it is important that your team has easy access to accurate information to improve their productivity and decision-making ability. At another college we recently did work at, we found that their CMMS system had inaccurate and imprecise information on the locations of different assets. The location stated in the software for any air-handling unit in their inventory was labeled “the roof.” Each time the CMMS system generated a preventative maintenance work order, maintenance personnel would go to “the roof” and waste at least fifteen minutes looking for one of twelve air handlers before even beginning to perform the maintenance. If that HVAC technician had accurate information available to him on the condition and location of that air-handler, he would not only be able to locate the unit faster, he would have the knowledge to diagnose problems and efficiently develop solutions. While doing maintenance he could look up information in the building’s BAS software to determine the CFM currently produced by machine and compare it to the performance guide in the operations manual. With this data, he would be able to determine the maintenance requirements of the machine and perform them to ensure the facility temperature is properly regulated for the happiness of building occupants. Ultimately, improving the accuracy and accessibility of facility data and information will allow your team to become more productive and make good facility maintenance decisions.

Sound decision-making, resource allocation and budgeting all depend on accurate information on your facility. Many facility owners and managers conduct a conditions assessment only when they are expanding or remodeling their buildings. However, if you want your organization to remain competitive and run efficiently, it is not enough to only have a basic understanding of the current state of your facility and its needs. Facility information management software has made the lives of facility owners and operators easier. Implement a system for facility information management and allow your FM team to fully understand the nature of their buildings and plan for long-term business continuity.

Luke Perkerwicz is a Facility Innovation Coordinator with AkitaBox. He works with facility managers around the country to implement technology and information management solutions that improve building efficiencies. Luke can be contacted at lperkerwicz@AkitaBox.com or at AkitaBox.com