Breaking free from a reactive maintenance cycle is hard. It can often feel like you are stuck in quicksand. The harder you try to fight it, the further in you seem to fall. As you are fighting to catch up, the service requests, work orders, and deferred maintenance just keep piling up. It can feel like there is no end in sight.
This quicksand feeling is something many local government facilities teams are used to. Often facilities teams are managing a wide spread of different building types, all usually old and often not built specifically for their purpose today. With small facilities budgets and a history of underfunding many teams find themselves constantly behind the eight ball when it comes to maintenance. This affects not just the buildings, but the occupants who work there and the community as a whole.
Wood County was in this very same position before they decided to make a change. Keep reading to see how they were able to break out of their reactive maintenance cycle toward a more proactive strategy that supports their community.
Wood County Profile
Wood County, WI is located in central Wisconsin about a two hour drive north Madison. Made up of a collection of small communities, Wood County offers a picturesque view into Wisconsin living with a scattering of farms, woods, and lakes. The Wood County facilities team manages a handful of county buildings including the courthouse, jail, two patient care facilities, and a few health/human services buildings and park buildings. The facilities department is led by Reuben Van Tassel who has been with Wood County since 2016.
The Challenge: Breaking the County Government Reactive Maintenance Cycle
Upon joining Wood County, Reuben was immediately faced with some major problems in maintaining the county buildings. "As soon as I arrived, I was looking to improve our maintenance philosophy." Aging and underfunded facilities contributed to a very reactive, costly, and time consuming maintenance program.
This reactive cycle was just a symptom of the bigger issues facing Reuben and his team. The lack of accurate facility and asset data, along with a time-consuming paper process for maintenance, made it impossible for them to ever catch up. Let alone build out a preventive maintenance program.
Making the Switch From Paper to Software
Reuben realized that he needed a software solution if his team was ever going to get a handle on their maintenance work. After doing some research, Reuben first chose a well established CMMS software provider over AkitaBox to help tackle these challenges . Going with one of the big providers seemed like the right choice at the time, but after getting a chance to use their system he realized it didn't deliver what he needed. As he puts it, "I quickly realized that the usability of the software was more important for our department." Reuben decided it wasn't going to work and made the switch to AkitaBox.
Dedicated Implementation and Onboarding Support
With AkitaBox, Wood County didn't just get easier to use software. As part of their new customer onboarding they got guided and fully managed implementation and data collection at no extra cost. AkitaBox experts walked the Wood County buildings collecting space and asset data, which was then loaded into their AkitaBox platform. AkitaBox also QR coded major assets, so Reuben and his team can easily scan to instantly access data in the field.
"The data collection and implementation was a huge benefit. Getting all the asset information into a database where you can see it, add to it, and keep it accurate is so valuable."
Reuben Van Tassel, Facilities Manager
This implementation and onboarding required almost no effort from Reuben and his team, helping save them time and headaches.
Better Data Leads to Better Maintenance
With AkitaBox, Reuben has seen big improvements to their asset tracking and work order processing. "AkitaBox is our one place to go and find information like user manuals, filter sizes, or assigned work orders," said Reuben. "We finally have access to accurate equipment records, work orders, and floor plans. That is a huge step for us."
With these improved processes, the Wood County facilities team has been able to better handle their reactive work and focus more time on preventive maintenance. In addition, the combination of a better user interface and the building floor plans are saving the Wood County team a lot of time in their daily work and has made onboarding new hires easier.
The location-based asset mapping is delivering value beyond just the facilities team. One example is when IT was putting in a budget request for wireless upgrades in the county buildings. Instead of using old blue prints, Reuben was able to simply show them AkitaBox so they could complete the walkthrough. "I get a lot of requests from people for current layouts. I really like that I have a single source for these in AkitaBox," says Reuben.
The AkitaBox and Wood County Partnership Continues to Grow
With the flexibility of AkitaBox, Reuben is constantly thinking of new ways he can use the system and data. He is looking forward to using AkitaBox to help work closer with the county board so they can better understand the challenges his team faces on a daily basis.
Wood County has found a true partner to support their facilities management needs. In addition to the AkitaBox Platform, starting in 2022 Wood County has potential plans to add Capital Management and Inspections to their solution suite. With these solutions, Wood County would soon be able to:
- Project the county's capital needs over the next 30 years
- Tackle deferred maintenance and prioritize capital spend on the projects that will have the largest effect on the county
- Provide guided checklists for technicians who are completing inspections
- Ensure their patient care facilities remain compliant and be better prepared for their next audit