Asset Management

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” 

The logic is valuable when applied to most aspects of life, including facilities management. With advanced software, facilities managers are able to collect and analyze data that adds real-time insight into asset performance. Having the right data at the right time (and knowing what to do with it) means minimizing the risk of asset failure, saving money and time.

Business analyst Jacqueline Walpole says that data, at its most basic, allows FMs to gather information on maintenance costs, including energy usage, contracts and leases. This means better budgeting for life-cycle costing and replacement as well as planned refurbishments.

This post looks specifically at how FMs can use data to enhance asset performance through preventive maintenance.

A Stitch In Time

The unfortunate truth is assets will become inefficient and ultimately cease to function, writes Kevin Brown at Facility Executive. Environmental factors play a part but so too does normal wear and tear. To extend the lifespan of vital equipment and systems, regular preventive maintenance needs to be performed. This is especially true of high-efficiency systems.

Planned maintenance reduces downtime, repairs and early replacement costs. It also avoids impacting building occupants during unscheduled periods of emergency action when equipment fails. Brown says a preventive maintenance program is like an insurance policy. It helps protect the investment in assets by extending their lifespan and having them run at optimal levels. 

Using data allows FMs to understand how a building system operates compared with how it should operate. Once this is known, FMs can find ways to harness energy savings as well as optimize assets. It also means they can charter a course of action that has the greatest positive impact on the building.


Take Stock

A simple way to begin an asset management strategy is to take inventory. Cataloging assets by means of photographs is useful as is collating all important data pertaining to these assets.

This helps keep track of the condition of equipment. Over time, it also offers insight into trends of wear and tear as well as replacement of assets. Noting how long equipment lasts and which assets require more maintenance will give FMs better data to plan for the future. Knowing what assets you have and which ones need more attention is also important for accurate budgeting. 

Luke Perkerwicz at AkitaBox says asset management will help maximize budgets while balancing needs of the facility and stakeholders. He suggests keeping a formal inventory of assets and collecting corresponding data, such as the name, category, model number of assets as well as unique facts. 

By doing this, he writes, maintenance becomes much more cost-efficient. Planning the updating and decommissioning of assets, allows downtime to be eliminated and unexpected costs kept to a minimum. The planned decommissioning of assets is important as it gives FMs the time to render them non-essential before removal. 

Track Changes

CFOs painstakingly question bills from suppliers, while tracking and analyzing their fluctuations. John Petze at Realcomm writes that FMs need to interrogate changes in energy and MRO costs with the same degree of pedantry.  

Data allows for real-time analysis, which makes the world of difference to FMs. Momentary changes can be monitored as they happen, rendering data dynamic, writes Martyn Freeman at MITIE. He says FMs’ access to data concerning occupancy, building use and energy consumption is powerful, as it can channel important information for making property portfolio decisions.

The fact is that most buildings can perform better than they currently do. Analyzing data will show where these improvements can be made, saving money in the short and long-term. 

Fortunately for FMs, the available tools make this a much simpler job now than in the past. Gone are the days, Freeman writes, of “hunting for deviations and drifts in cost and performance.”

Measure to Manage

The rudimentary hunt has been replaced with highly technical tools. As computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), building automation systems, submetering technology and vibration analysis have grown in importance, so too has the data these tools generate.

For instance, data can give FMs better ways to identify and neutralize waste and weaknesses, while maximizing opportunities to manage facilities better. This is in stark contrast to maintenance reports and repair histories of the past. Now FMs can gather, sort and analyze data on energy use, repair frequency, technician productivity and inventory costs, among others.

As Dan Hounsell at Facilities Net reminds us: "You can't manage what you don’t measure." With this maxim in mind, FMs can access technology and software to fill their roles with far greater purpose and efficiency.


Software For Better Asset Management

Gary Watkins at SWG writes that with tools such as Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) software or Integrated Workplace Management Software (IWMS), FMs are far more empowered than they were in the past. 

These tools record building performance details such as space utilization, visitor statistics and asset performance. They allow FMs to compare portfolio performance and KPIs for multiple buildings, sites and regions. 

FM data gives real-time and accurate insight. This helps find answers to questions of expansion, relocation or better use of existing facilities, which leads to reduced costs and increased efficiency.

Lindsey Walker at Manufacturing Business Technology writes that an hour of machine downtime can cost an organization over $100,000. A CMMS that delivers frequent data updates gives maintenance crews easier access to assets and insight into how they operate. This means technicians have a simpler job of identifying inefficiencies that lead to breakdowns, which in turn allows for increased equipment reliability. 

Generating and analyzing data through the CMMS delivers:

  • Planned maintenance budgets. This limits periods of unexpected downtime through real-time insights into equipment performance, as well as the history of repairs, service and maintenance.
  • The service life of assets. FMs can create a hierarchy of assets, their age, locations and historical service. 
  • Responsiveness. Maintenance crews can respond quickly to repair underperforming assets. 
  • Proactive as opposed to reactive maintenance. The benefits are obvious: Money is saved as downtime is eliminated; facility occupants are not affected; and no disaster management is required. 

Elizabeth Dukes at iOffice Corp says asset management software gives real-time insight into how often items are used and by whom, yielding transparency into asset costs and actual use.

A focus on energy use has also changed how FMs manage assets. Regular maintenance means greater efficiency and, therefore, lower energy costs. 

Asset management not only means company efficiency but employee productivity too. Reducing time spent looking for assets or maintaining them allows employees to avoid disruptions and focus on the job at hand.

Build In BIM

Senior market research associate at Software Advice Taylor Short writes that using a building information model (BIM) can help FMs, especially when it is used with an IWMS. He calls it “a living repository of building data.”

BIM helps FMs with multiple functions of the job, including spatial dimensions, material characteristics of objects, time and schedules, operational costs and, of course, the locations of assets including HVAC units, motors and servers.

Consultant Jay Shah tells Short pairing a BIM with IWMS technology can give FMs: 

  • Access to real-time asset profiles. Users can get information about the asset in BIM, including performance and condition data, and physical dimensions. This can all be used to create preventive maintenance programs.
  • Improved awareness of asset locations. This helps technicians find problem parts without removing other parts of the building’s infrastructure.


Big Data, Real Results

Aanchal Singh, energy and environment research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, writes that data is more than what is obtained by typical database software tools. He stresses the importance of big data analytics.

Singh suggests some of the major challenges FMs face include:

  • ineffective energy metrics
  • disparate systems
  • ineffective energy management systems
  • poor performance visibility

Big data can help overcome these challenges through identifying operational complexities. It also simplifies decision-making as data from surveys, smart meters, IT networks, and occupant behavior provides accurate, meaningful information.

Big data analytics makes preventive maintenance much more effective, writes Willow Aliento at The Fifth Estate. By regularly monitoring assets, maintenance activities can be scheduled and built into the budget. This means technicians only need to attend assets and components that show signs of poor performance.

Aliento gives an example of just how effective big data can be for FMs, citing Matthew Graham, senior facilities manager at Knight Frank in Melbourne, Australia. Graham and his team changed from a reactive approach to maintenance to a proactive one. Temperature and noise complaints have reduced by 68 percent in one calendar year.

In the case of vibration analysis for the HVAC system, Graham says using big data for preventive maintenance helped to avoid catastrophic failure of the asset. 

Data analysis allows FMs to determine if specific components of units or parts of a system are failing. This means they can be replaced in a modular way instead of a complete and costly overhaul. 

Graham says just proper HVAC maintenance has yielded about $20,000 savings for the year, and complaints about noise have fallen from 17 to five. 

As with every industry, technology is changing how stakeholders need to operate. The job for FMs has become more complex in scope with their roles requiring far greater variety of tasks and goals. Accessing the abundance of data generated by new equipment, connected devices and integrated software will make the job much easier.

Data, analyzed correctly, can help mitigate the risks of asset failure. Regular preventive maintenance might not only catch a fault in equipment before it’s too late, but it will also ensure happier building occupants.


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