Prolonging the lives of Buildings

Prolonging the lives of Buildings

There are 3 main strategies used in the maintenance of buildings. Property owners need to be educated on these for their strategy setting and execution. This piece defines and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of the property maintenance strategies. The maintenance strategies include preventive, reactive and planned.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a schedule of planned maintenance actions aimed at the prevention of breakdowns and failures. The primary goal of Preventive Maintenance is to prevent the failure of equipment before it actually occurs.  Preventive maintenance is when a symptom or sign of future failure is noticed and quickly attended to before the risk materializes. Preventive maintenance is carried at pre- determined intervals or corresponding to prescribed criteria and intended to reduce the probability of failure or the performance degradation of an item. Preventive maintenance is used by organizations who wish to avoid downtime of equipment as a result of a major breakdown so they quickly attend to an equipment before the final breakdown has materialized. For example if a lift starts making disturbing sounds when it is in use, they quickly try to establish which part of the lift is producing the sounds and it will be quickly attended to and replaced. This implies that regular checks will be possible and in the case involving moving parts, lubrication of the parts will be necessary.

Advantages of Preventive Maintenance

When facilities and equipment is constantly being looked after and serviced, the general result is that the life cycle of the facility and building increases. Buildings are directly linked to these facilities since the building accommodate them. Proper maintenance of the facilities has a positive effect on the building that is prolonging the useful life of the building. Flexibility allows for the adjustment of maintenance periodicity. 

Components in equipment are replaced when it is expected that a major fault may occur hence if small items are replaced, it means that cost of repairing a major fault are decreased. When small components are quickly attended, this also implies that major faults are not likely to occur. Time taken to repair a major fault is usually more than the time it will take to repair a minor component hence generally preventive maintenance decreased system downtime since less time is taken to service the equipment.

Preventive maintenance ensures that the facility is in good functioning state thus there is improved system reliability. The management ensures that equipment is operating at an agreed standard and since the equipment is properly functioning, this results in decreased system downtime. The results of constant checking and servicing of equipment generally reduces equipment or process failure and by doing so it results in improving efficiency of facilities.

RICS estimate that preventive maintenance is 12%-18% cost savings over reactive maintenance program in the short run. This is because, in reactive maintenance, they respond to a challenge when the facility has completely stopped functioning. Preventive maintenance is cost effective in many capital intensive processes. The costs of repairing a facility when it has stopped working is higher than replacing some small components when attention is needed. Preventive maintenance is also energy saving since there less chances of resorting to other means in case a facility fails. 

Disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance

Regular checks on machines and facilities is essential so as to establish whether a risk is likely to materialize or not. To do regular checks, it requires the use of qualified personnel to regularly perform the activities of checking. In other words, it can be viewed that preventive maintenance is labor intensive since qualified personnel are needed to perform duties.

It includes performance of unneeded maintenance. This will cause it to be costly in the short run because property professionals are required to replace items that are still working that is duplication of efforts and wastage of materials. Cost of paying for new materials and also the cost of paying the property professionals will increase the whole costs of maintenance in the short run as compared to reactive maintenance strategy.

When searching for possible faults on equipment, it is likely that the professionals might damage a well-functioning component so there is potential for incidental damage to components in conducting unneeded maintenance. Incidental damage will also add on the cost for carrying out an inspection. Generally this can cause preventive maintenance to be expensive in the short run and in the long run if professionals are damaging components continually.

Constantly checking and monitoring of equipment does not guarantee that the equipment will be perfect to its maximum extent. Due to human error, it is possible that professionals can under judge a potential risk which can later cause a catastrophic failure to occur. It is important to note that the risk that a catastrophic failure may occur is there although it has a lower likelihood.

Reactive Maintenance

Reactive maintenance is basically the “run it till it breaks” type of maintenance strategy. This implies that the organizations which apply this maintenance strategy waits for the equipment to first break down so that attention can be given on the equipment. No actions or efforts are taken to maintain the equipment as the designer originally intended to ensure design life is reached.  Reactive maintenance can also be simply defined as maintenance carried out after a failure has occurred and intended to restore an item to a state in which it can perform its required function. In relation to the example of a lift, an organization using the reactive maintenance strategy first wait for the lift to break down so that actions towards addressing the problem can be carried out. Normally reactive maintenance is used where equipment which has a long useful life and which has a low probability of failing is in use.  The management does not usually expect a breakdown in that equipment because they believe that they do not need constant attention when in use. Some of the facilities which are maintained using the reactive maintenance are actually easy or less costly to repair. Some examples of these facilities include a chalk board in a lecture room and water closets in a building.

Advantages of Reactive Maintenance

Since reactive maintenance is seen being executed within few hours after a risk has materialized that is when there is a fault with the equipment or machines, it normally results in low cost in the short run for maintaining the equipment. The type of equipment which are normally serviced this way usually are those which the management feels that they can go for a long period of time functioning efficiently and also in which it will be affordable to repair them in the event that there was a failure in their operation. If the facilities explained above have that nature and are the ones being maintained, it would actually improve the cash flows and profits for the organization to repair when there is a fault only in the short run.

In preventive maintenance, many professionals are employed to constantly check on the functionality of the equipment and facilities. But in reactive maintenance, response is only given when there is a fault so generally less staff is employed hence cutting costs. Labour will only be needed when there is a fault so that they can attend to the fault. Profit maximization implies loss minimization so in the short run, expenses of repairing and maintaining are not incurred frequently therefore money is saved. One can conclude that reactive maintenance increases profitability and liquidity position of a business in the short run.

Disadvantages of Reactive Maintenance

In incidents when a serious damage or fault has occurred, reactive maintenance can lead to increased cost due to unplanned downtime of equipment in the long run. Because maintenance is carried out when there is a fault, there is unpredictability in this maintenance strategy and unforeseen events may be costly or take long time to be fixed. Cost involved with repair or replacement of equipment are higher in the long run and can result in facilities failing to work properly as a result of lack of proper maintenance.

Where attention is given to a fault, it means that some simple maintenance plans like lubrication of moving parts is not done properly and this can reduce the lifespan of equipment or building components. Some components will need to be retightened for example bolts often need to be retightened but however reactive maintenance does not consider frequent checking of components as it waits for the equipment to first break.

Some equipment are interlinked or so related that damage to a component can actually cause a damage to other components. Possible secondary equipment or process damage from equipment failure, issue of triple down effects, faults can results in more problems being created. For example if a fault materializes on an air conditioning system, the air conditioner can lick water in the building which has the effect of causing crystallisation of salts on the wall. Basically faults need to be attended to quickly before they start having negative effects on some components nearby. 

Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance is maintenance organized and carried out with forethought, control and the use of records to a predetermined plan. Organization using this maintenance strategy do not consider whether the equipment is still working properly or not, they just replace components whenever the components are due for replacement. In general, Maintenance means to hold, keep, sustain or preserve the building or structure to an acceptable standard. Planned maintenance aims to keep the equipment in a certain agreed standard. Maintenance carried out to a predetermined interval of time, number of operations, mileage in moving equipment is acknowledged to be under planned maintenance. Work to prevent failure which recurs predictably within the life of a building, such as cleaning gutters or painting is also an evidence of planned maintenance.

Advantages of Planned Maintenance

Regular changing of small components lead to the main component living its maximum useful life hence one can say planned maintenance increases the useful life of components of and generally the building services and building as a whole. Proper maintenance of the facilities has a positive effect on the building that is prolonging the useful life so the business will keep enjoyment for their profits and property companies will keep getting returns in form of rentals.

There is no extra costs which are incurred when staff is attending to a breakdown for example as they do in reactive maintenance. It is safe to conclude that when an organization is using the planned maintenance strategy, they will enjoy the benefit of cost efficiency in the long run. The need to replace some equipment can be capital expenditure but if small components are constantly being changed and serviced, spending on the purchase of large components will be low hence planned maintenance is cost efficient in the long run.

Planned maintenance involves changing and replacement of components even if they are still working. When it is time for replacement according to the schedule, the staff follows the schedule and as a result of this action, components are efficiency since equipment will be running at its peak at all the times. If equipment are running efficiently all the times, the business is enabled to concentrate on its primary activities and objectives. Also planned maintenance prevent employee downtime. When equipment is being replaced with new components frequently, it means the likelihood of inviting service providers when the equipment fails is low hence planned maintenance cuts all emergency calls to service providers. 

Disadvantages of Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance replaces some items as prescribed in the schedule plan. In many instances, some of the components being replaced will actually be still functioning so it is not cost effective since items working are replaced in the short run. Items still performing their functions are expected to be used till they break as a result of reaching their maximum useful life under reactive maintenance. However these functioning components are assumed to be valueless and are replaced under planned maintenance, even before their useful life has been exhausted.

Because they is constant changing of materials and components, this function requires qualified personnel and this will result in planned maintenance being labour intensive. It also relies on a number of specialists to access the various aspects or components of the building in the long run also increasing the demand of workers to conduct the planned maintenance strategy.

Professionals are prone to a risk that they might damage a well-functioning component so there is potential for incidental damage to components. This can happen when they are changing components of equipment. This will increase total costs since there will be need for replacement of the damaged components.

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