Methods of Maintenance

Realizing that our readers are not all seasoned facilities managers, it makes sense to review the different types of maintenance we perform.
    Remember, I always say “its not just maintenance,” so we will take a look at types of traditional maintenance as well as personal and professional maintenance. There are many names for the types of maintenance we routinely perform, so I will try to note the most commonly used names. Corrective or routine maintenance is driven by the customer and in-house staff; reactive is likely the “worst” type of maintenance, as this is responsive to breakdowns; preventive may be the most commonly known; predictive maintenance is different from preventive; and personal and professional maintenance is a second cousin to the other types mentioned, but most important to the operation none the less.
    Corrective maintenance is the repair of anything once it has become broken or inoperable. This is also known as routine or demand-related maintenance. Corrective maintenance is primarily driven by customers telling us when something is in need of repair or not working properly. We receive a great number of these from our in-house maintenance staff. Our department generates over 70 percent of our own work orders, and nearly 60 percent are routine or corrective related.
    Similarly, reactive maintenance is performed in response to a failure. As I see it, this is beyond corrective maintenance, in that the work occurs as a response to the failure and typically under less-than-positive conditions, such as an air conditioning system failure. Beyond the need to respond to make the appropriate repairs, it is crucial that your department communicates effectively with the affected customers. A few simple informative phone calls will stave off attacks toward your department’s ability to perform.
    Preventive maintenance is likely the most well known. This service allows for specific maintenance checks and services to be performed based solely on set times or durations, be it run-time hours or every so many days/months/years. Routine adjustments, services, or replacements extend the life of the equipment. The times for service can be set on a fixed or sliding scale. It is understood that when a preventive maintenance work order comes up it should be done very soon, but the reality is it may take some additional time to complete. A fixed time would spit out the next PM work order regardless of whether the actual work took place the day the work order came out or weeks later when the next PM work order for that equipment came up. A sliding scale would start the duration for the next prescribed service based upon the actual date of the most recently performed service. Therefore, if a service is performed two weeks late on a service due every month, the next PM work order won’t print out again in two weeks, allowing an additional month to pass before it generates again.
    I don’t hear a lot about predictive maintenance, but have recently become more interested in it. Predictive maintenance allows for a check of certain equipment to determine the need for maintenance and allows the service of repairs to be effective only if necessary. This differs from preventive maintenance as that service changes the belt/pump/motor whether it is absolutely necessary or not. Following a predictive maintenance mindset helps hold costs by not expending labor or parts on a preset duration. It is key to note that predictive maintenance could lend itself to causing reactive maintenance if, for instance, a belt breaks that would have otherwise been changed under the preventive method of maintenance.
    Now we switch to a less mechanical method of maintenance to focus on more personal types. It is important to maintain our professional development, which can also be considered maintenance. Networking with other facilities professionals; connecting with vendors for information on updates, upgrades, or software changes for certain equipment; attending educational conferences or seminars help to “keep the saw sharp;” and making it a point to learn something new periodically helps broaden one’s horizons.
    Finally, personal relationship maintenance may well be the most important for managers. This goes for both work and personal relationships. Making sure you are connected with others at work helps lessen the stress of interactions, especially under negative circumstances, which we all know happen from time to time. A former leader of mine called this the “emotional deposit.” And hey, it is good to know those that you work around. Personally, healthy relationships outside of work make for a more productive and effective employee or leader.
    Whether it is maintaining a chiller system or your relationship with fellow directors or maintenance personnel, it is important that we prescribe to methods of maintenance that we know will allow us to be proactive and successful in our operations!

About the Author

Michael G. Steger is director, Physical Plant, for Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, FL. He can be reached at [email protected]