Why Facility Managers Should Take a Proactive Approach to Building Maintenance
When it comes to maintenance, Facility Managers (FMs) have two options. They can be reactive, reacting to issues as they come up, or they can be proactive. A proactive approach is designed to prevent problems before they occur.
A perfect example of a reactive maintenance program is the lighting systems found in most corporate campuses. Invariably, these systems are designed with the assumption that FMs will have their staff or cleaning contractor replace light bulbs when they fail.
However, while they wait for this to occur, light levels may gradually decline; dust and debris may build up on the fixture, further impacting lighting effectiveness; the light cast by the bulb/fixture may yellow or change color, known as a “color shift;” and in a worst-case scenario, flicker or burn out entirely as the fixture awaits service.
Over time, the lighting provided in the facility is no longer dependent on the quality of the bulbs and fixtures installed. Instead, it is dependent on the effectiveness of the maintenance program in place.
Proactive maintenance is far different
Using our lighting example once again, bulbs are changed on a regular basis before they fail. High-quality illumination is maintained; the fixtures, as well as switches, are inspected to ensure they are working properly and that no electronic problems are developing; and the entire system is cleaned, removing dust and debris, which not only can impact lighting but the overall health of the facility.
We see the same reactive/proactive approach when it comes to facility cleaning. In this case, carpet care is a perfect example.
Some FMs react and only have carpet cleaned when spots and stains are noticeable, or the carpet develops traffic patterns, begins to darken, or appears generally soiled. Some carpet manufacturers, as well as those involved with professional carpet cleaning, would argue this is too late.
One of the problems that can develop is that grit, sand, and soil not removed by vacuuming can become embedded in carpet fibers. With foot traffic, these soils can cut into carpet fibers, damaging the fibers and reducing the lifespan of the carpet. In this case, the carpet may need to be replaced long before expected.
This is also an example of something else that frequently comes with reactive maintenance. Invariably, a reactive approach to facility maintenance can prove costly.
To help optimize carpet life, the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that a Carpet Maintenance Program be developed. Such a proactive program can vary depending on foot traffic, the number of people using a facility, how the facility is used, where the facility is located, climate, and many other variables.
Building on this, we have helped many of our clients develop a Carpet Maintenance Program that meets their specific needs.
Typically, it involves the following:
Soil prevention. Installing high-performance matting that helps contain outdoor soils, preventing them from entering the facility.
Routine vacuuming. The scheduled frequency can vary depending on the variables mentioned earlier, but regular routine vacuuming protects carpet fibers.
Spot and spill cleaning. Spots should be removed as soon as they are discovered. A spot, over time, can become a stain. In most cases, a stain changes the color of carpet fibers and can become very difficult to remove.
Interim maintenance. This can involve either encapsulation or bonnet cleaning of the carpet or a combination of both. These systems remove surface soils from the carpet, helping to maintain its appearance.
Deep cleaning. Scheduled deep cleaning is imperative; it removes deeply embedded residues and trapped soils, improves the appearance of the carpet significantly, and helps enhance its longevity, and reduces maintenance costs.