Maintenance & whole life costs
The Construction Strategy for 2025 sets out a target to reduce costs by 33% over the lifetime of the building or asset. Tackling the concept of life time costs is something that our industry and our clients are very poor at doing – that is considering capital and operational costs together.
We need to make decisions that may well cost more on the capital budget but will significantly reduce operational costs over the building’s lifetime. At its simplest level, specifying LED lighting systems will have a higher up front cost, but will need significantly less replacements and maintenance over its lifetime – remember it’s not just the cost of the replacement part, but the labour cost of installing which is where the majority of cost is in this example. A simple example but one designers face daily.
Designers make the decisions and contractors implement them. Let’s forget for a moment how the (de)valued engineering process may reject some of the earlier design choices, in order to save on capital budget at the expense of ongoing maintenance or running costs.
Our point is – fresh thinking is required and we need to design the process of maintenance when we design and build assets. We must get the facilities management teams involved at the design stage.
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The hidden cost of poor management
The cost of maintaining buildings is simple to quantify, but what is less visible and more difficult to cost is the impact of unavailability, loss of functionality on productivity, or a potential long term loss in income due to reputational damage.
In short, we might be able to calculate the cost to fix, but how do we put a value to the productivity decrease of office workers, if only one out of three lifts are in service and the toilets on the second floor are out of service for 2 days, or a pollution incident has a subsequent knock on impact to an organisation’s share price?
We therefore need an approach to construction design which has the life time operation of the assets at the heart of the design process and a construction process that will facilitate safe, quick and easy replacement of component parts to minimise impact to end-users and stakeholders over the buildings life time.
Of course maintenance is not just limited to the built environment. Offsite manufacturers must also consider the maintenance of of their production facilities and understand concepts such as; Mean Time to Failure (MTF), Mean Time to Repair (MTR) and preventative maintenance.
“In an manufacturing environment the mission of the maintenance team is to provide reliable physical assets and excellent support for its customers. Maintenance leaders must spend their time leading and inspiring the organisation to continuously improve and achieve more from less.”Rob Francis, Director Innovation and Business Improvement, Skanska UK