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 system will have a higher up front cost, but will need significant less replacements and maintenance over its lifetime – and remember its not the cost of the replace part, but the labour cost of installing that which is where the majority of cost is in this example.
As simple example but one designers face daily. Designers make these decisions and contractors implement these, lets forget for a moment how the (de)value engineering process may reject some of the earlier design choices in order to save on capital budget as 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 and 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 the unavailability, loss of functionality had 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 floor 2 are out of service for 2 days, or a pollution incident having 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