Tasked with keeping the modern workplace running efficiently, safely, and economically, facility managers today may operate under the impression that theirs is an ancient profession, dating to the days of Roman emperors if not further back. They would be wrong. This specialized form of management does not even predate iconic inventions and once vital assets such as the cotton gin (1794), the steam engine (1769), and the spinning jenny (1764). A strong case can be made, in fact, that what we call “facility asset management” is actually much younger than the industrial revolution.
In the Beginning…
In point of fact, facility asset management as we understand the term today is barely 50 years old. For it was only in the 1970s that organization leaders, company stakeholders, and third-party vendors sought to make it an integral and indispensable aspect of good corporate policy.
As a focused business-based discipline in its own right, it took a practical but granular approach to managing the organization’s assets, looking beyond the larger physical plant itself and down to the individual big-ticket equipment that allowed the plant to function as a single, complex, well-run unit.
Not only did the nascent practice of facility asset management bring increased efficiency to the workplace, it also improved the bottom line. Conscientious oversight and attention paid off in the long run! Facility asset management had proved its worth. Now it had to get better.
Facility Asset Management Comes of Age
Fast-forward to the 21st century. With the advent of computers and the development of spreadsheet software, no longer was facility asset management a seat-of-your-pants function. Now it had organizations like the IFMA supporting it and lists of best practices guiding it. These best practices include:
- Embrace automation of facilities asset maintenance software and automation.
- Fit your facility management tools to your organization’s needs.
- Stick to a regular preventive maintenance schedule.
With the advent of IoT (“Internet of Things”) technology, the job has gotten even easier. Smart TV, refrigerators, and other appliances are now connected to the internet and can update their own firmware or communicate a need for human interaction in the event of imminent component failure.
With this convenience, however, comes a whole new set of challenges. What happens if facility managers have an overwhelming number of assets to tally and too much information to deal with?
Fortunately, they now have access to dedicated applications designed expressly for facility asset management. The first step is to determine which assets need to be documented and managed by the application. Depending on the size and type of business, there could be different requirements as to what needs to be tracked. As a general rule of thumb, however, for this purpose an asset can be defined as any owned or leased property that:
- has a high-dollar value (e.g., $5,000 or more);
- must undergo regular scheduled maintenance (e.g., semi-annually); and
- is integral to the company’s operations (e.g., performs a mission-critical function).
See below for typical examples of equipment that might need to be tracked by a facility asset management platform:
Data Collection: The Key to Facility Asset Information Management (AIM)
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) defines facility management as “an organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.” For Data Fleet, the first step in achieving that goal is good data collection: not too much, not too little, but just the right amount.
Once the maintainable or replaceable assets to be tracked have been identified, the next step is to create a trackable inventory list. We do this by collecting asset information (make, model, serial number, and more) and flowing this data seamlessly into our Property Echo platform. What is Property Echo? It is a proprietary software platform that supports the data collection, storage, maintenance, validation, and condition of a facility’s individual assets as defined by the user. It is the critical first step ensuring that accurate data is being utilized throughout the Asset Information Management (AIM) lifecycle. Quite simply, it is where your assets live.
As part of this inventory data collection effort, we must determine a recurring preventive maintenance schedule for the asset as well as an end-of-life replacement date range. In this way the facility management team will be alerted when the time comes to repair or replace the equipment. Besides the collected asset data, inventorying includes a condition assessment. This process can lead to the discovery of potential premature asset failure or the presence of unsafe conditions that should be rectified immediately.
After collecting data and deciding on a maintenance schedule for your assets, you must also prepare a long-term plan not just for the ongoing maintenance of your asset inventory but also for the disposal of assets that no longer serve your organization.
Performing careful data collection (inventorying, tagging, and assessments) on all your major equipment is a crucial step in professional facility asset management. Moreover, regularly keeping the system updated with fresh, valid data will save your organization significant money over the long term. With accurate, up-to-date information stored in the system, you can lower operating costs and lessen downtime by ensuring you can get the right service/solution provider to address your needs in a timely manner.
In this way, dealing with ongoing asset needs and unexpected equipment failures will be easier because you’ll know exactly what needs to be done and when.
As your business continues to grow, Data Fleet can support your facility asset management team by keeping your equipment registry current when changes are introduced. Our Property Echo platform is the best tool on the market for professional, comprehensive asset information management, and it will help ensure data on mission-critical equipment remains up to date throughout the lifecycle of the asset.