Many property teams are still stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to maintaining key building assets and equipment. Their ‘preventive maintenance plan’ mainly consists of waiting around for equipment to break down before treating it.

The consequences of this wait and see approach are predictable, and expensive. Building conditions go swiftly downhill when equipment malfunctions—like an HVAC unit during a summer heat wave for example.

Furthermore, tenants are inconvenienced, property teams have to pay extra for emergency labor and shipping for parts, and the damage to equipment can dramatically shorten its lifespan.

Equipment maintenance is now more intelligent, due largely to tech advancements over the past decade.

Engineer checks equipment in adherence to a preventive maintenance plan.

The Evolution of Maintenance Strategy

We can chart the evolution of building maintenance strategy into four distinct approaches.

Reactive Maintenance: The ‘run to failure’ approach. Teams fix an asset when it breaks.

Preventive Maintenance: Maintaining an asset at regular intervals so it doesn’t break.

Predictive Maintenance: Predicting when an asset will break and maintaining it appropriately. The more preventive maintenance data a team collects, the more accurately they can plan maintenance tasks based on knowledge about overall equipment health and expected performance.

Prescriptive Maintenance: A relatively new concept. This strategy relies on regular data input to machine learning algorithms to intelligently schedule maintenance activities and adjust operating conditions for desired outcomes.

To improve asset performance and lay the groundwork for implementing predictive and prescriptive maintenance efforts, property teams need a preventive asset maintenance strategy.

When implementing a preventive maintenance plan, avoid the following common pitfalls:

Inadequate Equipment Inventory

Step one of an effective preventive maintenance plan is knowing what ground to cover. Begin by cataloguing every piece of equipment your program is responsible for. Including large-scale assets like boilers is obvious, but some inventories even include less impactful items, down to lightbulbs and screws.

Compiling this information manually in paper or digital files can lead to missing or incomplete information, particularly in evolving portfolios. Get better results by using maintenance software that compiles this information into a comprehensive digital record.

By maintaining an up-to-date equipment inventory, you can plan a thoughtful task schedule (see below). Teams can also gain visibility into low-stock inventory items. With the right parts always available, property teams can avoid paying exorbitant amounts for emergency procurement and keep asset downtime short.

No Clear Task Schedule

Going too long between preventive maintenance tasks can lead to equipment issues and sometimes irreparable damage. But it can be difficult to schedule tasks appropriately when each piece of equipment needs to be checked at different intervals.

You also need to account for changes in building occupancy, which further complicates scheduling. With many buildings only partially occupied due to COVID-19, equipment that’s used less may need less frequent treatment. Especially as excessive maintenance can actually degrade an asset.

When creating schedules, clearly outline the goals of the maintenance program, document all tasks, and state the minimums and/or performance metrics for assets.

Then monitor your plan closely and make adjustments when necessary. Creating schedules in a spreadsheet or Word document is one approach. But if you want to ensure schedules stay consistent across multiple assets—and are flexible as things change, maintenance software is a better option.

Engineer checks rooftop equipment in adherence to a preventive maintenance plan.

Lack of Team Compliance

Setting a schedule is only half the battle; you need to ensure team members actually follow it.

Sometimes engineers will complete and close out tasks before they’re actually due. Sometimes teams scramble to complete a task past its due date. Both are problematic. A successful preventive maintenance program requires tasks to be completed exactly on the due date, at all times.

To position yourself for better schedule compliance, do the following:

  • Gather engineer feedback to confirm the viability of a schedule
  • Monitor engineer workloads and reassign or re-prioritize tasks for overworked team members
  • Check they have the necessary training and up-to-date certifications
  • Consolidate maintenance information for each piece of equipment (manuals, historical records, etc.), ideally in an easily-accessible digital format

Flawed Engineer Workflows

Engineers—and how well you equip them—can make or break a preventive maintenance plan. Partly to help retain qualified engineers, leading property teams are investing in preventive maintenance technology platforms and point solutions that enable them to work more efficiently.

(Check out secrets to improving engineer happiness here.)

Equipping engineers with paper checklists and forms invariably leads to incomplete or illegible information. And engineers usually have to re-enter data from paper into digital databases anyway, often staying past their shifts to do so. Instead choose a preventive maintenance platform that lets them manage and update tasks instantly from a mobile device.

Effective preventive maintenance doesn’t let equipment issues linger. Good platforms allow engineers to initiate work orders the moment an issue is detected—not hours later when they return to their desks.

Preventive Maintenance Plans: Maintain Equipment and Your Sanity

Keeping up preventive maintenance for every piece of equipment across multiple buildings can be stressful.

Luckily, CRE technology can vastly reduce human error and make preventive maintenance plans much more effective—before tenants are impacted.

Prism Preventive Maintenance, from Building Engines, is a market leader in this space. To learn how preventive maintenance can extend the lifespan of your key equipment, read Building Engines’ 5-Minute Guide to Preventive Maintenance.