Finding a balanced maintenance strategy

There are several strategic approaches to maintenance, but it’s important to understand that they don’t have to be used exclusively. In fact, the objective should be to create a balanced strategy. This means using the right mix of maintenance strategies for your estate – maximising asset uptime and optimising overall asset cost.  

As a quick recap, the four main types of maintenance are:  

  • Reactive maintenance: which essentially means that equipment is run until it fails and is then repaired or replaced.
  • Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM): which is a structure of maintenance activities designed to have pre-emptive intervention before an asset fails, based on time and usage.
  • Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) is driven by access to data on the performance of building services assets contained within a building. It is based on detection of indicators such as vibration, noise levels, flowrates and other feedback such as temperature rises.
  • Predictive Maintenance is an evolution of CBM which uses advanced digitisation of buildings to understand patterns of actual building performance.  

One of the benefits of SFG20 is that it provides a tool for users to create a balanced maintenance strategy, using a mix of maintenance strategies while also ensuring that they are compliant with legislation, regulation, best practice and manufacturer requirements.  

For instance, reactive maintenance may sound like a poor approach to maintenance. However, for non-critical equipment, run-to-failure can be more cost effective than sending a maintenance professional to check on a non-critical asset while it is still operating.  

On the other hand, it would be unwise to apply a reactive approach across a whole building. Allowing all assets to run until they break down would not only be likely to breach legal requirements, but also be costly in terms of time, staffing levels and budgets.  

Planned Preventative Maintenance adds an element of time planning to maintenance. PPM increases asset reliability and efficiency, reducing unplanned downtime, while allowing maintenance managers to better organise their team and resources. 

A blanket PPM approach also has its pitfalls. Where assets are operating increased or fewer hours outside of ‘standard expected operating norms’, PPM can result in under- or over-maintenance. This might happen, for example, where there are long periods of unseasonal weather which cause a heating system to run longer and require more checks than are scheduled by PPM.  

Digital tools are making it increasingly possible to adopt Condition Based Maintenance. Sensors and monitoring equipment are becoming more prevalent, thanks to a falling price point of the technology, along with new building management systems to keep track of equipment performance. Monitoring allows CBM to be responsive to the condition of a particular asset at a given time. The use of sensor data means that maintenance occurs as soon as equipment falls below its defined performance and before asset failure. 

There are some important considerations to bear in mind when applying CBM. The key aspect is the duration from the indication of a probable failure to actual failure and whether it is feasible to respond with the correct resource in time. This is something that a maintenance team must understand to ensure they are not faced with multiple assets indicating maintenance requirements simultaneously.  

These different approaches to maintenance each have their own benefits and challenges for the maintenance team. SFG20 is a unique tool that creates a robust standard for maintenance, while also offering the flexibility to use a unique mix of approaches to suit each built asset. It also provides a recognised industry standard, that is continuously updated to keep track of changing legislation, regulation and manufacturer maintenance requirements.  

SFG20’s experts have recently produced a guide to Optimisation of Maintenance Regimes: Delivering Operational Efficiency and Wellbeing. It offers further insights into the different types of maintenance and how to optimise a strategy for operational efficiency and wellbeing. You can download it free from our website or get in touch with SFG20 to speak to a member of our team.