Focus on risk to optimise your maintenance strategy

In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of finding a balance of maintenance strategies to suit the requirements of each built asset. The impact that random, unsuitable, over- or under-maintenance can have on products and services, operating costs and the business bottom line is significant. 

But how can a maintenance team identify the right mix of strategies when there are so many factors to consider? Maintenance professionals need to take a balanced approach. To develop this balanced approach, the focus should be on risk – the probability and impact of failure. 

Risk assessment is very much at the heart of the SFG20 standard. It uses four levels of risk to help users make informed decisions. These are:  

  • Statutory (red) – ensuring legal compliance 
  • Mandatory (pink) – ensuring sector/organisation compliance. 
  • Function critical (amber) – maintaining business-critical assets and avoiding over- or under-maintaining applicable assets. 
  • Discretionary (green) – maintaining non-critical assets and meeting non-business critical commitments. 

With a risk-based approach to maintenance, it is vital that a strategy meets organisational requirements as closely as possible. Factors including the asset’s age and condition, or previous service history may need to be assessed when applying and customising maintenance strategies. 

With a focus on risk, it is possible to identify if an asset can be allowed to run-to-failure (reactive maintenance) or requires scheduling for regular checks in a Planned Preventative Maintenance strategy. For instance, an extractor fan in a toilet could be deemed less critical due to the purpose is serves and can potentially be defined as a reactive response on failure, but in contrast the same (hot) air extract function in a data centre is operationally critical. 

The risk-based approach to maintenance is not without its challenges. For example, it requires knowledge of exactly what assets are being maintained – information which is unfortunately not always readily available in existing buildings. If a comprehensive asset list or as-built digital model are not available, an accurate survey of plant and components should be undertaken. 

However, modelling of buildings (new-build) is becoming increasingly common, and the investment of time and budget taken to review assets in an existing building or estate will pay dividends in terms of reduced risks to the organisation and better budgeting of maintenance. 

The next piece of the jigsaw required to develop a balanced approach to maintenance is understanding the asset availability for maintenance. For instance, consider when the asset is not required for operational service. If you can plan maintenance at a time when assets are either not needed or their absence does not cause any operational issues, this is the time to plan maintenance to optimise asset performance and critical uptime. 

Asset availability might be related to seasons, for example, heating systems may not be required during summer months and air conditioning may not be required in winter months. Alternatively, there may be times of the year when a whole estate or parts of an estate are out of general use, for example educational facilities during holidays.  

There are several publications detailing guidance methodologies and techniques to assess organisational risk for maintenance requirements. Publications including BSRIA’s Business-Focused Maintenance (BG 53/2016) and CIBSE Guide M: Maintenance and engineering management to the application of Reliability-Centred Maintenance (RCM2). 

However, SFG20 library of maintenance schedules makes the process straightforward. It offers over 2000 schedules, covering all possible aspects of a building and its operation – from building fabric and catering to water systems, heating and security.  

Each of these schedules provides clear, detailed guidance into what maintenance procedures are required by law, or for sector compliance, for example. SFG20 users can therefore build their own risk-based maintenance programmes, based on a robust and recognised industry standard. 

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.