What is facility maintenance?
Facility maintenance is the process of increasing the utility of a building by regularly servicing capital assets, commercial appliances, and areas inside or around a building.
Capital assets include machinery, robotics, research equipment, and medical devices; commercial appliances include boilers and HVAC units; and areas include rooms, hallways, parking lots, and garages.
Equipment maintenance is often used interchangeably with industrial maintenance and property maintenance but there are key differences between each. Facility maintenance is applied to commercial buildings where no manufacturing is involved; industrial maintenance is applied to manufacturing plants, and property maintenance is applied to residential buildings.
The only maintenance application that is closely related to equipment maintenance is building maintenance.
Types of facility maintenance workers
There are two main types of FM workers: the facility manager and the maintenance technician.
The facility manager is responsible for making sure a building is clean, safe, and useful for its intended purposes. This involves creating cleaning schedules for janitors, testing fire safety systems, creating maintenance schedules for capital assets, and delegating work requests to technicians. To organize this work, a facility manager uses facility management software like a CMMS.
The maintenance technician is responsible for conducting building walkthroughs and performing preventive maintenance and repairs on capital assets and HVAC units. Technicians often have an HVAC certification.
Example of facility maintenance
Amazon and other online retailers have hundreds of fulfilment and distribution centres that package and ship products to customers. In these facilities, there are forklifts that transport pallets of products inside the facility and conveyor systems that move packaged products to shipping areas. To sustain these operations, a facility manager delegates maintenance tasks to technicians who service forklifts, conveyor systems, and other equipment.
The success of operations within these types of facilities depends on regular cleaning and building maintenance, too. Technicians replace lights and ballasts to maintain a safe, well-lit working environment while janitors and other staff clean up loose packaging and debris. All of this is part of an effective facility maintenance program that’s conducted by facility managers and executed by maintenance staff.
When the FM team does its job right, customers get their products on time. Then customers return to purchase more products and companies as Amazon grow.
Buildings that utilize facility maintenance
- Offices: Large commercial buildings like offices have boilers and HVAC units that require scheduled maintenance. Maintaining this equipment decreases the likelihood of failures and ensures the building’s occupants have comfortable work environments 24/7. Contracting out elevator servicing and keeping parking lots, hallways, and rooms safe is also important.
- Hospitals: OSHA enforces strict sanitation and safety standards for hospitals. This type of maintenance is applied to comply with these standards and perform preventive maintenance on fixed capital assets like imaging equipment.
- Universities: Educational facilities have many different buildings that contain capital assets like research equipment. Equipment maintenance is responsible for maintaining the condition of these assets while the facility management office is responsible for managing the complete asset lifecycle. Light and ballast replacements, HVAC inspections, and emergency repairs for flooding and leaks are also part of the equipment maintenance.
Certifications and training
There is a suite of certifications for facility maintenance professionals offered by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). Among these are the Facility Management Professional (FMP) designation and the Certified Facility Managers (CFM) credential. Both are internationally recognized and accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
FM news and resources
- FMLink: Offers a daily digest of news and tips for professionals that specialize in FM and operations. Benchmarks and best practices are published, too.
- Facilitiesnet: Publishes the Facilities Maintenance Decisions magazine as well as online articles that focus on the nitty-gritty details of the work it takes to make a world-class facility function.
- Buildings: Sends out a twice-a-week newsletter that covers energy management, roofing, lighting, IoT, building automation, HVAC, wireless control, and more.