What Is PPM & Is It the Right Maintenance Strategy For Your Facility?

Poor maintenance strategies are costing businesses a total of $50 billion a year, while in the UK facility maintenance costs are predicted to rise by 22% between 2022-2027. To stay on top of increasing prices, facility managers need to be more proactive in planning for and carrying out maintenance, this is where a PPM system should be deployed.

A PPM strategy (planned preventive maintenance) is arguably the most effective facility maintenance strategy to combat ageing equipment, unplanned downtime, and rising maintenance costs. It uses historical data, equipment and user knowledge, and tools such as CAFM Software and IoT devices to help develop the best actionable plans for carrying out maintenance.

“Planning is probably the most powerful tool you’re ever going to have in maintenance”

Kamran R. Zamir on the Comparesoft Podcast

Successful facility maintenance planning has a direct effect on energy usage, employee well-being, and workplace productivity, which is why the system you deploy must be right for your built environment.

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What Is PPM In Facilities Management?

PPM is planned preventative maintenance, otherwise known as scheduled maintenance. The concept is that you don’t wait for equipment to fail, instead, you create a plan that incorporates regular checks and repairs to ensure they’re in working order for as long as possible.

A PPM schedule helps FM tasks such as planned daily cleaning, monthly HVAC checks and repairs, and yearly roof inspections. The alternative to a PPM system is reactive maintenance, which has a 40% higher cost expectancy due to downtime and emergency repair costs.

Regarding what FM services are impacted through facility maintenance, it is mainly a building’s hard FM services. These include:

  • HVAC systems
  • Plumbing and gas
  • Fire/Life/Safety
  • Lighting, electrical, and mechanical

The Advantages of Using a PPM System For Building Maintenance

The number one reason to implement a PPM strategy is to mitigate risk. PPM strategies save time, resources, and money by identifying and addressing potential issues before they develop into larger problems. The goal is to catch an issue or potential hazard before it’s too late.

1. Reduce Your Facility Costs

One key benefit of PPM is reducing building maintenance costs. While PPM is an investment upfront, the annualised savings have proven to reduce overall maintenance costs. When a planned maintenance schedule is effective, it can reduce reactive maintenance costs by 12-18%.

Unplanned downtimes cost an estimated £38 million every year. Putting a plan in place ensures your business’s assets are operating to manufacturer guidelines. As parts are replaced equipment continues to perform, reducing the frequency of buying new equipment.

2. Extending the Life of Facility Equipment

While some breakdowns may be unavoidable, a 2018 study found that nearly 45% of unscheduled equipment downtime was from ageing equipment. This is down from 50% in the 2016 report, which indicates that PPM is becoming more of the industry norm.

Avoid downtime by scheduling maintenance through work order management

Roughly 10% of facility equipment ever actually wears out, meaning a large portion of mechanical failures are avoidable. Prolonging the life of equipment reduces capital expenses giving more time between replacing expensive equipment.

3. Enhanced Workplace Safety and Compliance

An underlying benefit of a PPM system is improving the health and safety of the work environment. As equipment fails, it can pose potential risks to a workspace. For example, a ventilation system that is not maintained could lead to gas buildup. Or excessive condensation and leaking can result in pooled water with a potential slip-and-fall hazard.

Additionally, OSHA requires companies to have some kind of maintenance plan in place. Having regular inspections and performing routine maintenance ensures equipment doesn’t break down as often, eliminating potential risks.

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How PPM Can Assist With Building Compliance

In manufacturing facilities, 30% of all work-related deaths can be traced back to poor maintenance activities. Essentially, preventive maintenance is important for lowering the risk of workplace accidents, but it’s also compulsory for building operations to comply with specific laws and standards through PPM.

Routine maintenance in built environments needs to be carried out on fire alarm systems, air ventilation equipment, water and waste systems, and so on.

There are several compliance standards in place that buildings owners and facility managers must adhere to, notable;

Is PPM the Right Strategy For Facility Managers to Deploy?

The type of maintenance you deploy depends on the objective of the building. For instance, facilities management in an educational setting will focus on maintenance that improves the health and safety of its surroundings for pupils and teachers. Whereas an office will deploy maintenance strategies to boost employee well-being and productivity.

On the surface, PPM is the obvious choice for most facility managers. But, like most things, PPM has disadvantages. Three distinct downsides of PPM are:

1. Upfront Costs

While cost savings are one of the biggest benefits of PPM, the initial investment is often a drawback. Purchasing a system includes access to the proprietary program, implementation, and training. While significantly lower than the initial costs, they still impact your budget. Once the system is up and running, the monthly service fees will begin. These fees cover data storage, customer service, and changes required in the system as your company’s needs change.

2. Extensive Planning & Information Gathering

Firstly, all data needs to be gathered, whether manually or through IoT devices. This includes the make and model of equipment, serial numbers, locations, basic specifications and capabilities, and categories (HVAC, plumbing, etc.). At the same time, you’re also working with the implementation team to customise how the plan will work for your business. What the workflows are, who is responsible for what, escalation procedures, and more. This alone can deter even the most gung-ho facilities manager from starting the process.

3. Over-Maintaining Equipment

Sometimes, by scheduling regular maintenance, you can potentially over-maintain equipment and asset performance can be calculated incorrectly. There’s also a risk of going overboard with unnecessary money spent on precautions that aren’t needed. One way to solve this is to change your maintenance plan to check specific equipment or areas less frequently, while still maintaining a schedule. It’s important to strike a balance between failure prevention and reactive repair work.

Alongside PPM, there are other facility maintenance strategies to consider, each with its pros and cons.

Reactive Maintenance

Also known as corrective maintenance, run-to-failure, or breakdown maintenance; a corrective maintenance strategy waits to perform maintenance until after the equipment fails. You don’t even look at the equipment until it breaks down or a major part malfunctions. This type of approach to maintaining your space can be costly. The Aberdeen Group calculates that unplanned equipment downtime costs, on average, £198,980 an hour.

PRO: Minimal planning required
CON: Can be costly

Periodic Maintenance

Periodic maintenance is a time-based plan, where maintenance is performed in intervals either annually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly. The frequency of service is usually defined by facility managers, however, most manufacturers include how often to inspect assets and the average life of each part in equipment manuals. This process ensures that building equipment remains in good condition throughout its useful life.

PRO: Usually made up of tasks that don’t require extensive training
CON: Planning time is required

Condition-Based Maintenance

Condition monitoring is the process of monitoring conditions such as vibration and temperature to identify changes that could indicate a potential problem. Monitoring the condition of assets is essential to minimising failure and downtime, prompting action to be taken and limiting service interruption. Maintenance is performed on asset conditions with the goal being to perform maintenance the moment before the equipment fails.

PRO: Problems with equipment are identified before failure occurs
CON: Installation costs