11 August 2021
Let’s get one thing straight: industrial and production businesses can operate successfully or safely if the building they operate within is not being maintained well, or does not provide the right environment to be effective. In other words, effective facility management is critical to the comfort, tidiness/cleanliness, safety, wellbeing, and efficiency of an operation. Poorly maintained facilities on the other hand can be rife with inefficiency driven by injury and shutdowns, workarounds for areas of issue, or other facility issues. Last week we discussed the importance of Facility management in residential and commercial buildings, but today, we want to turn the lights on industrial complexes.
As discussed in the last piece, Facility management exists to ensure maintenance processes are undertaken proactively, with a view to decreasing breakdowns, increase uptime, and improving overall dependability of machines, plant and the building itself. When the facilities and components of a building continue to run at their normal limits, production operations are similarly sustained. Thus, having a maintenance plan reduces maintenance costs, maximises uptime potential, and ultimately increases profitability.
The Importance Of Good Facilities Management
No matter the size and scope of a production facility, having an effective facilities management program in place is something we cannot stress the importance of enough. Greater adaptability, flexibility, and sustainability can be delivered and moreover, it safeguards efficient and smooth business operations and looks to minimise the impact of assorted technical, safety and operational difficulties.
Through routine and scheduled maintenance, facility management keeps spaces in appropriate working conditions. Suffice to say, if a building is well-maintained, it creates a safe working environment, reduces energy output costs, and makes all business functions run smoothly and efficiently. With the importance of facility management dawning on organisations over the recent years, the field has acquired significance. Businesses have recognised that well-managed and properly maintained facilities help companies to operate more effectively and improves processes.
In the blog last week we covered off things to consider and look out for in buildings, so this week, we thought we would deviate slightly and look at the role of a facilities manager with particular emphasis on flooring maintenance, and the role flooring plays in the industrial sector.
A Recap: What A Facilities Manager Does
The typical functions of a facility manager may differ from company to company. However, facilities managers are responsible for maintaining and upkeep of an organisation’s buildings to guarantee that they comply with legal requirements and health and safety standards. Generally speaking, the facility manager’s role ensures that a facility is operating as it ought to either by undertaking regular inspections, and/or through proactive and reactive maintenance.
Working across various business capacities, facility managers (FMs) work on a strategic and operational level. Over the years, we have seen first-hand how the role of a FM has evolved to the point where they need to oversee budget plans, leverage technical knowledge, make quick decisions, and solve problems. In addition, they have become pivotal in the supply chain, fostering and maintaining relationships with a broad scope of suppliers (us included), employees, managers, contractors, executives and different partners that help them identify potential issues and resolve problems as quickly as they can. After all, if time is money, solving issues efficiently is key to good financial management.
We know this is a massive set of obligations, and recognise FMs cannot be expected to know and do everything. What is often best, is for an FM to recognise what constitutes sound planning or what indicates there are issues afoot and who to call to rectify the situation. Is a water leak a plumbing issue, or is it a waterproofing issue? Is the fact that a floor is becoming slippery a sign a machine is leaking, or that the aggregate which was designed to improve the R-factor, being warn smooth and a new floor is needed? If these things can be ascertained by the facility or building manager, then they can determine which experts to bring in and who is best suited to fix the issues, before they become large problems.
What is the Importance of Factory Flooring?
In Australia, slips, trips and falls at work are among the primary health and safety risks and maybe the costliest Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) overheads for business and industry. Work environment-related injuries are expensive, with slips, trips and fall representing 21.2% of serious worker compensation claims. Aside from injury which is the primary concern for the employer and employee, injury at work can also be a legal cost, with statistics showing that many floor surfaces in industrial facilities are likely to fail within the first six months of usage. Injury at work leads to investigations, work ceasing and the associated loss in productivity and costs.
When we look at the floors of production facilities (be it a food processing plant, a car servicing facility, a pharmaceutical operation etc) having the right surface is essential. This is not only from a safety perspective but from the viewpoint of being resilient enough to withstand chemical spills, machine and foot traffic. This means naked concrete floors, tiles and rubber surfaces may not be the right solution. In some areas of the facility they may be, but in others, they absolutely will not be. In some a non-slip floor may be more useful, or an anti-static floor one required to ensure compliance and workplace efficiency. The role of a facility manager is to know what is needed where, or what signs to look for that the existing floor is decaying to a point a new one is required.
When dry, most types of flooring are relatively slip-resistant, but non-slip effectiveness can be significantly reduced by any contaminate — water, dust, oil or solvents. Traction can also be incredibly decreased by polishing a surface, like concrete, vinyl or timber (yes timber. Once upon a rural facilities may have had timber floors). Over time floors, irrespective of how well maintained may show signs of wear and tear, or be affected by other aspects such as leaks or new machines. Inspections on a regular basis will identify issues before they become problematic and cause production disruptions.
Tips for Facility Managers
Your role as a building or plant manager is complex enough, and being expected to know everything can be a challenge. As such, here are a few tips we’ve compiled for you:
- While several OSHA regulations dictate that permanent aisles and passageways must be clearly marked, there are no current government-mandated or even generally acknowledged industry norms that prescribe what colours to utilise when marking floors. However, several relevant standards require or imply the need for marking and colour-coding for workplace visuals.
- Consider using a standardised floor marking colour system to assist employees. Consistent colouring allows them to associate certain colours with specific areas or actions and encourages them to effectively and safely move around the facility
- Floor markings can be applied with certified, no-slip tapes, but should you be installing a new floor, can be built into the flooring system, with different colours used in different sections.
- One of the best things you can do to prolong the floors’ lives in your building is to design a flooring maintenance plan with experts to determine how and when preventative floor maintenance will happen, notwithstanding ordinary cleaning.
- Consider the needs of the facility when deciding on a floor. A non-slip floor may be a requirement for safety, but do you also need an anti-static floor to protect circuitry? Or do you need an impact resistant floor which will withstand damage through the dropping of tools or movement of pallets?
As you as a facility manager know, renovations and unforeseen repairs are costly. Even if you manage to get away with a partial replacement, replacing flooring is a considerable expense for your business. The secret to any flooring maintenance plan is to be proactive in your approach rather than be reactive. This implies executing a plan even before a flooring system is installed, and not when the flooring has been installed or is beginning to show signs of damage and ripe to schedule for restorative cleaning. To put it simply; maintenance protects your investment.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of planning and sticking to a maintenance schedule is that structural activities can be carried out during planned downtime, thus reducing shutdown costs associated with unplanned repairs. At the end of the day, you know what you know and we know what we know. If we put our heads together, we have a good chance of devising the right solution for your plant and ensuring that you get the longest, safest life out of your floors. Give us a call if you want to discuss.CONTACT US
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