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The adage, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” is somewhat like a reactive maintenance plan. But when it comes to your customer’s building, do you really want to leave things to chance?
With a planned approach to maintenance — and better yet, a predictive model — contractors can keep sudden equipment failures at bay and avoid unplanned downtime. Escaping uncertainty will save your customers money over the life of their buildings and improve overall occupancy comfort.
According to McKinsey, predictive maintenance can reduce machine downtime by 30 to 50 percent and increase machine life by 20 to 40 percent.
Traditionally, there have been three approaches to maintenance — reactive, planned and proactive. Thanks to technology such as telemetry, predictive maintenance is now a part of the industry. With facility analytics, data can now be collected from sensors on a building’s existing equipment systems to better diagnose malfunctions and find energy-savings opportunities.
Leveraging this information improves service and outcomes for the building, which means reduced energy costs and more sustainable systems for owners.
As building owners go from reactive to planned to proactive to predictive, equipment reliability, efficiency and performance increase. Think of a building’s equipment similar to the vehicle you drive. Do you generally skip oil changes and tune-ups, then fix your vehicle when something breaks? That's a reactive strategy.
Oil changes, for example, based on how many miles you have driven is a planned maintenance strategy. But do you really need to change your oil every 4,000 miles? With a predictive strategy, you’d use data from your vehicle to tell you exactly when your oil needs to be changed, based on its performance.
When it comes to maintenance and facility management, it’s not a surprise that businesses today are cautious with their spending. Owners want a return on all investments. And that is how a robust maintenance program should be viewed — as an investment. Robust is the word that matters. It’s not as easy to see great returns on minimal investments.
Here are six things a dynamic maintenance plan and investment can mean for your customers.
1. Lower energy use
On average, when equipment is not maintained, energy efficiency is lowered by 20 percent in rooftop units, 23 percent in chillers, 30 percent in air-cooled condensers, 35 percent in cooling towers and 50 percent in air-handling units. When necessary maintenance of heating and cooling systems is neglected, you basically ensure a steady decline in a system’s performance.
Why? When systems must work harder to condition a given space, energy consumption and cost steadily increase. Also, count on a reduction in airflow and heat transfer in poorly or nonmaintained cooling systems.
2. Extended equipment life
You’ve likely heard that proper maintenance adds years of life to HVAC equipment while, at the same time, postponing the expense of replacement. The useful life of equipment not maintained is degraded roughly 20 percent in air handlers, cooling towers, boilers and air-cooled condensers; 36 percent in chillers; and 50 percent in rooftop units. The longer a capital expense can be delayed, the higher the return on investment.
3. Enhanced comfort, productivity and occupant satisfaction
As buildings become home again to a steady workforce, air quality and comfort are top-of-mind for occupants. Comfortable and productive employees experience higher morale, which leads to a more positive work environment.
Proper HVAC maintenance improves temperature and humidity control to create a more pleasant and healthy atmosphere. In the same token, improper CO2 levels can lead to cognitive decline and reduced alertness — both of which can lessen productivity. While energy spend and equipment life matter, they can be trivial compared to the wellbeing of a building’s occupants.
4. Reduced disruptions and downtime
Think of working in a hot building in the summer and a cold one in the winter; it’s hard to stay focused and get much done. Conducting appropriate HVAC maintenance will help keep things functioning and operating at peak levels. Enabling a building’s equipment to perform as intended will get your customers closer to avoiding disruptions and downtime.
This becomes especially important when certain temperatures or humidity levels are required in a facility — such as in a data center — when a specific product or critical process is performed. Planned or predictive maintenance makes achieving these levels that much easier.
5. Safer environment
Viruses, bacteria, fungi and allergens thrive in spaces where relative humidity is not in an optimum zone. Preventative maintenance programs help ensure that the systems used to run a building are operating properly and safely.
Ninety percent of our daily lives are spent indoors with mechanically conditioned spaces. Can we really afford not to have things functioning as they should? A robust maintenance plan helps ensure that systems are providing healthy ventilation and humidity levels, as well as working as designed to improve indoor air quality. Proper ventilation helps dilute and remove contaminants — outcomes that occupants have come to expect and demand.
6. Prevention of repairs
Name a business owner who likes the costly, variable expenses that repairing a building’s systems can bring. Regular HVAC maintenance reduces the risk of costly repairs. A robust program can catch small issues before they become costly repairs and, in many cases, prevent those issues from ever happening in the first place.
So, put your customers’ facilities teams, buildings and tenants in the best position possible for fewer headaches, more savings and greater comfort. It’s an investment that will pay dividends year over year.
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