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Last edited 30 Aug 2019
Planned preventative maintenance and technology
In a time of ongoing pressure from budget cuts and demands for investment in things newer and ‘shinier’ than maintenance, is it possible to meet the demands of maintaining an ever-ageing building stock to good standards and with limited resources?
 Understanding PPM needs
The opposite of reactive repairs, PPM is essentially a strategic approach which, through ongoing surveillance and maintenance, can substantially reduce large, unexpected costs, emergency call-out charges and downtime during repair work.
A comprehensive PPM schedule ensures that any changes made to a building take note of any obvious issues in relation to statutory requirements. This includes identifying the provision and means of escape, disability access, energy and health and safety issues, drawing-up reports, with action followed through as necessary.
For example, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations (MEES) were implemented in 2018. It is now illegal for new leases to be granted, or existing leases renewed, on commercial properties in England and Wales with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. While the new MEES Regulations caused initial concern in the property world, they demonstrate how an upfront approach to sustainability can result in longer-term cost savings through work such as including insulation and more energy-efficient mechanical and electrical installations.
 The built environment’s IT revolution
Mobile data capture software is of great benefit to PPM work. On site, data can be efficiently assessed using hand-held technology which is then uploaded to reporting software, ensuring that a consistent structure is followed and the risk of error substantially reduced.
Data capture software collects and compares data with predefined element lists, producing tailored outputs to suit reporting requirements, prioritising expenditure over a specified period. Due to the element grades being consistent and predefined, the software allows for more intelligent decisions to be made across portfolios, often resulting in significant cost savings. Data capture software also allows for rapid data analysis and document preparation, resulting in a faster turnaround.
In addition to increasing efficiencies, this means of reporting enables a greater understanding of the issues and the ability to isolate elements, sub elements, grades or priorities. It allows a building owner or manager to group costs by region or across their entire portfolio, creating greater efficiencies and to budget and prioritise expenditure more effectively, and to put in place larger-scale programmes of work. Furthermore, the ability to analyse the cost of maintenance versus capital expenditure creates greater transparency in budgeting, as well as highlighting the efficiency of current maintenance suppliers/contracts.
Online reporting is also becoming more user-friendly. Where it benefits the end results and creates savings, clients can be encouraged to get involved, inputting into their own reports, whether using a desktop computer or a mobile device on site. And as a working document which can be continually updated, online reporting offers greater flexibility than the old hard copy format – which again benefits both efficiency and effectiveness.
 So where will the technology take us next?
Take working at height, for example. Accessing rooflines, fascias and guttering is a perpetual problem for many property maintenance professionals. Scaffolding and cherry-pickers can be prohibitively expensive and may even be unsuitable in some instances.
Clients needing PPM surveys on unusually remote and inaccessible property assets may benefit from drone technology which can safely capture all the necessary information. Drones not only provide an immediate, cost-effective solution, but can photograph remote locations with virtually no disruption.
As a result of data provision through images, cloud surveys and more accurate surveying of existing buildings, BIM – once the province of just building designers – now increasingly links to both PPM and facilities management, causing efficiencies for each. The benefits of BIM are unparalleled, particularly when a substantial survey needs to be undertaken while the building remains occupied.
In the past five years or so there have been considerable changes in the way PPM can benefit from technology; many more positive changes are anticipated in the years ahead.
Chartered building engineers or facilities managers will be able to plan ahead with confidence, and have reliable data and clear priorities. The new tools and technology at their disposal will save both time and money. It is a silent revolution in the way our buildings are maintained, and a great opportunity to boost the specialist knowledge and value of professionals in this market.
 About this article
This article was written by London-based Trident Building Consultancy in August 2019.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Display energy certificate DEC.
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- Energy efficiency regulations: The challenges for landlords.
- Energy performance certificate EPC.
- Energy targets.
- In-house or outsource maintenance.
- Intermediate Building Contract.
- JCT Repair and maintenance contract.
- JCT Sub-subcontract.
- Measured term contract.
- Minimum energy efficiency standard regulations for domestic and non-domestic buildings.
- Non-domestic Private Rented Property minimum standard.
- Performance gap.
- Private rented sector regulations and traditional buildings.
- Scheduled maintenance.
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