If there is one thing that can send schools for a loop and bring their functions to a standstill, it's having a piece of equipment suddenly fail. In addition to potentially derailing schools, an emergency malfunction that could have easily been prevented may cause districts to cut a sizable - not to mention, unexpected - check to replace the asset.
As maintenance managers know, scrambling to make reactive repairs and replacements is not only inconvenient, but also costly. Those who are focusing on their preventive maintenance efforts and planning updates in advance, stay ahead of the game and ultimately avoid incurring excessive expenses from emergency repairs.
Racine Unified is making the maintenance switch
If you want to see a prime example of a maintenance manager on his "A game," look no further than Racine Unified School District's buildings and grounds director Bryan Arnold. According to The Journal Times, Arnold has been stressing the importance of preventive maintenance throughout this Wisconsin community's public school system, asserting that it will be more economical for the district to manage their buildings' maintenance needs in a proactive - not reactive - manner.
At the moment, the community faces tens of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs, which it clearly cannot pay in one lump sum. For this reason, Arnold plans to set aside 2 percent of the schools' yearly budgets to cover the costs of gradually getting their maintenance up to speed, eventually arriving at a place where the annual maintenance expenses will be minimal.
This is a smart move on Arnold's part, as making the switch from reactive to preventive maintenance will pay off in the long run. In fact, studies have revealed that being proactive and making minor repairs to buildings little by little is exponentially cheaper than having to make massive repairs in response to a maintenance emergency.
"Research shows it costs $4 long-term to remedy every $1 saved by deferring maintenance now," according to SchoolDude's whitepaper "Deferring Now Costs You Later." "Preventive maintenance can help systems, equipment and buildings last longer, resulting in less costly repairs and delays in replacement needs. For example, a PM program can extend the life of a roof by 30% and repairs for an HVAC unit can costs 3 to 4 times more than PM costs. Not only are these equipment pieces costly; they affect student performance. If a room is too hot or cold due to a non-working HVAC system, student and faculty learning will be disrupted."
Model system lifecycles and anticipate maintenance tasks
To stay on top of preventive maintenance, managers have data on their side. By continuously inspecting equipment and keeping a detailed history of their maintenance tasks, schools can analyze this information and create a lifecycle model for their systems. This way, they will be able to predict all of the repairs they will have to make to each piece of equipment over time, making for optimal budgeting and prioritization.
"We have a board mandate to project capital replacement costs of facilities 30 years out with a goal of always having money on hand for needs in the current calendar year to deal with those replacements," explained Randy Dewing, associate manager of building systems and safety at Indiana Wesleyan University. "With predictive work … it doesn't take much looking at the data to see that any extension to the life of the equipment we can achieve has drastic effects on total lifecycle costs."
With lifecycle modeling, managers can have a precise trajectory of how their buildings and systems will fare over time. This data will enable them to develop clear plans for gradual repairs, keeping their schools running smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively.