Friday, 21 September 2012

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Last week was very interesting in that I saw such a pronounced difference in attitudes in sites that I visited. It is always a wonder how peoples values can be so different. So here's what I saw;

The Good
I visited a well known hotel and met the facilities manager. This person was a breath of fresh air, totally on top of his game and he had the maintenance as smart as an army band. Now this person was under pressure the same as most facilities managers with budget cuts and staff shortages. Yet, he had the whole system prioritised in relation to keeping the plant and equipment running at optimum efficiency.

Yes, he was using paper and Excel and it was working well for a single location. He had a pride in his work and abilities to achieve so much in todays tight economy. Although, I was not going to get business from him for the Regional Pro2 software, I wish I could meet a lot more people like him.

The Bad
This section has two parts;

A good friend of mine met the owner of a large facilities contracting company which works throughout Ireland. Like most contracting companies, they are being squeezed with clients reduced budgets and higher operating costs. However his means of reducing costs is hard to believe. Basically if they are on a planned maintenance visit and they know that their engineers will be either unsupervised of their work will be unchecked on completion, they just don't bother carrying out the maintenance. They sign in as normal, then go back out to the van, fill out the paperwork as if they had done the work and drive away. Just how much of this is going on and there are lessons to be learned by all companies who contract out work.

After my visit to the 'good' hotel above, I decided to get a haircut before my next appointment as I had time on my hands. So walking down the street I saw a hairdressers that looked clean and welcoming and went in. It was quiet and I must say I got the best cut I have had in a long while and the price was ok too €10. The hairdressers was really nice, clean, well decorated and all the hairdressers tools were kept sterilized. I as surprised they were so quiet when others I had passed were really busy. The owner (over 20 years in the business), told me that the others were cheaper €7 & €8 which attracted the customers, but also that they can keep down their costs by using unskilled staff and they do not spend on equipment to sterilize their tools.
I had a look in one just a few doors further down the street and could see that everything he said was true. One guy coming out, looked like his hair had been eaten by a horse rather than professionally cut and the interior looked filthy, there was hair from dozens of cuts all over the floor and they just seemed to move on from customer to customer with the same scissors and combs. But most amazing they were really busy. So why do we accept the 'bad' instead of the 'good'?

The Ugly
My final appointment that day was another hotel. You know sometimes when you go into a place that you get a feeling of foreboding, well I got it here. To all appearances the hotel (an upmarket one) everything looked fine. However my opinion changed swiftly when I was talking to the person I had arranged to meet. In short this person said they had no interest in the maintenance solution I was offering as in their words - 'if anyone gets sick, has an accident or even killed, that's what we pay our insurance premiums for isn't it?'  Words just fail me.

I know I let off steam with these blogs, But I would love to hear your comments on them. Until the next time.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Where the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many

A few days ago I found myself passing through a town where I had not been for several years. It brought back memories of my previous visit. On that visit, while working for another company at the time, I was there to do a site survey of a commercial premises.

The public areas of the premises were fine and well maintained, but when I went into the staff only areas, the situation was almost unbelievable. In fact it was the closest thing to a potential 'deathtrap' I have seen. Just a few of my observations:
- No means of escape in case of fire, access was through a steel clad door which if locked could only be opened from the outside.
- Pre WWII electrical wiring and switches, some of which had signs warning of electrocution if touched.
- Floor boards so rotten that they could not support your weight.
And there was more, and yes I am being totally serious.

These issues were brought to the attention of the person responsible for not just this site but several others and his response was equally amazing. In short, he wasn't interested, if there was an accident then that was an insurance issue. He did not have the budget to do a renovation on the building and as regards personal risk (legal) he was willing to take a chance. Or in his words, if it goes really wrong, "I'll be long gone before they get me into court".

Frightening isn't it!

You might ask what about the Health & Safety authorities, that question by the time I moved on to start my own business was still unanswered.

Sure this is an extreme case or is it? You the reader may we well aware of a similar situations.
I have been on many sites and there have been a few really questionable ones in relation to H&S. The situation has been similar where the 'higher authority' just doesn't for various reasons (usually budget) want to do anything about it. So what gives these people the right to make fundamental decisions about the lives and health of others?

Surely, in a civilised and properly run company, in terms of health and safety - the needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the one.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Maintenance v Management?

Whenever I talk to someone about facilities or plant maintenance the conversation inevitably changes over to facilities management, which in my mind is a totally different subject. This is how I would define the difference between the two;

Facilities Management - This is the allocation of the output or usage of plant, equipment and services.                                                                               
Facilities Maintenance - This is maintaining the health of plant and managing the resources to do this.

The volume and quality of software solutions available for facilities management is quite staggering and many cross over briefly into the maintenance aspect with help desk and scheduling functions. Many managers either assume these solutions are all they need for maintenance or finding very little dedicated maintenance software available use either MS Excel or paper.

I have seen all sizes of businesses from hotels, multi-national retail chains to public transport companies who trust the control and recording of maintenance activities of tens of millions of dollars/euros of plant to a few flimsy sheets of paper. Something is definitely wrong here...

The same companies often have the best facilities management software available and usually all aspects of management are pursued to optimum levels. In fact it is quite normal in the reception areas of these companies to see multiple awards on the walls confirming their facilities management performance. Yet, the same companies perspective on plant maintenance can often be "If it ain't broke, don't tell me about it".

So how do you see your companies role with regard to both facilities management and maintenance?

If you are interested in exploring a better means of managing your facilities and plant maintenance - Click Here.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Beginning:

Having worked for a good number of years in the facilities industry, it still amazes me in the 21st century that so many corporations, retail chains, state bodies and SME's are still working with  20th century technology when it comes to maintaining their facilities / production plant and equipment.

I felt it was time to add both my personal experiences and view points with regard to this industry. I can't say I'll always be right. But hopefully along the way you will find my tips and insights of value. Who knows, maybe you'll even subscribe...

Until the next time...