How to spring into savings by tracking heating complaints this winter

Turkey day has come and gone which means that winter is coming…and so are the heating complaints.

According to a survey by Building Operating Management, 68 percent of facilities managers said that the most common complaints they receive from occupants are about temperature. And 16 percent of respondents said they field a heating or cooling request every day. Complaints can be disruptive especially when you have preventive maintenance or capital improvement projects to get to, but tracking heating and cooling requests over time can provide valuable insight into your HVAC system.

Tracking heating and cooling complaints from occupants

I’ll bet that you can think of a particular person in your building who is constantly complaining about the temperature. How do you determine if the problem is in your HVAC system or your occupant’s imagination? Well, tracking these and other heating and cooling complaints across your building is a good place to start. You may start to see a pattern. Perhaps other occupants in the same area are also reporting issues. Maybe this person is only experiencing issues earlier in the morning or maybe they only experience issues when the outside temperature drops below a certain point. Tracking this kind of data may help you to determine whether a complaint has some substance to it.

Let’s say you’ve received a lot of requests for a certain area and have determined that the temperature in those rooms is not within range. So you check your HVAC system, but it looks okay. Maybe your problem isn’t your HVAC system at all, maybe there’s a leak or poor insulation is allowing heat to escape. Because you tracked the complaints, you were able to determine that there was a hidden problem.

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) like FMX can help you to track the frequency, location, date and time of heating and cooling requests.

Responding to complaints

Occupants want to be heard above all else. They will feel a lot better if you can show that you’ve heard them and are making an effort to solve their problem. If you are unable to solve their problem, offering them a kind explanation goes a long way. However, if you ignore complaints, occupants will often take it upon themselves to find a solution to their problems. In the case of heating complaints, occupants will often use personal heaters in their work areas. According to a report by the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), 60 percent of facilities managers said that their building occupants have brought in personal heaters if they were too cold. Personal heaters can be a fire hazard, cause power outages and can potentially make the problem worse.

A CMMS can improve communication between your team and building occupants. And with FMX, requesters are alerted when any progress has occurred on their request.

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Tracking maintenance activities

In addition to tracking complaints, you should also keep a log of your maintenance activities. That way if you experience similar HVAC problems in the future, you’ll have documentation on how you fixed it last time. Tracking maintenance activities should also give you an idea of which pieces of HVAC equipment are requiring more maintenance than others: maybe a particular model is underperforming, maybe all of the models from a specific manufacturer are under performing. Having this information documented will help you determine when to replace your equipment and with what.

FMX can help you coordinate HVAC repairs whether they are performed in-house or by a vendor.  You can also track how often you’ve had to make an HVAC system repair and to which pieces of equipment.

Tracking costs

Determining when you should make a capital improvement to your HVAC system can be a bit tricky, but it is worth it. You’ll need to know the amount of worker hours it takes to repair your system and whether or not they’ve increased over time (or the amount of time it takes for your vendor to complete the project and what their hourly rates are). It is also helpful to know your cost of inventory for each repair. This should give a basic idea of how much you are spending on your current system and whether or not it would be cost-effective to replace part or all of your HVAC system.

With the reporting and dashboard module in FMX, you can track labor hours/costs and inventory expenses, so that you can focus on convincing your boss to invest in capital improvements.

How FMX can help

FMX enables facilities managers to more efficiently and effectively track work orders, schedule resources, and plan maintenance. Our cloud-based solution features a calendar view simple enough for your team and your occupants to use to submit, track, and manage their requests. You can also use FMX to track equipment histories, worker hours, vendor rates and inventory.

 

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Allison is a product marketing manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not writing marketing content, she is likely hiking with her dog or cooking delicious Italian food. 


Introducing: Custom Modules in FMX

Here at FMX, we believe that our “out of the box” modules are pretty awesome and our customers agree. But we also realize that our standard modules might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, we’re excited to introduce the FMX Custom Module!

Check out the video below to learn how you can benefit from adding a “build your own” module to your FMX site.

What is a Custom Module?

Under the hood, a Custom Module starts with the same framework and workflow as our standard Maintenance Request Module. The difference is, your new Custom Module can be tailored to match your unique needs and workflows that don’t fit into the mold of our standard modules.

Have it your way

With help from your FMX Customer Success Manager, your Custom Module can be equipped with:

  • A unique module name and icon (e.g., Human Resources Requests, Custodial Requests, Time Off Requests, etc.)
  • Customized forms, fields, and request types
  • Customized user permissions, approval processes, and email notifications
  • Color coding on the calendar page to easily identify your Custom Module requests

Custom Module success story: Broadmoor Baptist Church

FMX customer Bill Watters, Director of Operations from Broadmoor Baptist Church in Mississippi, loved FMX at first sight. But, the standard FMX modules didn’t quite match all of his organization’s workflows and the vocabulary they had grown accustomed to using.

The FMX Customer Success Team consulted with Bill to understand his unique needs and created these tailored Custom Modules for his FMX site which you can see in the video above:

  • Access Control Requests: Issuing new key cards for building access
  • Clean It Requests: Managing custodial needs
  • Fix It Requests: Managing maintenance needs

“Your customer support has been fantastic. We don’t see you as vendors, we see you guys as partners–and there’s a big difference there…The interaction and the customization, that makes a partner. And that’s what you guys are to us.”

– Bill Watters, Director of Operations, Broadmoor Baptist Church

Interested? We’re ready to help!

To learn more about Custom Module capabilities and pricing, contact your FMX Customer Success Manager today to schedule a consultation (or email support@gofmx.com). Custom Module setup typically takes less than a day, so you’ll be up and running in no time!

Take the LEED in Sustainability for Your Organization

Nowadays sustainable buildings are no longer wished for, they’re expected. But sustainability advancements are expensive, and your budget hasn’t exactly grown in recent years. And your organization really can’t afford to build a fancy, new, green building. So how do you meet those growing expectations of your occupants (and your boss)?

Gaining a LEED certification for your existing building is an excellent way to show your organization’s commitment to sustainability.

What is LEED?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the one of the most common third-party certification systems for green buildings. It was developed by the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) and is used worldwide. There are several types of certifications, but the one you should be looking into is LEED v4 Operations and Maintenance (OM) for existing buildings.

Why should I pursue it?

LEED certification has many benefits in addition to the bragging rights mentioned above.

For example, you’ll see an increase in energy and water efficiency. And it just so happens that as you increase your energy and water efficiency, you decrease your utility bills. LEED-certified buildings have shown a 19% decrease in operational costs and use 25% less energy when compared to non-certified buildings.

You’ll also find that your building occupants become more productive as improvements are made to their environment. For example, according to the USGBC, sustainability in schools can even be linked to an increase in student standardized test scores.

Not to mention, as you work towards becoming LEED certified you’ll likely complete all of those preventive maintenance tasks you’ve been deferring for reactive work orders. You’ll also likely see a decrease in reactive work orders because your building(s) will be in tip-top shape. 

Is LEED worth the cost?

Going through the LEED certification process can be expensive: there are registration and review fees, in addition to the costs to update your building.

However, despite these expenses, you’ll likely see an overall decrease in your operational costs (as mentioned before) and an increase in your building value. LEED-certified buildings have been show to increase in value by 6.8%.

In addition, many state and local governments offer incentives for LEED certifications. For example, the City of Columbus, Ohio subsidizes the costs associated with the certification process for private and non-profit developers.

How does LEED work?

LEED certification is comprised of series of prerequisites, such as an energy efficiency audit. Once you have met the prerequisites, points are rewarded for any additional improvements. Your points are what earn you the LEED certification. There are four possible levels:

  • Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80 points and above

Each point corresponds to a credit in the program. Credits are the types of improvements that you can get (you guessed it) credit for. 

I’ve thought about getting certified before. Has LEED changed in recent years?

LEED has recently undergone a bit of a makeover. The USGBC replaced the current LEED certification, LEED 2009, with LEED v4 on Oct. 31.

In v4, LEED focuses more on effective maintenance and performance (i.e. showing an increase in energy efficiency) rather than simply updating building design.

In addition, USGBC has done its best to simplify the certification process wherever possible. They have reduced the amount of necessary paperwork, simplified the recertification process, and consolidated many of the credits.

One of the most challenging aspects of the new LEED v4 is the increase in the minimum Energy Star score prerequisite. You now need a rating of 75. The LEED 2009 rating was 69! But don’t give up quite yet, the new LEED v4 focuses just as much on performance as it does on results. If you are making substantial improvements to your building’s energy efficiency, you can still qualify at the LEED Certified level with an Energy Star score of less than 75.

How do I get my LEED certification?

Start the process early: Now is the perfect time to start researching what it would take for you to pursue a LEED certification, especially if your organization starts its budget cycle in January. The sooner you start planning, the better you can manage your time and budget for the project.

TIP: Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) like Facilities Management eXpress (FMX) can help you set a timeline for your enhancements and assign responsibilities to your team members.

Check out the LEED User Guide: You’ll find information on how to prepare for certification, minimum program requirements, the differences between LEED 2009 to LEED v4, and useful tips and tricks.

Run the numbers: Many of the prerequisites of LEED certification involve reporting statistics, like your Energy Star score. These numbers can also help you to determine if it makes sense for your organization to pursue LEED certification at this time.

Focus on advancements, not on points: You’ll receive the best results (i.e. energy savings) for your project if you focus on making general advances in sustainability, rather than focusing on individual credits.

Tackle the easy credits first: Pursuing easier credits first will give your organization more confidence in your ability to achieve LEED certification. For example, you can make interior lighting upgrades and conduct an occupant comfort survey for some easy points.

Select professionals with green-building experience if you’re making any renovations or updates to the design of your buildings.

Submit your project for certification and wait: Unfortunately, the LEED certification process is a lengthy one. Not only does the project take ample time on your end, you also have to wait for your project to be reviewed and approved by the USGBC.

TIP: FMX can help you to keep track of the data you’ll need to submit for your certification. If your organization has decided not to invest in a CMMS as this time, be sure to keep thorough records on your project, especially if you anticipate any personnel turnover.

How FMX can help

FMX’s simple interface and powerful capabilities like work order and preventive maintenance management, reporting, and analytics can be valuable assets in your pursuit of LEED certification. View our Buyer’s Guide to learn more about how you can simplify your facilities management with FMX.


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Allison is a product marketing manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not writing marketing content, she is likely hiking with her dog or cooking delicious Italian food. 


6 CMMS Best Practices for Stress-Free Audits

Does anyone not like getting two things for the price of one? That’s basically the idea behind using your CMMS to streamline audits.

If you’re familiar with CMMS’, you know they’re commonly used for managing work orders, scheduling preventive maintenance, tracking inventory, and so on. One of the hidden benefits of these powerful programs is that regularly performing the activities listed above will result in a wealth of facility data that you can use to verify compliance!

If you are currently using a CMMS, there are lots of ways you can tweak your processes to optimize your CMMS to become the perfect audit-assisting tool. If you don’t have a CMMS in place and deal with audits on a regular basis, read on to see just how simple things could be.

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Click here to download the infographic shown above.


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 Riana is the creative services manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not creating content or brainstorming new outfits for the FMX-bot, she can be found doing crafts and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

Prepare Your Crew, Equipment, and Grounds for Old Man Winter

Here in Ohio, stores are lining their shelves with fall decor and Halloween candy which can only mean one thing, winter is just around the corner. It also means this is the perfect time to get a head start on preparing your crew, equipment, and grounds for the colder weather ahead.

Check out the tips below for a smooth sailing winter, even when the “weather outside is frightful”. If you live in a warm weather paradise, share this post with a cold climate friend!

Prepare your equipment

Will your equipment be reliable when old man winter strikes? Do you have access to back-up equipment in case of equipment failure? Follow the steps below to make sure that your equipment is in tip-top shape so you can prevent unexpected emergencies.

  • Clean, repair, and store summertime equipment (mowers, trimmers, etc.) in a separate location to provide easier access to wintertime equipment.
  • Inspect existing equipment that will be used heavily in the wintertime (snowplows, salt spreaders, etc.) to assess each item’s condition and determine if any equipment needs to be repaired, replaced, or rented. If it will cost more to maintain a piece of equipment than it’s actually worth, consider replacing it.
    • Develop and maintain an accurate equipment inventory to track model #’s, serial #’s, purchase dates, warranty expiration dates, and odometer readings. This information will help you predict when to replace equipment before it’s too late.
  • Snow and ice removal takes a toll on equipment. Perform preventive maintenance before winter sets in to make sure your equipment can handle the job:
    • Hydraulics: Check hydraulic cylinders for stress cracks in the paint, leaking or bent fittings, and damaged hoses. Remove contaminants from hydraulic systems so they don’t turn into rust and gunk while in storage.

    • Electrical components: Inspect and protect motors, wires, solenoids, switches, and connections to make sure they’re operating properly. Use a rust inhibitor to protect electrical systems from damage.

    • Mechanical and structural components: Check for cracks, bent pins, broken cutting edges, missing or broken bolts, and twisted framework. Repair any damage that is found.

Protect key landscape components

Follow these steps to ensure that your landscaping elements will stand the test of winter and be ready to blossom in the spring.

  • Clean up fallen leaves.
  • Apply extra mulch to prepare beds and tender plants for winter weather conditions.
  • October is the perfect time to replace summer annuals with chrysanthemums.
  • Plant spring bulbs before the ground freezes, or around mid-November.
  • Drain and winterize irrigation systems to prevent damage due to freezing.
  • Aerate soil and apply gypsum along driveways and near low runoff areas to reduce the damage caused by the accumulation of salt based deicers.

Prepare your crew and grounds

Before those snowflakes start falling, follow the steps below to rally your crew and ensure that everyone is informed about your winter procedures and proper upkeep of your grounds.

  • Establish contracts with outside equipment and service providers.
  • Review snow removal and inclement weather procedures and responsibilities with your staff.
  • Leverage your seasoned veterans to train new staff members on safe operation of equipment.
  • Inclement weather can result in long hours for your crew. Keep your staff safe and sane by recruiting extra helping hands in advance from other departments or outside contractors in case you need them.
  • Map out and assign snow removal routes. Prioritize which areas on or around your property (roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.) will need to be cleared first after a snowfall.
  • Determine what to do with excess snow and notify equipment operators so they know where to push the snow.
    • Place signage in the areas designated for excess snow so that your building occupants will know those areas are reserved for snow piles.
  • Pre-treat sidewalks and other paved surfaces with anti-icing products to make snow and ice removal easier when the time comes. Consider using liquid anti-icing products, rather than granular ones like rock salt.
    • Although liquid deicers are more expensive, they typically do a better job preventing snow and ice from sticking to paved surfaces. If you do plan to use salt as a deicing agent, be cautious when using it near landscaped areas due to the erosion it can cause and avoid using it around electrical boxes and structural materials since it causes corrosion.

Download the “Winter Preparation Checklist”

We’ve combined all of the tips above into a handy checklist you can download below and print out to track your progress while you prepare for winter.

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Click here to download the “Winter Preparation Checklist”.


How FMX can help

FMX is a cloud-based software that simplifies facilities management. With FMX, you can maintain an accurate equipment inventory and schedule preventive maintenance tasks to ensure that your equipment and grounds are properly winterized.


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Jamie is the marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not keeping the marketing ship afloat, chances are she’s out hiking with her high school sweetheart husband.


Sources:
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/groundsmanagement/article/Grounds-and-Equipment-Preparation-for-Winter-Often-Begins-in-Summer–14967
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/groundsmanagement/tip/Snow-and-Ice-Management-Focus-on-Equipment–30280
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/groundsmanagement/article/Hot-Buttons-for-Colder-Weather–3452

 

6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Your Facility Management Budget

By this time of the year, most facility managers are wiping the sweat off their brow and saying “good riddance” to this fiscal year’s budget plan. While this seems like a good time to relax and take a breath (you deserve it), it’s also the perfect time to get started on next year’s budget! ln fact, facility management professionals suggest starting the budget planning process as early as 10 months before the fiscal year is out. We agree — it’s never too early to start! So, to help get your mind in the right place, we’ve compiled six questions that all facility managers should ask themselves when planning their budget. Check them out in our SlideShare presentation below.
We’re interested — what’s the top priority for your budget plan this year? Is there anything you do to streamline your budget planning process? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

With FMX, you can plan your budgets with confidence. Our cloud-based software provides you with the tools you need to track spending, productivity, equipment status, and more. With the help of our robust reporting and analytics, you can use this data to uncover insights on your facility management processes. FMX tracks resources and inventory while keeping everyone up-to-date with work orders, event schedules, and planned maintenance. Talk to an FMX-pert today to simplify the way you manage your facilities.


riana_blog_headshot
 Riana is the creative services manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not creating content or running the FMX customer community, she can be found doing crafts and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

CMMS/CAFM Selection Q&A with Taylor Short from Software Advice

Here at FMX we could talk for days about the benefits of using facilities management software. But, we don’t want you to just take our word for it, so we interviewed Taylor Short, Market Researcher at Software Advice, to get his take on the topic.


Meet Taylor

taylor-short-blog-headshot.pngTaylor Short is a Market Research Associate at Software Advice, a company that hosts research and reviews of facility management software and CMMS software solutions for small businesses. His research explores the impacts of emerging software and technologies, and he has conducted primary research with both consumers and business owners to get a full picture of technology’s role in these markets today.


1) How can Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) or Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) systems address common pain points for business owners?

Taylor’s Take: Some common pain points Software Advice hears from software seekers include losing work orders, having trouble tracking all assets, and overall inefficiency in scheduling preventative maintenance. Simply automating daily maintenance tasks can ensure departments never have to deal with paper work orders again; once created, the CAFM system holds onto work orders until they’re closed out. Secondly, software offers a bird’s eye view of operations with dashboards that display the location of all assets. And finally, a user can create regular PM’s and the CAFM system will send notifications as they are due. Together, these CAFM capabilities keep managers aware of all work and offer tools to increase efficiency.

2) What kind of ROI can be expected from investing in new software?

Taylor’s Take: Software buyers can use the standard return on investment formula (gain from CAFM – cost of CAFM / cost of CAFM x 100) to get a percentage answer, which can tell you how much of your initial investment a CAFM system will return. Another way to look into the costs of a software investment is to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO), which examines costs throughout the entire life of the software and includes additional costs such as those for installation, data migration, support, and more. You can find your TCO with our calculator.

3) What are some recent trends in the small business space around facilities management technology?

Taylor’s Take: Mobility is the most discussed technology trend in facilities and maintenance management today, and for good reason. Access to a full-featured CAFM system in your mobile device adds tremendous value for technicians in the field, who can create and close out work orders, view and take images of assets, or scan QR codes with a camera. These capabilities completely remove the time usually taken by traveling between the office and the job site, which can instead be used to perform more work.

4) What are some recommended steps to find the product that’s right for your business?

Taylor’s Take: Many companies say they need facilities management software, but don’t have a specific plan in place or goal for what they want to see out of it. So first, it’s important for a facilities management team and the company executives to develop the results they want to see from a software investment. Secondly, facilities departments should determine the specific features that will deliver that result. Maybe the goal is to increase work order completion rates by 30 percent; the company could then include work order management tools. Finally, companies can evaluate additional features and modules that increase convenience, such as mobile access. With a clear goal and feature set in mind, a company has a greater chance to find the exact CAFM they need. Buyers can consult user reviews of CAFM systems at softwareadvice.com or other technology comparison sites to create a short list of products that are a good fit, and then set up demos or free trials to get a feel for the product. Remember, it’s always a worthwhile investment of time and energy to find a product that fits your needs, and has all the proper integrations.


Consider FMX

FMX enables facilities managers to more efficiently and effectively track work orders, schedule resources, and plan maintenance. Our cloud-based software features a calendar view that anyone can use to submit, track, and manage requests, events, and assets.  Facilities owners and managers gain visibility into activities and costs, while building staff and tenants get updated status information on their facilities requests.

Discover why FMX was named one of “The 3 Best-Reviewed Facilities Management Systems, sign up for our 14-day free trial today.