2016 FMX Year in Review

Here at FMX, 2016 brought a bunch of snazzy software updates, talented new employees, and much more! In this blog post, you’ll find a recap of our biggest highlights from 2016.

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Wondering what these stats mean? Check out the infographic at the end of this post!

December 2016:

  • We improved the speed and performance of FMX and added a grid view for Schedule Requests in addition to other updates.
  • We shared our thoughts about how manufacturers can benefit from using facilities management software.
  • We enjoyed making this holiday video at our annual Christmas party!
  • Speaking of Christmas, we also had a lot of fun creating this Facilities Management Gift Guide. 

November 2016:

October 2016:

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Welcome to the team, Allison!

September 2016:

August 2016:

July 2016:

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Welcome to the team, Kathryn!

June 2016:

May 2016:

April 2016:

March 2016:

February 2016:

  • This month had us leaping with joy as we enabled users to edit resolution details for Work Requests, added flexibility for Planned Maintenance email notifications, and more!

January 2016:

Katie Dye's Headshot Photo
Welcome to the team, Katie!

Now for those stats we mentioned earlier…

2016 FMX Year in Review Infographic

Click here to download this infographic.

We have big plans for 2017 such as improving our mobile interface and expanding our API, just to name a few. We truly appreciate your support and we look forward to another successful year!


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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 trail running with her husband or practicing her guitar skills.


7 ways to help prevent flu in your facilities

Now that the holidays are over, everyone is back to work (or school). Which means one thing: It’s flu season.

The flu is most often spread during the winter months when people spend more time indoors. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the 2017 flu season might be more severe than usual, especially for young children and older adults.

According to the CDC, employers lose 225.8 billion (or $1,685 per employee) each year in productivity losses from absent employees. Facilities managers can help mitigate some of these losses by taking extra care this flu season to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces. Here are some tips:

  1. Identify surfaces and locations in your building(s) that occupants frequently come into contact with.

80 percent of illness-causing infections are spread through touch, according the CDC. The best way to prevent flu from spreading is to target commonly-touched surfaces. Start by thinking about what your occupants are likely to touch in a given day. For example:

– Do they use doorknobs and elevator buttons when they come in the building?

– Do they type on their keyboards, answer their phones, and sit at their desks?

– Do they use the countertops and sinks in the breakroom?

  1. Add additional cleaning rotations for these high-touch surfaces

Instruct your team on which surfaces they should target the most.

How FMX can help: You can use facilities management software like FMX to schedule these cleaning rotations. Your maintenance team will be able to view these tasks on their personal calendars, and they will know immediately when they are assigned to a task. You can also use FMX to send out reminders before these tasks are due (and when they are overdue).

  1. Make sure you clean soft surfaces as well

Carpets, curtains, and upholstery are often overlooked during cleaning rotations because they don’t appear dirty, but flu viruses can survive on soft surfaces for up to 12 hours.

  1. Choose disinfectants over all-purpose cleaners

All-purpose cleaners are designed to remove dirt and grime, not germs. In fact, just using a cleaner might make the problem worse. You may just be moving germs around, which is the opposite of what you want to do. Disinfectants, on the other hand, are designed to kill bacteria and viruses (like the ones that cause the flu).

  1. Choose the right disinfectant

You should also consider what kind of disinfectant would be most appropriate for your facilities. Arguably the most common disinfectant is chlorine bleach. The benefit of bleach is that it is cheap and effective. However, the chlorine in bleach is a respiratory irritant and can aggravate breathing conditions like asthma, especially in small spaces. Chlorine is also corrosive and may damage surfaces over time.

Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) disinfectants are sustainable products which are less irritating to lungs, less corrosive to surfaces, and just as effective as bleach. However, AHP disinfectants are often more expensive. Here’s a quick guide about the common types of disinfectants.

  1. Develop and follow cleaning best practices

In order for some disinfectants to be effective, they must be in contact with a surface for a certain length of time and they often must remain wet during that period. For example, bleach should remain wet on a surface between 1-10 minutes for it to be fully effective. Always refer to the product label for instructions on how to properly use disinfectants.

How FMX can help: You can use FMX to build checklists for your employees to follow during cleaning tasks. You can require assignees to check off each step before they can close out a task. You can also give them the option to record their progress on a task and then close it out at a later time.

  1. Partner with your Human Resources department (or other organization-wide administrative department) to remind occupants about proper hand washing and discourage sick occupants from coming to work to prevent spreading illnesses.

Your organization can post signs or send out company-wide emails, for example.

How FMX can help

FMX’s simple interface and powerful capabilities make it easy to schedule janitorial and other planned maintenance tasks. You can also prioritize tasks based on need, view each and every task your team members are working on, create checklists, store important documents and other information, and keep track of time and money spent.

You can also use FMX to manage your inventory. FMX provides a unique QR barcode for every asset, and enables facilities staff to save time by scanning codes from any smartphone or tablet to adjust inventory quantities, obtain asset maintenance procedures and history, and more.

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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. 

10 challenges school facilities managers face and how you can overcome them

As you’re reading this blog post, take a second and look at your desk (or if you’re away from yours, close your eyes and imagine what it looks like). What’s on it? Your computer, a few pens, maybe an energy bar that you haven’t gotten around to eating yet? What about stacks of work orders?

Many school facilities managers find their desks wallpapered with work order forms and post-it notes from taking requests over the phone. Those managers who have gone the electronic route, often have hundreds to thousands of unread emails in their inbox that they haven’t had time to sort through.

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School facilities managers frequently receive more work orders than they can handle. Meanwhile, they watch their budgets dwindle due to constantly running their HVAC and other operational systems to accommodate after-school activities.

As a result, they are rarely able to achieve their goals like developing a preventive maintenance plan and making capital improvements.

Check out our eGuide below on the challenges that school facilities managers face and how facilities management software like FMX can help you overcome them.

About FMX

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 and is simple enough for teachers and administrators to use to submit, track, and manage their requests and events. With FMX, facilities managers gain valuable insight into facility use and costs, while teachers and administrative staff get updated status information on their facilities requests.

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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. 

How to advance your career by improving energy efficiency

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With increased industry regulation and public support, sustainability is more of a priority than ever before. As a result, more and more organizations are creating executive and senior management positions to manage their sustainability projects. Some of these position titles include Director of Sustainability, Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility, and even Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). This new trend gives facilities managers a unique opportunity to expand the roles of their departments and advance their careers.

These positions were usually created once the organization had already begun pursuing sustainability and energy efficiency improvements, according to a recent study by Kathleen Miller and George Serafeim of Harvard Business School. Facilities managers who make these improvements a priority are likely to be remembered once their organization is ready to create a CSO position. In fact, 86% of CSOs were hired internally, according to another study.

When do organizations create CSO positions?

Most organizations move through a similar process as they advance their sustainability efforts, according to Miller and Serafeim:

  1. Compliance stage: Many organizations’ first introduction to sustainability comes from needing to comply with industry regulations. Your organization may very well be in this stage right now. In this stage, those responsible for managing sustainability efforts are unlikely to hold a CSO position…at least not yet.
  2. Efficiency stage: Over time an organization will begin to focus more on how sustainability can improve their business and less on simply complying with industry regulations. These organizations frequently develop an overall sustainability strategy and work to implement it. It is at this stage, that CSO positions are most often introduced.
  3. Innovation stage: Most organizations move into the innovation stage after their sustainability strategies have been in place for a while. These organizations then begin to approach their sustainability efforts in a more proactive way.

How can you move your organization into the efficiency stage and beyond?

The first step is to get the attention of upper management by improving your energy efficiency, thus lowering your energy costs and improving your sustainability.

Most energy efficiency initiatives take the form of equipment or inventory replacements, for example, replacing a low-efficiency water heater with a high-efficiency one. These initiatives are popular because they are easy to identify and install, and the savings are immediately evident. Equipment/inventory replacements are a great place to start, however, they do cause some problems. For example, their contribution to your overall energy savings is minimal overtime, because it is just as easy to replace a high-efficiency product with a low-efficiency one. Organizations often revert back to their original products over time due to budget cuts.

The best way to permanently improve your energy efficiency and move your organization into the efficiency stage is to focus on load reduction. Basically, you want to decrease how hard systems, such as HVAC, have to work to maintain appropriate operational levels. For example, one way to reduce the load on your heating system is by reducing stack effect, according to author and engineer, Ian Shapiro.

Example: Load reduction by reducing stack effect

Stack effect is the “vertical upward motion of air in a heated building in the winter,” according to Shapiro. In the winter, cold air typically enters a building through lower-level outdoor access points such as doors and windows, loading docks, and mechanical rooms.  Once the air is inside, it finds pathways to rise to the top of the building. Some of these pathways include stairwells, chimneys, holes for pipes, elevator/mechanical shafts, etc. The air will then escape through an opening on the upper floor. When this air escapes it will cause more cold air to enter the building, starting the process over. The introduction of cold air into the building causes heating systems to work harder to maintain the set temperature in the building. If you can decrease the number of air pathways and entry points into your building, you’ll decrease the amount of new cold air that enters the building. As a result, you’ll permanently reduce your heating load and increase your energy efficiency.

How to get started

  1. Identify the pathways: Some of the more obvious ones are unused chases and chimneys and stairwell doors. Shapiro also suggests looking for holes around pipe penetrations, holes into chases for piping and wiring, as well as ductwork. Good places to look for these pathways are below kitchen and bathroom sinks and also around exhaust and supply ventilation grilles.
  2. Target entry points: You can further reduce stack effect by caulking and weather stripping the entry points into your building. However, it’s important to target the pathways first, as these improvements will reduce the air pressures that cause cold air to enter the building in the first place. Even as caulking and weather stripping wear over time, you’ll still maintain an appropriate load on your heating system.

How FMX can help: A Computerized Maintenance Management System like FMX can help you plan this and other energy efficiency improvements. With FMX, you can create planned maintenance tasks like the ones above and assign them to your staff. You can also measure the success of this project by tracking heating requests from building occupants.

For additional load reduction techniques check out this article by Shapiro.

About FMX

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 improved sustainability and energy efficiency. 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. 


Three tips to declutter your storeroom and decrease inventory costs

How do you feel when you walk into your organization’s storeroom? Anxious? Frustrated? Maybe even a little afraid? For many organizations, storerooms are like attics: drafty, dark, and disorganized; places you only go if you absolutely have to. This blog post will provide fmxbottoolsyou with some insight to take back your
storeroom and improve your inventory management, enabling you to save time and money in the future.

Let’s look at some numbers

A typical organization overstocks about 29 percent of their internal inventory, according to the findings of CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management), Andrew Gager. Let’s say that your entire inventory store is worth about $50,000. That means that you likely have around $14,000 worth of overstocked materials. Now imagine what you could do if you had that amount back in your budget.

But overstocking is not the only way that inventory can be mismanaged. More than half (58 percent) of a typical organization’s inventory has been stationary for more than three years. Now, some of these untouched items are important, though uncommonly used parts. But a significant portion of these items are probably obsolete. Let’s use the same example as before: if your inventory storeroom is worth $50,000, that means that you have around $29,000 worth of potentially obsolete items.

Why do these problems occur?

  1. No system for obsolete part disposal

Parts and other inventory items can become obsolete in several ways:

Equipment replacement: The equipment that utilized the part was replaced and the parts cannot be used by the new equipment.
Damage: Improper upkeep or accidents have caused the part to become damaged.
Cannibalization: A section of the part was used for another purpose and was not replaced.
Expiration: In the case of consumables, cleaning solutions, etc., the part was not used by its expiration date and is no longer safe to be used.

Without a proper way to dispose of these items, they can take up valuable space in your storeroom, lead to unsafe working conditions, add extra time to simple maintenance tasks, and lead to the next reason, “disorganization”.

  1. Disorganization
    Storerooms are notoriously disorganized. Parts are often stacked on top of each other and are poorly labeled. According to Gager, facilities staff spend about 18 percent of their days searching for tools and inventory. Sometimes storerooms are so disorganized that facilities staff will go out and purchase what they need to avoid searching for it in the storeroom.
    Disorganization will often cause organizations to unnecessarily reorder inventory because parts are improperly labeled or lost. Your staff will then have to wait for the parts to come in before they can complete the work order or planned maintenance task.

How to take back your storeroom

  1. Create a catalog
    The first step in taking back your storeroom is to identify, document, and label what is currently there. This process will help you to identify obsolete items, commonly used items that were ordered and misplaced, and some real gems as well: you may very well be holding on to parts that are out of production but that you still need for your equipment. The best way to catalog your inventory is with a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), like FMX.
    As you go through this process, be sure to note the quality of each item and its priority to your organization. Is it in good condition? For consumables, is it still within its expiration date? For larger parts, does the item have all of its components? Is the part crucial to maintain operations or is it no longer needed by your organization? Enter these notes in your CMMS so that you can review them as you’re going through the next step, “obsolete inventory disposal”.

How FMX can help: Each inventory item receives its own entry in FMX, where you can include its name, supplier, and any details about its quality and relevance to your organization. Once the entry is created, FMX will assign it a unique QR barcode for easy identification and labeling. FMX also makes it easy to search for the exact item you’re looking for and edit its description or change its quantity. If you already have a spreadsheet of your inventory, an FMX customer success representative can import that information for you.

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Inventory entry
  1. Remove obsolete materials: Once you have identified obsolete items in your inventory, you’ll want to remove them. But wait, remember those numbers from before? You’re likely looking at removing 25 percent or more of your inventory store, and depending on the size of your storeroom, those items could be worth a lot of money. Before you toss them, check with your purchasing and/or financial departments. They may want to sell these materials or donate them for tax credit. At the very least, they’ll likely want to document the loss.

Regarding consumables—If your organization stocks a lot of consumables they likely already have a waste management process. If you are not aware of this process, ask around before you throw these materials in the trash or down the sink. If you have expired commercial cleaning products, check the labels. Manufacturers often include instructions for disposal on the label. If you can’t find any instructions on the label, check with your local waste disposal facility for how to properly dispose of the products.

  1. Determine appropriate stocking minimums and maximums: There is a thin line between being overstocked and being understocked. Think about the inventory used for your most common repairs and planned maintenance tasks. This should give you a good starting point to establish some preliminary stocking levels. Using a CMMS over time will give you a better indication of what your actual minimums and maximums should be.

How FMX can help: FMX can help you track which inventory items you’ve used in the past week, month, year, or more. This information will allow you to more closely predict how many items you’ll need in the future. FMX can also help you keep track of the amount of time it takes to reorder inventory items from suppliers. This information will give you a good indication of how much of a particular item to keep in stock.

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Inventory log

Another thing to consider when determining your stocking minimums and maximums is the item’s priority. For example, if you’re from a manufacturing facility and you do not have a critical part for a piece of production or safety equipment, that can be a big problem. Even if that piece of equipment rarely requires maintenance, it is important to keep at least a few of those particular parts in stock.

How FMX can help

FMX enables facilities managers and their staff to more efficiently and effectively track inventory, equipment, purchasing, and much more. FMX provides a unique QR barcode for every asset, and enables facilities staff to save time by scanning codes from any smartphone or tablet to adjust inventory quantities, obtain asset maintenance procedures and history, and more.

FMX also provides facilities managers with valuable insight into inventory usage and purchase histories.

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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. 


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!