A Control Mechanism In The Maintenance Industry Construction Essay

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Introduction

Under British's Factories Act 1961, "maintained" is defined as: maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. Efficient or more precise, efficiency, as defined by the Learner's Dictionary of Times-Chambers, means working well, without any waste of time, money, etc. If seen under building maintenance context, building maintenance's prime aim is to obtain value for the money spent on maintenance (Noble, 1972), as well as improving efficiency and productivity of the occupants and the building (Seeley, 1976). Theoretically, it is not impossible to achieve this efficiency. However, owners' attempt at keeping maintenance cost at bay, have resulted adverse long-term effects towards the building (Seeley, 1976).

There is a call to improve the means to manage and the execution of building maintenance (Seeley, 1976). Considering the ever-changing technologies we have today, it is known that this industry takes on new technologies slower compared to others (Lee, Akin, 2009). Despite it all, maintenance will remain a significant work in the construction industry. Allen in his article defined maintenance management as encompassing operations and functions, and described as "the effective and efficient utilization of resources to ensure that the process and its facilities are kept operable to standards required by the users" (1993). Owners and property managers alike need to understand that in order to ensure efficiency throughout building maintenance; a lot of factors need to be considered, such as:

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Design stage

Knowledge and experience

Planned preventive maintenance (PPM)

Ensuring Efficiency in Building Maintenance

Design Stage

Designers' lack of consideration in maintenance aspects and gaps between design and maintenance might be one of the causes in the failure of achieving efficiency. An understanding of how the design of a structure to be used and maintained and maintenance policy must be known in order to achieve efficient design (Allen, 1993). According to Wood's research "Approaching the Care-Free Building", maintenance works of a building is influenced at the design stage even though not specifically determined (2003). The idea of a care-free building is to avoid maintenance once and for all, and in order to achieve that, a thorough consideration must be given during design stage where it must be reusable, intelligent, green, high technology (Wood, 2000). The most effective way to achieve that, the building must designed for durability (Elkin, et al, 1991). It is safe to say that a design of a building plays a vital role in ensuring the efficiency of the building maintenance in the future.

Faults caused by design cannot be treated permanently and will remain a continuing problem for the building (Seeley, 1976). For example, lack of consideration in choosing material such as asbestos will result in various problems, not only to the building, but also the occupants in terms of health hazards. Poor detailing during design stage may results in higher maintenance cost (Seeley, 1976) which contradicts with the essence of efficiency that focuses on being diligent with time and money. According to Seeley in his book, Building Maintenance (1976), designers' contributions are significant towards maintenance cost reduction during designing if they take into consideration these four questions:

How can it be reached?

How can it be cleaned?

How long will it last?

How can it be replaced?

Preferably, the design team must aim to create an attractive, functionally efficient and constructional sound building with a minimum maintenance (Institute of Building, 1975) in order to achieve the efficiency in building maintenance. Maintaining a building's well-being is as important as the aesthetic value of the building itself as it undertook the work needed to maintain the exterior façade as well as the interior to retain value of investment and fulfilling building's function (Anderson, 1969). From the previous researches and opinions, it is safe to say in order to ensure efficiency in building maintenance; property manager must act proactively during designing stage. The liability also lies on the designers, where feedbacks from occupants must be taken into account in order to improve future designs (Seeley, 1976). Organising dialogue between research and development workers as well as architects, surveyors, maintenance personnel and contractors will ensure the relevance of research in the practice of building maintenance (Seeley, 1976).

Knowledge and Experience

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Prime aim in building maintenance is to achieve good value for money spent on maintenance expenditure although there are some differing views on it, such as national/private, long/short term, and landlord/tenant (Noble, 1972). This contradiction may takes it affects on maintenance. For example deterioration of the fabric and finishes of a building, followed by harmful effects on the contents and occupants of the building (Seeley, 1976). It shows that lack of knowledge of the building current state and condition is one of the causes why efficiency in building maintenance is hard to grasp. It is hard to pin-point who is more deserving of property manager's position but we can agree that without knowledge and experience, maintaining a building is not a walk in the park. According to Seeley, maintenance manual consisting of materials, equipment used and maintenance needed for the efficient and economic use must be provided to occupants of a particular building for future reference (1976).

To achieve effective and efficient maintenance management, various expertises are clinched together. Here, technical knowledge and experience must go hand in hand to rectify the maintenance need and specify the best solution. Aside from that, knowledge in property, contract law as well as appreciation for sociology are welcomed (Hill, 1969). Allen in his article "What Is Building Maintenance?"stressed out on how important information on the current state of building, user needs and works carried out towards the quality and efficiency of a building maintenance (1993). However, information regarding a certain building is always made private and confidential due to potential embarrassment act as a constraint in compiling data (Wood, 2003). Nonetheless, Wood believes that "benchmarking clubs" and performance indicators are slowly made known to public for the sake of shared learning and continuous improvement. Although there is little literature on performance reports, making it hard to measure efficiency of maintenance system

So property managers must rely on as much as possible knowledge of managerial and social sciences as well as traditional technique knowledge base of building construction and deterioration (Zawawi et al, 2011). According to a research done in Botswana, all the respondents agreed on the importance of records keeping for the sake of management of their facilities (Moseki et al., 2011). It proves that a lot of information can be extracted from studying previous records and from there, efficiency can be achieved. Knowledge may be transferred from previous working experiences or received in classroom or from reading materials. Continuous reviews and analyzing on the performance operation must be carried out to ensure high quality service (Zawawi et.al, 2011). Nevertheless, when it comes to data, it must be maintained and updated regularly or it would not serve its purpose effectively.

It will act as a control mechanism in the maintenance industry in order to ensure efficiency in building maintenance is achieved. Due to its problematic nature, maintenance management provides a potentially abundant area for further operational research (Seeley, 1976). This will provide a medium for development players to have a dialogue and academic discussion amongst them. Moreover, it will spur further research in building maintenance aspects among students and academician. Furthermore, this is a turf where advance research on maintenance decision making is desired, especially in today's world where quality is a sought-after characteristic. Reviews on existing operations and maintenance manuals should be done and also developing a building information system in order to maintain the building (Moseki et al., 2011)

Optimum Maintenance Strategy

There is various maintenance strategy adapted by property managers in order to ensure efficiency

in maintaining their respective building. Examples are corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. Nevertheless, choosing which one is the best for a certain building would have to consider various factors such as the purpose of the building, materials used and also the occupants. According to Horner et. al. in an article entitled "Building maintenance strategy: a new management approach", they believed that in order to choose an optimal maintenance strategy, it is important to incorporate the three types of maintenance strategy because:

Not all items are significant;

Not all significant items can be condition monitored;

Condition monitoring techniques are not always available; and

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The application of condition monitoring techniques is not always cost-effective

Significant items are items that in which failure would affect health, safety, environment or utility (including cost) while non-significant items are whose failure has no significant effect (Horner et. al. 1997).

Aside from that, there is also Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM) which is a recognized route to a better maintenance (Allen, 1993). It focuses on prevention of failure of a facilty, carried out within the expected life of the building to ensure continuos operation (Seeley, 1976). In order to adopt this strategy, it will rely on accurate data and a condition appraisal in order to prepare a complete profile of an estimate and its building (Allen, 1993). A profile will help workers in referring for previous history or solutions. The concept is quite similar to a patient's record where doctor will always refer to the patient's previous condition in order to treat him. In the article, "What is Building Maintenance?" also mentioned that efficient maintenance management needs the preparation and upkeep of accurate property records and other related information. Allen also added that with planned maintenance, element of surprise can be removed (1993). This shows that in order to anticipate for the future, one must first study the history and current state of the building.

Advances in technology and management strategy have enabled various means in maintaining a building. One of the star-rising approach is the care-free approach. It is believed that the idea of "right building" can be achieved through "right design", "right time", "right place" which will result in a care-free building (Wood, 2003). Further in Wood's article, he explored the possibility of" self-maintaining" building where it will be controlled by robotic devices which technology has already existed especially in office and business developments. This may result in a high-tech or low-tech solution, eliciting and providing which is appropriate to the user.

Wood also argued how PPM is not relevant with the sustainability theory and the art forecasting which is too vague, quoting Burke "You can never plan the future by the past" (1791).Regardless, each and every strategy has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the end, it will come down to how much budget we are allowed for maintenance, the type of building and the objective of the building.

Conclusion

As a conclusion, efficiency is not an impossible thing to achieve. The question is, how far are we willing to go for the sake of efficiency? Sure, it concerns with time and money, two factors that are very important in today's world but how many are willing to go the extra mile? In order to ensure efficiency in building maintenance, a dire attention must be given during design stage, while knowledge and information regarding the building must be gathered and updated when maintaining it and lastly, choosing the best strategy for each building as one building differs from one another. Every option has its own advantages and disadvanatages, so it is up to us to to choose the best option for the building.