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A building is a man made structure that is built to provide protection, home and also working space for human being. In order to be able to stay in the building in a comfortable condition, maintenance work on the building and its facilities must be carried out. Building maintenance is defined as the work undertaken in order to keep, restore or improve every part of a building, its services and surrounds, to a currently acceptable standard, and to sustain the utility and value of the building (Seeley, 1976). The aim of this study is to identify and recommend few approaches that can be implement by the building maintenance managers in the maintenance practices which will ensure the efficiency of building maintenance activities. The level of building maintenance efficiency can be illustrated through the performance of facilities, services and system in a building which will then be measured through the satisfaction of the building occupants and user.
There are several strategies and approaches has been recognized which can be implement by the maintenance managers in order to ensure the efficiency of the building maintenance work especially in nowadays challenging working environment. The first thing first to be considered by the maintenance managers is about the adoption of information technology system in the building maintenance activities. This approach is focusing on the management of data and analysis which is through the use of computerized system in managing and maintaining a building. While, another suggested approach is via the implementation of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). This is the new management thinking where managers in many business activities right now are trying to shift to this approach. This strategy also is proved in generating positive outcomes and better result through the use of current and available resources in the organization.
To make sure the building maintenance practices to be efficient, another effective method has been recognized which is well planned maintenance strategy which consist of several types. The type of maintenance strategies are the preventive, routine and corrective maintenance strategy. These three strategies was highly recommended as it helps the building maintenance managers to prevent from any major repairing cost, sudden malfunction of building facilities as well as making sure the optimal performance of services and system in the building. All suggestion in this study is mainly focus on how to ensure the efficiency of building maintenance practice. There are many other suitable approach can be implement by the maintenance managers to ensure efficient building maintenance practice. However, the combination of all strategies in this study is inevitable to produce better result from the building maintenance practices.
Nowadays, building maintenance practices is essential as to ensure that a building can perform well to its maximum level of production for which it purposely being constructed. Building can be defined as a permanent or semi-permanent structure that is built on the land which the components includes foundation, beam, floor, roof and also facilities installed in the building. Without the activity of maintaining the building, it might not serve well to the people who own or occupy it and the life cycle of the building could be radically reduced due to the extensive use of the structure or facilities inside the building. So, this is where building maintenance practices become useful. In order to implement building maintenance tasks efficiently, a proper building maintenance plan and monitoring system is necessary (Azlan-Syah Ali, 2010). While, Francis et al 2001 defined building maintenance management is an operation involving the interaction or combination of technical, social, legal, and fiscal determinants that govern and manage the use of buildings.
According to T.J. Pitt MSc FRICS 1986, the objective of most property maintenance is to preserve the stock and quality of the property portfolio by providing a responsive and efficient repair service which will later represent the value for money. While, based on the study done by David Allen 1993, building maintenance management has always been seen as the "Cinderella" of the construction industry, and has never been recognized in its own right. However, a common or regular maintenance activity cannot guarantee the highest production and performance of the building. The maintenance work which being carried out must strictly follow the schedule plan and achieving the standard or specification which has been set in the industry. The aim of the maintenance service must be to increase the availability of systems and equipments, which entails increasing their reliability and decreasing their repairing time (E. Viles, D. Puente, M.J. Alvarez, F. Alonso, 2007). Thus, it is important to ensure that the maintenance activities or practices in a building to be very efficient as it will reflect to the great performance of the building itself as well as achieving the building owners goal. Based on the study done by David Allen 1993, the quality and efficiency of a building maintenance management operation depends, to some extent, on how information on the condition of the building, the need of the users and the works carried out, is collected and used. So, there are few things and matters that need to be taken into account in order to safeguard the efficiency as well as quality in building maintenance practices especially in Malaysia.
3.0 Information Technology (IT)
In order to ensure the work flow of maintaining a building to be very efficient, an information technology must be taken into account in the management system especially during this modern era. Not only limited to the building maintenance management only, the information technology has been widely used and applied in every aspect of work field during these days. More and more people are concern especially the top management team has seen that it is fundamental to adopt information technology in their business operation as to ensure the smooth running and operation of their business. Moreover, the work flow of any business operation during this modern age has become more complex and complicated than ever before. The management team will eventually need to adopt the information technology in the daily operation as it will greatly help them to monitor and operate the business in orderly, structured and organized manner. According to T.J. Pitt MSc FRICS 1986, the managers will need to have reliable information which can be quickly and easily digested through the using of information technology in the building maintenance practices. With the reliable information that the managers have, they will be confident to proceed with any sensible and rational measures which they think necessary.
Apart from that, the information technology in building maintenance practices becoming very important as it allow the maintenance managers to identify the required maintenance, prioritization of those maintenance and also formulate a predictive maintenance programme. Through this crucial step that can be done by using information technology, the activities of building maintenance can be done efficiently. The maintenance managers can forecast and project for the future maintenance work which they think necessary for the building before the work is done in reality. As an example, the maintenance manager can use the information technology in their building maintenance management to collect and stored the data regarding the life span of the building facilities such as lift and escalator. Through this approach, the maintenance manager can predict when they need to carry out the maintenance work, what kind of maintenance work is necessary to be done and how much is the maintenance cost. According to Holmes and Pitt 1994, this approach might be more applicable to long term or strategic maintenance forecasting and evaluation. Indirectly, the information technology also helps the manager to identify other superior work to be done first before carry out the repairs or maintenance of the lift and escalator. The deployment of information technology in the business process can help to improve the business process performance (Chung For Choi, Stephen L. Chan, 1997). Thus, it is clearly showing that the adoption of information technology in the building maintenance work helps to ensure the efficiency of the maintenance activities especially in this modern era.
4.0 Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)
The building maintenance team will eventually involves a number of workers or man power as to deliver the work and activities of maintaining the building. As the world has evolved to be more complex and sophisticated, the people especially the building users have also growth to be more knowledgeable and demanding. They are the users which own or occupy the building and they will surely need a body to maintain the building for their comfort and wellness as well as to extend the life span of the building. In addition, the nowadays building also was designed to be very intelligent, unique, completed with up-to-date facilities and few other special characteristics which represent the value for money. At this point, the building maintenance management is the right body to perform the task for them because they are the people which have the knowledge, skill, resources and capable to carry out the building maintenance work. According to the Chartered Institute of Building, the building maintenance means as a work undertaken to keep, restore or improve every facility to an agreed standard, determined by the balance between the need and available resources. However, a routine or common building maintenance practice without proper allocation of task or work specialization cannot ensure the efficiency in the maintenance work. Thus, it is essential to make sure that the building maintenance management or the organizational structure is well structured that consist of few different department and specializations. The traditional organizational structure of a building maintenance department must be re-structured to be well organized and the staffs are re-positioning according to each specialization. This is called as the Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) where the same resources are being re-organized in order to produce better result and outcomes.
According to Hammer and Champy 1993, the Business Process Re-engineering is defined as the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business process to achieve dramatic improvement in critical, contemporary measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed. As a simple example, the top level of the management team is the Head of Manager, followed by few Department Manager such as Administration Department, Research Department, Human Resource Department, Technical Department and also the Security Department. Each of this department is specialist in each working field and getting the right task to be performed. Through the well structured and specialized organization, the work of building maintenance can be separate and delivered efficiently between the departments which will later producing high quality of result. This new management thinking can also greatly helps to reduce the operational cost of building maintenance as the necessary task can be done by specialist in the organization itself which is called as in-house management without having to outsource the work to external party which will surely require additional cost of appointment. The basic idea of BPR is to perform changes to the existing business in order to improve the performance (Chung For Choi, Stephen L. Chan, 1997). So, it is proved that the new management thinking of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) to be one of the important elements that must be considered by the building maintenance organization in order to ensure the quality service delivered as well as efficiency in building maintenance practices especially in nowadays challenging situation.
5.0 Well Planned Maintenance Activity and Strategy
In ensuring efficient building maintenance practice, the maintenance managers must have knowledge and vision on the maintenance activity to be carried out on the building. They must have clear picture about the flow of maintenance activity to be done and what are the best course of maintenance plan to be prepared as to make sure the building can operate at its optimum level with high performance of all facilities in the building. According to Thompson 1994, the role of building maintenance is not only to ensure the facilities and services in the building are operating at the optimal standard of functions, but to satisfy the performance to the requirements of the building's occupants. In the context of maintaining a building, there are several recommended types of maintenance activity which are the preventive maintenance, routine maintenance and corrective maintenance. This type of maintenance activity will significantly influence the efficiency of building maintenance practice as well as life cycle of facilities and services in a building.
5.1 Preventive Maintenance
To start with, preventive maintenance activity is the primary work that must be planned and comes first before the other two maintenance activities or strategy. The preventive maintenance can be describe as a work of maintaining the building including its facilities and services like lift, escalator, building security system and also the fire fighting system with the aim to reduce the risk of major problems regarding the building and its facilities to occur. Preventive maintenance activity is performed in the belief that they will improve component utilization (K.A.H. Kobbacy, D.F. Percy, B.B. Fawzi, 1997). The preventive maintenance also must be well planned by the maintenance manager at the early stage of managing the building as this can helps much on reducing the maintenance cost in future as well as longer the life span of facilities installed at the building. Some examples of preventive maintenance are periodic inspection on the fire fighting system and building security system. The inspection on the system can be done weekly or twice a month as to ensure the systems are always in good condition. This activity also can prevent from any unplanned maintenance in the future due to the sudden malfunction of the system. Kyle et al has explained that regular maintenance activities and routine inspections of the building and its equipments will disclose structural and mechanical problems before major repairs become necessary.
5.2 Routine Maintenance
Next after the preventive maintenance will be the routine maintenance activity. It can be defined as the on-going care and upkeep of a building and its facilities. The Routine Maintenance activity is quite similar with preventive maintenance activity. However, it is a work done usually every day or every week. The examples of routine maintenance activity are the cleaning of common area, landscape maintenance, and regular services of air conditioning system, lift and escalator. All this task which is done regularly can prevent from excessive damages or breakdown of the facilities and system which will later require high cost for the maintenance and repairing work. The routine maintenance activity also helps to ensure the performance of the building equipment and facility to be excellence at all time and meet the building occupant's demand. Furthermore, the routine maintenance also helps to predict when will the systems or facility such as lift to be repaired or totally replaced. This prediction can be done through the data collected during the inspection works, analyst using the information technology as to forecast when the system need to be repair again or totally replaced with the new system due to its failure.
5.3 Corrective Maintenance
Then, the most crucial part in maintenance strategy will be the corrective maintenance activity. Corrective maintenance is an activity where the responsible building maintenance manager taking corrective measure on any breakdown and malfunction of system, facilities, services and structural of the building whenever it happens. According to David and Arthur 1989, the corrective maintenance works usually carried out in ad hoc manner to response to any breakdowns or building occupant's request. The repairing work is carried out by the responsible technician with orders from the manager at the time it is necessary. Nevertheless, not all building maintenance managers nowadays consider to plan for preventive and routine maintenance activity. They are likely to take corrective measure only when the breakdown or malfunction happens. This situation will then lead to excessive repairing cost, lack of in-house expertise to restore the system back to normal and cause the building occupants to feel uncomfortable to stay longer in the premises because the system and facilities installed in the building cannot perform well to an acceptable user's standard.
The corrective maintenance only incurred high maintenance and repairing cost because of two reasons which are failure of an item that can cause a large amount of consequential damage to other elements in the building and failure of an item that can occur at a time which is inconvenient to both the user and the maintaining authority when the manpower and spare parts are difficult to obtained (R.M.W. Horner, M.A. El-Haram, A.K. Munns, 1997). Somehow, the maintenance activity is very important to make sure the defect, breakdown or malfunction system can be repaired and operate as usual. Therefore, it is well recommended that the building maintenance managers to include in their maintenance management strategy all the three maintenance activities which are preventive maintenance, routine maintenance and corrective maintenance. These three maintenance strategies will helps to ensure the efficiency in building maintenance practices as well as bring good reputation to the building maintenance managers itself.
To make sure the efficiency in the building maintenance practices, maintenance managers or engineers must be equipped with knowledge and skill regarding to maintain and manage a building. Without adequate knowledge in the field of building maintenance practice, the building might probably be maintained and manage at an average level of efficiency and cannot satisfy the building occupants or owner's standard. Furthermore, the nowadays building is built with intelligent system, unique design and complex facilities which are then require a knowledgeable and skillful person to manage it. In order to help ensuring efficiency in the building maintenance practices, few useful matters must be considered in the working or maintaining and managing the building. This includes the adoption of information technology in the managing the building through computerized analysis, take action on the new management thinking of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) in order to achieve better result via the using of available resources and also the planning of crucial maintenance strategy. Through the implementation of this valuable process and approach in the building maintenance practices, it is belief that it could give great impact of the end result or output of the building maintenance in term of the quality and efficiency. Thus, it can be concluded that it is very important for the maintenance managers or engineers to take into account this approach as to cope up with environment changing, circumstances alter, building owners and occupant's requirement as well as their demand on value for money. A systematic approach is very essential to make sure the successful of maintenance management (David Allen, 1993).