Assessing the implementation of a Planned Preventative Maintenance Programme for Strategic Estate Planning.
In order to understand the implementation of a planned preventative maintenance programme for estate planning, one will first need to understand the practice of condition surveys and the meaning attached to the concept. The Audit Commission (1988), with regard to condition surveys have been critical of most local authority practice in the UK of estimating maintenance expenditure by simply taking a notional percentage of the property value, and urge the use of proper condition surveys to derive more accurate estimates of maintenance expenditure. Condition surveys should, however be commissioned for more than just budgeting purposes, as they have a wider application in the managing of building condition, Bargh (1987).
A major obstacle to carrying out the first comprehensive survey is the expense. On a national scale the UK building stock possesses very poor condition records and this represents a massive impediment to developing good maintenance management practices. Some progress has been made in recent years, particularly with respect to local authority buildings, where the prompting of the Audit Commission has had some effect. Within the private sector in the UK, there is still a startling reluctance amongst property managers to commit funding and commission detailed condition surveys of their buildings, Sahai (1987). Within the public sector as well condition surveys now being carried out are strictly limited in their scope. In many cases they are carried out for very specific purposes, usually related to financial management, rather than as part of a professional approach to managing building condition, Colston (1987).Condition surveys also include, building surveys, manual surveys, optical mark surveys, bar-code reader, hand-held computer, and reports. These are all used to carry out condition surveys. With this in mind one can now talk about the use of this concept in a planned preventative maintenance programme for strategic estate planning.
The process of planning for maintenance work has much in common with the planning of any construction activity. Therefore the basic principles of planning should be firmly understood before considering maintenance planning specifically. As the nature of the product or activity becomes more complex a point is reached where it becomes necessary to commit some, or all, of this plan to paper and a formal programme is produced, Sahai(1987). At a simple level this may only involve writing dates into a diary whilst, at a more advanced level, the use of a powerful computer based management technique may be necessary. Planning as an intellectual process permeates all activities in one form or another, always with some objective in mind, whether or not this is overtly stated.
The clear identification of objectives is an essential prerequisite of the whole process, but particularly prior to the committal of a plan to the formal programming process. In the construction industry, planning has all too often been afforded insufficient credence. In many cases this is because not enough attention is given to the purposes for which a plan is required, leading to a failure to produce programmes that are consistent with the planning objectives, Tavistock Institute (1966). This tends either to bring the planning process into disrepute, or to the setting up of an intensely bureaucratic management regime.
Now, there are a number of aspects of maintenance that require planning, which may not necessarily be part of a formal planned maintenance programme. For example, it may have been decided to institute a programme of planned inspections to verify that statutory requirements are being fulfilled, or considered prudent to operate a planned replacement policy, as part of a preventive maintenance programme, Chanter and Swallow (2005). This may operate separately from an on-going planned maintenance programme. Within any maintenance organisation there will be planned and unplanned work. The balance between the two will vary, depending on the nature of the organisation and its attitude to building maintenance.
A low level of planned maintenance in an organisation does not necessarily reflect a poor attitude, as it may be appropriate for the given situation. It is quite possible to envisage a scenario where the introduction of a sophisticated planned system is not justifiable. For example, the owner of an estate consisting of one relatively simple building may choose to carry out all maintenance on demand, and plan only relatively obvious items, such as a redecoration every four years. The latter mentioned may be carried out on an ad-hoc basis.
This closely mirrors the approach of the owner/occupier of a dwelling house, and is an inevitable consequence of work which is characterised by a large number of relatively small, low level operations and a small number of larger ones, Gibson (1979). The latter are more likely to be foreseeable ones, and hence planned for. They are likely to fall into two categories, namely,
. A regular on-going requirement to perform certain operations, such as decoration. These tasks will tend to be cyclical in nature and, in theory at least, quite conveniently form part of a rolling programme.
. Major renewal or repair projects which, from time-to-time become necessary. For example, there may be a programme instituted by a housing association to replace all flat roof coverings over a fixed time period.
Some of these larger exercises fall into the category of what may be termed preventive maintenance, and need to have been subjected to a rigorous decision making process, Lees and Wordsworth (2001). For example, a decision to replace flat roof coverings ahead of failure is a preventive measure. In reaching this decision, account would have been taken of the disruption and possible consequential damage of not replacing until failure had occurred. In addition to this the aims of planned maintenance programmes with regard to estate planning are extremely diverse and, hence, many types of programmes will be encountered.
The applications of the basic principles of planning are of paramount importance to estate planning, Chanter and Swallow (2005). In particular, it is essential to define the objectives of maintenance plans very accurately at the outset, to ensure their relevance, and to enable them to be realistically formulated. These objectives may include all or a combination of the following:
. To help ensure that major defects are rectified and that the building fabric is maintained to a defined acceptable, safe and legally correct, standard.
. To sustain the building condition at an acceptable level and prevent undue deterioration of the building fabric and services by preventive means.
. To preserve the utility of the estate as an asset, and maintain its value
. To maintain the engineering and utility services in an optimum condition to safeguard the environmental conditions of the building, and hence its productive capacity.
. By effective planning, to ensure that maintenance is conducted, over a number of years, in a sensible sequence which reflects a careful consideration of priorities.
. By proper planning, to ensure that maintenance operations are carried out in the most effective way to ensure that best value for money is being obtained and the best use is being made of scare resources.
. To provide a tool for financial management, in particular budgetary control, and to assist maintenance managers in bidding for financial resources.
. As part of a broader facilities management scenario, to assist management to relate programmed repairs and maintenance to other demands and alternatives, such as refurbishment, redevelopment or changes in leasing policy.
The characteristics of maintenance work make accurate and comprehensive long-term predictions rather difficult. It is therefore necessary to define carefully what is realistically possible, and have an explicit recognition of levels of uncertainty. Because of this all programmes will need to have built into them some flexibility to permit modification if necessary and up-dating in order to ensure their continuing relevance.
It will be worthwhile to conclude that although the relevance of condition surveys to the implementation of planned preventative maintenance programmes for strategic estate planning enables an efficient allocation of scare resources such as funds and management expertise through periodic inspections of a property portfolio; its practice in scope within the UK is rather limited. Hence, authorities such as the audit commission should promote and ensure that condition surveys are carried out at the beginning of an estate management plan in which an adherence should be complied to, so that resources with regard to property portfolio are used efficiently, rather than wasted.
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